From the 19th century up through the Dust Bowl a wide cross-section of farmers, politicians, and scientists believed that the more intensively you farmed the Great Plains, the more rain would fall and farming conditions would improve.
I'd certainly heard this myth, but I didn't realize it had standing that went beyond mere convenient superstition. At Wired, though, Adam Frank introduces us to some of the then-big-name experts who writings and rationalizations helped to prop up something everyone wanted to believe and turn it into a very truthy tru-ism. Here's my favorite of the bunch:
Next up was Richard Smith Elliott, publicity agent for the Kansas Pacific Railway, a sort of salesman for its plentiful land holdings. In a similar vein to Hayden, he suggested planting trees along his company’s railroad. And, really, you may not even need to go that far. Elliott thought the railroad itself encouraged rainfall, as did power lines. That may sound crazy to you, but it somehow made sense to the hallowed Smithsonian Institution: It published Elliott’s writings on the subject in its Annual Report of 1870.
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A better understanding how a sperm swims its way toward an egg could help inform new treatments for male infertility. Researchers from the University of York have now come up with a mathematical formula to model how large numbers of moving sperm interact with fluid they’re swimming through. From the University: By analysing the head […]
Dr Gale Ridge is a public entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where an average of 23 people a day call, write or visit; an increasing proportion of them aren’t inquiring about actual insects, they’re suffering from delusional parasitosis, and they’re desperate and even suicidal.
Biologist Nipam Patel and his team at UC Berkeley study how butterflies develop wing shape and color by performing surgery on caterpillars, creating translucent windows in their cocoons.
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]