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Monday, November 26, 2012

Science In USA Today

It's wonderful to see an article like this one in the USA Today.

First, it publicly criticizes a public figure for making a statement which contradicts our scientific understanding of a subject, geology and the Earth's age in this case.

Secondly, it explains how, using the facts of radioactive decay and elemental ratios, the age of the Earth was determined.

I find it also interesting to see how Patterson's interest in understanding the age of the Earth, led to his understanding of the public health issue of lead (health physics is focused on the public health issue of the radioactive elements in the uranium decay chains).  Patterson realized that lead was ubiquitous in society, just like the uses of radiation and radioactive materials became widespread in society until the hazards were appreciated.

And if you like agnotology, you can see the parallels between many groups who favor something (for financial gain, ideology, etc.) and science denial.  So just like many pro-fossil fuel folks want to discount climatology (global warming), we see the same sort of fight was waged against toxicology (lead's health effects).  One example from one of the links in the article:

"Frank Howard of Standard Oil says: “As a result of 10 years research … we have this apparent gift of God of three cubic centimeters of tetraethyl lead… It would be an unheard-of blunder if we should abandon a thing of this kind merely because of our fears.”"

The Song Remains The Same.

Music please, Maestro:

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