Below is a copy of the last email that I sent to Fortean Times. I have tried numerous times to connect with them (via there submission policy) but have not received anything in return. I know they are probably buried with submissions. Is there anything that you can think of that might give me a better chance at publication? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Lee Zimmerman
zim2918@q.com


(Email sent December 27, 2010)

Dear Eds of Fortean Times.

I would like to write an article for the Fortean Times.

In particular, I believe there is an issue that science is completely avoiding: The Gravity Problem. There is clear evidence for animals existing that couldn't exist because they would be too heavy (the heaviest birds that fly today are 20% of the estimated weight of the heaviest Pteradons).

I wrote an article and submitted it a while ago. It probably sunk to the bottom of your pile because it combined too many ideas together (You can glance at this article online at http://duluthartists.org/dinosaurs.html ). I would like to write an article for you that concentrates on the question of why the land animals 80 million years ago were so much bigger than the land animals of today; why we have evidence of flying animals that, according to physics, couldn't fly in today’s world.

I am an artist and a vision researcher. In my research, I have used my background in Electrical Engineering to help me model mathematically complex neurological systems and psychophysical perceptual performance. These models depend critically on underlying assumptions and a subtle shift in the prevalent scientific dogma can open great avenues of discovery. When I look at these gravity questions, in my mind they strongly suggest an unwillingness to examine the possibility that the planet has fundamentally changed over the last 100 million years.

I would like to write an article for the Fortean Times, primarily because you are a widely distributed magazine that repeatedly challenges the status quo, or the prevalent dogma, with knowledge, history, a little science, and a determination to be open to the complexities of any issue.

Please let me know if you might be interested in this kind of work. If this idea crosses with an article you are already editing, then I will gladly sit back and anxiously wait for the issue. Also, I would be willing to collaborate, if you know of someone interested in these ideas.

Thank you

Lee Zimmerman
zim2918@q.com

Here is what I have gleaned from Twitter - I posted the question "why were the dinosaurs so much bigger than the land animals of today?" to every dinosaur related writer or scientist I could find. This was the best response.

Laelaps Brian Switek is a dinosaur science writer

@JacquelynGill is a Paleontology student at Wisconsin Madison 

 

JacquelynGill Jacquelyn Gill 

@zim2918 Good question! @laelaps, why were dinosaurs so big?

 

Laelaps Brian Switek 
.@JacquelynGill @zim2918 Air sacs might have been part of the reason why dinos got so big. See my post here: http://bit.ly/eoAKSq

@JacquelynGill @zim2918 Reproduction may also be impt. Biggest land mammals gestate for years, but... [1/2]

@JacquelynGill @zim2918 Dinosaurs laid eggs and their young grew fast, avoiding the problem of long internal gestation mammals deal with

@zim2918 @JacquelynGill Hah, maybe a little like balloons. More like extra pockets/sacs in the area of the neck and chest

@zim2918 @JacquelynGill Benefits: Kept skeleton strong while making it lighter, ability to cool down efficiently (big animals run hot)

@zim2918 @JacquelynGill Briefly, unique quirks of dinosaurs (air sacs, laying eggs) let them get around the limits faced by mammals

@zim2918 @JacquelynGill It's a tough one to answer - it's hard to explain why something doesn't exist - but there are a few clues

@zim2918 @JacquelynGill Pterosaur flight does seem puzzling, but this rundown has some details about ithttp://pterosaur.net/flight.php

JacquelynGill Jacquelyn Gill 
@Laelaps @zim2918 Was told in my biomechanics class that T-Rex couldn't have run, because it would have required so much leg muscle mass

Laelaps Brian Switek 

.@JacquelynGill @zim2918 Sure T. rex could have run. It had some extra junk in the trunk to help propel itself http://bit.ly/eiEdkr

@zim2918 @JacquelynGill Right. The aquatic realm is another ballgame altogether (but can't compare since no aquatic dinosaurs)

zim2918 Lee Zimmerman 

@Laelaps During the Mesozoic, land animals grew to sizes that seem about 6 times the size of land animals today (primarily non-mammals)

@Laelaps flying Pteradons about 6 times the size of flying birds today

@Laelaps balloons in dinosaurs, special lift off for flight, biomechanically too big to run, gestation bypassing growth limits on mammals

@Laelaps These all seem like pre-copernican fixes to the erratic path of the planets in the sky

@Laelaps Wouldn't many of these issues melt away if we assumed that the dinosaurs felt less effective weight?

