I did a fair amount of photo research when
Photo by newlow via Wikimedia Commons I worked for an educational publishing company. On one occasion, I needed a nice photograph of a scientist “at work” to decorate our introductory chapter on science methods. You know what I found? Photo after photo of people in lab coats looking at or holding flasks or test tubes of colored liquids. It was almost comical, but not unexpected. I have a friend who works for a pharmaceutical company, and he once told me that when the board of directors came in for a visit, the staff members were told to fill up some containers with colored water so they’d look busy—apparently, their incredibly scientific jobs weren’t showy and sciency-looking enough! This stereotypical idea of what science looks like embodies this week’s misconception:

All science is done via experimentation.

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This past week on the Fossil Friday, I gave you what looked to me like a turkey leg. But actually it was a dino femur. Who was it that it belonged to? It was a Diplodocus

From Live Science:

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This week on Fossil Friday, I bring you the world's largest turkey leg! Well, no, not really, though the animal once attached could have tasted like chicken. This came from a pretty well-known dinosaur from the Jurassic, so I will give you no clues.

What is this fossil and what animal is it from? Can you identify where it is now being displayed? And how did it taste with mint jelly?

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Don’t get me wrong; I love it when fossils make the news. Paleontology is my first intellectual love—frustrating, illuminating, amazing, and did I mention frustrating? Seriously, you don’t know frustration until you spend weeks chipping sandstone away from a rock, grain by grain under a microscope. It’s excruciating. If I ever meet Steven Spielberg, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind regarding that Jurassic Park scene where the scientists, like, blow gently and expose a perfectly preserved dinosaur. If only! But I digress…

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07.23.2014

Many years ago, I moved to Paris with only high school French to sustain me. Parisians have a reputation for—shall we say—brusqueness, and I had no shortage of embarrassing encounters that I interpreted as scorn for my weak French and wretchedly obvious American-ness. Over time as my French improved and my wardrobe shifted to the local norm, I noticed that I was still encountering a heckuva lot of brusqueness. But as I developed the ability to understand the conversations going on around me, I figured something out: Parisians weren’t singling me out for my accent or my clothes—they were hard on everyone, including each other. Made me feel better, somehow.

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This past week on Fossil Friday, I gave you a stack of fossils all the way from Danville, Kentucky! What were they?

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This week on Fossil Friday, I bring you another great fossil (or set of fossils) from Dan Phelps, the president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society. This photo has two different species in it, one stacked over the other. They were found in Kentucky and date from the Upper Ordovician.

What are they? How specific can you get?

Dan is not allowed to guess again this week, but he is welcome to taunt the commenters!

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug-resistant bacteria cause more than two million infections, and kill at least 23,000 people every year in the United States. At the same time, the development of new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle, partially because pharmaceutical companies know that the inevitable emergence of resistance will cut short the useful lifespan of any drug they develop.

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On June 25, 2014, the following scientific study made the cover of the prestigious journal, Nature: “Aspergillomarasmine A overcomes metallo-β-lactamase antibiotic resistance.” Doesn’t exactly sound earth-shattering, does it? But the discovery of a fungal compound that restores the efficacy of one of our antibiotics of last resort is, in fact, huge news.

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This week we have a very special fossil courtesy of Fossil Friday fan Dan Phelps—who also happens to be the president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society. What could it be? Looks like some sort of plant pod to me, or an ancient sloth zipper?

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