You know what makes a Friday better? A fossil. Here is one from a very famous assemblage…but what is it? Here’s an ironic tidbit to help you to identify it: no one knows what it is.
Any guesses? If you can’t identify the particular organism, perhaps you can at least get the locality?
You can do it!
This month on Friday Flicks, Flickmaster Max Yipp brings us a great video from PBS’s Idea Channel. The featured video asks the question: Was the discovery of global warming humanity’s greatest scientific achievement?
The question that I was addressing in part 1—and before that in “Whence Fact, Theory, and Path?”—concerned a familiar threefold distinction between evolution as fact, evolution as theory, and evolution as path. The question is easy enough to state: Who thought of it first? But the answer is hard to discover. In part that’s because there are so many ways of expressing the point: a writer might talk about the “path” or the “course” or the “route” of evolution on the one hand, or about the “theory” or the “causes” or the “process” of evolution on the other hand. In part that’s because those phrases aren’t consistently used in the same way: a writer who is discussing “the theory of evolution” isn’t necessarily confining the discussion to the causes or processes of evolution. So far, the earliest articulation of the distinction I’ve discussed occurs in Principles of Animal Biology (1920), by A. Franklin Shull (above), which might have influenced Winterton Curtis’s use of it in his testimony for the Scopes trial in 1925.
In 1939, the great African American physician and surgeon Charles Drew organized a massive blood bank, shipping thousands of pints of plasma from New York City to Britain. The shipment saved lives as German bombs shredded English cities. The Red Cross soon brought Drew on board to coordinate its blood banking efforts, a necessary step as World War II expanded through Europe, the Pacific, and to American shores.
Alyson Miller was one of NCSE’s Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship winners. She teaches biology, zoology, physical science, and plant science at Nashua High School North, in New Hampshire.
I blame the olivine.
There it was, the greenish crystals glittering in a large hunk of million-year old lava next to a trail. Two geologists inspected it, and when I heard one of them say that the olivine-rich peridotite had probably come all the way from the Earth’s mantle, I had to walk away.
This past Saturday the Iowa City Science Booster Club held its first public event. Everyone had a great time, and it’s clear from the turnout that people want more opportunities to engage in science in their communities. More than two hundred and seventy people came by during our two-hour event. All kinds of people! Children, families, courting couples, single people, older adults, and the occasional sharp-dressed cyclist. Who doesn’t want to shoot lasers at things on a Saturday morning?
Last Friday we took a look at a couple of patterned fossils. I was hoping to trick you into thinking they were plant specimens, maybe some kind of tree bark, but the location tipped you off. These specimens are, of course, aquatic, like most of those collected in the quarries in eastern Iowa.
This week on Fossil Friday we have a pair of interestingly textured specimens.
What could they be? Animal, vegetable, or mineral? Okay, most certainly mineral at this point. But what were they originally? They date from the Devonian and were collected in a quarry in North Liberty, Iowa. First person to identify them wins bragging rights for the week!
In “Whence Fact, Theory, and Path?” I was talking about what I described as “a familiar threefold distinction between evolution as fact, evolution as theory, and evolution as path.” It’s a current distinction, with its modern locus classicus T. Ryan Gregory’s “Evolution as Fact, Theory, and Path” (PDF), which appeared in the inaugural issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach in 2008. But it is also a venerable distinction, appearing as far back as the Scopes trial.