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Stories by David Bressan

Evolution

How to celebrate New Year's Eve in style: Fun in a Fossil

To promote the international exhibition in the Crystal Palace (Sydenham , London) for New Year's Eve 1853 twenty-one distinguished guests were invited to a banquet inside the unfinished model of an Iguanodon , sculpture made by artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins under severe examination of leading anatomist Richard Owen to celebrate the new discovered proudly-prehistoric monsters of Victorian Britain.The invitations for the eight course dinner, accompanied by fine wine and some noble sherry, were written on the outstretched wing of a paper-pterodactyl:" Mr Waterhous Hawkins requests the honour of - - at dinner in the mould of the Iguanodon at the Crystal Palace on Saturday evening December the 31 st at five o ' clock 1853 an answer will oblige...

December 31, 2011 — David Bressan
Evolution

Can Animals Sense Earthquakes?

" Highly unlikely, but not outside the realm of extreme possibilities. " Mulder, F.W. in the " The Jersey Devil " (1993)The earliest documented case of unusual animal behaviour prior to an earthquake is recorded by the Roman historian Aelian in 373 B.C.; five days before an earthquake destroyed the city of Helike (once located at the coast of the Corinthian Gulf) various animals, like rats, weasels, snakes, centipedes and bugs supposedly emerged from the underground and fled from the city...

December 12, 2011 — David Bressan
The Sciences

November 13, 1985: The Nevado del Ruiz Lahars

The eruption started at 15:00 o'clock local time November 13, 1985 with smaller explosions in the crater. Ash was carried by the wind in north-eastern direction, however only minor ash fall occurred in the city of Armero (Colombia) , located 48 kilometers east of the " Cumanday " - the smoking nose, as the Indians used to call the volcano.In the evening the intensity of the eruption increased, however it was still considered only a medium sized event for the Nevado del Ruiz...

November 13, 2011 — David Bressan
Evolution

The Devil's Tail: What the Fossils say

" After such an impact, in accordance with the general laws of nature, the following phenomena will occur: cloudy skies, then rain, high storms and hurricanes, the lakes and rivers will overflow their margins, the ocean will flood from the east to the west the lowlands, later also the mountains…[] The complete destruction of all creatures living on land will be the consequence; and when after thousand of years the water will be evaporated into the ether, new animal species will have made multiple attempts to colonize the land again and without doubt after thousands of years some of these attempts will be successful...

November 10, 2011 — David Bressan
The Sciences

October 9, 1963: Vajont

" Know, that mountain - it will not stand still. Believe me it´s a troublemaker - you can ask whoever you will. "" La ballata di Longarone ", by Beppe Chierici 1969The valley of Vajont (also Vaiont ) is characterized in the upper part by a large catchment area, smoothed by ancient glacal activity, and a narrow gorge eroded by the river Vajont in the lower part.This geomorphology and the nearby industries made this valley a perfect site for a dam and a hydroelectric power station.Construction of the Vajont dam started in 1956 and was completed in 1960, at this time it was the highest double-curvature arch dam in the world - rising 261.6 meter above the valley floor it was 190m broad across the top, with a capacity of 150 to 168 million cubic meter of water...

October 9, 2011 — David Bressan
Evolution

September 30, 1861: The First Feather

September 2011 marks the 150 years anniversary of the description of an important paleontological discovery - Archaeopteryx lithographica , the first Mesozoic bird recognized by science and considered at the time a compelling proof of Darwin's theory, published just two years earlier.In 1860 in a quarry near the village of Solnhofen (Bavaria) the faint imprint of a single feather was discovered on a slab of limestone...

September 30, 2011 — David Bressan
Evolution

Baron Nopcsa: More than just Transylvanian dinosaurs

The publication and description of the peculiar dinosaur species Balaur bondoc in 2010 generated a lot of interest in the paleontological community and the general media - nevertheless it was only a preliminary last chapter in the long and intriguing exploration of the geology and palaeontology of the former Cretaceous islands of the Hateg region (a geological basin in modern Romania).The first scientific exploration of these lost islands is connected to one name: Nopcsa...

September 29, 2011 — David Bressan
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