coincidence = [noun] a chance occurrence of events remarkable either for being simultaneous or for apparently being connected. Synonyms: accident, luck, fate
During a non-accidental* wander through the Pacific Science Center’s online calendar of scientific events, I noticed one of those divine coincidences that is probably only exciting to me and maybe a few other calendar/science nerds out there.
Not that this is going to stop me sharing—it’s about radioactivity and accidents. Interested? Here goes: Marie Curie’s birthday—that’s today—is the day before the anniversary of Wilhelm Roentgen‘s discovery of X-rays.
Ahem. Maybe I should come clean about this fascinating coincidence of scientific chronology. Curie was born November 7, 1867, and Roentgen made his astonishing discovery on November 8, 1895.
Jessica Stanton is a detective investigating a trail that’s been cold for over 100 years. She wants to know what really killed the passenger pigeon—and she’s not taking anyone else’s word for it.
Stanton, a Ph.D. student at Stony Brook University, presented last week at the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, USA. Her research focuses on questions like how long it takes a species to go extinct, and how, and how much, we can help it once it’s on that path. Stanton wanted to look at a case study where we knew the outcome, so she could model the phases of decline and extinction. The passenger pigeon was especially fascinating because it was abundant and wide-ranging, which usually means a species isn’t at much risk for extinction. Yet its numbers went from billions to zero in less than 100 years.
She used a standard, matrix-based mathematical population model. She had to put in some baseline variables: fecundity (number of chicks per pigeon per year), survival (number of chicks that survive to breed), and