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November 26, 2008

A dozen things to be thankful for from earth, space, and cyberspace

Posted: 12:59 PM ET

Okay, here's my sappy list of 12 "Thank Yous."   I'll do my best to cover all of the things we discuss on this blog:

1.  Muckrakers:  Thanks to a lot of colleagues who apply large brains and big hours to sorting out the truth from the BS in science and environmental news.  The Associated Press has two of the best, Seth Borenstein and Dina Cappiello.

2.  The Web:  God Bless the web.   Just like TV 50 years earlier, the Web makes it easier for us to be smarter.   Or stupider.

3.  Crazy Inventors:  Note to Dean Kamen:  The Segway probably didn't "change life as we know it."  But inventing a water purifier for developing-world villages just might.  And the annual "First" student robotics competition could help develop plenty more world-changers.

4.  Park Rangers:  Underpaid and underappreciated, they keep an eye on the places we go to take refuge from modern life.  

5.  My Favorite Refuge:  Arabia Mountain, a county park about 20 miles east of Atlanta:  Trails, forest, ponds, and massive, moonscape-like granite outcroppings.  It's also a cheap opportunity to publish a picture of my dog, hiking said Mountain in apparent violation of the leash law (below right).arabia-mtn

6.  Historians:  The hardy band of people who are trying their best to have us not repeat our mistakes.   A special shout-out for the season goes to Nathaniel Philbrick, whose book "Mayflower" busts through the Thanksgiving myths we've constructed and gives a real picture of 17th-century Colonial America as a pretty hairy place.

7.  Rocket Scientists:  It may not exactly be brain surgery, but thanks for letting us explore beyond the bounds of Earth.

8.  Bees:   Thanks for pollinating our plants and flowers.  Maybe we'll stop killing you off someday.

9.  Politicians:  Okay, it's a very limited  thanks.  But thanks at least for providing and funding parklands and trails.   Since this is a happy blog, I'll let my other thoughts on politicians go for now.  Maybe you could pay the Park Rangers something beyond a subsistence wage.

10.  Science Teachers:  The one that sticks out for me is the late Dr. George Marchesi, a former vaudeville magician who would work his magic act into physics lectures.   Thanks, Doc, it was the only way I could have ever gotten through physics, let alone actually remember some of it.

11.  Forecasters and Engineers:  There are a couple of hundred dead and missing from Hurricane Ike, the worst storm to hit the U.S. this season.  That's awful, but a century ago, a similar storm in a similar place killed over 6,000 in Galveston.   Thanks to those who send out the warning, those who build the buildings and seawalls, and the ones who work public safety jobs.  You're all lifesavers.

12.  Franko, our most frequent blog commenter.  Others of you have offered your own comments on Franko's haiku-like offerings, which you'll see in the "Comments" section of almost every one of the 300+ postings on the SciTechBlog since we opened for business in February.  According to our fellow readers, Franko's "brilliant," "inspired," "creative," "incoherent," and "heavily medicated."   I'll just leave it at "thanks, Franko."    And thanks to you all.

–Peter Dykstra     Executive Producer, CNN Science, Tech, and Weather

Filed under: Uncategorized

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Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

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