Thursday, December 18, 2014

Animal Lost

"Where am I?"
Funny Animal Photos by Ty Buchanan

Platypus Ancestor Found

When a platypus specimen was first viewed in England it was a sensation, Many people including scientists said that it was a fake: it was a combination of parts from other animals. However, it did exist in the Australian niche where it evolved.

I should be noted that this was in an era when the English were still struggling with Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest. The majority of the population still believed that God created Man. The Garden of Eden was foremost in their minds.

Today, the platypus' existence is accepted without question. There has not been a lot of fossil evidence about how it came to be. Recently, this gap has been filled by a fossil of an ancient duck-billed marine reptile. Like most fossils which illuminate family trees it was found in China.

Eohupehsuchus brevicollis lived 248 million years ago. Only two other examples of this creature have been brought to light, both in other parts of China. Like the platypus it was small for its time. It lived in an inland sea.

While its body proportions were different from the platypus, clear parallels can be seen: a broad body, no teeth and paddle arms for swimming. Eohupehsuchus brevicollis had a very short neck like the platypus. The fossil is an excellent specimen for research being nearly complete. It has evidence of being attacked, though it did survive this and lived for some time afterwards. The animal was a survivor of the mass extinction of the Permian era 252 million years ago.
Evolution by Ty Buchanan
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thrown Out by the Missus

"When did your missus throw you out?"
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Funny Animal Photos

Physics Not for Females - Women Say!

More women are moving into academia every year. This is the overall picture. Some areas are still sparsely populated by women. Physics is such a sector of learning. Name a woman physicist - any woman! Few recognise that maths is easier for men, but this is true. There is something about the male hormone that creates this state. Just like women are better at using words.

Notably female physics students at the University of Melbourne have admitted that most women do not have the capacity to master physics. There will always be a few exceptions. However, the reality is that generally, women find study in this specialty difficult. Many female students who try physics ultimately end up in chemistry. They do feel more comfortable there.

The survey of first year females showed more than 50 per cent had a negative outlook of their chances of succeeding. This makes one wonder why they are in the course. However, some were studying physics as a requirement of other degrees.  Oddly, some said they enjoyed studying physics.

As a positive, fourteen students were studying advanced physics at the University of Melbourne and were ambitious to achieve their goal. They are definitely thin on the ground with all the males. Another issue is that women do not see physics as a career path. You cannot get work in finance or banking with a physics degree, for example. Research and teaching are just about the only sectors for employment.

High school is where all this begins. A good start in maths in essential. Giving students the choice to do only standard maths must be changed. All student need to do some higher maths, particularly in this computer age. It is human nature to choose an easier option. There is something wrong with the Australian education system: women dominate Italian advanced maths departments.
Education by Ty Buchanan
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     Australian Blog