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Canadian T. Rex is Officially the Biggest Ever

March 26, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt


The towering and battle-scarred ‘Scotty’ reported by UAlberta paleontologists is the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada.

Back in the 1990s, it took nearly a decade for paleontologists in Canada to extricate the massive Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as “Scotty” from its solid sandstone casing.

Now, for the first time, researchers from the University of Alberta have taken Scotty’s detailed and accurate measurements. At nearly 42 feet long, the dinosaur weighed an estimated 19,555 pounds (8,870 kg) when it roamed prehistoric Saskatchewan some 66 million years ago, making it the world’s largest known T. rex, and the biggest dinosaur ever found in Canada.

Through painstaking work, paleontologists managed to recover about 65 percent of the specimen officially known as RSM P2523.8 after its discovery nearly 30 years ago. But until recently, the enormous fossil hadn’t been completely prepared for analysis. The new research, led by paleontologist Scott Persons from the University of Alberta, was published in the journal The Anatomical Record.

By measuring Scotty’s hip, leg and shoulder bones, Persons and his team were able to estimate the dinosaur’s nearly 10-ton body mass. Their study of Scotty was the first to take detailed measurements, and to compare the specimen to other known T. rex fossils, including the famous “Sue,” once considered the biggest T. rex skeleton ever found. Discovered in 1990 in South Dakota, Sue weighed in at 18,651 pounds (8,460 kg), around 5 percent lighter than Scotty.

“This is the rex of rexes,” Persons said in a statement. “There is considerable size variability among Tyrannosaurus. Some individuals were lankier than others and some were more robust. Scotty exemplifies the robust.”

Scotty, which got its nickname after researchers shared a bottle of Scotch on the night of its discovery, is not just the largest-ever T. rex, but also the oldest. By studying the growth patterns on the dinosaur’s bones, the paleontologists estimated that it died in its early 30s—an unusually long life, by Tyrannosaurus standards.

It was also a rough life. Scotty suffered broken ribs and a jaw infection, the researchers found. They observed what looked like bite marks on his tail, possibly battle scars incurred in a fight with another T. rex.


The T-Rex skeleton known as Sue on display in Washington D.C.’s Union Station in 2000.

Though the size difference between Scotty, Sue and other …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How 'Duck-and-Cover' Drills Channeled America's Cold War Anxiety

March 26, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Amid an escalating arms race, civil defense drills offered comically simple strategies for surviving an atomic attack.

On August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear device at a remote site in Kazakhstan, signaling a new and terrifying phase in the Cold War. By the early 1950s, schools across the United States were training students to dive under their desks and cover their heads. The now-infamous duck-and-cover drills simulated what should be done in case of an atomic attack—and channeled a growing panic over an escalating arms race.

“During this period, the United States is suddenly having to really reckon with the fact that it is not the only nuclear power out there anymore,” says Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science and nuclear weapons and professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology. “Now, instead of just seeing the bomb as this asset that we could use or not use…it suddenly is brought to bear that this is something that could be used against us.”

What the Russian Atomic Bomb Means to America (TV-PG; 5:12)

The school drills, which were part of President Harry S. Truman’s Federal Civil Defense Administration program, aimed to educate the public about what ordinary people could do to protect themselves—and they were easy to mock. After all, how was ducking and covering really going to protect you from a nuclear bomb detonating your school? But according to Wellerstein, in some scenarios, the drills could have actually helped.

“People look at this and they say, how’s my school desk going to protect me against an atomic bomb that goes off right overhead?” says Wellerstein. “The answer is, it isn’t. It’s going to protect you from an atomic bomb that goes off a little in the distance.”

Introducing…Bert the Turtle

In 1951, the FCDA hired Archer Productions, a New York City ad agency, to create a film that could be shown in schools to educate children about how to protect themselves in the case of atomic attack. The resulting film, Duck and Cover, was filmed at a school in Astoria, Queens, and alternated animation with images of students and adults practicing the recommended safety techniques.

As cheery music played, the film’s animated hero, Bert the Turtle, is shown dropping to the ground (“DUCK!”) and retreating into his shell (“COVER!”) after an explosion. An atomic attack, in the film, is presented as one …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Whole Ivory Tower Is Full of Cracks

March 26, 2019 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

March 12 was quite a day for higher education. On Capitol Hill,
not one but two hearings were taking place; one on simplifying the
form everyone who wants federal student aid must complete, the
other on a very familiar theme: “Oversight of For-Profit
Colleges: Protecting Students and Taxpayer Dollars from Predatory
Practices.” But the headline grabber was the FBI’s
exposure of a bribery and cheating scheme to get the progeny of the
rich and famous—including two prominent actresses—into
elite institutions.

