Feb 08,2008 00:00
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Future warning signs
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.
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.