Sunday, September 28, 2008

The future of programming languages

I've just returned from a Microsoft Tech-talk event with Anders Hjelsberg and Steve Ballmer.

As people might realize, it's hardly every day that we get to see such people in Denmark, and even though it was held on a Sunday I decided to go.

To my disappointment, Steve Ballmer's participation was limited to basically 15 minutes of pep-talk. Fortunately, Hjelsberg's participation was pretty interesting, which made up for that - or rather, it would, if I didn't have the suspicion that I'm going to hear the exact same presentation from him tomorrow at JAOO.

The topic of Hejlsberg's presentation was "the future of programming languages", and while he deliberately kept away from making too far-fetched predictions, he still made a lot of good points.

I'll try to summaries them for you, though they will be para-phrased, as I was too busy paying attention to what he said, to make good notes.

First of all, Hejlsberg argued the following
1) Programming languages evolves slowly
2) Multi-language platforms are important.

This might sound like he is trying to push .NET, but as he explained, it's both the Java and .NET platform that are used to support multiple languages, and that's good, exactly because languages evolves slowly. Too much of the development time used to make new languages are used on tools and framework, which can be reused from existing languages.

After having said that, Hejlberg argued that he saw three trends now, and in the future.
1) Declarative
2) Dynamic
3) Concurrent

What he meant by declarative, is that we see, and will continue to see, more and more domain specific programming languages, and we'll see more of the functional programming languages.

Of course, he also said that the classic taxonomies are breaking down, and we see a trend towards multi-paradigm languages, so today's object orientated languages might mutate into also supporting functional languages, or contain domain specific languages. In fact, he argued that things like LINQ and Ruby on Rails are exactly such things.

Regarding functional languages, he mentioned that F#, which Microsoft plans on integrating in the next version of Visual Studio, is the first functional programming language with a full-blown development environment behind it, allowing it to break out of the traditional academic setting of functional programming languages. Of course, he also explained that F# is really a multi-paradigm language, and thus is a symptom of the taxonomy breakdown he spoke about.

Looking at the dynamic trend, he explained how the .NET framework is being extended to include dynamic programming languages, such as IronPython and IronRuby, and even extend existing languages like C# and VB.NET to allow dynamic programming. This is done by adding the possibility of dynamic execution on top of the existing framework, which he believes is the way to go, since it allows the framework to use the advantages of non-dynamic programming where possible.

Finally, the trend towards concurrent comes from the fact that we've have reached the current maximum for how much performance we can press out of a processor, so we are seeing multi-processor computers in larger numbers, and thus need to ensure that our code supports running efficiently on such. To be able to do that, we need to expand the frameworks, to support transparent concurrency, where the code are executed in such a way that the computer maximizes the concurrency, without the compiler, or even worse, the developer, having to know how many processors there are.

As Hejlsberg made clear, he is far from the first person to mention these trends, but he is in an unique position to actually implement them, so it was quite interesting to hear his take on them.

If I'm right, and I am going to hear the same speech tomorrow, I'm interested in seeing if the audience will react differently. Today was almost entirely .NET people, while tomorrow is going to be a mixed crowd.

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When do people start learning from their mistakes?

Well, for some people, the answer to that question would be never, but generally it happens when children grow older. The question is of course, how old?

According to a new study, the answer to that question is after they've turned 12.

ScienceDaily reports the story.

Learning From Mistakes Only Works After Age 12, Study Suggests

Eight-year-old children have a radically different learning strategy from twelve-year-olds and adults. Eight-year-olds learn primarily from positive feedback ('Well done!'), whereas negative feedback ('Got it wrong this time') scarcely causes any alarm bells to ring. Twelve-year-olds are better able to process negative feedback, and use it to learn from their mistakes. Adults do the same, but more efficiently.

This would indicate that different teaching strategies are needed for different age-groups. Pre-teens should be taught through positive feedback, while teens and older should also have negative feedback mixed in.

The ScienceDaily article goes into more details, and is well worth reading. The original study by van Duijvenvoorde et al., Evaluating the Negative or Valuing the Positive? Neural Mechanisms Supporting Feedback-Based Learning across Development, can be found here at The Journal of Neuroscience, but is unfortunately behind a paywall.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Banned book week

I just found out that Banned Book Week has just started. And once again, I can't help wonder what goes through the head of people who challenge these books. There are books that can be considered evil in some sense - The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or The Klansman spring to mind - but only because they were part of something bigger. They were just symptoms of the antisemitism and racism, rather than the cause of it, and banning them won't help.

