This is terribly interesting to me. The idea that ceratopsian jaw design and dentation suggests a possible omnivorous diet completely changes my perspective on the creatures. But it is kind of exciting too. It provides an opportunity to completely rethink some of the most popular dinosaurs of all time. Check out some of the other illustrations in this Flickr photostream, they are great.
Tags: Ceratopsian, dinosaurs, omnivore
Tags: cobras, elapid, evolution, ground squirrel, king cobra, snake venom, snakes, The New York Times, venom
Sean Carroll writing for The New York Times has a good article all about venomous snakes, specifically the King Cobra. I have long found snakes, especially of the venomous varieties, quite fascinating creatures. But, I think that the focus that Mr. Carroll takes in his piece, looking at how other animals avoid a grim end due to snake venom, might be even more interesting.
I am particularly interested in the ground squirrels described because simple regional differences are enough to make members of the same species react differently to the rattlesnake venom. This is such a strong case for the current occurence of evolutionary selection. Life wants to survive and if there is a specific regional risk life will do what it can to avoid falling prey to it.
Really fascinating stuff. Oh, and for anyone who has never gottena chance to see a king cobra in a zoo or elsewhere, it is totally worth it. It really is amazing how large they are. Furthermore, I have found that elapid snakes seem to be more active and intelligent appearing than the other serpent families.
Tags: disease, infection, medicine, rinderpest, smallpox, vaccination, virus
Consider this, in the history of humans using vaccinations to combat viral infections (both of themselves as well as of livestock and pets) there have only been two disease that are considered completely wiped out; smallpox, and as of the last day or so rinderpest (a livestock disease). This is on one hand an amazing achievement, while, in the light of all the known kinds of viral infections, a sobering reality.
Now, just considering smallpox alone, which could have upwards of 60% mortality rate (80% for children), we can say that its elimination alone constitutes a pretty great thing. Furthermore, rinderpest was not a nice disease to deal with either. So while that might only be two viruses down, it certainly isn’t any small accomplishment.
I know that there are a lot of debates about vaccinations and the potential pros and cons of being vaccinated and I am not here to take one side or the other (mostly becuase I am not nearly as well educated in the science or medical practice as I think one should be to making these kind of arguments) but I will say that if being able to live in a word without smallpox is any degree of a measure then I think vaccination has achieved some very real good.
Tags: Aluminum, books, chemistry, elements, periodic table, Theodore Gray
So if you are looking for some good reading on scientific topics let me highly recommend to you the beautiful book “The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe” by Theodore Gray. Gray writes with a quick wit that makes the information that he provides not just fascinating but also funny and greatly enjoyable. Add to that the multitude of lovely photographs and the vast amount of Periodic table trivia and you’ve got yourself a real good book to look into. Admittedly I am only on element 13, Aluminum, in the book, but thus far I have enjoyed all that I have read.
If you can’t get your hands on the book right away, I recommend Mr. Gray’s website periodictable.com which gives you a good idea of the informationy ou’ll find in the book. Enjoy!
Tags: Andre Geim, buckyballs, carbon nano-tubes, graphene, Konstatin Novoselov, nano-material, Nobel Prize in Physics, The New York Times
“[A] sheet of it stretched over a coffee cup could support the weight of a truck bearing down on a pencil point.” ~ The New York Times, Oct. 5th, 2010
Congratulations to Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim on winning the Nobel Prize in Physics this year for there work on carbon graphene. While it is a pleasure to honor these two scientists, what I really want to say is, “Graphene, holy shit you are a cool thing!”
Really, all the various advancements in carbon nano-materials (buckyballs and nanotubes along with the graphene of the prize) is amazing. This is stuff of dreams. Incredibly strong, great conductors of heat and electricity, light weight, etc. etc. I have no doubts, whatsoever, that we will continue to hear more and more about these various carbon nano-materials in the years to come, as they have the potential to revolutionize any number of industries.
But in the meantime, congrats again to Mr. Novoselov and Mr. Geim on their Nobel Prize win. Good work fellows!
Tags: Ascension Island, BBC, biology, Charles Darwin, History, mars, space, terraforming
A wonderful little article from BBC News provides us with a fascinating bit of scientific history and the further implications that might be involved. The idea that a desolate island like Ascension Island can achieve a form of artificial terraforming in just a matter of decades is wonderful. Add to that Charles Darwin’s involvement, and some interesting maritime history and I have to say that you’ve got some really good stuff. Some of my favorite science is that of historical nature (as such I love to read books about the great thinkers of our past, and the discoveries they made).
What is more is the future scientific implications. Could such experiments provide us with a better understand on how we might cultivate a living ecosystem in the hostile environments of other planets? Planet terraforming (especially of Mars) has long been a staple of science fiction, but if humanity desires to establish lasting colonies on other worlds it may someday require to be science reality. The idea of using life forms to enact change on lifeless environments is thrilling and provocative. How might humans go about turning Mars into a habitable world? Hard to say, but kind of fun to think about anyway.
Tags: chemistry, elements, periodic table, Sam Kean, science, Slate.com
Sam Kean, writing over at Slate.com is offering us a closer look at a number of the elements on the Periodic Table. So far He has written about antimony and hydrogen. I think this is quite wonderful.
I, myself, have long found the various elements, that make up the entirety of our universe, very interesting. However, I admit, that my personal knowledge is limited, at best, to some basic textbook knowledge on the better known members of the table. I always love reading different perspectives and further information science subjects, and it looks like Mr. Kean is offering a great opportunity here.
Also, just for a fair plug, Mr. Kean’s book The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, besides being a mouthful of a title, sounds like a wholly fascinating read. I intend to look for it, as I am sure I’ll enjoy the read.