|Birds and Doom
||[Oct. 11th, 2018|08:09 am]
Volcano Bird! How did I manage to get through most of my life without knowing that this even existed? This is just exactly the sort of thing that normally gets beaten to death on children's nature shows, but for some reason this one didn't. I'm guessing the eggs have to be fairly resistant to sulphur dioxide, if they get incubated in hot volanic sand. I wonder too how they get any oxygen buried like that? Also, every bird that I know of has to turn the eggs several times a day for the first few days of incubation, else they just don't develop. Apparently the Maleo doesn't. This is more like how reptiles do their eggs than birds.
I'd be rather critical if something like this popped up in an SF novel.
The little casque on the back of the head makes me think of Gogo Dodo.
OMG! A full-colour magazine ad for Project Pluto! This is probably one of the most nightmarish devices ever dreamt of. Pluto was going to be a low-altitude hypersonic unmanned cruise missile powered by a nuclear ramjet. The engine design was deliberately dirty. This thing would fly around for hours, with the shockwave destroying everything on the ground as it passed over, and the engine spewing fallout in its wake. Some versions would drop atom bombs as they went. Even by Cold War standards, this was an insane weapon. I'm perversely impressed by the abstract, impersonal viciousness of which my species is capable, and even more that we can do it in such a calm, even playful, way. This isn't something done in the heat of battle - this is something that someone had an idea one day, and everyone else was all, "Whoa! That'll fuck 'em up!" It really is a testimony to our ability to think abstractly that we can consider this in the detail needed to make it work, while simultaneously distancing ourselves from what the actual effect of it is going to be. I wonder how much of that is due to having a bicameral brain?
If you've ever seen the magnificent old SF movie "The Lost Missile", that's inspired by this.
What would Princess Celestia think about this?
So far as stuff getting beaten to death on children's nature shows: When I was in elementary school, we got preached at constantly about the Passenger Pigeon, and how they used to migrate in flocks so great that they took days to pass, and would denude the entire landscape, and how exterminating them* was this terrible, irreversible tragedy, and we had to make sure such a thing never happened again.
Even as a child in 1968 I understood that "extinction is forever" was scaremongering BS. If we keep moving forward, and keep developing our technology, in time we'll be able to have Passenger Pigeons, or dinosaurs, or mythological animals, or anything else we want.
I'm still no clearer today than I was as a child about why it would be a wonderful thing to have pigeons appear in such numbers that they actually strip the landscape of all food in their passing. That doesn't seem a good thing for anyone but the pigeons. I suppose one can justify it as part of nature, but so is getting cancer or being carried off by a tornado, both of which we (quite reasonably) work to stop.
In the end, the Passenger Pigeon advocates made me think, but probably not in the direction they had intended.
*Except that they may not be extinct. For the last 20 years or so, there are increasing reports from Ohio and Pennsylvania of people spotting what they think are Passenger Pigeons, and even a fair number of (never clear, sadly) photos. If I had to pick a side, I'd say there're some still alive.
Original posted at https://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/56791.html