The Download

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Unless you have programmed your email server to collect every mention of Penn on the internet on a daily basis, it’s unlikely you can keep up on Penn’s ever-widening presence on the web. By mining online publications, websites and blogs, the Current has collected a few interesting, unusual and thought-provoking items that we’ve come across to provide you with a roundup of what’s being said in cyberspace.

In a recent column called “The Explainer” at www.slate.com, Peter Dodson, professor of paleontology and anatomy at the School of Veterinary Medicine, helped answer the question: Will the world ever run out of dinosaur fossils to be discovered? According to “The Explainer,” 3,000 complete or nearly complete dinosaur skeletons are currently on display in museums across the country, and scientists continue unearthing significant discoveries at the rate of about 14 per year. Nonetheless, experts like Dodson believe the number of yet-to-be-discovered fossils (large and small) is still in the millions. So fear not, dinosaur discoveries won’t go extinct anytime soon.

Watch three minutes of truly remarkable science at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIn-sMq8-Ls. It is video of a robot developed at Penn made of modules that, when broken apart, can put themselves back together. The robot looks like a stack of square blocks. An anonymous foot kicks them apart. And then, like a team of rigid gymnasts, the blocks line themselves up, do an impressive lift, and meld themselves back into a stack. Sure, the video was posted last year, but the jaw-dropping action is still mesmerizing.

Feeling blue? Check out the website for Penn’s Positive Psychology Center at www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu. Once you register, you can take quizzes to test your happiness. You can rate your Authentic Happiness, see where you stand on the Compassionate Love Scale, and with a few clicks of the keyboard, measure your overall gratitude.

Originally published on October 15, 2009