Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Something in the Freezer

art.thawedcreature.cnn This should thrill the natural science world:

On Tuesday morning, researchers will unveil a 47-million-year-old fossil they say could revolutionize the understanding of human evolution at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.

And cause a bit of a shudder:

But the event, which will coincide with the publishing of a peer-reviewed article about the find, is the first stop in a coordinated, branded media event, orchestrated by the scientists and the History Channel, including a film detailing the secretive two-year study of the fossil, a book release, an exclusive arrangement with ABC News and an elaborate Web site.

Heaven knows, a jackpot has accompanied big discoveries since at least the uncovering of King Tut’s tomb back – hey, almost a century ago, in 1922 – but this coordinated outreach for the big bucks smells a little ripe, like gettin’ while the gettin’s good. Think if those guys with the gorilla suit really did have Big Foot in their basement freezer – or had the money to convince someone of same.

It gets better:

“Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.”

Well, no, actually, no we don’t.

No nuclear link here – unless you count the occasional spectacular announcement about nuclear fusion – but an interesting view on monetizing scientific advance. Let’s hope the science equals the monetizing.

Big Foot in a freezer. Ignominious!

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