Update to Monty Python post

Whether or not you are a scientist, it’s important to allow new information to change your mind.  Yesterday I realized that I needed to revise my post about Monty Python’s Galaxy Song.  This is the song from The Meaning Of Life in which Eric Idle sings a bunch of astronomical facts. 

Someone was trying to explain the change of seasons to a bunch of little kids, including Little Rock, who is 3 1/2.  She wanted to explain that the northern hemisphere is a little farther away from the sun in winter.  She only had about four minutes to do it so she quickly told the kids that the earth rotates, it revolves around the sun, and the entire solar system moves around the galaxy.  She also gave the speed at which all these things happened.  I can’t imagine that many of these kids had a clue what she was talking about. 

Little Rock must have realized she was making it all up.  He told her that he shot down the moon.  Apparently he put a stick in some poison berries and put the thing there and the thing there and then he shot down the moon.

Anyway, the way she was rattling off those facts reminded me of The Galaxy Song.  I remembered the lyrics and realized that I misunderstood the first line.

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving

In my initial post about the song, I interpreted “evolving” narrowly and assumed Idle was thinking of natural selection.  Life evolves, but planets don’t evolve.  Yesterday I remembered that geologists use the word differently.  When they say the earth evolves, they just mean that it changes over time.  It wasn’t always the way it is now.  Mountains and oceans form and disappear.  Continents merge and separate.   It takes a long time, but the world is always changing.  That’s what Monty Python was singing about.  I updated my views (and my blog post.)

I’ll give myself four Lemmys for learning something new.


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