I spent all of last week in Laramie, Wyoming, taking a refresher course in astronomy. The course was called Launch Pad and was run by Michael Brotherton, with the assistance of Christian Ready, Andrea Schwortz, and Jim Verley. It was a great deal of mental work which, incidentally, gave me much insight into my less than stellar college career.
I hear you asking: why was I there?
Berndt Heinrich wrote a book titled Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds. Which I highly recommend to anyone seriously interested in ravens. One of his observations was that young ravens are endlessly curious. Put out something odd in their habitat, and they'll poke at it, push it around, try to figure it out. Some of them die as a result of this curiosity. But the survivors have stuffed their heads with odd information about the world that will last them a lifetime.
Old ravens, those who have come of breeding age, are exactly the opposite. When they see something new in their environment, they view it with active suspicion. They won't come anywhere near it. They flee anything that smacks of innovation.
Human beings are not all that different, are we?
So that's what I was doing in the University of Wyoming. Keeping my inner raven young.
Above: There I am in front of the university's geology museum. Some things just don't change. Photo by Amy Thomson.