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Comment Re:Stop Being Pedantic (again) (Score 1) 463

What do you really mean by "in nature" and why do you think it's superior to whatever else it is that you've arbitrarily defined not to have the status "in nature"? It sure seems to me that the "nature" is used here as some sort of magical/mystical distinction rather than anything real and tangible.

Please. It's like you can't understand the difference between a runners high and a heroine injection.

The chemicals that humans were exposed to in significant concentrations were basically unchanged for a hundred thousand years or more. Those chemicals which have increased in concentration in our immediate environment since the advent of agriculture (or the industrial revolution, if you prefer) are hereby deemed non-natural chemicals for the purpose of this discussion.

Comment Re:Stop Being Pedantic (Score 1) 463

This isn't just pedantry. The problem with co-opting scientific words to have a different mainstream meaning is that it reduces people's ability to read and understand science. Someone might find a scientific article that talks about a new type of (soap, pesticide, fuel, spice) but calls it a chemical. The naive reader is immediately convinced that this new product is unsafe. This causes politicians to make bad policy decisions too.

Good point. I still maintain that all the self congratulatory posts about dihydrogen monoxide were missing the point. To often we are pedantic instead of merely precise.

Comment Re:Stop Being Pedantic (Score 1) 463

Except you are MADE OF chemicals, and not MADE OF snakes

I was MADE BY a trouser snake. Is that close enough?

But seriously, it isn't a perfect analogy. I suppose the real question is this: Which is worse, assuming things are harmful until proven otherwise, or assuming things are safe until proven otherwise? (or somewhere in the middle that I am too lazy to define exactly).

Comment Stop Being Pedantic (Score 5, Insightful) 463

Yes, they are using the word "chemicals" wrong. Get over it. Use your brain to substitute something that is correct and listen to what they are saying. Just because they paint all chemicals as evil, and they are wrong, does not mean that all chemicals are safe. With snakes, I assume they are poisonous unless I know otherwise. Why not do the same with things I put in my body?

Comment Re:Bought My Kids A Telescope For Christmas (Score 1) 91

I agree that there is a quality about seeing them through a telescope that is not present in pictures, but I think it has more to do with the idea that light has been traveling for millions of years and is ending up in my eye. I tend to forget about that when I look at pictures.

In any case, the first time I saw a nebula through a telescope, with a fair amount of light pollution, I was ready to see something like the "pillars of creation" picture of the eagle nebula. All I actually saw was a patch of the sky that was a bit brighter than the background. I was about 8, and thankfully someone moved on quickly and showed me Jupiter and its moons. :)

Comment Re:Bought My Kids A Telescope For Christmas (Score 1) 91

I absolutely have to second the Pleiades. They look absolutely spectacular at low magnification. Most any open star cluster will be pretty impressive. The same goes for planets and the moon.

Unfortunately, to kids desensitized by pictures from Hubble, galaxies and nebulae seen through a telescope are pretty disappointing. In my mind, the best part about finding some of the dimmer objects is actually finding them. Learning your way around the sky is truly a challenge. I think that kids that young would have a hard time appreciating the significance of viewing another galaxy, so you should stick to things that are visually stimulating.

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