Posts Tagged 'Twitter'

A Couple of Science “Quick Hits”

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Just thought we’d share a couple of interesting science news bits that we’ve come across lately.

First up: TED, the Twitter Earthquake Detector.

Created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), TED is a prototype system that tracks Twitter responses to earthquakes. According to the USGS, TED

…gathers real-time, earthquake-related messages from the social networking site Twitter and applies place, time, and key word filtering to gather geo-located accounts of shaking. This approach provides rapid first-impression narratives and, potentially, photos from people at the hazard’s location. The potential for earthquake detection in populated but sparsely seismicly-instrumented regions is also being investigated.

Pretty cool.

Closer to home, and sure to please all you dinosaur fans out there, is news from the Morrison Natural History Museum about the discovery of a set of tracks believed to have been left by juvenile sauropods — running.

The find was revealed at Monday’s 2010 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver (read the abstract here). If this interpretation holds up, it most likely represents the first evidence that these massive, long-necked herbivores locomoted at anything other than a leisurely saunter. Plus, the lack of foreleg prints and tail marks indicates that young sauropods may have run on their hindlegs, holding their tails off the ground.

Some people are saying the sauropods may have run like this guy,

Basilisk lizard running

while others argue that the way sauropod legs are positioned under their bodies would make that style of running impossible. Further analysis of the paper and the tracks will tell us more.

Read about it here: Dinosaur footprints yield clues to running behavior and here: Did wee little sauropods stand up to run?

Today is “Ask a Curator” Day!

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

I work with a bunch of museum curators, and let me tell you, they know a LOT of interesting things. Multiply that by all the museums in the world, and you’ve got a major collection of smarty pants.

Today marks the launch of a cool online project called “Ask a Curator Day.” The project is using Twitter to give people a chance to ask curators all over the world those burning questions that only a museum geek can answer! Over 100 museums in the U.S. alone are participating, plus museums from all over Europe, Canada, South and Central America, Africa, and Australia. If you can’t get your question answered by one of these folks, well, I just don’t know what to say.

You can find out how to participate by visiting the “Ask a Curator” website. There you’ll find directions for using Twitter to ask your question, and see a list of all the museums that are part of the project. If you find out anything interesting, let us know!

Note: This from Wired.UK — “The #askacurator Twitter hash-tag has proven to be very popular, currently ranking as the sixth most popular trending topic in the UK, and the fourth worldwide. However, popularity on Twitter is as much a blessing as a curse, with the tag’s real-time results overrun with spam and joke messages. You’ll want to follow the tweets of a specific venue to receive any worthwhile answers.”

Slinky’s in the Library of Congress

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

This past April, Twitter announced that it is gifting the entire archive of public tweets to the Library of Congress (LOC). That’s right, every public entry of 140 characters or less made from March 2006 on will now be preserved in perpetuity by the LOC.

Besides being thrilled that our very own Ball python Slinky is in the LOC – do you follow his tweets? Find him at SlinkyWorld and learn more about snakes, what’s happening at the Museum, and life in general from a reptilian point of view – I think it’s a valuable and forward-thinking move on the part of the LOC to begin archiving our tweets.

Why’s that, you ask? Well, I think that our collective tweeting will be immensely useful for future research and historic preservation because Twitter is part of our historical record. Even though each tweet is at most 140 characters long, compile all the tweets together (over 50 million/day right now) and you get an incredibly detailed picture of life in the 21st century.

And while you may think that the contents of your tweets won’t matter in the big scheme of history, just remember that the Rosetta Stone was originally just a decree from Ptolemy V describing tax measures. Who knows what questions future researchers will have, and how your tweet on what you had for dinner last night might help …

P.S. Want to follow the LOC on Twitter? You can find them here.

Even more to explore! The Museum’s on Facebook

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

The Museum got started on Facebook about a month ago, and we’re really enjoying having another new way to share what’s going on — both with our local community, and with people from all over. Museums can project an intimidating image — big stone buildings, hushed galleries, sometimes a bit of that “ivory tower” feeling — but that’s definitely not what we’re all about at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center. It’s great to have ways to reach outside of our stone building — this blog, our new Facebook page, and Slinky’s Twitter — and get a conversation going with you. As this new year really gets rolling we’re going to have a lot of updates about the new museum too, and we’ll be using the blog, Facebook, and our website to keep you informed. So, if you’ll forgive the shameless plug, go “fan” us on Facebook! And keep the conversation going. We love to hear from you.

