Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Science & SF Tidbits: intelligent dinosaurs, printed meat, extreme voting

Some recent links:

• Extreme Voting: How Astronauts Cast Ballots from Space »
If you are in the US, did you vote in yesterday's election? The American astronauts on the International Space Station did, submitting their absentee ballots electronically.

Dinosauroids revisited, revisited | Tetrapod Zoology
If dinosaurs had evolved intelligence, rather than going extinct, what might they look like? Would they be like the Silurians on Doctor Who, essentially human shaped? or would they be clever as crows and appear more bird-like? It seems like most of the science fictional and speculative science depictions assume the former model: intelligent "dinosauroids" would look much like us humans, only scalier. Paleozoologist Darren Nash takes a look at the biological plausibility of the different models of intelligent dinos that have been proposed and takes a slightly different view. Read the article for more!

Image: Dinosauroid, Dinosaur Museum, Dorchester. Photograph by By Jim Linwood on Flickr. Shared under a CC by 2.0 license.

Primeval: New World >> Create a Fan Video
Primeval: New World is a Canadian spin-off of the UK paleo-science fiction series Primeval. The basic premise is that there are "anomalies" that appear that are essentially doorways to other times. If an anomaly opens between the Cretaceous and our own time, a bunch of velociraptors might just end up running down the street. So every week a team of specialists needs to catch any creatures that have come through the portal and fix any damage done.

As you might expect, both series rely heavily on CGI dinosaurs and other beasts. Primeval: New World has an interesting offer - they provide special effects and animated dinosaurs, you create the video and upload it to YouTube and they may feature it on their site (like this video). If you want to create your own dino movie, there is more information here.

First tasting of Printed Meat « »
University of Missouri biological physicist Gabor Forgacs uses 3-D bioprinting devices to "print" organs made of cells on extracellular matrix biogel scaffolds. But there may be other uses. As part of a TEDMed presentation, Forgac cooked and ate a printed piece of meat. Forgac's company, Modern Meadow, is working on developing lab-grown meat and leather products that could eventually be mass produced and sold.

What's not clear to me is whether this is really necessary. If industrial farming is the problem (and it is), why not use artificial leather and promote meatless meals, rather than growing likely expensive versions in the lab? I'm not sold.


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