As we approach the arbitrary point many cultures have decided to designate as the boundary between years, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. It is customary for media to publish reviews (often themed) of the past year, so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite science-related articles from The Onion, a satirical newspaper.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists overseeing the ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission said Monday that the Spirit’s latest transmissions could indicate a growing resentment of the Red Planet.
“Spirit has been displaying some anomalous behavior,” said Project Manager John Callas, who noted the rover’s unsuccessful attempts to flip itself over and otherwise damage its scientific instruments.” And the thousand or so daily messages of ‘STILL NO WATER’ really point to a crisis of purpose.”
In response to a Nov. 7 referendum, Kansas lawmakers passed emergency legislation outlawing evolution, the highly controversial process responsible for the development and diversity of species and the continued survival of all life.
“From now on, the streets, forests, plains, and rivers of Kansas will be safe from the godless practice of evolution, and species will be able to procreate without deviating from God’s intended design,” said Bob Bethell, a member of the state House of Representatives. “This is about protecting the integrity of all creation.”
In August, the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto to a dwarf planet. The panel of experts met to officially redefine the characteristics of a planet. To deliver the news to the distant orb about its newly lowered status, scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center launched a special messenger probe in September.
“It’s tough, but we thought giving it to Pluto straight was the right thing to do, “NASA Chief Engineer James Wood said.” After all, it put in 76 years as our ninth planet—it just didn’t seem fair to break the news with an impersonal radio transmission beamed from Earth.”
Dozens of eyewitness reports indicated that former vice president Al Gore deliberately attempted to raise the earth’s temperature in order to boost box office receipts for An Inconvenient Truth, his documentary film about global warming that was released in May.
“We have accounts from concerned citizens that Mr. Gore purchased a Cadillac Escalade SUV several months before [his film] opened in theaters,” said Kimberly Blume, spokeswoman for the California-based environmental group Friends Of The Earth. “Not only did Mr. Gore use his new gas-guzzler to make short trips to the grocery store, he also left the vehicle running 24 hours a day in the driveway of his Tennessee home with the air-conditioning on full-blast.”
Remember, these are satire; they’re not meant to be taken seriously. For a more serious retrospective look, the New Scientist has some nice reviews of 2006 in the areas of astronomy, biology and medicine, environment, and technology.
And finally, there’s a great post at Bad Astronomy with a really nice explation of the different definitions of “year” and why they matter.
Update: New Scientist just posted their most viewed stories of 2006.