kottke.org posts about Jurassic Park
When Jurassic Park came out in the summer of 1993, it signaled a shift in the use of digital visual effects in Hollywood films. The movie wasn't the first to use any particular technique, but it was the first movie to showcase convincing, realistic digital effects. I watched Jurassic Park again recently and for a 23-year-old movie, the effects hold up surprisingly well. (For reference, 23 years ago, the top-of-the-line desktop computer was a 486 running at 50 MHz.)
Hold onto your butts, gang... I just found out, via Pixar's Michael B. Johnson, that the 3D file manager that Lex uses in Jurassic Park -- "It's a Unix system, I know this" -- was a real thing. FSN (File System Navigator) was a demo tool for Silicon Graphics' IRIX operating system that you could download from their web site.
P.S. In that same thread, Johnson shares that his office was the inspiration for Dennis Nedry's work area.
As a kid, Michael M collected a notebook full of information related to Jurassic Park, as if he worked in the computing department of InGen, the company that built the park.
The dossier is fairly thick and contains numerous completely made-up documents like dinosaur tooth records, DNA diagrams, and correspondence between myself, my imaginary colleagues and some of my friends from school whom I'd somehow managed to rope into my delusions.
Broadly, the dossier consists of the impossibly dull minutiae of park admin leading up to the events of the movie. I essentially gave myself a boring office job in my spare time outside of school. If nothing else, it's a fascinating insight into the mind of the type of pubescent idiot who never had a sun tan.
Love this. I definitely did stuff like this when I was a kid, but not nearly as elaborate. (via @robinsloan)
Great short film about how ILM's groundbreaking visual effects came to be used in Jurassic Park.
When Spielberg originally conceived the movie, he was going to use stop-motion dinosaurs. ILM was tasked with providing motion blur to make them look more realistic. But in their spare time, a few engineers made a fully digital T. Rex skeleton and when the producers saw it, they flipped out and scrapped the stop-motion entirely. Fun story.
Hold onto yer butts, you can use the computer interface from Jurassic Park right in your web browser.
It may look a little confusing but just remember: this is a Unix system and you know this.
Researchers in Copenhagan and Perth used DNA found in the leg bones of the extinct moa bird to determine the half-life of DNA: 521 years.
By comparing the specimens' ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on.
The team predicts that even in a bone at an ideal preservation temperature of -5 ºC, effectively every bond would be destroyed after a maximum of 6.8 million years. The DNA would cease to be readable much earlier -- perhaps after roughly 1.5 million years, when the remaining strands would be too short to give meaningful information.
That means no real-life Jurassic Park, folks.