for discovery: three dinosaurs, 14 people, 75 paintbrushes,
144 AA batteries, 320 ounces of creamy peanut butter, 20,000
pounds of miscellaneous supplies and equipment, and one Internet
link. Mix well and let bake in the Sahara sun for four months.
Watch Web site rise.
Although "dinosaur" and "Internet" may not be the most homogenous
of images, Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno has set out to
bring you one by using the other. Since August 13, Sereno and
his team have been crisscrossing northern Niger in search of
dinosaur fossils in three previously explored beds and two brand
new ones, and you can join the expedition any time you like.
viewers can watch the group unearth fossils halfway around the
world and read about their findings before newspapers have a
chance to print the story. The brainchild of Sereno and his
wife and team member Gabrielle Lyon, AB'94, AM'94, Project Exploration
is a not-for-profit science education organization dedicated
to making paleontology and natural science accessible to city
By feeding the site with weekly updates, photos, video, background
information, and interdisciplinary activities that resemble
challenges faced in the field, Sereno and Lyon hope to make
visitors feel like they are on the expedition themselves.
But the broadcasting may be just as complicated as the digging.
The Web site is operated out of a special lightweight "clean
tent," with the computers powered by a gas generator. The team
photographs and writes during the day and works on the computers
at night. The computers are connected to a satellite phone that
sends the information 23,000 miles into the atmosphere and then
23,000 miles back down to the United States with only a one-second
delay. "A technical breakdown will be a real challenge," quips
Sereno. "FedEx still doesn't deliver to this neighborhood."
Lyon agrees with Sereno on the difficulties of broadcasting
from the middle of the Sahara. "Not only will the computers
need to work in 130 degree heat, there are no sockets to plug
into and we will be working in one of the dustiest environments
on the planet. According to our technical advisors, the only
thing worse would be to have live dinosaurs tramping through
our equipment tent daily."-C.S.
World Wide Web locations: