The amazing variety of human faces – far greater than that of most other animals – is the result of evolutionary pressure to make each of us unique and easily recognizable, according to a new study by UC Berkeley scientists.
Our highly visual social interactions are almost certainly the driver of this evolutionary trend, said behavioral ecologist Michael Sheehan, a postdoctoral fellow in UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Many animals use smell or vocalization to identify individuals, making distinctive facial features unimportant, especially for animals that roam after dark, he said. But humans are different.
“Humans are phenomenally good at recognizing faces; there is a part of the brain specialized for that,” Sheehan said. “Our study now shows that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognizable. It is clearly beneficial for me to recognize others, but also beneficial for me to be recognizable. Otherwise, we would all look more similar.”
“The idea that social interaction may have facilitated or led to selection for us to be individually recognizable implies that human social structure has driven the evolution of how we look,” said coauthor Michael Nachman, a population geneticist, professor of integrative biology and director of the UC Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.
I see what they did there…
A new dog-friendly device has hit the streets of Istanbul. A Turkish company called Pugedon, has come up with an idea which aims to increase recycling while providing stray dogs with food and water. Every time a bottle is recycled, a fixed amount of dog food is dispensed.
There are over 150,000 stray dogs and cats living in the city and the machines are a step forward in tackling two major issues; recycling, and the feeding of stray animals.Visit our poster store Rover99.com
This is how ya do it!
According to a recent theory the Universe could be a dodecahedron. It is surprising that Plato used a dodecahedron as the quintessence to describe the cosmos. Plato (c. 427 BC – c. 347 BC) also stated that time had a beginning; it came together with the universe in one instant of creation.
Plato held the view that mathematical objects really existed so that they are discovered by mathematicians (in the same way that new continents are discovered by explorers) rather than invented. Plato believed that mathematics provided the best training for thinking about science and philosophy. The five regular solids are named Platonic Solids today after Plato.
Of the 5 solids, the tetrahedron has the smallest volume for its surface area and the icosahedron the largest; they therefore show the properties of dryness and wetness respectively and so correspond to Fire and Water. The cube, standing firmly on its base, corresponds to the stable Earth but the octahedron which rotates freely when held by two opposite vertices, corresponds to the mobile Air. The dodecahedron corresponds to the Universe because the zodiac has 12 signs (the constellations of stars that the sun passes through in the course of one year) corresponding to the 12 faces of the dodecahedron.
"To earth, then, let us assign the cubic form, for earth is the most immovable of the four and the most plastic of all bodies, and that which has the most stable bases must of necessity be of such a nature. Now, of the triangles which we assumed at first, that which has two equal sides is by nature more firmly based than that which has unequal sides, and of the compound figures which are formed out of either, the plane equilateral quadrangle has necessarily a more stable basis than the equilateral triangle, both in the whole and in the parts. Wherefore, in assigning this figure to earth, we adhere to probability, and to water we assign that one of the remaining forms which is the least movable, and the most movable of them to fire, and to air that which is intermediate. Also we assign the smallest body to fire, and the greatest to water, and the intermediate in size to air, and, again, the acutest body to fire, and the next in acuteness to air, and the third to water. Of all these elements, that which has the fewest bases must necessarily be the most movable, for it must be the acutest and most penetrating in every way, and also the lightest as being composed of the smallest number of similar particles, and the second body has similar properties in a second degree, and the third body, in the third degree. Let it be agreed, then, both according to strict reason and according to probability, that the pyramid is the solid which is the original element and seed of fire, and let us assign the element which was next in the order of generation to air, and the third to water.We must imagine all these to be so small that no single particle of any of the four kinds is seen by us on account of their smallness, but when many of them are collected together, their aggregates are seen. And the ratios of their numbers, motions, and other properties, everywhere God, as far as necessity allowed or gave consent, has exactly perfected and harmonized in due proportion.“
Plato: Timaeus (55d-56c) p 1181
The posters visualize the five solids in space creating a surreal depiction of Plato’s Universe.
SCIENCE NEWS! There’s life way, way below Antarctica — chilling out in a subglacial lake. Just a few weeks ago, a team of scientists confirmed that half a mile beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, a bunch of tiny, single-celled organisms are alive and well… in a lake boasting sub-zero temperatures and no access to sunlight.
The discovery is groundbreaking, leading some to wonder if there might also be life on a similar place — Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
John Priscu is one of the lead scientists behind the study. In a talk at TEDxBozeman, he explains what it’s like to be a scientist drilling though thousands of feet of ice while living in a tent in Antarctica.
Photos courtesy of NASA.
Chilling news ;)
Oooh, spotted moray pals!
A Black Hole Doesn’t Die — It Does Something A Lot Weirder
Black holes are basically “game over, man,” for anything that gets too close to them, but they aren’t invincible. In fact, they’re always in the process of self-destructing. We’ll look at how they fizzle out, and see if we can help them do it faster.
The Event Horizon
Realistically speaking, you are dead as soon as you get anywhere near a black hole. You’ll be snapped like a rubber band by the differences in the gravitational pull on your top and bottom half, or you’ll be fried by radiation (more on that later). No one in the foreseeable future (even if we try to foresee multiple millennia into the future) will get close to a black hole. Pass the event horizon, however, and you don’t even have an unforeseeable future. Once material gets beyond the event horizon, it’s being pulled into the black hole with such force that it doesn’t escape. Not even light gets out. Once something has gone beyond the event horizon, it no longer really “counts” as part of the universe anymore.
Game over, man!
Oooh. Cool cat!
A group of WID’s Frontier Fellows offered a performance installation exploring the neuroscience and interpretation of physical pain.
Supported by WID and the Department of Theatre and Drama, “flickering quivering pulsing sharp” brought spectators into relation with the invisible and indeterminate qualities of physical pain. As scientists and scholars share their disciplinary ways of looking at what cannot be seen, spectators made their way through tensions among “ways of knowing” via science and art.
The live art event was composed of two distinct but overlapping companion pieces: A video work responding to accumulating neuroscientific research suggesting the meanings we make of pain affect the pain itself as well as a live performance work that fleshed out the relationship between pain and representation. Three simultaneous and looping performance lectures responded to assumptions that pain resists representation. Together, the work of former Frontier Fellows Erin Hood, Julian Motzkin, Amy Cannestra and David Ruhl suggests there’s more than meets the eye.
Video produced by Jason Bahling, Erin Hood and Amy Cannestra
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