Next step, actual flames …

Next step, actual flames ...
  SANGZHI, HUNAN — OK, so I’m not really Johnny Storm, but it’s a cool photo, anyway. My friend snapped it as we were leaving Jiutian Cave here. After a long climb out of the cool, humid cave into the warm, drier surface air, I was sweating and my head was literally steaming. The cave trip Thursday was my last excursion for the week-long National Holiday. Earlier in the week, I accompanied two friends (a young married couple) to a wedding in Huarong, a small city near Yueyang, Hunan. Then they drove me to Yueyang, where I met another friend and visited that city for two days. When I came back to Jishou on Wednesday, I literally turned right around and headed out again to Sangzhi with another friend, her cousin, aunt and uncle. We also visited the reconstructed home of He Long, a revolutionary leader who was later purged during the Cultural Revolution. He was thrown into prison (where he died at age 74), his original home was razed, and his siblings were prevented from attending university. He didn’t get a formal state burial until 40 years after his death. On our way back to Jishou, we stopped at ...

Science thoughts from underground 6

Science thoughts from underground
WULINGYUAN, HUNAN — One of my last stops before classes resume was Yellow Dragon Cave (Huang Long Cave) here, near Zhangjiajie. The cave itself is stupendous. The tour includes a short boat ride on the underground river and a lot of stair climbing. For me the highlight was this stalagmite, the “Sacred Needle for Stabilizing the Sea,” which rises 19.2 meters from the cave floor. The tour guide rattled off two impressive figures relating to this structure. One is that it is insured for several million dollars. The other is that the Sacred Needle is about two million years old. This blog has highlighted the sheer silliness of creationism over the last four years, especially the ludicrous claims of Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. Ham (among others) figures the world was created in exactly six days about 6,000 years ago. To bolster their claims that the Bible accurately describes the creation of Life, the Universe and Everything, Ham and Co. try all kinds of hand-waving arguments to counter reams of contradictory evidence from astronomy, geology, paleontology and biology, like The flood in the story of Noah created the Grand Canyon, aided in the dispersion of humans across the ...
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