#jurassic park

The Economist:

Despite what happens in the science fiction world of “Jurassic Park”, no dinosaur DNA has yet been found. The reason for this is that DNA is thought to have a half-life of 521 years, which means that, after that much time, half of the bonds between the proteins that make up DNA have broken apart; after another 521 years, another half have gone, and so on. This leaves very little behind after hundreds of thousands of years yet alone the 65m years or so that stand between humanity and dinosaurs. Even so, Dr Schweitzer and Dr Goodwin still wondered if the iron-based preservation process might allow DNA to bypass its typical half-life and last a lot longer.

Dino DNA!

But in recent years traces of soft tissue, such as blood vessels and bone cells, have been found in some dinosaur fossils. Now researchers have come up with an explanation for how these tissues were preserved for millions of years, which just might make it possible to extract some elements of prehistoric DNA.

Hold onto your butts…

Alexander Huls for The Atlantic on the CGI advances in Jurassic Park:

Jurassic Park’s revolution was technological, but more importantly, it was popular. If Spielberg and Lucas saw the future of cinema in those shots, it was the public who made that future a reality. Sam Neill and Laura Dern’s stunned awe upon seeing a real-looking brachiosaur on its hind legs eating from a tree was a perfect mirror of our own. Audiences believed. When that dinosaur’s feet came down with a thud, the reverberations rippled past dumbstruck viewers and into moviemaking itself.

I remember seeing that very shot in a movie theater and being completely and utterly amazed.