Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Fri 26 May 2006

Xylo Screen Saver and the paleontologists

Category : museum

When Peter Larson (Black Hills Institute of Geological Research) and Christopher Brochu (Department of Geoscience, University of Iowa) fielded questions after their talks. With my Mac Book Pro now idle, the screen saver kicked in and everyone got a clear look at that slacker, Xylo, lolling around on the floor and on top of the fridge!

Earlier, when Chris was speaking, for some reason, the soundtrack of Jurassic Park permeated the Auditorium and threatened to swamp the speaker! Somewhat symbolically, Chris worked through it and we had a very enjoyable and though-provoking session, in which he dismantled more than a couple of myths in his peppery style of deadpan-humour!

I never ever imagined I'd hear Peter Larson gave a personal account of the Sue court case that landed him in jail for two years - the same jail, that held the 9-11 convict and the Okalahoma bomber. But his ability to rise above it all and the advice that family was above it all was very touching. He rankers no ill-will although it was political ambition that led to the that unnecessary series of events.

He and Chris did differ on aspects of dinosaur biology and highlighted the variance of opinion that the field tolerated, that was eventually settled by new evidence and perspectives. The principles of science were frequently highlighted in the talks and discussion and I felt it was the nature of this aspect of biology that leads to the emphasis. There are doubters in every corner and they help the science, actually, to a point. After that it's just about shifting goal posts, something that happens with other topics as well :-)

Since I was drafted to pick them up and deliver them to the venue each day, the discussion begins earlier and continues well after the talks. Evolution and public perception in American went into education and politics and the Daily Kos was cited amidst all this. Lets just say that the dino speakers are not at any loss for words!

One thing though, the fact that birds are living dinosaurs is an issue that all four, including, Xu Xing and Peter Makovicky, agreed was well over. For more than two decades, it seems. When Jack Horner raised this at the Dinosaur World Tour in 1996, I was surprised - it was news to me then. These guys then traced the origins of that theory back to the 19th century!

Dino talk series infor here. Yes Amy, its suitable for the interested layman too! On Saturday the panel will have some fun when they take on "Jurassic Theme Park for Integrated Resorts?" They roped in Leo Tan too!

Posted at 1:30AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .