Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas chocolate jelly fungus

We found this while walking yesterday (on Christmas day). The kids decided it should be called chocolate jelly fungus. After a quick look through my Mushrooom and toadstools of Britain and Europe book, I think it might be Exidia Recisa.

A quick search of tinterweb tells me it's already got a name - amber jelly roll. I think ours might have been a little overdone, hence "chocolate" and not "amber".

Sunday, 23 December 2012

My guide to predicting the end of the world

Recently, the proportion of people who were prepared to believe in Mayan predictions decreased. Previously, it was 14.7%, with people citing reasons such as "they know an awful lot about astronomy". After Friday, it plummeted to 4.3%, with most people attributing their change of opinion to "well, they made up the bit about the end of the world, so they probably made the rest up too."

I can see many good reasons for predicting the end of the world. If you don't, people ask about events further and further into the future, to the point where you get confused with what you've already predicted. At this point, people will start finding inconsistencies, like "but I though his line had already died during the peanut butter wars" and "that means the high priestess was younger than her grandson when they first reunite the trigrinion."

Also, it's great PR. We've become a lot more aware of the predictions of the Mayans in the last few weeks.

So for all you yet-to-be-famous soothsayers, here are the options:

1. Be vague. "The world will end at some point in the next 284,000 years and will take quite a long time". This might work on one level, but is unlikely to have the PR effect of absolute predictions.

2. Make it really far in the future. "The world will end in the year 2,453,741". This leads to the problem of needing to predict over 2 million years of events, and you'll probably get confused.

3. Get it right. "The world will end in 2356 on September the 11th at 4:53pm Eastern Standard Time." The problem with this is, even if you get it right, there's no advantage. The number of people who believe in your predictions will be zero once the human race has been wiped out. So your in a lose-lose situation.

So here's my favourite option.

4. Incorporate periodicity. "Every 723 years, starting from a week next Tuesday, the great destroyer will visit our world to decide whether all human life should be destroyed."

Any cults that get super rich from this approach might like to send me the odd tenner. Thanks in advance, and apologies for making up the statistics at the top of the page.