Every member of every generation has one of those events that rock them to their very core. For some people, it was the the JFK assassination. For others, the Martin Luther King, Jr, assassination. For my generation, at least the early part of it, it was the morning the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on live television. The latter part, of course, and probably for the generation after mine, it simple became known as 911.
There are many smaller events though, that don’t hit with the same impact, but that still stick with you.
For example, a mere 20 years ago in college, we were taught in our Astrophysics class that there were nine planets in our solar system. Then, suddenly, in 2002, Pluto got the boot. Downgraded by the scientific community to a mere “icy rock that’s also orbiting our sun but not really a planet sorry KTHXbai” and suddenly we’re down to eight. Our entire lives, nay, the entire history of the modern school system has taught that Pluto was a planet. Hell, it even had a Disney dog named after it…and now, from woof to poof! It’s off the list.
Another one of those moments where I learned that the scientific community was probably just trolling us was when they informed the world that “Hey, guys what? Probably the most famous dinosaur of them all didn’t really exist, Brontosaurus was really just another version of the Apatosaurus that kind of looked like the other one so yeah, sorry you got so attached to it. You still have the Triceratops though, so quit complaining or we’ll take that away too.”
The little boy nerd in me was crushed. Who am I kidding…I was crushed. Dinosaurs fueled the my imagination my entire life…and with a nickname like “Thunder Lizard?” It’s not like I lost sleep or anything over it, but still, you can’t just take that away from me. Come on!
Fast forward to 2017, when we have flying cars, and robots that do our bidding and, wait, never mind.
Anyway, and the second season of Netflix’ runaway show Stranger Things had just come out, and during one of several binge sessions, what’s this I see? One of the main characters is wearing a purple sweatshirt from the Science Museum of Minnesota, and it has a giant Brontosaurs on the front, in all its 2-dimensional glory, lumbering over its true name, set in some ugly-yet-period-specific font. I feel a twinge of sadness – it’s just one more nod to something that existed in the 80s, and now it doesn’t.
Like Kodak film. Or DeLoreans.
On a whim, I did a Google search for “brontosaurus sweatshirt” and what do I see?
THE SCIENCE MUSEUM OF MINNESOTA BROUGHT BACK THE SWEATSHIRT.
Yeah, it’s an obvious money grab, but hey, credit where it’s due. They saw an opportunity and ran with it, and their gamble paid off.
In a big way.
In addition to the one I bought, apparently there are more than a few Brontosaurus supporters like myself around the world willing to shell out $40 a pop for the opportunity to ironically thumb their nose in the general direction of the scientific community, even if it was in “Ultra Violet.” The SMOM we hoping for 10-15,000 t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other swag when they opened up the shop, but got blown away by the response of 30,000 order at last check.
It shouldn’t be a surprise.
Nobody likes the name “Apatosaurus.” I have a feeling most people don’t even know if they’re saying it right.
And you can bet it doesn’t have a cool nickname.