December 15, 2012 - Cat Herders Day

No, we are not honoring people who herd cats today.

A cat herder?
 I know that's what this holiday sounds like, but think about it: have you ever heard of a cat herder?

That's because cats can't be herded!

These cats have not been herded
together. They are sitting like this
because they want to!
Today is the day to honor those who are tasked with the impossible. People who are supposed to do the undoable.

Sometimes, I think that's me. Do you sometimes think that's you, too?

Well, then, let's celebrate me and you today, too!

Quotes to keep you going...

If you are faced with the impossible, you could think of wise words such as these:

Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.” – Marcus Aurelius

Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

By striving to do the impossible, man has always achieved what is possible. Those who have cautiously done no more than they believed possible have never taken a single step forward.” – Mikhail Bakunin

The difficult is what takes a little time...the impossible is what takes a little longer.” – Fridtjof Nansen

Now, I am not so sure I am 100% behind all these great quotes. I mean, some things probably are actually impossible. For example, I am never going to be 5 feet 8 inches tall, no matter how much I exercise and eat nutritious food and try and try to stand a little taller. (I am quite short!) And I do not know how wise it is to try to do all impossible things.

But I do love this quote:

I have learned to use the word impossible with the greatest caution. – Werner von Braun

I'm sure that some people thought that humans could never fly—and now flying from New York to Los Angeles is routine for some! And did going to the moon seem impossible to many people?

Of course we can always learn from the late, great Douglas Adams:

The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.” – Douglas Adams

Six impossible things before breakfast”

Here is a portion of Alice Through the Looking Glass:

'I can't believe that!' said Alice.
'Can't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. 'Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said, 'one can't believe impossible things.'

'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'

When I read this, I like the silliness of it. But it also speaks to me about what it feels like to learn about some of the most amazing things in science.

I think that we should not “believe” in everything, willy-nilly, but should instead look to evidence to decide what is real and true—but sometimes scientific evidence seems to go against what we see with our own two eyes! That's because our eyes can be fooled by things such as optical illusions, and we can fool ourselves with wishful thinking and other logical fallacies, as well. Most of all, we experience the universe of medium sizes and slow speeds, and we have intuitive “gut feelings” and “common sense” that are based on those experiences. But a lot of what we now know about the universe has to do with very, very large and very, very small objects and very fast speeds—and so the evidence points to facts that seem to those gut feelings...

...well, impossible!

But it is a wonderful thing to examine the evidence, accept the evidence, and believe the seemingly impossible, and see where that takes us. As long as we are grounding ourselves on empirical evidence, it can take us to amazing places!

Also on this date:

Bill of Rights Day

Anniversary of the discovery of the Andromeda Galaxy

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