Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Giant, feathered dinosaur remains discovered in China

    Yutyrannus (Image credit: Dr. Brian Choo)The largest feathered dinosaur ever discovered has been unearthed in China, measuring more than 30 feet in length and weighing in at more than 3,000 pounds. Its length would make it the largest known feathered animal in history.

    The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports that the "Yutyrannus huali" is 40 times heavier than any other feathered dinosaur previously discovered.

    "Yutyrannus dramatically increases the size range of dinosaurs for which we have definite evidence of feathers," Xing Xu, study researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said in a statement. "It's possible that feathers were much more widespread, at least among the meat-eating dinosaurs, than most scientists would have guessed even a few years ago."

    The Yutyrannus is believed to be a direct descendent of the T-Rex. The Tyrannosauroidea started off as smaller, feathered dinosaurs, eventually evolving into the larger, scaled beasts depicted in movies and television. But the CSM says this finding indicated the feathered Yutyrannus existed as large predators much earlier than earlier evidence suggested.

    And despite their likely ferocious appearance, the Yutyrannus' feathers had the consistency of a warm blanket. "The feathers of Yutyrannus were simple filaments," Xu said. "They were more like the fuzzy down of a modern baby chick than the stiff plumes of an adult bird."

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  • ‘Ridiculously Photogenic Guy’ image goes viral

    Flickr.comA candid photo of a man in the middle of a 10k run with a seemingly carefree smile has gone viral after he was given the moniker, "Ridiculously Photogenic Guy."

    And as with any good meme, the photo has quickly spawned a number of altered versions of the original photograph, with users adding their own text, such as, "Goes For Run: Inadvertently Teaches World How To Spell "Ridiculously," and "Photobombs Wedding Picture: Nobody Minds." And maybe the best one yet, "Picture Gets Put Up As Employee Of The Month: For A Company That He Doesn't Work For."

    The Post and Courier reports that the man in the photo is New York's Zeddie Little, 25, who was taking part in the Cooper River Bridge 10k run, which was held on March 31, in Charleston, South Carolina.

    Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) systems analyst Will King, who was just taking a seemingly random photograph of runners in the middle of the race, snapped the photo and uploaded it to his Flickr account.

    "One of my friends commented on the picture and said something along the lines of 'I dub this guy Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic,'" King said. "I thought it was a pretty cool comment, so I posted it on Reddit. For some reason it just took off from there."

    By Wednesday afternoon, the photo had received more than 1.25 million hits on Flickr alone, where King originally posted the image.

    "Everybody was running and he was just smiling at the camera. He wasn't struggling or anything," Jessica Crouch, the friend who came up with the "Ridiculously Photogenic Guy" title, told the Post and Courier. "It's unusual. His hair was perfect and he had the perfect smile. It just struck me as being really out of place."

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  • ('s no secret that math, science and history are three of the least popular subjects for kids in school. And when students and teachers don't have the passion, enthusiasm or budget to support a well-rounded education, everyone suffers.

    Those very challenges are what inspired Joe O'Loughlin and Dave Haberman to create KlabLab, a free program designed to create collaborative in-classroom lessons that use contemporary music videos to help students excel at a wide variety of subjects they might otherwise not be excited about.

    "Our mission is to bring creativity back into education in the classroom," O'Loughlin told Yahoo News. "We want to work directly with teachers and students in the education process."

    In this first video, watch how KlabLab worked with California students to create an entertaining and modern music video about cellular structure:

    Being both musicians and educators themselves, the pair have embarked on a Sound of Knowledge Tour of California schools. They even have their own tour bus, which they are using to engage students and teachers directly.

    "I managed to get my own tour bus, which is definitely a bucket-list item for me," Haberman joked in an interview with Yahoo News. "We decked it out, created a mobile recording studio. It's a symbol of the revolution, our flagship."

