Archive for the ‘Pioneering’ Category

New techniques

Dating pinpoints volcanoes that killed half of species, split continents.

New techniques for dating rocks have helped narrow the time frame of a chain of massive volcanic eruptions that wiped out half of the world’s species 200 million years ago, a study said Thursday.

The result is the most precise date yet — 201,564,000 years ago — for the event, which is known as the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event, said the study, published in the journal Science. The event was the fourth mass extinction in the history of our planet.

The eruptions “had to be a hell of an event,” said coauthor Dennis Kent, an expert on paleomagnetism at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
They may offer a historic parallel to the human-caused climate change happening today, by showing how sharp increases in carbon dioxide can outpace vulnerable species’ ability to adapt, researchers said.

The new analysis narrows the estimated date from its previous range of up to 3 million years to just 20,000 years at most — a blink of an eye in geological terms.

The eruptions caused an already hot Earth to become even more stifling, killing off plants and animals and making way for the age of the dinosaurs — before they, too, were eventually obliterated some 65 million years ago, possibly by another volcanic event combined with a devastating meteor strike.


A perfect example are the integrated displays. PearsonLloyd had wanted to connect these in a center band to optimize their complexity of articulation. And while this didn’t affect roominess, the band blocked a view into the next row, cutting down on perceived space. So they abandoned the idea. The precise shape of the head/shoulder compartment was honed to accept users of multiple broadness. The lower lumbar adjustments were given massage functions (which sounds like a godsend for anyone who’s gone numb during a long flight). And even the seat textile is wholly custom, bringing in flecks of yellow to warm the otherwise silver sheen. I asked Pearson why many of these pretty obvious improvements hadn’t been made before, why if V-shaped seating is so efficient, it wasn’t simply implemented in the first place? “Simply because design and engineering knowledge evolves,” he responded. “People never arrive immediately at the optimum solution.” Which makes you wonder, with a few more great ideas, how wonderful could Lufthansa’s next new business class be?


A cool idea, but …

A few farms in Vermont made national news in 2010 for pioneering weed dating. The nights attracted a dozen people, then just five, due to rain, then seven. But things fizzled.

“It was a very exciting idea for the media, but the daters themselves weren’t all that excited about it,” said Barbara Richardson, office manager of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. “It sounds like a really cool idea, but it didn’t pan out.”

In fact, at one event, more reporters showed up than participants. Those daters ranged from age 18 to 60, “and there were far more women than men, of course,” she said. So it made for an uncomfortable evening, made more awkward by TV cameras.

Richardson still believes that, if cultivated correctly, weed dating could bring together people with similar values.

“People do meet the loves of their lives at our events,” she said, “but not so far at weed dating.”

The St. Paul farm is planning a second weed dating night, and Joseph Hartmann, who attended Tuesday, plans to go. The 22-year-old recently graduated from the U’s campus in Morris, where he focused on environmental studies. He is now back in Roseville, living with his parents, applying for jobs.

Hartmann called the event “a great introduction to the Twin Cities” and “a chance to meet some really nice people.” He’s never done speed dating, much less weed dating, and while he likes the idea, he’s spotted a problem: the time limit.

“It’s hard to gauge” whether you’d be compatible with someone, he said, “off of a 5-minute conversation in a field somewhere in St. Paul.”

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