Of course, many of the books that people want banned, are targeted because they challenge peoples' religious views in one way or another, and by doing that, they challenge the power the religious authorities hold over others.

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Responding to a comment

My last post was about a civil rights issue, and those always tend to draw in new readers who leave comments disagreeing with me. This also happened this time, when a commenter calling himself sonAmerica wrote, and I thought I'd respond to the comment publicly.

Prop 8 isn't an issue about "rights". It is about preserving the definition of "marriage" as between a man and a woman.

Marriage has throughout history been between a man and several women, yet it seems like people are ignoring this issue, when focusing on the historical aspect of marriage.

Also, I'll point out that the argument from tradition is the same which was used when people tried to stop inter-racial marriages.

Marriage is a state sanctioned ceremony, which homosexual couples want to have available.

Gay people can do what they want, and they can even enjoy many civil benefits through civil unions and the such. But that isn't marriage.

So, in other words, Gay people can't do what they want - which is to get married to the people they love.

And I did notice that you use the word "many" when talking about civil benefits. Why should Gay people accept that they have fewer rights than heterosexual people?

Gay people aren't the issue here nor the problem.

No, it's the bigots who want to change the Californian constitution to allow them to follow up on their bigotry, which is the problem.

The problem is that 4 arrogant judges in black robes sitting in their ivory tower overturned the express will of a clear majority of California citizens when they ruled by fiat and illegally legislated from the bench when they unilaterally redefined marriage.

Like the judges did in Loving vs. Virginia.

It's the job of judges to evaluate if any given law falls outside national or state constitutions, and if they do, overrule them. That's what happened in this case.

Prop 8 allows the citizens of California to say no to Judicial Activism and Judicial Tyranny.

No, it allows bigots to make laws that discriminate against people because of their sexuality.

here are elements of the judiciary that are way out of control and are endangering the balance of power in our republic by getting involved in "legislating". This has got to stop.

How dare they insist that the laws don't break the state constitution? How dare they keep people from being discriminated?

Voting yes on Prop 8 will help put those elitist judges back in their place and let them know they cannot arrogantly overule the will of the people in a matter as fundamental to the future of civilization as the bedrock institution of marriage. That is something important enough that it should not be left to 4 elitist judges to impose by fiat.

So, your right to be bigots should overrule the state constitution?

Proposition 8 is about changing the Californian state constitution in such a way that it becomes permitted to make laws that discriminate against other people because of their sexual orientation. There are many rights which are only accessible to people who are married - simple rights like the right to visit your partner in the hospital. Yet, bigots all across the US fight hard to deny such simple rights to others, simply because their sexual orientation.

May I speak a word to my gay friends, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow-countrymen.

I doubt you have any gay friends. You're certainly no friend to gay people.

You are a minority and I'm sure you recognize that. And that is ok. But please show kindness and tolerance for the rest of us and vote with us to help preserve marriage as between a man and a woman

Back when Loving vs. Virginia was won by the civil rights people, someone could basically had said exactly the same. And many would have agreed. Time, however, hasn't been kind to that side of the debate, for good reasons, and time won't be kind to the bigoted side in this debate.

In the long run, I believe that civil rights will win out.

I know you may not have any personal parochial interest in voting yes on Prop 8. But as your friend and neighbor, I'm asking for your vote to help preserve the definition of this institution that is so important. Thank you.

"In fact, it's so important that we want to deny it to some people, because somehow, it makes it less important that everyone has access to it."

Bigotry, no matter how well you try to cover it, is not a pretty sight.

If you can vote in California, please vote no to Proposition 8. If you're marriaged, it doesn't make any difference to your own marriage, but allows others to enjoy the same benefits that you get.

I'll end this post by quoting Mildred Loving

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Mildred Loving, Loving for All (.pdf)

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Google supports equal rights to marriage

Currently there is a campaign in California to ban homosexual marriage. This is sought done through a proposition, proposition 8, which the Californian voters will vote on. You can read more about proposition 8 at Wikipedia.

