Time’s running faster than I am at the moment… brief glimpse behind the curtains.
Some scientists make discoveries by stumbling through dusty museum collections, now ChrisM of Echinoblog finds a previously unobserved sexual pose in National Geographics photo gallery… there it is, the above photo by David Doubilet. Kinky bastard. Also of note: the sun star Labidiaster eating a theropod.
I’m always amazed at what someone can see if he / she is informed enough to know what it is they’re looking at / looking for.
Kudos to NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio for this exemplary video explaining hurricane dynamics. Graphics and text descriptions are combined into a wonderfully engaging, understandable video. Be sure to check out the animatic and scribble board. Kudos!
A quote worth highlighting:
finding ways to help children make meaningful connections with (nonhuman) nature is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st Century, rivaling global warming, habitat loss, and species extinctions.
It’s all too easy to drift into the hugeness of issues we face… when debt is measured in trillions. This is a great reminder that solutions often open up when you concentrate on the other end of the scale… stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.
The quote is from Scott Sampson.
Seaside Romp, 1990: James Gurney revels in mammalian trots. More for future reference than anything else.
Paleodarth does Psittacosaurus sibiricus in the form of a competition. Impressive: he curates the entries with both a command of scientific knowledge and also of the existing artwork. Alessio Ciaffi’s entry is politely removed from competition as it – despite adaptations – is too obviously based on a piece by Raven Amos. The tone is admirable here; not the end of the world, not a finger-pointing scarlet letter… just a polite explanation that this runs against the rules of the competition, and the artistic process in general. On to the accepted entries… go have a look!
Must be Psittaco-Monday… Dave Hone also writes on Psittacosaurus.
Taking the temperature of the dinosphere this week would show a good deal of fever.
Failing grades for EB
Heinrich Mallison inserts a thermometer into Encyclopedia Britannica’s back end, coming up with less than ‘e’ for effort.
This book/pdf is modeled on the curriculum for grades 5 through 9 (or 10, depending on the edition). It is meant to be an additional resource, and an expensive one at that, for pupils. It should not contain stupid mistakes of this proportion.
As he headlines: catastrophic fail (if not outright exploitation of dinosaur popularity. This is a for-profit old-school authority. This is a resource that kids reach for when doing homework.
Defending the Defense of Infringement
On the far side of dinosphere, James Gurney posts about a case of infringement. And his community’s comments are divided. Some take offense at his ‘ridiculing’ (sav) and ‘unprofessional’ (SteveRB511) response. Others defend the obvious differences between the TerraNova and Dinotopia formats.
Hello!? James is spot-on, justifiably offended:
I do object to the premise of advertising the program by making a mockery of images from Dinotopia. … The visual that they developed directly used images that I painted from the Dinotopia universe, and the image could easily have been confused for something from Dinotopia, which is an infringement.
And, what of it?
Why connect the dots between two such disparate events? Because we have obvious, blind-for-profit idiocy with naively offensive behavior. These are multi-million corporations engaging in bad behavior. The individuals commissioned to write the double-page spread or the letter of inquiry aren’t evil… they’re doing a job that they’ve been assigned. But they aren’t being criticized in either case: the net result structure is, and that is a very much intentional process by top-down executives who will not change their behavior unless they are financially pressured to do so.
Why would we expect private individuals who call them out to remain overly polite and discrete after initial contact hasn’t led anywhere?
Allow me to copy/paste from Heinrich, in the language of Goethe and Kant:
Nur wo Scheisse drauf steht, ist auch Scheisse drin
Matt is – of course – Matt Wedel, of svpow fame. Good is his in-depth review of Sideshow’s Apatosaurus macquette… but why is this so? I suspect this series will need no introduction, so I’ll just jump into why I appreciate it so much, why it is so helpful to me as a palaeo-illustrator…
- Matt differentiates between author preference and scientific plausibility.
An artistic choice doesn’t need to be interpreted as supporting or rejecting scientific hypothesis, and I love the way Matt accepts things as ‘not the way he would have done it’ but ‘fully plausible’. This relaxed treatment of artistic decisions that might be interpreted as supporting this or that paper / camp / hypothesis is very refreshing.
- He doesn’t excuse personal favorites.
Equally refreshing is the way Matt whole-heartedly takes a stand for personal preference – ie. flamboyant life reconstructions ala Brian Engh. This is not universal among scientists, who are often somewhat too eager to anticipate counter-arguments and dampen claims. Perhaps this is a characteristic of a more established generation of scientists… at any rate, I’m grateful for Matt’s willingness to go out on a limb and enjoy the opinionated views of palaeo-bloggers like the svpow crew, Heinrich Mallison, Darren Naish (ie. cryptozoology), Mark Witten (where’s he been?), Dave Hone, etc…
- He discusses variations.
When discussing the plausibility of a specific feature, Matt offers alternative ideas, discussing their merits and shortcoming. This seems obvious, but I don’t take this for granted. The tone makes the difference – he’s not academically knifing alternative ideas in the back, but rather discussing and presenting his evaluations, including a recognition of personal preference.
The variations allude to how his evaluation would apply to other species of sauropod (ie. neck) or alternative scientific views (neck pose). This lends the review maximum value above and beyond the concrete case-in-hand.
Matt writes very accessibly… moments of fanboy joy flow into the dialog and there they are: passionate and recognizably different than the sinuous flesh of the analytical sections. Different voices signal when he’s being one or the other, and create a pleasing rhythm in the text. Also obvious but not to be overlooked – it’s a good read.
Summary: thanks! This is one of the most useful artist references I’ve encountered!