Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Ponderings

I am extremely busy preparing for our Ricardo Montalban tribute weekend but I couldn't let February 29th pass by without making a blog post. Because seriously, how often do you get a chance to post on Leap Day?

(The answer to that is every four years. I was going to let that stand as a rhetorical question but realized some of the sarcasm-impaired among you would think I was serious and, yeah, I don't want my in-box filling up with comments).

So the papers are full of articles about Leap Day related things. I read a headline this morning touting the ten best places to bungee jump on Leap Day. WTF people, just jump off a cliff and be done with it. Choosing a brain-splattering, bone-crushing height doesn't require much discernment.

I also read a headline stating that there are scientists all over the world trying to determine what animal is the planet's Number One Leaper. Except I misread "leaper" as "leper" and spent the rest of the morning wondering what criteria are in place to determine the world's Number One Leper. Longest incubation period after being infected by Mycobacterium leprae? Most dangly bits without falling off altogether? Most skin sores? Then I started to get itchy so I decided I'd best read the article in case I had contracted some rare form of doll leprosy, because if I'm going to get doll leprosy I'm sure as hell going to be the Number One Doll Leper.

That's when I realized the actual article was about the world's Number One "leapers." What a let-down.

The world's Number One Leaper was originally the spittle bug, which can accelerate to more than 400 times the force of gravity and jump two feet.

Spittle bugs pretty much look like you'd expect them to look:

I'd leap too if I had to crawl around in spit. And I'd jump more than two feet, too.

Alas for the spittle bug, in 2010 a bunch of Danish oceanographers documented that the copepod uses two different propulsion systems to accelerate to a speed of 500 body-lengths per second. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, as I've always said that copepods trump spittle bugs. Everyone knows that. Apparently Danes have nothing better to do than document these things.

Look at that copepod. He's bad ass. He could take on a honey badger.

You know, I'm still feeling a little itchy. I think I need to talk to Jiggy about this. Hopefully it's merely due to a detergent switch.

Oh and speaking of Jiggy, a space rock called 2011 AG5 may come close enough to Earth in 2040 that scientists are now talking about how to deflect it. I'd like to start a campaign to get 2011 AG5 renamed the Jiggy Star. Please join me in the Jiggy Star End of Days Campaign by writing to the following organizations to suggest a renaming of 2011 AG5:

* Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS)

* UN Action Team on near-Earth objects (NEOs)

* European Space Agency’s Solar System Missions Division in Noordwijk, The Netherlands

* Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA

* Association of Space Explorers (ASE) Committee on Near Earth Objects

* Uranus

I'm not making these organizations up. Although it must be said that writing to Uranus probably isn't going to be all that productive unless Uranus knows how to read. In which case, you're more of a smart ass than I've given you credit for.

Carry on. Happy Leper Day.