Saturday, March 17, 2007

All things Patricky

Even on St. Patrick's Day, we here at the Ripsaw find you the best green boards to cut up for science digest.

The NY Times ran an article last week suggesting the various sects on the British Isles have a lot more in common than anyone wants to believe:

In all, about three-quarters of the ancestors of today’s British and Irish populations arrived between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago, when rising sea levels split Britain and Ireland from the Continent and from each other, Dr. Oppenheimer calculates in a new book, “The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story” (Carroll & Graf, 2006).

As I've said before, Science tells us the truth, not what we want to be true! This particular scientist claims both Irish and English roots, so apparently it's not much of a distinction!

Everyone's familiar with the holiday's iconic plant, the Shamrock or Oxalis acetosella as we say in the scientific world. It's commonly mistaken for a clover, but did you know that the Shamrock is so different it's in a completely different taxonomic family? Talk about mistaken identity! A shamrock's three (or mutant four!) petals actually fold up at night or in harsh weather so as to conserve water from a reaction called transpiration. Also, they make a great prop for talking about your shape-shifting god.

Enjoy your beer! For those of you who thought serving beer in opaque kegs or colored glass was a pure aesthetic choice, think again! This is actually a protective measure, because indeed, beer can skunk when struck by light. This particular source cites UV light as the culprit, but I have read conflicting reports where longer wavelength blue light is the sulfur compound-forming culprit. In either event, treat your beer like it was a cool person. Make sure it has some shades on.

At the Ripsaw we don't put a lot of stock in luck, aside from it being a clever sorting of past events into artificial constructs, but hey, that's a human behavior. Want to avoid such luck-poor conditions? Avoid seeing red, says one study. Green? Now there's a color you can hitch your wagon to.

1 comment:

Bobbi said...

Hee hee... I remember talking with Arlen Moller (one of the authors of the paper on red vs green) about this at a department picnic years ago. I've been grading papers in green ink ever since. Glad to see the wide circulation!