Archive for March, 2016

Living in the Age of Mystery

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:37 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last year, I was listening to a YouTube Hangout wherein one of the participants was lamenting the fact that science has taken away many of the mysteries in the universe. I could not disagree with that person more. We are lucky enough to be living in the Age of Mystery, from a scientific perspective.

 

The scientific method has given us answers to several questions that our ancestors pondered, however, it has also opened up whole new worlds to discover. For one example of what I am talking about, we once wondered what caused sickness. Our ancestors came up with several guesses that, for the most part, turned out to be wrong. However, the discovery of microorganisms not only led us to the correct answer about where sickness comes from, but also a whole new world of microorganisms that our ancestors could not dream existed. Since that discovery, we have never stopped exploring it and make new discoveries in that field almost daily.

 

Our knowledge gained through scientific investigation, has led to more and better questions about the universe than anything before. Our knowledge has exposed us to our vast ignorance of the universe. We now know the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is ~14 billion years old. The numbers alone are almost inconceivable to our minds. Can you imagine all the mysteries things that we may never know about that happened in those lengths of time? The fossil record only gives us a fraction of what lived on earth, plus it becomes less and less reliable the farther back one goes. We may never have a complete picture of the life history of our own planet.

 

The matter that we see and interact with on a daily bases makes up ~5% of the stuff in our universe. ~95% of our universe is made out of two things (dark matter and dark energy) that we can detect, but cannot see. This amazing aspect of our universe is something that our ancestors could not have imagined to be real, and we were not aware of it until the middle and latter half of the 20th century.

 

14 billion years of history and 95% of the universe being barely detectable. If anything, that means science has led us to the real age of mystery. We have mapped out most of our world, we have seen  many of the celestial bodies in our solar system. However, to think that because of science, there is less mystery in the world is daft. If anything, we are at the most mysterious time in our history. We are able to know just how ignorant we are of the universe, and that is an amazing thing. For every mystery science solves, it appears to open up two new ones, and I would not want it any other way.

Know Your Bones: March 2016

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:05 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month’s challenge went unguessed, meaning the final bragging rights for Know Your Bones belongs to me.

 

So, what is the name of the critter in last month’s challenge? It is Coelophysis bauri.

 

 photo Dayatthemuseum082_zps3be8952d.jpg
(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Coelophysis bauri lived during the late Triassic 208 to 228 million years ago. Most specimens are found in New Mexico, however, several specimens of related species (specimens that would be classified as Coelophysis) have been found worldwide, dating to as late as the early Jurassic. Coelophysis is one of the earliest dinosaurs known to science and the earliest known from complete specimens. Coelophysis was ~3 meters in length and would have stood ~1 meter at the hip. Coelophysis is a theropod with sharp curved teeth. It possessed four fingers on its forelimbs, which is the basal trait for theropods. It is believed that Coelophysis was a fast and agile predator.

 

 photo 2013-03-03091919_zpsaa913bc8.jpg
(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Coelophysis is one of the earliest dinosaurs discovered, being named by Edward Drinker Cope in 1889. Coelophysis means “hollow form,” because Cope noticed that it possessed hollow bones, something shared with all later theropods. Coelophysis also possessed a furcula (i.e. a wishbone) and a sclerodic ring seen in the orbit of the skull. The sclerodic ring allowed for muscle attachments which would have given Coelophysis amazing vision, much like modern birds of prey. As pointed out above, Coelophysis is one of the earliest dinosaurs and it already had all these traits that are found in modern birds. It would not be surprising to find out that Coelophysis also possessed feathers.

 

 photo 2013-07-26113514_zpsc84222fd.jpg
(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Thank you for everyone that ever participated in this. I did enjoy it, but I feel my time is better spent blogging about a different subject.

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