That the big news maker was all about traditional colleges,
eclipsing the hearing on for-profit institutions, was apropos. For
years, politicians have made big splashes suing for-profit schools.
This latest scandal is just more evidence that they should have
been directing their ire at putatively not-for-profit schools as
well, and maybe looking to curb the massive subsidies they send to
the whole ivory tower.

Recent Ohio gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray did so as
director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and
presidential aspirant Kamala Harris did the same as
California’s attorney general. The schools, facing crippling
legal bills and reputational damage, often settled or went out of
business without a chance to defend themselves, especially to show
whether their alleged crimes were isolated employees, or systemic
problems. Meanwhile, far more people—at their peak the
for-profits enrolled less than 10 percent of all post-secondary
students—were in not-for-profit sectors, on which the latest
scandal is finally directing some sunlight.

The openly for-profit sector has had poor outcomes. Federal data
show that almost 16 percent of borrowers at for-profit institutions
who entered payment in 2015 were in default within three years.
Information from the National Student Clearinghouse, which has data
on almost all college students, reveals that only 42 percent of
students who started a four-year for-profit program in 2008 had
finished some program within 8 years, and only about 64 percent who
had started at a two-year program had done so. And certainly some
employees deceived prospective students about their earnings
prospects, or whether their programs fulfilled state licensure
requirements.

But are traditional colleges so much better, or just better
looking? It’s almost certainly the latter, especially since
the ones that tend to come to mind when we think of
“college”—the kinds of schools some famous
actresses and corporate magnates will allegedly cheat to get their
kids into—are elite institutions like Stanford and Yale, and
state flagships like the University of Michigan or the University
of Virginia. Meanwhile, for-profits work with people on the
academic and often social margins far more than other higher-ed
sectors, including community colleges.

According to the Clearinghouse, 81 percent of for-profit
students in four-year programs are over the age of
24—“nontraditional students”—versus only 39
percent at four-year …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Want to Stop Gun Deaths? Stop Talking about 'Weapons of War.'

March 26, 2019 in Economics

By Jonathan Blanks

Jonathan Blanks

Within one week of the horrifying massacre of 50 people at
mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
announced a national ban on “military-style semi-automatics” and
“assault rifles”
that would include a mandatory
buyback for current owners of those weapons. American gun control advocates and Democratic politicians praised the move,
denouncing the presence of “weapons of war” in civilian hands.

Reasonable people can disagree whether or not semiautomatic
rifles such as the AR-15 should be banned or restricted; some
farmers may use them to keep predators away from livestock, though
it’s also true that they are simply fun to shoot. But
“military-style” is a cosmetic description with no real
meaning. This distinction isn’t just semantic “gunsplaining.” Instead, this rhetoric is a kind
of fear-mongering that takes attention away from the policies that
would be most effective at preventing gun deaths.

Some basic knowledge is necessary to craft sound policy. The
AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle, meaning most simply that one
trigger pull results in one bullet fired and also sets the gun up
to fire the next round. (Many handguns are also semiautomatic.)

Gun-control advocates
have used the appearance of semiautomatic rifles, which some people
find menacing, to exaggerate the dangers the general public faces
from their existence.

A rifle used in the military, such as the M4A1 carbine, has a fully automatic
function, meaning that one trigger pull will release successive
rounds until the shooter releases the trigger or the magazine is
emptied. The AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle (“AR” is
the branding for Armalite, the original manufacturer, but the rifle
and its interchangeable parts are now made by many companies) is
among the most popular rifles owned privately in the United
States
. Automatic rifles are considered machine guns under the
National Firearms Act. While such firearms made
before 1986 are not technically banned, they are rare outside of
specialty gun ranges, Hollywood studios and high-end collections
because they are strictly regulated and prohibitively expensive for
most people.

Unfortunately, gun-control advocates have used the appearance of
semiautomatic rifles, which some people find menacing, to
exaggerate the dangers the general public faces from their
existence. Far more important than the cosmetic similarities and
technical differences among firearms are which weapons actually are
used in the majority of gun deaths and victimizations.

About two-thirds of gun deaths every year in
the United States are suicides, making up about half of all U.S. suicides. A relatively
small number of people are killed in accidents, but the bulk of the
remaining homicides stem …read more

Source: OP-EDS