@Laelaps You would expect that a change in effective weight in air would have less effect in water because of boyancy

@Laelaps If there were a sudden increase in effective weight we might expect smaller land animals while continuing to grow giants in the sea

Laelaps Brian Switek 

.@zim2918 Interesting idea, but I don't think so. Differences in physiology, anatomy, reproduction more important than weight alone

 

zim2918 Lee Zimmerman 

@Laelaps I agree to these things are important. But pre-CT event land animals max-out at one size and today they max-out at a different size

@Laelaps Even if it is hard to imagine, effective weight has something to do with size. Larger things in the ocean

@Laelaps There are two components to effective weight on land: one is gravity and the second is so small that we tend to ignore it

@Laelaps The second is the spinning of the earth. At the equator we weigh .03 lighter than at the poles because of this.

@Laelaps This second component changes with the square of the rotational velocity

@Laelaps If Earth were spinning 12 times as fast (a day every 2 hours - like the casinos in vegas) at the equator we would be 80% lighter

@Laelaps crazy thinking, I know. Dinosaurs at a casino

@Laelaps oops math error. the Earth would have to be spinning 15 times as fast to make the largest dinosaur feel like the largest elephant

Notes on this Twitter conversation - the reasons given for the huge size of the land dinosaurs seems to be an adhoc grouping of anecdotal possibilities with no examples or proof from today. Gestation reasoning, that having eggs allows an animal to be larger at birth, yet today the largest land animal is a mammal as is the largest animal of all time the blue whale. Balloons lightening, and strengething the bones works to some extent but is only around in birds at a much smaller scale. Alos, how would balloons lighten the beast unless they were folled with helium or hydrogen. A thick tail might allow a T-rex to stand up but doesn't help it to withstand the torque and mechanical stresses of running with that great bulk. Flight using wings that are 50 feet seem completely unflappable, without an engine.

 

Why sidestep this issue? If you assume less weight, you have to assume that something unbeleivable happened on a planetary scale. This assumption screws up everything that you as a scientist hold dear. For example, if you assume the earth was spinning faster, it messes with your standard measurment of time. the clock speeds up. To measure time, you fundamentally depend on the motion of the planet not changing.

So much of science is willing to ignore the main question if there is another similar question that we can get a grip on the solution. My example comes from perceptual psychology of vision. The main question is how does vision fold depth onto two dimensional data. We spend a lot of time looking at how depth is derived from vision focussing most of it on binocular cues, when any one eyed person will tell you how unimportant this cue is to our perception of the world.

I think addressing this question directly produces disciplinary fear. A paleontologist fears they will be laughed at by geologists. The geologists fear the ridicule of planetary astrophysicists ... But when you walk into the Smithsonion Natural History Museum to look at the dinosaur bones, the first thing that confronts you is the immense size.

More Twitter

zim2918 Lee Zimmerman 
@GrrlScientist How could Pteradons fly with such long wings (50 ft)? Lifting them for one stroke seems impossible. Any thoughts?
GrrlScientist GrrlScientist 
they were gliders @zim2918 How could Pteradons fly with such long wings (50 ft)? Lifting them for one stroke seems impossible. thoughts?
zim2918 Lee Zimmerman 

@GrrlScientist Are there gliders with bendable wings that can't start from the ground if they have too? I don't know birds very well.

GrrlScientist GrrlScientist 
albatross are clumsy at take-off/landing @zim2918 Are there gliders with bendable wings that can't start from the ground if they have too?

 

And More

kejames Karen James 
@zim2918 For starters check out Bergmann's rule -http://bit.ly/fME87u
@zim2918 There's some really interesting research on the evolution of body size, especially on islands

@zim2918 . Start with wiki's "island gigantism" articlehttp://bit.ly/fjBIek and then link from there to island dwarfism and other phenomena

zim2918 Lee Zimmerman 
@kejames Doesn't Bergmann's rule speak to variations within groups. Variation between species seems less direct
kejames Karen James 
@zim2918 Variations within groups become variations between species, though.
zim2918 Lee Zimmerman 
@kejames Also the largest land animal on earth resides near the equator. Does Bergmann hold in the ocean?
kejames Karen James 
@zim2918 No idea. That's getting pretty far outside of my area of specialty.

 

and More

johnhawks John Hawks 
@zim2918 Well, whales have lower cost of locomotion. Dinosaurs unclear: plant caloric extraction or lower metabolic costs leading hypotheses

 

MORE