Geo Week News

May 25, 2012

Hey! We know that guy in Smithsonian Magazine!

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Despite the fact that I make my living writing for the Internet, I’m still a magazine guy at heart. One of my favorites is Smithsonian, published by the Smithsonian Institution and not for nothing recently “voted the most interesting magazine in America” (by whom, I’m not actually sure, but it’s on their cover and I believe it). So, imagine my thrill when, for the first time, I actually knew someone personally featured in its pages.

Actually, you may know him, too. Especially if you joined us for SPAR International in Houston. That’s right, it’s Vince Rossi, who spoke with his colleague Adam Metallo, about their work in laser scanning and otherwise digitizing the Smithsonian collection in all its vastness (you can read my interview with the pair here). 

Sure, they’ve been all over the Smithsonian web site, and the National Geographic web site, etc., etc., and they’re no secret just seeing the light of day, but only the most interesting stuff makes the magazine – where space is limited and inches on a page cost big money. So it was pretty dang cool to see Vince working away on those whale bones in Chile with is Faro Arm (sort of a bummer that we didn’t get to see the big laser scanner in the mag, but oh well). 

Here’s the cover and a look at the feature – taken on the wide pine floors of my house, since that’s where my subscription comes:

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As for the article itself, it’s pretty cool. Sure, they write 3D as “3-D,” but they also make laser scanning sound pretty sexy. Rossi and Metallo are called “laser cowboys” and the process of digitizing the whale specimens is definitely described in a way that makes it seem awfully useful: “Today, all the whales have been removed and their resting places obliterated. But, using rock samples together with the scans, Pyenson can still explore how the animals died.” I’m rooting for the shark attacks. Also, “One particularly important whale cranium is as fragile in places as glass – difficult to store. But soon scientists may be able to e-mail images of the skull to one another anywhere in the world.” (Now I understand why they use “3-D” – I mean, they haven’t even gotten the memo about leaving out the hyphen in email.)

The Smithsonian, both as an institution and a magazine, is a thought leader. To have this kind of feature really is great news (even if it’s in an issue with a giant regal chicken on the front….). Check it out – already the Atlantic has picked up on it, although it’s just the web site…

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