Unsurprisingly, I am against that measure. Unfortunately, my opinion doesn't carry much weight among Californian voters. But perhaps Google's opinion will?

Google has come out officially in opposition to proposition 8.

It would be easy for a company like Google to just keep quiet on issues like gay marriage, so I am impressed that Google come out for equality.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Follow-up on old post about Star Simpson

A year ago, I wrote about an episode at Boston Airport, where MIT Star Simpson was arrested for wearing a device that made the paranoid people in the airport believe it was a bomb.

Just the other day, I was wondering what had come out of that story.

Well, as luck would have it, Boing Boing had an interview with her yesterday, in which she tells her side of the story, and we get to hear what happened to her.

I still think it's one of the worst examples of over-reaction I've seen, and I'm glad that she seems to be holding up.

Via Sara, who comments on the racial aspects of this story.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Good article about Neanderthals in National Geographic

National Geographic has a long article on Neanderthals, describing how they died out, perhaps due to the invasion of homo sapient, and what research has been done into understanding them better.

One noteworthy thing about the article, is the image the use. It is a picture of how neanderthals might have looked, based upon DNA-analysis. A far cry from the old well-known image.

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Lazy linking

I'm cleaning out my bookmarks, and thought I'd share some of them with you together with new stuff that I've found.

The Biology of B-Movie Monsters - a classic, which I'm sure most people already have seen. Still, on the off-chance that some of you haven't, I thought I'd share it.

Prometheus takes on the fraudsters that prey on desperate parents.
How they do the voodoo that they do so well - Part 1 and How they do the voodoo that they do so well - Part 2

Ben Goldacre takes on bad science reporting in the British newspapers: Don’t let the facts spoil a good story

Today's Sinfest has a bite to it The Rich Will Go On

If you live in the US, and is pro-choice, then you should help oppose the new HHS proposal. There is only a few days left, so you need to do it fast. Cara has more over at Feministe

I haven't explored this much yet, but still thought I'd share it. Pseudopod,, self-described as "the world’s premier horror fiction podcast".

A couple of months old, but coffee is timeless: Sorting Out Coffee’s Contradictions (NY Times)

David Neiwert asks Is Sarah Palin a closet John Bircher?

The Periodic Table of Videos by the University of Nottingham

Sam Harris When Atheists Attack - A noted provocateur rips Sarah Palin—and defends elitism. (Newsweek)

Speaking of links, does anyone know what happened to the blog "Ask A Lesbian" - did it move, and I missed it, being busy?

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Street art in Copenhagen

Originally uploaded by Kristjan Wager
I usually always carry a digital camera when I'm outside my apartment. This allows me to take pictures of whatever catches my eye when walking around in the city.

A few days ago, I came across these pieces of street art. The blue sign is one of a number of signs that someone has put up all over Vesterbro - I don't know what their purpose is, but I quite like them.

The parachuting rat is just cool beyond words.

If people want to see more such pictures, there should be a photo-set in my flickr stream called "street art"

Damn fanatics

I guess people have heard the news from Islamabad, where a bomb have killed at least 40 persons.

At Least 40 Killed in Huge Explosion at Pakistan Hotel

This happened a few hours after President Asif Ali Zardari said that he would deal harshly with terrorists.

As the NY Times article explains, the bomb was exploded at the best time to maximize the number of victims inside.

The blast brought down the ceiling in a banquet room where there were about 200 to 300 people at a meal to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan,

While it's a bit too early to say for sure, I think this attack has all the marks of being an Al-Qaeda attack.

I hope they find the people responsible soon.

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Many new species found in the Great Barrier Reef

Yet again we see an example of new species getting found when scientists start looking through an area systematically.

ScienceDaily has the story

Explorers Find Hundreds Of Undescribed Corals, Other Species On Familiar Australian Reefs

Hundreds of new kinds of animal species surprised international researchers systematically exploring waters off two islands on the Great Barrier Reef and a reef off northwestern Australia -- waters long familiar to divers.

As the paragraph shows, my headline was a little misleading. It's not only the Great Barrier Reef which the scientists looked at, and found new species.

Interestingly enough, these species have been under our noses all the time, we just haven't looked properly.

The effort that lead to these discoveries are part of the Census of Coral Reefs

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Genetic engineering in the NY Times

A little late, so many people have probably already seen this, but the NY Times have a (so far) two-part series about genetic engineering by Olivia Judson. The really interesting part about these articles are that they are not dealing with crops, as so many other articles on this issue are.

