Glowing Dino, Canine Cautionary Tale, Dancing Doctorates | May 7, 2012 Issue - Vol. 90 Issue 19 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 19 | p. 40 | Newscripts
Issue Date: May 7, 2012

Glowing Dino, Canine Cautionary Tale, Dancing Doctorates

Department: Newscripts
Keywords: dinosaur, glow-in-the-dark, coin, dog, thallium, dance your Ph.D.
Cretaceous currency: Artist’s depiction of new glow-in-the-dark dino coin.
Credit: Royal Canadian Mint
Artist’s depiction of glowing dinosaur coin
Cretaceous currency: Artist’s depiction of new glow-in-the-dark dino coin.
Credit: Royal Canadian Mint

One might expect economics to be the forte of the Royal Canadian Mint, but recently, the moneymakers have been showing off their chemistry chops. Late last year, they started printing dollar bills on polymer sheets, and just last month they unveiled a quarter that glows in the dark.

The new coin features the image of the dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, which was first discovered by science teacher Al Lakusta at Pipestone Creek, Alberta, in 1974. Dinosaur coins are nifty, to be sure, but the thing that makes this money magical is that a glowing dino skeleton can be seen when the coin is taken into the dark.

The mint wouldn’t share with Newscripts any of the technical details for making the proprietary photoluminescent feature, citing the process as commercially sensitive. The mint does note, however, that the glowing bones won’t wear off over time.

Although the coin has a face value of 25 cents, it will actually set you back about $30 ($29.95 Canadian). The mint is producing only 25,000 of the quarters for collectors, and the coin will be the first in a series of four emblazoned with glowing prehistoric creatures.

The Newscripts gang recently learned of a chemical cautionary tale for canines. In this case, when the dog in question ate an experiment, she wound up becoming an experiment.

Penelope, a year-old German shepherd mix owned by large-animal veterinarian Thomas W. Graham, got a little peckish while at her master’s practice and decided to chow down on 20 or so Mycoplasma agar plates that had been thrown in the garbage.

The bad news for Penelope was that the agar contained thallium, also known as the “poisoner’s poison,” which kills just about everything except the Mycoplasma bacteria in the plates. Penelope got pretty sick and after a week started to lose her fur. Over the course of her months-long illness, Penelope lost control of her muscles, seized, and caught pneumonia twice. She couldn’t even bark for 10 months.

Birgit Puschner, a veterinary professor at the University of California, Davis, who treated Penelope, couldn’t find any literature on thallium poisoning in dogs, so she decided to write the case up for the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation (DOI: 10.1177/1040638711425941). The story has a happy ending, though: Penelope made a full recovery.

Dr. Groove: Raise your Ph.D. to an art form.
Credit: Shutterstock
Dr. Groove: Raise your Ph.D. to an art form.
Credit: Shutterstock

It’s time again to dust off your dancing shoes and practice those pirouettes: The annual “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest is now open. This contest is for anyone who thinks that interpretive dance is the perfect medium for communicating just what they did for five-plus years of their life in the lab.

The contest is open to anyone who has a Ph.D. or is working on a Ph.D. in a scientific discipline. Winners in four categories—physics, chemistry, biology, and social sciences—will take home a cash prize of $500. The creator of the best Ph.D. dance of 2012 will win an additional $500 as well as travel and accommodation to be crowned the winner at TEDx Brussels conference, on Nov. 12.

To enter, turn your thesis work into a dance and post a video of said opus on Remember, you have to be part of the dance. Then, enter your video at the GonzoLabs website ( no later than Oct. 1. Entries will be judged on scientific merit, artistic merit, and the creative combination of science and art.

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