The blog of Bill Gates
gatesnotes
The blog of Bill Gates

How Dinosaurs Could Help Us Fight Malnutrition

Sign In
 
My Profile & Settings
Log out
GO
Your search for "", with selected filters, does not match any posts. Please try again with a different search term or reset filters.

Popular searches include: Books, Malaria, and Future of Food.
RELATED ARTICLES ON
Logout:


Become a Gates Notes Insider
- or - Sign up with email
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Send me updates from Bill Gates
Sign Up
Join the Gates Notes community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, subscribe to your favorite topics and more. We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Sign Up" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
Account Settings
VIEW & EDIT PROFILE
Your Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Password
Save
Cancel
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Deactivate Account
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process. Deactivate account If you want to permanently delete your account and remove its content, please send us a request here.
Ok
Gates Notes Insider Sign Up FAQ

Q. How do I create a Gates Notes account?

A. There are three ways you can create a Gates Notes account:

  • Sign up with Facebook. We’ll never post to your Facebook account without your permission.
  • Sign up with Twitter. We’ll never post to your Twitter account without your permission.
  • Sign up with your email. Enter your email address during sign up. We’ll email you a link for verification.

Q. Will you ever post to my Facebook or Twitter accounts without my permission?

A. No, never.

Q. How do I sign up to receive email communications from my Gates Notes account?

A. In Account Settings, click the toggle switch next to “Send me updates from Bill Gates.”

Q. How will you use the Interests I select in Account Settings?

A. We will use them to choose the Suggested Reads that appear on your profile page.

Forgot your password?
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Reset Password
Change your header photo
your image
 
Change
your image
Uh Oh!

The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.

Ok
First name
Last name
Enter a first and last name. For example, "Richard Feynman"
Bio
0/160 characters
Edit Profile
Account Settings
Save
Cancel
Suggested Reads
Reset your password.
Set New Password
Your password has been reset. You will now be redirected to the sign in page, or you can click here
Ok
Get emails from Bill Gates
Send me updates from Bill
You must provide an email
This email is already registered
Continue
We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Continue" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
 
your image
Uh Oh!
The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.
Ok
Welcome FirstName!
You are now a Gates Notes Insider
Update Your Profile Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Select Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Continue
Confirm
Are you sure you want to
deactivate your account?
Deactivating your account will unsubscribe you from Gates Notes emails, and will remove your profile and account information from public view on the Gates Notes. Please allow for 24 hours for the deactivation to fully process. You can sign back in at any time to reactivate your account and restore its content.
Deactivate My Acccount
Go Back
Your Gates Notes account has been deactivated.
Come back anytime.
Welcome back
In order to unsubscribe you will need to sign-in to your Gates Notes Insider account
Once signed in just go to your Account Settings page and set your subscription options as desired.
Sign In
Request account deletion
We’re sorry to see you go. Your request may take a few days to process; we want to double check things before hitting the big red button. Requesting an account deletion will permanently remove all of your profile content. If you’ve changed your mind about deleting your account, you can always hit cancel and deactivate instead.
Submit
Cancel
Thank You! Your request has been sent
Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions
Sign up to receive occasional updates from the Gates Notes
Sign Up
Privacy Policy
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
This verification token has expired.
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
Your account has been deactivated. Sign up to re-activate your account.
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
The blog of Bill Gates
How Dinosaurs Could Help Us Fight Malnutrition
 
Hello, . . My Profile & Settings
Log out
FOLLOW ME
It looks like you're using an older version of Internet Explorer which may not display all the features on this site. Upgrade Now » close
Dino-Might

How Dinosaurs Could Help Us Fight Malnutrition

Kids love dinosaurs. When you’re three feet tall and can’t have dinner unless somebody brings you food, the idea of enormous, powerful creatures that have fangs to defend themselves and claws to capture their own meals seems pretty great.

I loved dinosaurs as much as anyone, but eventually I grew tall enough to get my own dinner, and my interest in dinosaurs waned.

My friend Nathan Myhrvold, though, never stopped loving dinosaurs. Actually, there are a lot of things Nathan never stopped loving—he’s published best-selling cookbooks and essays on bioterrorism, among other things—but if you ask him about his longest-running obsession, he’ll tell you it’s dinosaurs. His office is full of dinosaur bones, some of which he dug up himself, along with a model of a dinosaur whose tail moved so fast it broke the sound barrier.

How Dinosaurs Could Help Us Fight Malnutrition

Because he’s so curious, Nathan can take what he knows about these great reptiles and apply it to fields that seem completely unrelated—fields like childhood nutrition, one of the most important and misunderstood areas in all of development.

Here’s a short video in which he explains the connection:

Dinosaur growth rates, it turns out, are hard to study. There may be only thirty fossils of a particular dinosaur species in the world, and none of them may be complete. So how do you know whether a bone is shaped a certain way because that’s how triceratops grew or whether your particular specimen just had a funny-looking head?

In poor countries, children’s physical development is also hard to study, though for different reasons. For one thing, measurements are notoriously inaccurate. If you’re measuring a crying, squirming baby who doesn’t want a cold tape measure pressed up against his body, you might not get the numbers exactly right. There’s also a host of reasons a child could be short. Is this girl short because she’s malnourished? Is she from a short family? Or has she just not hit her growth spurt yet?

What that means is that in both areas, dinosaur growth and childhood growth, you end up with problematic data; with children, it’s messy, and with dinosaurs, it’s sparse. In both cases, though, the problem is the same: looking at the data from the wrong angle gives you the wrong answers.

Nathan thinks he’s figured out a systematic way to look at the growth records from the right angle. Since we started working with him he’s shared some promising ideas about how to measure children’s growth accurately, analyze the trends, and take action on the analysis. For example, some researchers recently looked at the relationship between gross domestic product and childhood stunting and, to everyone’s surprise, they found no correlation—until Nathan pointed out that they were using the wrong statistical methods to analyze the information. The methods he suggested instead—based on his work on dinosaurs—showed that the relationship was actually even stronger than many people in the field had thought. And that could have a big impact on how policymakers and health-care workers approach the problem of childhood nutrition.

This is a great example of a trend I hope we’ll see a lot more of: taking scientific advances from lots of different fields and using them to solve problems in global health.

Ever since dinosaurs were discovered, kids have showered them with love. Thanks to this work, we may have found a way for dinosaurs to pay them back.

Here’s a longer video where Nathan explains the thinking behind his work in detail:

Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions

Read previous versions of the Annual Letter

Filed Under

Discussion
comments powered by Disqus