    When KlabLab meets up with students and educators, the program works with them on creating their own music performances that use beats lyrics and melodies reflective of contemporary music the students are downloading from the Internet and listening to on their headphones. Depending on how engaged the students and teachers are able to get in the process, the end result can range from a MP3 of the performance to a full-fledged music video.

    "Because it is so ingrained in the students' culture, we felt that music would be our tool to connect with the students," O'Loughlin said. "We think it's one of the more important ways, a powerful connection tool."

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  • The 45 overused medical procedures costing Americans billions (STUDY)

    Protestors from the Fair Care Coalition, outside the Ritz-Carlton Chicago Hotel; March 1, 2012. (AP/M. Spencer Green)Nine U.S. medical specialty societies representing 374,000 physicians have put together a list of "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question."

    As outlined in a March 2010 American Thinker article by Richard Baehr, many experts think the real problem with America's health care system is the inherently expensive cost of goods and services, as opposed to direct access to quality medical care. And as the Washington Post notes, wasteful medicine costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $700 billion annually.

    [Related: Home medical tests]

    The list of 45 "evidence-based recommendations" are posted on the site Choosing Wisely, and the participating physicians say they hope that by educating both doctors and patients they can work toward both improving quality of medical care and simultaneously reducing costs by "eliminating unnecessary tests and procedures."

    The participating societies are the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology;  American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Cardiology; American College of Physicians; American College of Radiology; American Gastroenterological Association; American Society of Clinical Oncology; American Society of Nephrology; and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

    [Related: Computers driving up costs?]

    We've posted their lists here, but the link above to the Choosing Wisely site gives more information about each recommendation. The physicians do not mention if their respective lists were created in order of importance, but we've included them here in the same order as they were originally reported.

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  • (AP/Andy Wong)

    A renowned Australian research scientist says a study from researchers at MIT claiming the world could suffer from a "global economic collapse" and "precipitous population decline" if people continue to consume the world's resources at the current pace is still on track, nearly 40 years after it was first produced.

    The Smithsonian Magazine writes that Australian physicist Graham Turner says "the world is on track for disaster" and that current research from Turner coincides with a famous, and in some quarters, infamous, academic report from 1972 entitled, "The Limits to Growth." Turner's research is not affiliated with MIT or The Club for Rome.

    Produced for a group called The Club of Rome, the study's researchers created a computing model to forecast different scenarios based on the current models of population growth and global resource consumption. The study also took into account different levels of agricultural productivity, birth control and environmental protection efforts. Twelve million copies of the report were produced and distributed in 37 different languages.

    Most of the computer scenarios found population and economic growth continuing at a steady rate until about 2030. But without "drastic measures for environmental protection," the scenarios predict the likelihood of a population and economic crash.

    However, the study said "unlimited economic growth" is still possible if world governments enact policies and invest in green technologies that help limit the expansion of our ecological footprint.

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  • Rare Chinese porcelain bowl sells for nearly $27 million

    A 900-year-old Chinese bowl has sold at an auction for nearly $27 million on Wednesday.

    The extremely rare item was only expected to receive a winning bid of about one-third the eventual total during a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, Associated Foreign Press reports. The purchase by an anonymous bidder breaks the previous record for the most expensive ceramic bowl from the era. Sotheby's says the bowl is from the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and easily tops a 2008 auction on a Guan Mallet Vase from the same era.

    "The Ruyao Washer is among the most sophisticated achievements in Chinese ceramics. Its appearance on the market has created enormous excitement," Sotheby's Asia deputy chairman Nicolas Chow said.

    Earlier estimates had the bowl going for about $10 million.

    It is said that only 79 complete pieces from the era remain in existence. Eight individuals took part in the 15-minute competitive bidding process, vying for the flower-shaped bowl.

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  • Mega Millions winner says ticket still hidden inside Baltimore McDonald’s

    One of the three Mega Millions jackpot winners says her winning ticket remains stashed away inside the Baltimore McDonald's where she works. But some of Marlinde Wilson's co-workers think she is telling a Big Lie.

