A Courteous Contrararian

What’s Up With?

Written By: Jon Jaroszewski - Mar• 18•15

I’m easily puzzled sometimes, and when I am, it usually is by some scientific principle I thought I knew that doesn’t ¬†hold true.

I love science, I really do. We are becoming so much more precise in discovering and measuring God’s great universe. Cosmology, paleontology, biology, quantum physics… and what’s up with quantum physics? How is it different than sub-quantum physics? I suspect it is two different names for the same thing like string theory and super-string theory.

Today’s puzzler is the vernal equinox; the first day of Spring. It is one of the two days each year when day and night are the same length: 12 hours each, right? Hence, the equi in equinox. Equal.

Yet, on the first day of spring this year, March 20th, the day will be 12 hours and eight minutes long. If I assume, and I do, that March 2oth won’t suddenly be 24 hours and 16 minutes long, how can it be the vernal equinox?

The real equinox this year was yesterday, March 17th, St. Patrick’s day. The sun rose at 7 am and set at 7 pm according to Accuweather, and I see no reason why they would lie to me. So why wasn’t yesterday the first day of spring?

I suspect it may be a conspiracy or something peculiar to Chicagoland where we have a reputation for voting early and often. Maybe spring comes early or more often for area residents only.

Or maybe it was a scheduling conflict that caused “Science” to move the first day of spring. We know the Roman Catholic Church – specifically one of the Pope Innocents – that moved Christmas to December 25th to avoid a scheduling conflict, although we don’t know what date it was moved from. Maybe scientists thought it would be too hard for pagans to celebrate both the equinox and St. Paddy on the same day.

Whatever the reason, conspiracy or not, the whole Northern hemisphere looks forward to springtime. Renewal, fertility, the greening of the earth. (We dye the Chicago River a bright green every St. Patrick’s Day, maybe that’s the reason for the switcheroo, but we won’t see green grass or trees here for weeks yet.)

Every spring reminds me of one of my favorite poems:

A young man’s thoughts turn to spring

They say the bird is on the wing

But to me that seems absurd

I think the wing is on the bird


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