Eureka! Daily discoveries for the scientifically bent
Feb 08,2008 00:00 by Scott_LaFee

TEEN DINOS RUNNING LOOSE

Imagine for a moment that you're an allosaurus mom or a tenontosaurus dad and you find out your 8-year-old daughter has gotten herself pregnant. Would you be upset? Would you wring your hands in dismay?

 
TRUE FACTS - There are an estimated 7,000 to 15,000 tigers in U.S. zoos, circuses, sanctuaries, farms and private homes -- more than exist in the wild, where there are between 4,800 and 7,300. CNS Photo. 
 
PRIME NUMBERS - Wind power capacity grew 45 percent in the U.S. in 2007. CNS Photo. 
 
TEEN DINOS - New research suggests that at least some dinosaurs, including possibly tyrannosaurus rex, produced offspring well before they reached maximum adult size. CNS Photo. 
 
VERBATIM - How can he call it a wonderful success when everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure? -- Henry Morton, a physicist and president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Thomas Edison's improved incandescent light bulb in 1879. 
No, you would not - and not just because you have a tiny brain or relatively stubby arms that make wringing hands difficult. New research by scientists at UC Berkeley and Ohio University suggests that at least some dinosaurs, including possibly tyrannosaurus rex, produced offspring well before they reached maximum adult size.

Researchers looked at fossilized specimens of the meat-eating allosaurus and the plant-eating tenontosaurus that had apparently been pregnant when they died, based upon the presence of specialized egg shell-producing bone tissue that occurs only temporarily in reproductively mature females. When scientists subsequently deduced the ages of the dinosaurs, they found they were just 8, 10 and 18 years old.

The discovery strengthens the idea that at least some dinosaurs were much more like birds than reptiles, growing fast and becoming sexually active quickly because, well, they didn't have much time. Most dinosaurs lived 30 years or less on average, though long-necked creatures like apatosaurus might have reached 60.

VERBATIM

How can he call it a wonderful success when everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure?

- Henry Morton, a physicist and president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Thomas Edison's improved incandescent light bulb in 1879, which lasted 13.5 hours

BRAIN SWEAT

Translate the following well-known maxim:

A mass of concentrated earthly matter perennially rotating on its axis will not accumulate an accretion of bryophytic vegetation.

BRAIN SWEAT ANSWER

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

PRIME NUMBERS

45 - Percentage wind power capacity grew in the U.S. in 2007

180 - Number of food and beverage choices U.S. astronauts have on space missions

20 - Weight, in milligrams, needed to trigger Meissner corpuscles - the touch receptors found in human skin. Twenty milligrams is about the weight of a fly.

Sources: American Wind Energy Association; NASA; Discover

'TRUE FACTS'

There are an estimated 7,000 to 15,000 tigers in U.S. zoos, circuses, sanctuaries, farms and private homes - more than exist in the wild, where there are between 4,800 and 7,300.

ELECTRON INK

Future warning signs

lifeboat.com/ex/warning.signs.for.tomorrow

We all recognize current warning signs, whether they're icons with a red slash through them or, for example, the symbol for radioactive matter (which looks like a reel-to-reel tape roll). But what about the future? How will our unwary successors know where to find (or avoid) stable strangelets or antimatter? This site offers some visual suggestions for future signage.

JUST ASKING

If you don't pay your exorcist, do you get repossessed?

OUR IGNOBEL HISTORY

Some people's feet stink; some people's feet don't. It's almost a natural law. In 1990, six intrepid scientists from the Shiseido Research Center in Yokohama, Japan, set out to discover why. After acquiring a number of sweaty socks from volunteers and incubating them to increase their malodorous qualities, the researchers analyzed them for their chemical content.

They determined that the stinkiest socks contained lots of short-chain fatty acids, in particular one chemical called iso-valeric acid.

For perhaps understandable reasons, however, the scientists stopped there, ending their research without a definitive answer.

But for taking a big, pungent step toward solving this mystery, the Japanese scientists received the 1992 Ig Nobel Prize in medicine.

Quite a feat in itself.