Meet Slinky!

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator, and Michelle Brannon, Slinky Wrangler

This is me (Slinky) and my friend Toby, the K-12 Education Coordinator at the Museum

Slinky the snake is our Museum’s wonderful ambassador, semi-official mascot, and headliner of our live animal collection. You can meet Slinky and our other animals (including Sergey the Russian tortoise, Josie the rat, and some really neat insects) this Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm during our Meet the Animals program. Michelle Brannon takes care of Slinky and our other animals, and she offered to translate a blog post from Slinky to the world. So, here goes!

My name is Slinky. I’m a ball python, and my species is native to parts of Africa. I’ve never actually been to Africa, but I hear it’s a pretty neat place. I was born in captivity, which means that ever since I hatched out of my egg, I’ve been handled by people. I’ve learned that people are super nice and I love to meet new ones all the time! If I haven’t met you before, there’s a problem. You absolutely MUST come visit me! I used to live in Discovery Science Center, but I’ve moved with them to the Fort Collins Museum building in Old Town Fort Collins. I have this really big new house that is just perfect for me! It would be great if you could come check it out sometime. My favorite place is under the big log in the middle, so look for me there if I’m not out on the floor meeting you face to face.

As for what I’ve been up to lately, I’ve been supervising and entertaining the field trip groups that come to visit the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, digesting my latest rat, and planning this blog. It’s been on my mind for a while now, let me tell you. I tried to type it myself, but I got a tail cramp. I’m learning how to type by using Twitter, but this blog is a bit longer than 140 characters. My human friends are helping me out this time around. Can you get carpel tunnel in your tail? I’ll have to ask my vet on my next visit.

Oh, my Twitter account! You guys really should check that out. I normally update it once or twice a week (I’m a little slow, not having any hands). I like to talk about upcoming events at the Museum, and share amazing facts about my favorite subject, snakes. If you want to know exactly what’s going on around here, you need to follow me. You’ll also get some random musings from inside the tank, which we all know is pretty dang cool. How many of you can say you know exactly what a snake is thinking when he’s thinking it? Share the love, becoming a Slinky follower! There’s a link at the bottom of this blog that will direct you to my Twitter page.

That’s about it for me. I would love to write more blogs, so if you liked this one, leave me a comment here, or send me a message on my Twitter page. Ask me questions, or just give me topics to discuss. I’m really getting into this internet thing, so if you ask, I’ll answer! Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you around my tank soon!

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SlinkyWorld

It’s a series of tubes!

by Toby J. Swaford, K-12 Education Coordinator

The Internet turns 40 this year. 1969, the same year that brought us the Apollo moon landing and Sesame Street, also saw two computers at the University of California, Los Angeles, connected for the first time. Leonard Kleinrock and his team of researchers had been charged with the task of developing the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET. The idea was to allow computers to communicate with each other from anywhere on the globe.

Of course, the first step was getting two computers to share information from across the room. On September 2, 1969, Kleinrock’s team, using a length of nondescript grey cable, successfully networked two computers. A short burst of nonsensical data was transmitted from one machine to the other. It was nothing more than a test; but it planted the seed for what would follow.

After a quick gestation, the first actual message was shared between two computers on October 29, 1969. One machine, located at UCLA, was set to exchange a single word with another computer at the Stanford Research Institute. Leonard Kleinrock was only able to type the first two letters of the word “login” before the system crashed; but it was a start. Kleinrock regards those two letters, an L and an O, as “the first breath of life the Internet ever took.”

What was really important about this second test was the use of the network’s packet switching data transfer method that allowed messages to be broken down into smaller packages, which could be reassembled at their destination. The idea of breaking information down into easily managed pieces is still in use today, enabling users to share larger and larger files in shorter amounts of time.