    "I left my ticket there, and it's somewhere safe that only I know about," Wilson told the New York Post. "I'm waiting for things to calm down so I can go back to McDonald's and get it. The people [at McDonald's] are too excited. I want their heads to cool down before I go back."

    Wilson claims to have purchased one of the three winning Mega Millions lottery tickets. The three winners will each receive a share of the record-breaking $640 million jackpot. If Wilson's story is true, that would mean a $105 million ticket (after taxes) is stashed away somewhere inside the fast food restaurant.

    Wilson's co-workers appear to be split in their opinion of her but all who have spoken to the media seem to share some animosity toward the Haiti native. Some of Wilson's colleagues say she is attempting to cheat them out of what should be shared winnings from a pool of lotto tickets 14 of the McDonald's employees purchased together.

    And Wilson's manager, identified only as "Layla" by the Post, says she thinks Wilson isn't telling the truth about hiding the ticket inside the McDonald's. "That's impossible. She didn't come back here" after she purchased the ticket, Layla said.

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  • Rescuers use iPhone to save boy trapped in well

    A rescue team in China used an iPhone attached to a string to help rescue a 2-year-old boy. The toddler was stuck at the bottom of a 40-foot well in a village near Mengzi City.

    Rescuers used the iPhone camera to help them determine the best way to lower and tie a harness that kept slipping out of place when they tried to bring the boy up to the surface. The Telegraph reports the rescuers kept encountering problems with the harness, which was designed for adults.

    After being rescued, the boy was taken to the hospital but reportedly did not sustain any major injuries.

    The rescue was quite a change from arguably the most famous story of a baby trapped in a well. Back in 1987, 18-month-old "Baby Jessica," aka Jessica McClure, was rescued from a 20-foot-deep well only eight inches wide. Jessica was trapped in the well for more than two days before rescuers used a waterjet to slice through the well rock and free her.

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  • This week’s Odd News video

    This week's leading story in Odd News is about U.K. mother Danielle Young and the recently released ultrasound image of her 5-million-to-one pregnancy.

    Young has a rare condition known as uterus didelphys, or double uterus, and became pregnant with twins, one in each womb.

    Researchers believe that there are fewer than a hundred women worldwide who have become pregnant with two babies in two separate wombs. Young's twins, Joshua and Lea, are now healthy 4-year-olds.

    More popular Yahoo! News stories:

    'Oaksterdam University' pot-growing school raided by DEA agents (with expired tags)

    Firefighters donate Mega Millions winnings to ailing fellow fireman

    How is changing the creative economy $5 at a time

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  • Did a van used by the DEA to raid a medical marijuana training school have expired tags? (Photo Credit: Twitter)U.S. marshals on Monday, along with federal agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Internal Revenue Service, raided a Bay Area medical marijuana training facility known as "Oaksterdam University."

    The university, in Oakland, Calif., offers training classes to people seeking to become legal medical marijuana providers under California state law.

    "Clearly, they're trying to knock down one of the leaders in the cannabis reform movement," Oaksterdam Executive Chancellor Dale Sky Jones said.

    While both sides debate the legality and necessity of the raid, a Twitter user going by the name "Octal," snapped a picture of what he claims is a van with expired tags used by agents in the raid. In the tagline below his picture, Octal writes, "The DEA agents raiding oaksterdam are in vans with expired tags."

    In a 2010 executive order, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared illegal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana an "infraction," punishable by up to a $100 fine.

    Conversely, the fine for expired tags in California is only $10 but the associated fees with the DMV can go as high as several hundred dollars.

    Oakland is widely viewed as one of California's most pot-friendly cities. A 2004 Oakland medical marijuana initiative, approved by 65 percent of voters in 2004, designated the investigation, citation and arrest of illegal marijuana offenses to be the city's "lowest law enforcement priority."

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