Tens of thousands of "eclipse chasers" flooded into Carbondale, Illinois today to bathe in the corona of a 2-1/2 minute total eclipse. It was a rare occurrence and I admit that I considered going down there myself.
I've glimpsed at the occasional meteor shower and I think I watched some kind of eclipse with my head in a box back in the early or mid '60's.
Even we non-star-gazer types, though knew that today's eclipse was a special event.
Men have been predicting eclipses since 610 B.C.E, but it took another 750 years before a mathematician named Claudius Ptolemy was able to lend some accuracy to those predictions.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1500's) and Isaac Newton (1700's) further honed our knowledge of celestial events.
The modern era of eclipse watching was ushered in by Edmond Halley (Halley's Comet), who made a map of the path of a coming eclipse in the 1700's. Halley was hoping to avert panic and establish points along the path where scientists could measure the duration of the eclipse.
19th Century techniques allowed scientists to predict the exact geographic locations as well as time and duration of today's eclipse. Thank you Friedrich Bessel and William Chauvenet.
Since Adam first realized that his dick was hanging out, mankind has been on a steady march to expand his knowledge, just as the universe continues to expand. (Read "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" by Neil deGrasse Tyson)
From the Stone Age to the Space Age, man has been on a continual quest for knowledge and an understanding of the world around us.
At some point, we started questioning science, common sense and demonstrable facts. Fertile ground to plant the seeds of doubt.
The Scopes "Monkey" Trial (1925) was an inevitable clash between a growing compendium of scientific knowledge and the reactionary tenets of those clinging to primitive beliefs.
In 1954 a beleaguered tobacco industry discovered disinformation and fraudulent research was a useful way of deceiving Americans about the dangers of smoking. Lying to the press and to Congress were integral parts of that strategy.
For more on that, read, "There is no proof that smoking cigarettes is bad for your health or that it causes lung cancer"
So successful were the tobacco guys, that corporate America stood up and took notice. So did their lap dog, the GOP and, eventually, men like Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch takes the cake, though. He created a media empire based on the notion that the media lies. Go figure.
Now we've gotten to the place where I have to explain what all this has to do with today's eclipse.
Science is under attack and it's all about corporate America's bottom line. As science uncovers new dangers in our environment, from pollutants in our air and water to unsafe building materials, regulation is the natural outcome to keep Americans safe.
Regulation, anathema to the greedy.
Right now Scott Pruitt, Donald J. Trump's administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of dismantling that very agency. His current project is rolling back regulations against dangerous, cancer-causing, IQ-lowering pesticides.
Pruitt, like Donald J. Trump would like you to believe global warming is a Chinese hoax. Bad for Americans (and the world), good for corporate profits. Read more HERE
Our vice president thinks you can pray away gay. The head of the Senate Committee on Science doesn't believe in evolution. If you share their beliefs, you are in luck. Just pray your grandchildren don't wind up with the leaded water.
More eclipse news: The 2024 eclipse will have peaks of 4½ minutes in Mexico . In the United States, it will be visible over cities like Austin and Dallas Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis; Toledo, Cleveland and Akron, Ohio; Buffalo and Rochester, New York and Montpelier, Vermont before crossing over Montreal.
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