Magnetic senses! Big dinosaurs! Old paint! Inca takeovers! Black Death! Silk age! Restless volcano! Polar maps! And a wondrous universe of abundant carbon atoms! It's your Thursday Science Watch, where we watch science—with gravitas!

  • You thought that Tyrannosaurus Rex was big, and grew fast? One problem there, Einstein: he was even BIGGER and grew FASTER than you thought. No more running around playing dinosaur expert for you, okay?
  • Turns out that just about all vertebrates—like you—descended from an ancient amphibian ancestor that had the ability to sense the earth's magnetic field. Not me, though, I am always losing those car keys!!!!!!! Is that what this story is about? I am a Middle American stand up comedian.
  • Scientists say they've found remains of a 100,000 year old paint factory in an African cave. They also found an abandoned Delorean with a note reading "Doc, get me outta here!" But that was less important, historically, than the paint factory.
  • Let's get one thing straight before we go any further with this relationship: Inca takeovers of other groups were not usually hostile. Got it? This is an absolute dealbreaker, I'm sorry.
  • At last, the origin of Europe's fabled Black Death has been identified. What was it? Whoa, why the curiosity all of a sudden?
  • Been wondering about how to precisely date the age of various silk garments? Here's a handy way: do the science tests, or whatever, to show how old it is, and then take a good look in the mirror. Is this what you want to be doing with your life?
  • Iceland's Katla volcano is getting restless. "I mean, I've been here 68,000 years, it's okay, but it's just like... is this it?" I don't know, Katla, you have to answer that for yourself!
  • What's going to happen when global warming fundamentally redraws the polar maps of our world? Let me stop you right there: actual humans who work in map factories will be doing the redrawing. Let's not forget them.
  • In the early universe, carbon was everywhere. You want some carbon? Just look anywhere, you could probably have some. That's the way it was in the early universe. To be fair, there's still a lot of carbon around.

[Photo: Kabacchi/Flickr]