Visit the lesson for a transcription of the informative captions.
Saturday 12/10 – at 1pm Central
12-hour fundraising event for the Secular Student Alliance!
“We’ll be joined by a great many guests including PZ Myers, the League of Reason, The Jinn and Tonic Show, Trolling With Logic (and special guests Damon Fowler and Joe Zamecki), as well as some of YouTube’s finest. There will even a sneak preview of Holy Hallucinations 29 by TheLivingDinosaur, but only if you help us raise a lot of money!”
This was done upon request to be auctioned on E-Bay as a fundraising event for the non-profit Secular Student Alliance, by SkepticTV http://www.skeptictv.net/.
I’m not sure what the point is, but I like the statues. Jason DeCaires Taylor makes them by taking life moulds of ordinary people, then using the moulds to make statues of special, alkaline concrete that encourages the growth of corals. You can find them off the coast of Mexico. Environmental statement or tourist attraction?
Speaking only for myself, and not being a mathematician, I love fractals for their beauty and intricacy. I don’t understand them. I understand that they are repeating patterns that get smaller and smaller and for some, anyway, go on doing so infinitely.
As a child I recognized that the beauty of nature embraced both randomness and pattern. Although I did not know the term, in many cases, that pattern was fractal. The branches of a maple tree and the veins in a maple leaf diverge at the same angle, about 41.5 degrees of a circle. Small twigs, large boughs, and veins in the leaf thus harmonize.
The fractal that made the news was the Mandelbrot curve, which maps how quickly a series goes to infinity, or its limit. It is infinitely fine: you can keep expanding the curve and going further into it, finding repeated patterns, and never reach the end. Programmers have given us the tools to generate and display them. But there are other types of fractals. There are fractal flames, waves, and something the author calls gnarls.
One site where you can enjoy them is UltraGnosis Fractal Art. You can order calendars with images of fractal leaves. They’re very appealing to the nature-lover in me.
Canada’s first national CFI conference started Thursday and is continuing until Sunday. Its theme is “The Intersection of Art and Science,” with the major attention-grabbing sessions on Saturday.
The very first session is an exposition on the relatively recent discoveries that connect the evolution of art with the evolution of humanity and language and reducing the suddenness of the “Cro-Magnon Explosion.”
Some of the evolutionary art of Glendon Mellow will be on exhibit, with a few pieces for sale.
Before birds, there were feathers–naturally enough. Feathers, like hair, no doubt provided insulation and were grown by dinosaurs. Indeed, reptilian scutes when properly treated with a mild acid can fall apart into a feather-like structure. I suspect that the first advantage that they imparted was warmth for a small animal. But camouflage probably came second. When you have temporary structure like feathers, you can change color with the seasons. The color can vary by combining red and black pigments. It can pulse on and off as the feather grows or in different parts of the body to form pigmented bands. I have seen dinosaur-bird fossils where the bands in the feathers call to mind the wings and tail of a hawk.
But that’s just a hypothesis! Scientists have shaved a pigmented fossil into microscopic bits to identify the pigment granules and classify their color type: black or Irish-setter red. They applied their findings to the reconstructed fossil to see its color pattern. Behold!
The lovely illustration is by Chuang Zhao and Lida Xing
GrrlScientist has a fine, detailed description and lots of images of how the research on Sinosauropteryx was done with scanning electron microscopy.
It’s easy to create lines, cross-hatching, or speckles when two such color pulses combine into a moire pattern.