Thursday, May 30, 2013

Learning on the Web

I'm sometimes humbled when I learn something new, especially when it's a tidbit I either never considered, didn't think possible, or overlooked. This morning a friend on Facebook posted a status update that was a quote from the movie "Django Unchained." I have seen the movie (loved it), but I did not recognize the quote and thought it was an every day observation.

Her update was, "This is like the time I found out that the guy who wrote The Three Musketeers was black." I own a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. It's one of my favorite books, maybe one of the best tales of revenge I've ever read, and the remake of the movie with Guy Pierce and Anthony Hopkins is also one of my favorites, yet to my shame, I knew absolutely nothing about Alexandre Dumas until today.

I had always assumed, given the time period his books were written and the little depiction of Dumas on the back of my book, he was white. Assuming is usually bad--it definitely made an ass out of me. What was even more interesting is that after I replied to the status update more people replied with similar reactions; I didn't feel as ridiculous.

My mind was further blown when I learned Alexandre Dumas was a pen name. He was born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, a name derived from his slave grandmother and his father's name, who was Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, "the first black general in French history and still the highest ranking person of color of all-time in continental Europe." It was fascinating to me to learn this history and at the same time realize I had read Monte Cristo multiple times yet knew nothing about its author. Even what I thought I knew was wrong--amazing.

While doing this research on Dumas, I came across an interesting article about bright pink slugs. Again, I was humbled by the notion that an 8 inch slug as vibrant as a pink neon sign could even exist, let alone come about after millions of years. I couldn't find any more information on them other than the fact they're there, but I had to wonder: why are the pink? How does it benefit them? Does it deter predators or serve a function? Are there even predators on the mountain it inhabits? Is it just happenstance? A curious critter, indeed.

Then, as if I didn't feel like a fool already, I read another article about nuking dangerous asteroids on a collision course for Earth. For years I have laughed at the movie "Armageddon," thinking to myself, "If we blew up an asteroid, we would just get bombarded by the pieces." While the plan scientists have come up with doesn't involve landing miners on the asteroid in space to drill a hole and plant a nuke, it does detail a system of shooting a hole into the asteroid, then shooting a nuke into that hole. The theory is the asteroid will break apart, diverting the large sections; the rest of the pieces will either burn up in our atmosphere or have smaller, non-global-killing impact.

All in all, it's been quite the day of lessons via the Internet.

1 comment:

  1. More wisdom is good!
    Assumptions, usually not so much...
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team