Fish were on earth before birds

mullet over

– Four states in the United States designate themselves as commonwealths: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

– Information startling to me: A recent study by a group of American neuroscientists reveals that approximately 20% of human patients who appear to be vegetative actually have some degree of consciousness. Still, it has been suggested that I move or blink often to allay “uncertainties.”

– Astronomers measure the brightness of stars, planets, etc. in our skies according magnitudes. Smaller ranks in magnitude indicate brighter objects. This somewhat strange backward ranking system was created by a Greek Astronomer named Hipparchus (I am not making this up) in the second century B.C. Astronomers today still use the scheme. Hipparchus classified our brightest stars (he did not know our sun was a star) as magnitude one and the faintest stars detectable with the naked eye were ranked in the 6th magnitude. Other visible objects were subjectively ranked between 1 and 6 (inclusively). Use of telescopes later revealed newly discovered objects in the skies. Those items got ranked using the archaic Hipparchus method. Sirius is ranked at 1.0. Our sun, -26.7, Vega is 0.0 and our full moon is -12.7. Some extremely faint stars are classified to be in the 30th magnitude.

– Get your long-sought answer right here: Which came first – the chicken or the egg? Answer is “The Egg.” Whether you subscribe to Biblical Creation or Darwinian Evolution or simple fossil data: fish were on earth before birds and fish reproduce with eggs. Just Saying.

– The Great Lakes regional waters have been invaded by a destructive mollusk identified as Dreissena polymorpha or zebra mussel. The little creatures multiply in razor-sharp clusters that cut swimmers’ feet, damage ships and worst of all — destroy plankton. Plankton is the food base for most native aquatic life. First detected in the waters of Lake St. Clair in June of 1988, the zebra mussels now number in the billions. Lake St. Clair is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway. As if this striped invader is not bad enough, a more destructive and more prolific interloper called the quagga mussel has also established a home front in the same freshwater regions. Scientists and fishermen are greatly concerned and neither faction has thus far come up with a viable solution to halt the expanding incursions.

– The tallest “mountain” in Florida towers 312 feet above sea level. California has several trees taller than 312 feet. Oh well, may your magnitude be low and your future be bright as you experience a great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at