It’s time to come back to life.
Yeah, yeah, it’s been a long hard winter, one of the worst on record. We’ve got brush and logs piled up all around the county. The temperature is still well below freezing. And the report is for a little more snow before it’s all over. So why should anybody be feeling particularly sunny?
Well we ARE into Spring, believe it or not. It happened yesterday at 12:57 PM, EDT. That’s when we hit the Vernal Equinox, the point at which the Sun was directly over the equator. Everybody on Earth enjoyed exactly 12 glorious hours of sunlight. Actually, hold on, it’s better than that. Everybody got MORE than 12 hours. That’s because we measure “sunset” and “sunrise” using the edge of the Sun, not its center, so that extra half of the Sun – when rising and setting – gives us a few more minutes of sunlight. And wait, there’s more! The atmosphere of the Earth refracts the light of the Sun in such a way that we can see the Sun for a few moments before it has risen actually over the horizon in the morning, and for a few moments after it has actually dipped below the horizon at dusk.
With so much sunlight, we should all be feeling the warmth of Spring.
No? Still feeling all cold, cranky and claustrophobic?
Okay, try this then. There’s an section of Antarctica (brrrr!) called Signy Island (ooh, cold!) covered by a glacier (f-f-freezing!). Scientists recently took core samples of the ice (chill!) and brought them back to England. Carbon dating revealed the samples to be between 1500 and 1700 years old.
Amazingly, this week in the science journal Current Biology, the scientists reported that when the samples were cut apart and incubated, ancient moss trapped in the ice sprouted new shoots from their rootlike “rhizoids.” This is an astounding discovery, by far the longest period of cryopreservation – or survival by freezing – ever seen. It has changed what folks thought was possible. The scientists are now moving onto the next stage of their research, testing Antarctic moss that has been frozen for over 5000 years…
Coming back to life after being frozen for 1500 years? After 5000 years?
By comparison, we’ve got little to complain about.
The Sun is on the rise, the ice is melting. And we may just survive this winter after all.