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Will Vanti
There's too much to learn about, so you can't ever stop
There's too much to learn about, so you can't ever stop

Will's posts

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I don't know if it's just going to be talking heads and control room scenes, but still, this is pretty exciting.

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Careful observation and experimentation yields results!

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Everything old is new again...

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I love that the complexity of the Solar System keeps growing.
More excitement in the outermost solar system: a new dwarf planet!

On the heels of last weeks reports of a second Sedna and a ringed Centaur comes a third cool outer solar system discovery: A new, likely large member of the Kuiper belt. With an absolute magnitude of about 3.0, the new object currently known as 2013 FY27 is the ninth brightest object beyond Neptune.

More here:

(Image: NASA / JPL Small-body Database Browser / Emily Lakdawalla)

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A valiant attempt at explaining a concept that can only truly be described mathematically (I think)

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"Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion"

What a wonderful title for a scientific paper. The idea is simple: we would like to know more about how dinosaurs walked and moved. We can know some by looking at their skeletons (their shapes, the points that tell us about how muscles attached, the strong and weak points that tell us how strongly the muscles pulled) but we can't just watch a dinosaur walk around and film it, because there are no dinosaurs around...

Except, of course, that there are. As every XKCD reader knows, birds are in essence dinosaurs; they aren't the same as the dinosaurs that we had 67 million years ago when T. Rex roamed the Earth, but neither are those the same as the ones we had 90 million years before that when Stegosaurus did. And by looking at birds' skeletons, we can tell that some of our modern birds are structurally quite similar to ancient dinosaurs. The biggest difference is that dinosaurs had much bigger tails, and had their weight distributed more towards the back; modern birds have their weight more forward-leaning, the better to fly with.

So what these fellows have done is to take a non-flying bird -- a chicken -- and put a tail on it. The results are quite promising, in that they look a lot like our rough computer models of what we expect from dinosaurs' bone structures; they also give us far more details, showing the tailed dinosaurs walking with a less crouched posture, more with the hips than with the knees.

And so below, I present to you a video of a dinosaur walking.

The paper:

h/t +fan tai.

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The image, now known as The March of Progress, first appeared in 1965 and has captured the imagination of wannabe scientists since. This video explains why it's problematic—and why it doesn't really help us think about evolution properly.
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