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Episode 11 – Fossil Hunting

Episode 11 – Fossil Hunting 900 450 Nowhere Podcast

We’ve got three guests in today’s episode: Dr. Caleb Brown, Curator of Dinosaur Systematics & Evolution at the Royal Tyrrell Museum; Dr. Derek Peddle, Professor of Geography at The University of Lethbridge; and Sean Herridge-Berry, a master’s student at the University of Lethbridge, join us to discuss how modern technology is being used to explore ancient fossil beds.

Alberta is known for being a hotbed for fossils, but why? Alberta’s rocks are the right age to preserve fossils, but these rocks have eroded at a quick rate in the badlands of Alberta. These abundant fossils are being uncovered at a high rate, which means this landscape provides a lot of information about fossils.

The standard method of prospecting to find new fossils is pretty low tech: put your boots on, get outside, and keep your eyes on the ground. Generally, fossils look like any other bone. The hardest part is figuring out which fossils are most important.

An interesting fact about fossils is that they are a breeding ground for lichen, a composite organism. There is a bright orange lichen which grows on the fossils, and this orange glow can be used to identify fossils. Furthermore, fossilized material and lichen reflect the sunlight in a certain way, and Sean is currently studying how to use that to identify them in a remotely sensed image.

This technology opens the door to discovering new, yet to be discovered bone beds (layers of rock with concentrated fossils). Watching million-year-old fossils collide with new technology is really interesting and will lead to even more exciting dinosaur bone finds down the road.

Episode 10 with Travis Riedlhuber

Episode 10 with Travis Riedlhuber 900 450 Nowhere Podcast

Travis Riedlhuber is joining us for this episode. He is the managing director of RainBarrel, an Edmonton-based company that uses geospatial data to help advertisers deliver their message to the right people.

Digital advertising is going through a lot of changes. Focus is shifting to privacy, and new technology is setting in to emphasize regulatory action. New businesses are forming to find solutions to work within this new era of digital advertising.

Advertisers who have been reliant on using cookies need to pivot, as this kind of tracking is slowly being phased out. New identifiers like loyalty programs and apps are emerging in its place. What makes RainBarrel unique is that they utilize location data to group people with similar attributes, and they only use data given with explicit consent.

The cohorts they put together are a minimum of one thousand unique devices, but the typical audience is within tens of thousands or even millions of devices. This not only goes a long way for protecting privacy, but it also helps advertisers reach a larger group of people to generate the return they expect.

In the past, there haven’t been a lot of regulations in this area of the digital advertising space, and a lot of work was being done in the shadows. Now, this is headed in a more transparent direction, which RainBarrel fully embraces and supports.

Listen to the episode here:

Episode 09 with James Floyer

Episode 09 with James Floyer 900 450 Nowhere Podcast

James Floyer, the Program Director and Senior Avalanche Forecaster of Avalanche Canada, joins us for this episode. Avalanche Canada is a non-government non-profit that focuses on avalanche safety for individuals in the backcountry.

Avalanches can happen anywhere there is steep terrain and significant snowfall. There are also a few different types, with loose snow and slab avalanches being the most dangerous. Because there is a lack of infrastructure, those most at risk to avalanches are people in the backcountry.

The MIN, or Mountain Information Network, is an observation system used by Avalanche Canada to assess risk. Individual users can submit information to this network, as it was created in response to recognition of an untapped resource for safety: the public.

Avalanche Canada puts out the call for public user support early in the season, and generally the response is quite strong. People feel called to step up to the plate and submit data, and looking at this data is where avalanche analysis and safety really begins.

Avalanche Canada also has six field teams, five of which are located in Western Canada. They go out about four times a week into data-sparse areas to gather information about snowpacks and make observations of conditions to feed back into the forecast center. They also demonstrate best-practices to the public to help keep everyone in the backcountry safe.

Listen to the episode here:

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