Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Balticon 42: Saturday Science Sessions

Since I couldn't live in the science room and needed to not only trade off with the kid so my husband could enjoy some time at the con, I also wanted to spend some time with the family. I missed the talks on Fungal Movement - The Microscopic Circus by Nicholas P Money, PhD and Poultry Feathers to Plastic by Dr. Walter Schmidt. Both peeked my curiosity but I just couldn't attend. I did manage to attend the Messenger Update by Noam Izenberg, JHU-APL and Dinosaurs - The Update by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. Yes and this geeky science groupie took more notes.

Mercury: Messenger Update

Noam Izenberg, JHU-APL

Messenger has multiple cameras: wide angle and high resolution cameras. They are using filters to get color images which shows the different properties of light effected by the type of rocks, rock age, etc. One other tool is the ultraviolet spectrum for determining rock types.

Should be in the July issue of "Science".

NASA’s website for Messenger and Messenger on Wikpedia.

Dinosaurs - The Update

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.

At Balticon just about every one of Dr. Holtz sessions fills to capacity in minutes. He is a wonderfully animated speaker who truly loves his subject matters and enjoys passing that interest on to the audience. The first time I heard him speak he said he had been coming to Balticon for years as a con goer and was flattered when they first asked him to speak. When he is not speaking at Sci-fi conventions, writing books, working in the field and filming TV shows he teaches at the University of Maryland Department of Geology. I can just imagine the wait list for his classes.

I was hanging on his every word and memorized by the PowerPoint slides. The few notes I did take barely scratches the surface of everything he covered.

Dino status determined by placement in history and evolution not by size.

New critters are being discovered at an amazing rate. One of the ones is "old frog" which is an ancestor of modern frogs and salamanders. This is just one of the 44 new dinosaurs names in 2007 and the 16 so far this year.

65 to 66 million years ago an asteroid is high on the list of causes for the "impact winter" causing the end of the rein fo the dinosaurs. But there is a new theory of the "easy bake oven" for the actual killing off of the big critters. They could not hide from the initial heat while the smaller ones could find protection. The food source was also effected. The smaller critters and the scavengers had more opportunity to find food and shelter to survive.

In World War II red/green color blind people were used as pilots since they could "break through" or see through camouflage. What can be a handicap under one circumstances can mean survival in another.

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. at University of Maryland and on Wikpedia.

His most recent book: Holtz, T.R., Jr. (illustrations by L. Rey). 2007. Dinosaurs: The Most Complete Up-To-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages. Random House

And coming to TV this summer in “Dinosaur fight club” on National Geographic, late summer.

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