Three things I read this morning in various online news sites have me excited:
1. A teenager in Germany has solved a problem that Sir Isaac Newton posed 350 years ago: how to calculate the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance. He's a genius, of course, but here's why he tackled the problem: “When it was explained to us that the problems had no solutions, I thought to myself, ‘well, there’s no harm in trying.’” Shouryya Ray was born in India and moved with his family to Germany when his father, an engineer, got a job there.
The 16-year-old has also solved the problem of calculating the effects of a collision of a body with a wall, which was posed in the 19th century.
---He remains humble, says "I’m no genius," and credits his achievement to "hard work in right direction."
---Be ready to learn anything. When he arrived Germany four years ago, he knew no German, but he's now fluent in the language and will be graduating two years early from prep school.
---Don’t believe anything just because some "expert" told you so. Ask, and answer, your own questions.
2. Modern birds really are descended from dinosaurs, they look like baby dinosaurs, and their development is like that of the ancient dinosaurs, but speeded up. A study published in Nature this week says that "the evolution of birds is the result of a drastic change in how dinosaurs developed," speeding up the time it takes to reach maturity. Birds are "living theropod dinosaurs," said one of the study's co-authors. That means my sweet little conures and cockatiels are related to velociraptors.
looking for a living dinosaur in Africa. McCullah and three friends will make up the Newmac Expedition, "one of the first expeditions in this century with the goal of categorizing plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo." One of their goals is to find evidence of the "Mokèlé-mbèmbé," a dinosaur-like creature that is said to live in rivers in the Congo, where it eats elephants, hippos, and crocodiles.
Maybe they'll find something. Or maybe it will turn out to be like this "chupacabra" found on a San Diego beach, which turned out to be the decaying body of an opossum. One look at the fangs on that monster, though, and I've resolved not to befriend any possums in the near future.
At any rate, McCullah et al. seem to embody the Missouri state motto: "Show me." (The slogan supposedly comes from a speech given in 1899 by a congressman from that state in which he said, ""I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.")