On October 1st, NPR featured a story on the construction of the “nation’s T. rex,” a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus skeleton set to be the crown jewel of the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum’s new Fossil Hall, opening in 2019. The dinosaur, somewhat disappointingly nicknamed the “Wankel T.” (after the Montana rancher who discovered in in 1988), will, indeed, stand out among other dinosaur skeletons for some visible—and not-so-visible—reasons. Maybe most obviously, the Wankel T. is being displayed in a “natural” state of carnivory: rather than standing straight up, small arms waving prostrate in the air, the Wankel will be shown bent down, tearing into the flesh of a dead triceratops. Preparators hope that this life-like scene of consumption, though perhaps a bit disturbing to triceratops lovers, will capture the imagination of young visitors while encouraging a sort of “nature in action” form of display. Even more significant to paleontologists, though, is the fact that the Wankel is constructed with mostly real bones.
Back in January 2013, twenty-three year old Kim Suozzi passed away after her fight with glioblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer. Kim, a recent college graduate and neuroscience major, made headlines in the months leading up to her death for her decision to cryopreserve her brain in hopes that she would one day be revived. Unable to pay for the high cost of the procedure, Kim and her boyfriend Josh Schisler took her case to the Internet, determined to drum up donations to fund Kim’s dream. Ultimately, their campaign was a huge success: Kim raised the $80,000 dollars she needed to preserve her brain until neuroscientists figure out a way to bring her back to life.
A couple of weeks ago in a very public admittance of failure, Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Although anonymous donors rallied together $1.25 million in an effort to save the museum within just a few days, museum professionals—as well as Philadelphia families—are left questioning what it means to run a successful children’s science museum…and what it takes to keep doors open.
The official GIF of the competition.
Following a Twitter exchange with Michael Barany last Thursday evening, I am pleased to announce the start of a new series on this blog: the Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions Comparison Watch.
Have you noticed how frequently some writer on science, social science, or business will favorably compare an individual they like (often themselves) to a paradigm-shifting scientist from Kuhn’s Structure—Copernicus, Galileo, Lavoisier, Einstein, etc.? Because we have! Continue reading