The system continued to grow. By 1970, computers could share information from one side of the United States to the other. The following year, Ray Tomlinson, an engineer at BBN Technologies, would send the first network e-mail, choosing the “@” symbol to connect the user’s name to the host computer for no other reason than he thought it was a neat idea. A global network was created with ARPANET establishing nodes in the United Kingdom and Norway by 1973.

The 70s also saw the advent of the Internet Protocol Suite, the series of rules that computers must use to communicate over the net. Throughout most of the decade, the service was used mainly by universities and the government as a means of exchanging information quickly from one location to another. However, the groundwork had been set for something much bigger. In 1979, private companies, like CompuServe and The Source, offered the first commercial online services to the average consumer. For an initial fee, plus hourly rates, citizens could read online news and financial updates. Perhaps more importantly, those same individuals could connect to each other – chatting with people connected to the same network.

This new feature became so popular, CompuServe soon launched their CB Simulator, the first online chat service in 1980. Named after the Citizen’s Band radio phenomena of the 1970’s, this development saw everyday people interacting and contributing to the online community. Michael A. Banks, author of On the Way to the Web: The Secret History of the Internet and Its Founders, states “Lives were changed immediately. People stayed online longer and later, fascinated with the ability to interact with several people at once. The online world and its denizens took on a new aura of reality, and the online experience grew far more entertaining and unpredictable.”

Unpredictable it was. In 1988, the first computer worm, or virus, was unleashed on the net by Robert T. Morris, a graduate student at Cornell. He claimed it was an experiment gone awry. Prosecutors saw things differently. Morris was fined $10,000, plus three years of probation and community service. He would later go on to success, joining a company that was eventually purchased by Yahoo, and becoming a professor of computer science at M.I.T.

Online services continued to grow. America Online was introduced in 1989, reaching over a million users, one third of the online community, within five years. 1990 saw the phrase “World Wide Web” coined by British scientist, Tim Berners-Lee. While many use the terms Internet and Web interchangeably, they are not the same. The Internet hosts the World Wide Web, which Berners-Lee created while working at the CERN research facility in Switzerland.

The 90s would see the Internet and World Wide Web grow in leaps and bounds. Mosaic, the first browser that featured text and pictures became available to consumers in 1994, the same year that Yahoo was founded. 1995 saw online retail operations revolutionized by Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com. Google, named after the mathematical term for a 1 followed by a 100 zeros, was incorporated by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two computer science engineers in 1998.

1999 saw Craig’s List, which started four years earlier in San Francisco, go global. Today, the service can be found in more than 700 cities and in 70 countries. That same year, web logs, or blogs, went mainstream with the advent of Blogger, a user-friendly platform. Blogs have since become an important communication tool used by individuals and institutions to share what’s on their minds. (Hello, there.)

The 21st century continues to move the online experience in new directions, connecting people in new and exciting ways. YouTube, My Space, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter have become a part of many people’s daily lives. Over a million articles have been posted to Wikipedia; and, thanks to the diligence of the online editing community many of them are now accurate.

All together, the Internet has more than one billion regular users – including you. Let us know how the Internet affects your day-to-day life.

From the Archive: Twitter in the Twenties

by Lesley Drayton, Curator of the Local History Archive

You may have noticed all those social networking sites that seem to inundate the internet these days. Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow people to stay connected with their friends (and snakes—have you found the Museum’s ball python, Slinky, on Twitter yet? Look for @SlinkyWorld) through quick updates about what they’re up to. It’s easy to keep tabs on all of your friends by sharing “tweets,” but just remember: it’s nothing new.

This astute observation was made by one of our wonderful volunteers here in the archive last week while she was indexing issues of the 1924 Fort Collins Courier newspaper. She was reading the Personals columns and noticed that the quick updates about people’s lives in Fort Collins printed in the paper over 80 years ago mirror the status updates people make today on their Facebook pages. Below is a portion of the Personals column from August 4, 1924, and a “profile picture” of Lillian and Carl Anderson, who are mentioned therein:

personals 080424

Lillian and Carl Anderson

Lillian and Carl Anderson

In 1924, the Personals were run everyday and usually went on for three or more columns. Imagine these updates in first-person voice and the parallel between them and “tweets” becomes even clearer. So for those of you who don’t Twitter, get with it! It’s been going on in Fort Collins for decades!


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