Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Giving thanks for science

Listen to the text-to-speech Robo-Podcast.

With the thanksgiving holiday approaching, many of us will soon sit down to worship our food (note the Over the Hedge reference) with family or friends. Whether you eat turkey or have one of the non-traditional main dishes, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the science your feast represents and give thanks for the many advances in science that have led to the 20 lbs turkey and the ability to store leftover potatoes and gravy throughout the week it takes to consume them.

My favorite food at thanksgiving dinner is the heap of turkey, gravy, potatoes, and stuffing all mixed together that makes up my first course. I used to prefer apple pie over pumpkin, but pumpkin has really grown on me in my old age. Yum, I'm getting hungry thinking about it.

Anyway, imagine preparing thanksgiving dinner for all the relatives over a fire instead of a state-of-the-art Maytag or GE. Or making your pie with real pumpkins instead of the gooey mix from the local grocery store. Or even using green beans and corn straight from the garden – which you’d need to do without the modern ability to preserve them and have them available any time of year.

Thanksgiving would certainly be possible without all the modern conveniences, but it would take a lot more time to create feasts as extravagant as many of us will enjoy on Thursday. So this holiday as you think about how lucky we are to live in a free country and send a nod of thanks to the pilgrims and founding fathers, take a moment to appreciate the science that makes this day of food and football a little bit easier, and that enabled your aunt to walk again after breaking her hip, your grandpa to recover from cancer, your to sister fold laundry downstairs while listening for her baby's cry though the monitor, you to keep in touch with long distance friends, and your loved ones to come home for the holiday. And then have another piece of pumpkin pie.

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