The violet filter on the Imaging Science System aboard Voyager 1 and 2Many years ago, I said to a colleague, “What a beautiful shirt! Royal blue is a good color on you.” She replied, “What do you mean blue? This shirt is purple!” After some experimenting, we discovered that we consistently differed on the line between blue and purple. In extending our experiments to co-workers, we found that I was the outlier—most people saw blue and purple more like my colleague. It turns out that such differences are real; the proteins that detect light in our eyes can be tuned to slightly different wavelengths, and we can each have slightly different ratios of the three proteins that allow us to distinguish colors. I really do see blue where most people see purple. (Do you? Here’s a Buzzfeed quiz.)

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The vertebrate paleontologist is a peculiar creature—half geologist, half biologist, half lunatic, it spends as much time as it can in the hottest desert or the coldest tundra, all in the passionate pursuit of the interesting inedible. As many of you know personally, and others of you have no doubt inferred, they’re even more peculiar en masse. One of the things I miss most since leaving academia is attending the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) meeting. Apart from the fact that it’s among the booziest meetings around, SVP-ers are just … goofy and delightful.

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You know how they used to peddle orange juice by saying, “It isn’t just for breakfast any more?” That’s how I feel about informal science education. No, silly: not that it isn’t just for breakfast any more. That it isn’t just for kids any more. (Unlike Trix, silly rabbit, which are just for kids.)

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