Fossils from a quarry in a region of central Wisconsin known as Blackberry Hill show that the first footprints on land were made by an extinct arthropod known as a euthycarcinoid, and this occurred in the Cambrian period, roughly 500 million years ago. The authors of the study, Joseph Collette of the University of California – Riverside, Kenneth Gass, a researcher from Wisconsin, and James Hagadorn of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, published their findings in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of Paleontology.
The suggestion that extinct arthropods had been walking about on land in what is now called Cambrian times is not a new one. Sir Richard Owen had published that idea in 1852, based on fossil footprints that he named Protichnites from Cambrian beach sandstone of Quebec.
Below are shown statements of abject folly thought by their speaker to be like beacons of truth. If followed as pedagogy in their extreme would misdirect utterly, tragically signaling others, even school children if the speaker had his way, into failure: failure to understand the universe, failure to understand human origins, failure to understand the scientific method, failure to appreciate the scope and magnitude of reality, failure to engage with the grand struggles for knowledge in the areas of evolutionary biology, genetics, particle physics, cosmology, astronomy, virology, geology, and several other fields that daily rest upon and prove again the basic tenets of evolution, the basic fact of that there is one--one--only one known scientific explanation for the origin of species, including human beings, and the basic fact that the Earth is very, very old indeed, and the universe older yet.
This yawning gap in knowledge that he'll happily and haplessly steer others towards, this shadowy, oceanically massive maw of ignorance he promises can be bridged not by structures of scientific inquiry, correction, and knowledge, but by throwing something like an idol into the void it, a collection of select verses from self-described sacred texts penned in the pre-scientific age of bronze tools.
Science gives you the adventure of curiosity and curiosity channeled toward problem-solving, question-answering, and accumulating knowledge that can be shared and can grow. It can literally take you to the moon and let you gaze into the hearts of stars; it can let you see the past by reading the stories of Earth's rocks and even those of other worlds. It can make you marvel at the limits of imagination and knowledge as you're confronted with the limitless but utterly approachable and almost certainly solvable mysteries of the cosmos.
But this man says curiosity is overrated compared to a few words--most of them in a book called Genesis and all of which could all be read in minutes--which are supposed to direct or even completely satisfy a lifetime of curiosity and settle in some fundamental way all questions you and any American school student might have about where species come from and what is the natural history of our planet and universe.
And the man who makes these statements is a member of Congress.
And he sits on the House of Representatives' Science Committee.
What he says disqualifies him for any such seat. That his constituents are not shamefaced is a profound testimony against. What he says is an embarrassment. Yet...he is a policy-influencer and lawmaker, especially as policy and law relate to science.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) tore into scientists as tools of the devil in a speech at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet last month.
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
According to Broun, the scientific plot was primarily concerned with hiding the true age of the Earth. Broun serves on the House Science Committee, which came under scrutiny recently after another one of its Republican members, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), suggested that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses against pregnancy.
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Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the emergence of geology as a scientific discipline. A little over two hundred years ago a small group of friends founded the Geological Society of London. This organisation was the first devoted to furthering the discipline of geology - the study of the Earth, its history and composition.
Although geology only emerged as a separate area of study in the late eighteenth century, many earlier thinkers had studied rocks, fossils and the materials from which the Earth is made. Ancient scholars in Egypt and Greece speculated about the Earth and its composition. And in the Renaissance the advent of mining brought further insight into the nature of objects found underground and how they got there. But how did such haphazard study of rocks and fossils develop into a rigorous scientific discipline?