The first article is Braking the Virus from September 2nd, which clearly states the scope of this series of articles

Most of the time, talk of genetic modification revolves around crops, with claims and counterclaims as to the relative risks and benefits. Such questions are obviously important, but they have been so much discussed I don’t want to consider them again here (at least, not at the moment). Instead, I want to spend the next couple of weeks looking at other possible uses of genetic engineering.

The second article is from September 9th, and is titled A Genetically Engineered Swat

Both of these articles are great reads, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

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Reading stack

Since at least a few of my readers are people I know from reading forums like Readerville and BookBalloon, I thought I'd share what I've read recently, am currently reading, and what's in my towering to-read stack.

Recent reads include:

James Alan Gardner's Expendable (Amazon link).
A nice piece of science fiction about some members of the space exploration force, who are used to explore new planets, since they are considered expendable. Well worth reading if you are into science fiction.

Gleen Greenwald's Great American Hypocrites
I might make a longer review of this book, but generally I was slightly disappointed by it, though I still feel it should be required reading for journalists.

Lauri Lebo's The Devil in Dover
One of several books on the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial, but the only one written by a local. Lebo was one of the journalists covering the trial, and the book not only describes the trial, but also tells of Lebo's own discovery of the issues at hand.
I am working on a general book review of the books about the trial, so I will write more about it then.

Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister: Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
One of the classic books on how to get IT projects to work. A bit too America-centric at times, it's still a book that I would recommend to anyone who might have to lead, or even just work in, an IT project.

I'm currently reading:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan
Lend to me by one of my co-workers, as he thought it was just up my alley. And it should be - in general I find this kind of books interesting, and I certainly agree with his core message. I just don't like the way he is selling it. Still, I'm working my way through it, and it's certainly giving me food for thought.

Gang of four: Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software
Well, naturally the book's author is not written as "gang of four" on the frontpage of the book, but that's how they are known in the computer business. I've read this book before, but am re-reading it as part of the design pattern study group I've started at my work.

David Neiwert's Strawberry Days
David writes really well, and the story about the internment of the Japanese during WWII is a powerful story. The only reason I haven't gotten it finished yet, is because I keep getting distracted by other books.

Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D: A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell
I've only included this in the list to warn people from spending money or time on it. In my opinion, it's badly written, and what's worse, the advice it gives is worthless.

My to-read stack:

Christoher Wanjek: Bad Medicine
Steve McConnell: Software Estimation - Demystifying the Black Art
James Surowiecki: The Wisdom of Crowds
Darrell Huff: How to Lie with Statistics
Robert Park: Vooddo Science - The Road from Foolishness to Fraud
Jon Krakauer: Under the Banner of Heaven - A Story of Violent Faith
Daniel Levitas: The Terrorist Next Door - the Militia Movement and the Radical Right
Edward Yourdon: Death March

Comments about my reads and book suggestions are of course always welcome.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lazy linking

NY Times tells the story about a rather strange will

In a will he wrote last year, a few months before the Federal Bureau of Investigation focused the anthrax letters investigation on him, Dr. Ivins wrote of his wish to be cremated and have his ashes scattered. But fearing that his wife, Diane, and their two children might not honor the request, he came up with a novel way to enforce his demand: threatening to make a bequest to an organization he knew his wife opposed, Planned Parenthood.

“If my remains are not cremated and my ashes are not scattered or spread on the ground, I give to Planned Parenthood of Maryland” $50,000, Dr. Ivins wrote in the will. Court records value the estate at $143,000.

Quite an interesting will, which we would never have heard about if Dr. Ivins wasn't suspected of being the party behind the anthrax letters.

101 Women Bloggers to Watch Fall 2008

A couple of these bloggers are on my blogroll, but I certainly need to look into the others.

Policy of Gouging Rape Victims Began Under Palin’s Administration by Ampersand, at Alas, A Blog.

Ben Goldacre tells some good news: Matthias Rath drops his million pound legal case against me and the Guardian.


The 95th Skeptics' Circle is up

It's up at Skeptimedia and as usual it's a great read.

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Originally uploaded by Kristjan Wager
This is mostly a check of the Flickr "blog this" functionality.

