Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Birds and the Bees

After more than 70 years, the world's braintrusts have finally figured out how a bee is able to fly. It seems to me that it wouldn't have taken that long to learn to speak bee. Then, they could have just asked one. But we on the sentient end of things like to do stuff the hard way. I think it makes us feel better about ourselves. But for a species that claims to be so much smarter than those black and orange bugs, we were stumped for an embarassingly long time, if you ask me. Bees: 1. Humans: 0.

The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird, at about 5 centimeters in length. Hummingbirds are the only species of bird than can fly backward. Did you know that? I think that if I was an animal, I would be a hummingbird, simply because of the way they look while in flight. Body tilted forward, wings a blur, I can almost hear him yelling, "HERE I COME I'M COMING I'M ALMOST THERE HOLD ON I'M COMING OH MY GOD HERE I COME!" I feel like this describes my life. A lot.

Both bees and hummingbirds drink nectar, and are able to tell the sugar content of the nectar they're drinking. Magnificent mankind would have to use a machine for that. In fact, mankind wasn't even able to assess the amount of sugar in his own blood until 1962, when the first glucose enzyme electrode was invented, probably by a different set of braniacs from the ones who, at this point in time, were still staring at a bee going, "Wha...?" and scribbling furiously in notebooks. Hummingbirds: 1. Humans: 0.

We're behind, folks. But I don't think it's necessary to try and catch up. What is necessary, however, is to stop bragging that we're in first place. We're clearly not. Aspects of the natural world as simple as these have been smarter than us forever. To me, it's a solid counterargument to the "You can't believe in Science and God" line of thinking. (Insert quote from Nacho Libre here.) Either way, it's a poignant reminder to stop every now and again and look around. You might see a hummingbird flying backward, or a bee disproving everything we thought we knew, without even knowing he's doing it.

Bet you didn't think this was actually going to be about birds and bees, did you?

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