Among the most iconic and remarkable of dinosaurs are the stegosaurs, a mostly Jurassic group of thyreophorans famous for the rows of spikes and plates that decorated their necks, backs and tails [somewhat inaccurate Stegosaurus stenops shown below. I did it many years ago]. As I'm fond of saying, the stegosaur we know best - Stegosaurus - is an atypical member of the group. It's particularly large and possesses lots of plates and but a few spikes. Stegosaurus may also be unusual in lacking shoulder spikes (aka parascapular spines), but this is less clear that it used to be since the 'parascapular spines' of some stegosaurs have been reinterpreted as tail spikes. For all their familiarity, Stegosaurus and its relatives remain poorly understood and we don't know as much about their biology, behaviour and evolution as we might like. Many very interesting suggestions have been made: that stegosaurs were low-browsers, keeping their heads down among the ferns and cycads; that they were … [Read more...] about Stegosaur Wars: the SJG stegosaur special, part I
Big k r i t
Suppose you're interested in the anatomy and biology of ground hornbills. Now suppose that you get the chance to make physical contact with one of these awesome birds. Here, at last, is the opportunity to get bitten!! Surely you've always wanted to know what it feels like when a ground hornbill bites you. No? Ok, maybe it's just me. Anyway, the opportunity to get bitten by a ground hornbill presented itself to me a few weeks ago, so who was I to miss out? As I can now confirm from personal experience, it turns out that ground hornbills don't bite hard enough to hurt. My impression is that the bird just wasn't able to exert enough force to, say, crush a large beetle or snail shell, let alone break the bones of a vertebrate prey animal. But, then, that isn't what these birds do anyway: they grab things with their bill tips, squeeze them, and shake them and/or beat them against objects or surfaces before they go limp enough to be thrown to the throat and swallowed (Burton 1984, Baussart … [Read more...] about What does it feel like to get bitten by a ground hornbill, I hear you ask?
"If you're a reporter, the easiest thing in the world is to get a story. The hardest thing is to verify. The old sins were about getting something wrong, that was a cardinal sin. The new sin is to be boring." -David Halberstam It was only a few months ago that both collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN -- CMS and ATLAS -- announced the discovery of a new particle at about 125-126 GeV of energy: something that looked an awful lot like what the Standard Model predicted the Higgs Boson should be. Image credit: the CMS detector at CERN, 2009. This was the result of decades of investing, thousands of people's tireless efforts, and unprecedented international collaboration. But in many ways, this was also only the beginning. Yes, by combining all of the data, we were able to tell that there was a new particle there of a certain mass, that it's a boson (as opposed to a fermion), and that it has many properties consistent with a Higgs Boson. Image credit: Fermilab, with slight … [Read more...] about Why is it a big deal that the new LHC particle is verified as the Higgs?
Five big thinkers — Regina Barzilay, George Church, Jennifer Egan, Catherine Mohr and Siddhartha Mukherjee — puzzle over the future of the future. NOV. 16, 2018 The Tech And Design Issue From Gene Editing to A.I., How Will Technology Transform Humanity? The Future of Aging Just Might Be in Margaritaville Proteomics Might Have Saved My Mother’s Life. And It May Yet Save Mine. The Human Brain Is a Time Traveler On Instagram, Seeing Between the (Gender) Lines May A.I. Help You? 20 Americans Die Each Day Waiting for Organs. Can Pigs Save Them? The ‘Geno-Economists’ Say DNA Can Predict Our Chances of Success Gaming Out a Chance at Motherhood — Later Data-Driven Medicine Will Help People — But Can It Do So Equally? Climate Change and the Savage Human Future Jokes From the Future Group 3 Created with Sketch. Group 3 Created with … [Read more...] about From Gene Editing to A.I., How Will Technology Transform Humanity?
Jeff Johnson was angry. “There is a special place in hell for people who would write an ad like this and think this is acceptable behavior,” Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday. He was referencing a new attack ad sponsored by the DFL-supporting independent expenditure committee called Alliance for a Better Minnesota. In it, a man named Austin tells of being born with a disability and claims that Johnson’s plan for health care could deny him affordable insurance. “For Jeff Johnson to treat us this way is profoundly shameful,” Austin says. Johnson has asserted throughout the campaign that he would assure those with pre-existing conditions would have affordable health insurance. ABM and Democratic nominee Tim Walz have responded by claiming putting high-cost patients into high-risk pools would make the insurance purchased there unaffordable. But the ad and the press conference illustrate a different issue in the 2018 campaign: the clout and impact of … [Read more...] about As DFL groups spend big on the guv race, Republicans dig in on the Minnesota House