The picture is one I took about a week ago in the city hall square (Rådhuspladsen) of Copenhagen. It's a fairly large piece of street art by the Danish artist who goes by the name "Husk mit navn" ("Remember my name"). I presume it's a legal piece, since he is too well known to get away with putting up this sort of thing on such a prominent place.

He started out his career as a pure street artist though, and his pieces have a political side to them. This piece is no exception.

In Danish, Copenhagen is named København. However, if you split up the name to "Køb en havn" it means: "buy a harbor".
The artist has played on this with this installation.

The full text is:
"KØB EN HAVN og smid de fattige i vandet" which can be translated as "BUY A HARBOR and throw the poor into the water"

This is no way to hold an election

I have not commented much on the upcoming election, except for making my support of the Obama/Biden ticket clear. The reason why I haven't done so, is because I expect all my readers to have made up their minds already, and because I frankly find the possibility of a Republican victory depressing beyond words.

So, this post is not about the upcoming US election, but rather about the US election process.

Considering the fact that the US has been a democracy for a long time, it's hard for me to understand how badly the whole process of voting works out in the US. After each election we hear numerous stories about the problems people have had with getting to vote. These problems are especially widespread in poor neighborhoods, which means Blacks are dis-proportionally dis-franchised. There have been some evidence that some of these problems are to some degree caused intentionally by people who find it politically convenient if the affected group of voters don't get to vote. Other problems are on the other hand caused by incompetence, which people in position to do something about this, don't care about.

How can a country claim to be a democracy when people are blocked from voting?

Another great problem is that people can't be sure that their vote is counted, even if they get to vote. This was best demonstrated in Florida in the 2000 election. However, that's hardly the only time when this has been demonstrated - there have been numerous examples of problems with voting machines, yet again, it seems like the people in positions to do something about this don't care.

This should be completely unacceptable in a country that claims it's a democracy.

Even worse, there are countless ways in which the voting machines can be hacked - they well described in this blogpost: Hacking Your Vote (sent to me by Dalager). The post doesn't tell anything new, but it's a good summary of the possibilities.

One of the most important tasks in a democracy is to ensure that people can't commit voting fraud, yet the electronic voting machines are still in use. How can that be accepted in a country which claims it's one of the oldest democracies in the world?

I have said in jest in the past that I think the EU should send observers to ensure that the US elections are fair. Maybe we really should?

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Obesity in PLoS One

PLoS One has a, to me, somewhat strange study published.

Obesity as a Perceived Social Signal by Mankar et al.


Fat accumulation has been classically considered as a means of energy storage. Obese people are theorized as metabolically ‘thrifty’, saving energy during times of food abundance. However, recent research has highlighted many neuro-behavioral and social aspects of obesity, with a suggestion that obesity, abdominal obesity in particular, may have evolved as a social signal. We tested here whether body proportions, and abdominal obesity in particular, are perceived as signals revealing personality traits. Faceless drawings of three male body forms namely lean, muscular and feminine, each with and without abdominal obesity were shown in a randomized order to a group of 222 respondents. A list of 30 different adjectives or short descriptions of personality traits was given to each respondent and they were asked to allocate the most appropriate figure to each of them independently. The traits included those directly related to physique, those related to nature, attitude and moral character and also those related to social status. For 29 out of the 30 adjectives people consistently attributed specific body forms. Based on common choices, the 30 traits could be clustered into distinct ‘personalities’ which were strongly associated with particular body forms. A centrally obese figure was perceived as “lethargic, greedy, political, money-minded, selfish and rich”. The results show that body proportions are perceived to reflect personality traits and this raises the possibility that in addition to energy storage, social selection may have played some role in shaping the biology of obesity.

To be honest I don't know what to think of this study. It takes an interesting look on obesity and its social implications, but it totally fails to take social norms into consideration (something the authors implicitly acknowledges in the discussion part of the article).

Go read the article, and tell me what you think.

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Lucky dinosaurs

ScienceDaily has an intriguing article titled Good Luck, Not Superiority, Gave Dinosaurs Their Edge, Study Of Crocodile Cousins Reveals

Back when dinosaurs first started to evolve to the types we have hear about (or have seen in Jurassic Park), there were several competing groups of animals that might evolve to the dominant species. Among those were the ancestors to the modern day crocodiles, the crurotarsan archosaurs, which together with dinosaurs formed the Archosauria group (which now consists of the crocodiles and the decedents of the dinosaurs - the birds).

