The Machine Inside

Let’s take a stroll through the Ontario Science Centre’s current special exhibit: Biomechanics – The Machine Inside!

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Rhinos and dinos and whales, oh my!

A few weeks ago I took a road trip down to visit the smaller Arbour sibling who is currently based at the University of Washington, and we made a point of visiting the Burke Museum on campus. The museum is about to be on the move, so in a couple of years this post will be out of date – despite it getting some shiny new digs in the near future, it’s still a pretty impressive museum for a university campus, and it has some unique treasures! Let’s get to it!

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Heroes in a half shell

In my continued quest to betray my dinosaurian research roots, I went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York to look at turtles! And what turtles they were – this is the skull of Ninjemys (the ninja turtle!), a giant meiolaniid turtle from Australia. Meiolaniids are the best turtles you’ve never heard of and it’s a crying shame that they don’t feature more prominently in prehistoric popular media.

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Woe betide those who summon the Galactic Coelacanth

A couple of years ago I had an existential crisis when I realized that, in the time one of my papers had been in review (almost 8 months!), I could nearly have physically created an entirely new human being in my body, if I had so chosen. Thus began the saddest game in the universe that I like to play when I submit a paper: “What kind of animal could have been gestated in the time this paper has been in review?”. And this became an even better running joke when one of my colleagues had a highly unusual review experience that lasted for several years, which completely exhausted the gestation times of real animals.

My amazing and lovely sister saw us talking about this on Facebook and went ahead and wrote an R script that tells you exactly what kind of animal you could have birthed while waiting for reviewer comments. And because I am always forgetting to save this amazing piece of code, I’ve gotten permission from Jessica to post it here for posterity. My sincere apologies to anyone who gets the Space Whale, and my deepest condolences to anyone who is graced by the presence of the Galactic Coelacanth. 

Click here for the R script!

Updated 30 June 2015: If you don’t have R, you can also download a text file to see the code!