NANFA-- Re: nanfa V1 #1351

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Wed, 31 Jul 2002 20:18:00 -0400

Snakeheads and natural atomic reactors!
Nothing wrong with a little politically incorrect humor. Editorial cartoons do it all the time and make the news more amusing. And sometimes make us think sensibly about things such as PC, sensational journalism and hypocrisy in high places.

Hopefully the potential eco-disaster of a snakehead invasion was successfully averted. The fact of the woman responsible for the release coming forward to confess her sin and remorse may be a ray of hope that people are capable of accepting responsibility for their actions. In this case ignorance was the real culprit which suggests that those of us more informed about the consequences of introduced species could do more to enlighten the less informed but generally
good natured hobbyists among us. This has been suggested before- maybe petshops would be a good place to post some kind of literature on exotics and ethical fishkeeping.

For hobbyists who like that sort of fish - Bowfins would be a pretty decent substitute and less of a threat in the event of an accidental release since they are not only a native species but also a beneficial species in most of the places where they are found. From an ecological perspective they are North America's equivalent of the snakeheads and they belong here!

This may sound politically incorrect and downright sadistic to some (never mind that Nature can seem pretty sadistic at times) - but I wonder if someone just for the hell of it would place snakeheads and bowfin together in the same tank and put Ray's speculation to a test. That thought was inspired by a contest staged by researchers I had read about in a National Geographic article years ago - the introduced walking catfish- Claris batrachius against a native
bullhead - the latter got ripped up pretty bad!
Hopefully the bowfin will win!

The recent science article regarding a hypothetical core of white hot uranium and plutonium sitting at the center of our planet makes all the sense in the world. The heaviest elements should sink to the center of gravity while the lighter elements float to the top. It may very well be disproved and it is the duty of scientists to be skeptical and evaluate it with the passionless light of truth. Just as they did the theory of continental drift - which in the begining
had an uphill battle to find acceptance - which it eventually did becoming an important cornerstone of modern planetary science. This new idea that "Mother Earth" having a heart of atomic fire is a classic example of a good scientific theory because it's not only believable, but also fits well into our current perception of how the Earth ticks- a power source that drives the continental conveyors and generates the magnetosphere that protects us from cosmic rays. It
also fits well with the idea that planets are formed cold from the acretion of smaller bodies and then heat up inside and differentiate when a critical mass is reached.

As the article suggested this natural atomic pile could be the very sustainer of life on this planet and possibly explanation for it's apparent absence elsewhere.

As it is with other feilds of research - evolution, climate change and predicting the impact of non-indegenous species- scientific theory is our attempt at making sense of the universe we live in and our purpose in it.

The answers we seek will likely surprise us.

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