Walking with Dinosaurs show

We travelled to Ottawa to see the Walking with Dinosaurs show. The costumes and mechanical dinosaurs were very impressive. I was hoping to see them up close but that was reserved for a lucky winner who tweeted the best picture of the show in a limited time.

There were man-sized dinosaur costumes. It was easy to ignore the extra legs.

A man in an elaborate dinosaur costume steps into a spotlight

Man-sized dinosaur

And there were mechanical dinosaurs on low-slung electric cars.

A realistic-looking Tyrannosaurus rex  is propelled by a low, flat, grey car

Large mechanical dinosaur

Finally, there were pterosaurs flying on wires.

A pterosaur flies over the arena under bluish light

Model pterosaur, life-sized

The pictures are blurry because of the low light levels and moving targets.


Ottawa scientists protest muzzling by Harper government

The government is wrong to try to control scientists so they won’t go “off-message” about global warming, pollution, or other dangers.

Protest in Ottawa

Protest in Ottawa

There have been repeated protests by scientists since then.

Events on the Danforth

The Danforth Music Hall, an old movie house, hosts a wide variety of events. That’s where I heard Alice Walker on her last book tour. A couple of weeks ago, David Suzuki brought a science show about local pollinators. Today it’s MacBeth.

And it looks as if Laurie Anderson is coming to town. Could that be the same one who does wierd music like Love is a Virus? It is:

Dinner with science bloggers!

…and real scientists, in town for the American Society for Microbiology general meeting. I was honoured to be invited. Larry Moran and Tara Smith organized a dinner of science bloggers previously acquainted only over the Web. We met at the University of Toronto. The picture shows some of us sitting on the steps in front of the Medical Sciences Building: Larry Moran of Sandwalk, Jonathan Badger of T. Taxus, Andrew Staroscik of Mixotrophy, Tara Smith of Aetiology, and John Logsdon of Sex, Genes, and Evolution. Chris Condayan, the ASM public outreach manager, was off recording an interview with Eva Amsen of Easternblot. (He interviewed several people for a podcast on the ASM’s Web site.)

Eight of us walked down to Baldwin Street for Indian food and a long, chatty, interesting dinner together. The food at Matahari restaurant was both good and unfamiliar. I had a good time and I think everyone else did, too. Here’s

Random chance or Wrathful Dispersion?

Q_pheevr has a delightful parody of Intelligent Design transported to the field of linguistics. “Wrathful Dispersion theory” echoes every argument of “Intelligent Design theory”—but is it just Babelism in disguise?

"Dinosaurs Make an Impression"

Speaking of Kevin Padian, as I just did in the “Macroevolution primer,” here’s a tidbit from the past.

The cover article for Nature (May, 1999) describes how StudioToolsTM computer modelling and design software from Alias|wavefront is used to analyze dinosaur tracks and to explain a mysterious, apparent “spur” mark in each track, sometimes supposed to be from a “reversed hallux” or backward-facing toe.

At that time I was at Alias|wavefront helping to document a new version of StudioToolsTM. I attended a talk by the author, Kevin Padian. He described how used the software was used to model a mud surface and a dinosaur’s foot, then trace its motion in three dimensions, discovering that the “spur” was an artifact of how the foot entered the mud. I’m pretty sure that our resident scientist, Bill Buxton, found the research opportunity and donated a copy of the software.

See also “How Dinosaurs Walked the Walk.”

Related book: It’s ten years old, but the Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, edited by Philip J. Currie* and Kevin Padian,** still looks very interesting.

*Curator of Dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta
**Professor of Integrative Biology and Curator of Lower Vertebrates in the Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley

"Evolution" wall

Thanks to PZ Myers for pointing out this lovely series of graffiti–not scientifically acurate but nifty and thought-provoking.