A fish-like thing appeared among the annelids one day. It hadn't any parapods nor setae to display. It hadn't any eyes nor jaws, nor ventral nervous cord, But it had a lot of gill slits and it had a notochord.
Chorus: It's a long way from Amphioxus. It's a long way to us. It's a long way from Amphioxus to the meanest human cuss. Well, it's goodbye to fins and gill slits, and it's welcome lungs and hair! It's a long, long way from Amphioxus, but we all came from there.
It wasn't much to look at and it scarce knew how to swim, And Nereis was very sure it hadn't come from him. The mollusks wouldn't own it and the arthropods got sore, So the poor thing had to burrow in the sand along the shore.
He burrowed in the sand before a crab could nip his tail, And he said "Gill slits and myotomes are all to no avail. I've grown some metapleural folds and sport an oral hood, But all these fine new characters don't do me any good.
It sulked awhile down in the sand without a bit of pep, Then he stiffened up his notochord and said, "I'll beat 'em yet! I've got more possibilities within my slender frame Than all these proud invertebrates that treat me with such shame.
My notochord shall turn into a chain of vertebrae And as fins my metapleural folds will agitate the sea. My tiny dorsal nervous cord will be a mighty brain And the vertebrates shall dominate the animal domain.
Hans Bethe was one of the iconic physicists of the 20th century ultimately becoming a more force and conscience. He was actively doing good work until he died at 99 (folklore had it that he cut his working hours when he turned 90).
Here are some lectures on the history of quantum mechanics given at the retirement home he lived and worked at in his last decade. He was 93 here. His delivery may seem a bit slow, but it isn't much different from earlier years - I attended a few seminars led by him in the late 70s. These have no math and focus on the development of the physics.
A wonderful bit on his playfulness... He collaborated with George Gamow for awhile and the idea for the perfect author list came to both of them. They found Ralph Alpher - a Ph.D. student at the time - and co-authored the perfect paper - the Alpher-Bethe-Gamow - or αβγ -paper. It turned out to be an excellent paper making the joke even better.
On Saturday June 21, 1952, in a garden in Copenhagen, Denmark, raindrops fell through the slim neck of a beer bottle, splattering and splashing as they hit its bottom. But the bottle wasn’t carelessly left behind – Willi Dansgaard had inserted a funnel into its neck so he could use it for an experiment. He was watching it closely, collecting rain to later measure in his lab. Each drop brought Willi closer to revealing the secrets of Earth’s history, by giving scientists a way to work out temperature from ancient ice. In doing so, he would help show how climate can change much faster than experts had thought possible.
Arguably some of the largest advances in human progress were the improvements in public hygene that came from a scientific understanding. Average human lifepans made a large jump. Today is the 200th birthday of John Snow - one of the pioneers. PLoS takes note and there will be celebrations around the world - and probably a big one at the Broad Street Pub in London.