MacDirectory Magazine

Summer-Fall 2008 (#38)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 60 of 179

MacDirectory 59 INTERVIEW great how we can work from the scientific data to the image processing. MD > How do Macs come into play when it comes to dinosaur fossils? PS > We've been on the cover of 15 or 20 scientific journals because of our images and illustrations. We stopped counting how many covers we've got. For us, ima- ging is the most important part of work, and Apple is so far in the lead when it comes to that. Once you come from a Mac and try to go to a PC it just doesn't work. Everything is so intuitive and friend- ly and efficient on the Mac and they have great tech support. I always find the pro- grams and operating systems to be coun- ter intuitive when I step away from a Mac. MD > Do you have your whole office running on Macs? PS > Yes, and I'm going to keep it that way. The biggest problem we run into sometimes is that these big markets we collaborate with, such as a hospital or university, have some system they haven't ever budged from, or they use some engineering program that was developed so long ago and we want to use it and bring it into the Mac environment. Now that's all becoming more available. Even just five years ago if I wanted to do something directly with a file from a CT machine it would have been so difficult to do it. But now it's no problem. MD > What kind of computer do you work on at home? PS > I do all my work on a 24-inch iMac. I can edit a paper and have all my references right there. I'm constantly working on that. I also just purchased a tablet to work on as well. MD> Do you have an iPhone? PS > No, I tend not to be strapped up with every last gadget. I actually just got a nano the other day as my first iPod. There is a point where I depart from modern technology. What I need is time on my Mac at home without anyone calling me and without anyone e-mailing me. I'm desperate for that time in order to do my work. That's my battle. I have a little strategic dinosaur war room in my attic. I retreat there and come out with a 100- page paper. But, if I can't get that time, dinosaurs will be screaming at me for not naming them. MD > Are there any tools you wish Apple would develop that would be specific to the study of paleontology? PS > Well, I'm creating one myself that would run on OS X. I'm not coding it myself, but I'm designing a specific program to use. When working out the Tree of Life you have so much quantitative data and you're trying to figure out what Tree of Life a specimen supports. We go out and study fossils for example — we're looking at how many fingers this specimen has and figuring out how to code the information. The first programs that came out when I was in graduate school were main frame programs. Then there was a PC- developed program and then Mac programmers got into it and made a much a more friendly and diversified program and that's what I'm trying to add to. So I'm going to try to create a program that is the next wave of what we do in paleontology. I've got a white paper out there, programmers are being lined up and I think over the next year or two I'm going to bring it into our field. I'm not super computer savvy with all the different specifics but we're finding more receptivity to Macs as we go out across a huge pool of colleagues. MD > You travel to some pretty tumultuous areas. Have you ever encountered difficulties while you were working in the field? PS > You always do. You become a full- time diplomat. You have to learn another language, the etiquette of the culture, the laws of the country, all sorts of things. We've encountered bandits, we've been stuck up in the middle of the dessert, we've had broken down vehicles in the middle of nowhere, we have had every circumstance you can possibly imagine when digging up and transporting 100 tons of fossils from the world's largest dessert. We've encountered just about everything you could think of. That's part of the territory and that's why it hasn't been done before. MD > Where do you get your edge from? PS > I think the edge comes from starting out in art, getting a degree in geology and finding myself studying anatomy and teaching human anatomy. Science is an adventure that you don't know which way it's going to turn when you have a real open mind and a sense for following breaking discoveries. The last thing I ever thought I was going to be doing is reconstructing a 40-foot crocodile when I went to look for dino- saurs. We've discovered almost 30 new animals and I didn't know I would be working on dinosaurs.

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