Sunday, 29 January 2017

From being very hungry to religious chimpanzees!

Is the end in sight for the Very Hungry Caterpillar?
via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure by David Thorpe

Once upon a time, about 4,000,000,000 years ago, the world began, in the era called the Hadean. A very long time later came the human race, just 200,000 years ago, altering the planet forever as it spread.
From the beginning it's likely mums and dads told stories to their children, to preserve social memory and teach them what they needed to know to survive. These stories always changed over time according to need and circumstance.
Continue reading PLEASE, right to the end. It will be worth it.

Uncovering a sad tale of murder and suicide
via The National Archives Blog by Chris Heather
The note said: ‘This was probably written just before Mrs Farnham murdered her children and committed suicide.’
Underneath this, in Mrs Farnham’s handwriting, it said: ‘Dear Sir, I return this cheque as I do not require any more assistance from this Institution.’
I challenge anyone finding a note like this to simply close the book and go to lunch. I wanted to know more.
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It is not a long story but so sad.

The legacy of ancient Greek politics, from Antigone to Xenophon
via OUP Blog by Barbara Goff and Miriam Leonard
What do the pamphlets of the English Civil War, imperial theorists of the eighteenth century, Nazi schoolteachers, and a left-wing American artist have in common? Correct! They all see themselves as in dialogue with classical antiquity, drawing on the political thought of ancient Greek writers. Nor are they alone in this; the idea that Western thought is a series of “footnotes to Plato,” as Alfred Whitehead suggested in 1929, is a memorable formulation of the extensive role of ancient Greece within modernity. Further reflection, however, will show that the West does not have an unbroken connection with ancient Greece, as knowledge of both language and culture declined in the medieval period – even the great Renaissance scholars sometimes struggled to master their ancient Greek grammar and syntax. Once the West does recover a relationship to ancient Greece, is its own role confined to writing “footnotes” under the transcendent authority of Plato? Perhaps we can reconstruct more varied forms of intellectual engagement.
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From punch cards to smartphones
via BBC News by Mark Ward, Technology correspondent
HEC 1 computer
A HEC 1 computer was recently unearthed in the stores of the Birmingham Museum Trust
After World War II, Britain was a hotbed of pioneering computer research. Work done on automatic ways to crack codes and spot enemy aircraft meant it had a skilled cadre of engineers and scientists equipped with the knowledge to create powerful and practical computers.
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Physicists at the Gate: Collaboration and Tribalism in Science
via 3 Quarks Daily: Veronique Greenwood in UnDark
Did you know that most animal species have roughly the same number of heartbeats over the course of their lives? Short-lived creatures’ hearts beat faster, using up their allotment more quickly – mice before humans, humans before elephants – and this universal quality may be the result of the fact that all of our bodies depend on networks of vessels with similar physics. Did you know that as cities grow, the rate of business transactions grows faster than their population, while the number of miles of roads grows slower? Or that building a network of mysterious genes could help reveal the history of malaria?
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Does a Mysterious Ninth Planet Cause Mass Extinctions on Earth?
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
Article Image
Invaders from outer space might have doomed the dinosaurs, after all. Dr. Daniel Whitmire, a retired professor of astrophysics, published a paper that a recently inferred ninth planet (Planet X) causes catastrophic comet showers on Earth at intervals of approximately 27 million years.
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10 facts you should know about moons
via OUP Blog by David A. Rothery
Proving to be both varied and fascinating, moons are far more common than planets in our Solar System. Our own moon has had a profound influence on Earth, not only through tidal effects, but even on the behaviour of some marine animals. But how much do we really know about moons? Watch David Rothery, author of Moons: A Very Short Introduction tell us what he thinks are the top ten things we should know about moons.
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Heatmaps of the human body in varying emotional states
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Disappointingly, these heatmaps of human bodies whose owners are experiencing various emotional states were not produced with infrared cameras, but rather with self-reporting by subjects being asked to say where they were experiencing more and less sensation while watching videos and seeing words intended to trigger those emotions.
See for yourself

Adding a new dimension to the early chemistry of the solar system
via OUP Blog by Francesco C. Pignatale
What was our solar system composed of at the beginning of its formation? Using sophisticated computer simulations, researchers from France and Australia have obtained new insights into the chemical composition of the dust grains that formed in the early solar system which went on to form the building blocks of the terrestrial planets.
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Could chimpanzees have religion?
via 3 Quarks Daily: Laura Kehoe at the New Statesman
I spent many months in the field, along with many other researchers, trying to figure out what these chimps are up to. So far we have two main theories. The behaviour could be part of a male display, where the loud bang made when a rock hits a hollow tree adds to the impressive nature of a display. This could be especially likely in areas where there are not many trees with large roots that chimps would normally drum on with their powerful hands and feet. If some trees produce an impressive bang, this could accompany or replace feet drumming in a display and trees with particularly good acoustics could become popular spots for revisits.
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