It has been assumed that dinosaurs had some kind of edge over the other groups, including their cousins, the proto-crocodiles. The research mentioned in the ScienceDaily article, however shows otherwise.

The researchers examined the evolutionary pattern of dinosaurs and crurotarsans in the Late Triassic. Using a very large dataset of anatomical characters – nearly 500 features of the skeleton – and a new family tree of the entire archosaur group, they measured evolutionary rates and morphological disparity (a measurement of the range of different body plans and lifestyles that a group has).

They found no difference in the rates at which dinosaurs and crurotarsans were evolving. This was surprising as, if dinosaurs were truly 'superior' or 'out-competing' crurotarsans in the Triassic, they should be expected to evolve faster. Instead, crurotarsans were keeping pace.

The results for the second measure, morphological disparity, were even more remarkable. Crurotarsans had a much higher disparity than dinosaurs in the Triassic. In other words, crurotarsans were exploring a larger range of body types, diets, and lifestyles. This greatly contrasts with the classic image of dinosaur superiority since their greatest competitors, the crurotarsans, were doing so much more.

To these surprising results can be added two other, previously known, findings: crurotarsans were more abundant (more individuals, more fossils, more species) than dinosaurs in many Triassic ecosystems, and crurotarsans were in some cases more diverse (greater number of species). Putting all this together, it is very difficult to argue that dinosaurs were 'superior' to crurotarsans, or that they were out-competing crurotarsans.

So, it's debatable if dinosaurs actually were the dominant species when looking at the period as a whole. Why then the impression that they were? Well, first of all, it's not easy to tell fossils from the two subgroups apart, so in the past many crurotarsan fossils were considered dinosaur fossils. Second of all, dinosaurs won out in the end, continuing after the crurotarsans died in great numbers. This is also explained in the ScienceDaily article

Steve Brusatte, who conducted the research while an MSc student in Bristol University's Department of Earth Sciences, said: "If we were standing in the Late Triassic, 210 million years ago or so, and had to bet on which group would eventually dominate ecosystems, all reasonable gamblers would go with the crurotarsans. There was no sign that dinosaurs were eventually going to succeed so why did they? The answer is two mass extinction events: the dinosaurs not only got lucky, but they got lucky twice.

"They first weathered the storm during the Carnian-Norian event 228 million years ago, but so did the crurotarsans. In contrast, many other potential competitor groups went extinct. Then dinosaurs weathered a second, much bigger, storm 200 million years ago. This was the end Triassic extinction event, which was a sudden and catastrophic extinction caused by rapid climate change, possibly facilitated by an asteroid impact. Strangely, and suddenly, all crurotarsans except for a few lineages of crocodiles went extinct. On the other hand, the dinosaurs did not. They survived and then radiated in the Early Jurassic, and very quickly established themselves as the dominant vertebrate group on land across the world.

"Why did crurotarsans go extinct and not dinosaurs? We don't know the answer to that, but we suspect that it was nothing more than luck, plain and simple."

When we talk about randomness in evolution, this is the sort of things we mean. It's a typical case of a major impact occurrence which for some reason affected the one group of animals more than the other.

The Science article by Brusatte et al is behind a paywall, but can be found here: Superiority, Competition, and Opportunism in the Evolutionary Radiation of Dinosaurs

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sorry for the silence

I know I've been quite lately, and I just want to tell you all that it's not because I've forgotten my blog - or even because I am closing it down. I'm just busy with real life.

I am still working at a time-extensive major financial project, which has its final deadline (so far) at the end of next month. On top of that I've started working on getting a MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer). Not that I really need it, but it's part of the overall strategy for my .NET department, which I helped formulate, so I'd better do it.

I've also started up a study group at work, where we study design patterns (from the classical GoF book). Most of us have already read the book at some stage, but the plan is to involve peoples' real life experiences, and tie the design patterns to real life solutions. For those interested, we use this study plan, which seems pretty well thought out.

At the end of the month, I'm going to JAOO, where the keynote speakers are quite interesting. I'm especially looking forward to hear Lars Bak from Google. He is part of the Google Chrome team, and it's going to be interesting to hear about his experiences.

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