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Aug 26 2013

Playing with virtual fossils

This is all kinds of cool: the British Geological Survey is laser scanning their fossil collection and producing an online database of high resolution photographs and digital models of British type fossils. Bring up images and rotate and zoom in on them interactively.

Two days until classes start! I can’t play with this now!

17 comments

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  1. 1
    michaelhofer

    Okay, now I HAVE to get a 3d printer. I wonder if they have one big enough to “do” a raptor skull.

  2. 2
    David Marjanović

    !!! !!! !!!
    !!! !!! !!!
    !!! !!! !!!

  3. 3
    René

    Aahh, sweet memories! The summer of sixty-eight. Ardèche, France (South-of, for the geographically challenged). My first tentative behaviour as a young adult (erhm), just graduated from high school. My first all-night watching shooting stars on a hile-side with school friends and a hot Méla, a few years my senior, the first woman I ever saw naked — but who ‘saved’ me for ‘a nice girl of your age’, for which I was grateful a couple of months later.

    My first encounter with a poisonous exemplar of the legless condemned-by-yahweh, that ended up as a purse, handcrafted by my foster-father.

    My first driving a car (without a permit) in a 2CV (owned by the goddess) which came in handy when I had to drive my foster mother to hospital after a nasty accident.

    The same vacation I saw falling a fossil, an ammonite from the rocks that was the habitat of the snake. I took it home, of course, and it served years as a book support on one of my bookshelves. (I was an atheist years before this event, but I would wish every biblebelter find a real fossil: it is a converting event.)
    ______________________________________
    Inferior Oolite Group, the insult!

  4. 4
    Sili

    Are they gonna do tomography, or is only the exterior imprinted?

  5. 5
    morejello

    The Idaho Museum of Natural History here in Pocatello is doing something very similar. They use the same kinds of scanners to make detailed 3d models of bones and fossils. They’ve done field trips to many places to scan, including scanning an entire whale skeleton and scanning fossilized tracks in situ.

  6. 6
    Robert Longstaff

    BTW the article got the name wrong – it’s the British Geological Survey (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/)

  7. 7
    Perri Hobbs

    The same thing can be done using just cameras and not laser scanning.
    Try this: http://make3d.cs.cornell.edu/

    Or this: http://www.metasense.com.au/

  8. 8
    sethmassine

    PZ, you always manage to dig (chuckle) up the coolest stuff. Awesome!

  9. 9
    starcatherus

    These have .obj files available. I could load these into Unity, and create a game where creationists are attacked by fossils!

  10. 10
    starcatherus

    Honestly, you could make any sort of fossil based games out of them, if the polygon count isn’t too high from the models.

  11. 11
    Anders Kehlet

    @starcatherus: Could you do some thing to display the models in stereoscopic 3D? That would be even more awesome. :)

  12. 12
    David Marjanović

    I would wish every biblebelter find a real fossil: it is a converting event.

    …Not for everyone, no. ~:-|

  13. 13
    Trebuchet

    Virtual fossils sound awesome, but why bother with ammonites? You can get real ones, either whole or sectioned, in any rock shop. Cheap. Oh, I know, cephalopods and all that but still….

  14. 14
    David Marjanović

    They’re type specimens, the ones on which species names depend.

  15. 15
    Sili

    @starcatherus: Could you do some thing to display the models in stereoscopic 3D? That would be even more awesome. :)

    It annoys me that now that 3D-TVs are readily available, there’s no way to transfer crystal structures to them.

    I’d have loved to be able to analyse hydrogen bonding by actually *seeing* it. And if could manipulate it with something like a Wii as well, it’d just be super.

  16. 16
    rnilsson

    @Sili: Look here, maybe? OK, so it’s going extra- rather than paleoterrestrial, but might still be fun.

    Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 24 aug

    Will post video next week of designing a rocket part with hand gestures & then immediately printing it in titanium

    Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 23 aug

    We figured out how to design rocket parts just w hand movements through the air (seriously). Now need a high frame rate holograph generator.

  17. 17
    starcatherus

    @Anders Kehlet : Could you do some thing to display the models in stereoscopic 3D? That would be even more awesome. :)

    Maybe, I don’t know if using a game engine would have the best processing overhead for a viewer. I would need to look up at Unity’s documentation, and some of the other commenter with better skills could point the way.

    The first comment was more of a joke, but it did give me an idea for an educational game.You could display the fossils, and choose between them for points. An idea, at any rate.

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