Users of the world’s most popular video sharing service upload 100 hours of video to the site every minute. That’s 6,000 hours of video every hour and a whopping 144,000 hours of video every day.
From the NYT–most of the cells that comprise you do not contain your DNA:
I can tell you the exact date that I began to think of myself in the first-person plural — as a superorganism, that is, rather than a plain old individual human being. It happened on March 7. That’s when I opened my e-mail to find a huge, processor-choking file of charts and raw data from a laboratory located at the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As part of a new citizen-science initiative called the American Gut project, the lab sequenced my microbiome — that is, the genes not of “me,” exactly, but of the several hundred microbial species with whom I share this body. These bacteria, which number around 100 trillion, are living (and dying) right now on the surface of my skin, on my tongue and deep in the coils of my intestines, where the largest contingent of them will be found, a pound or two of microbes together forming a vast, largely uncharted interior wilderness that scientists are just beginning to map.
Wired has published an article that ties the present space program to the highly successful Apollo program many decades ago. We might be on the verge of recreating the F1 rocket engine. Lots of amazing facts and figures here:
There has never been anything like the Saturn V, the launch vehicle that powered the United States past the Soviet Union to a series of manned lunar landings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The rocket redefined “massive,” standing 110 metres in height and producing a ludicrous 34 meganewtons of thrust from the five monstrous, kerosene-gulping Rocketdyne F-1 rocket engines that made up its first stage.
In his new book, psychologist Matthew Hutson has documented many instances in which all of us latch onto what he terms “magical thinking.” Hutson argues that this is not necessarily a bad thing–we do it to keep our sanity in this crazy dangerous world, in which our final destiny is certain death. Nor is magical thinking aways a good thing. Hutson’s book is an excellent read full of intriguing and often counter-intuitive observations, many of them based on rigorous experiments.
Hutson is also authors a blog at Psychology Today. In a recent post, he notes that even scientists are susceptible to “magical thinking,” which often takes the form of teleological thinking:
Over the years, a number of psychologists have suggested that we are promiscuously teleological. Telos is Greek for end or purpose, and teleology is the belief that an object was created or an event occurred to fulfill some purpose. You believe there’s not just a how but a why to its origin, that there’s a mind with intentions behind it. And when an event seems especially meaningful (such as a hurricane destroying your home) or an object seems especially complex (such as the human body) the prospect of a designer appears all the more likely. Some things really are designed—watches do come from watchmakers—but most of the universe isn’t.
In this article in the Wall Street Journal, Frans de Waal cautions us that we need to properly test animals before declaring that they lack intelligence. He gives several examples, concluding that scientists need to take the time to think like animals when designing experiments for animals.
A growing body of evidence shows . . . that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence. Can an octopus use tools? Do chimpanzees have a sense of fairness? Can birds guess what others know? Do rats feel empathy for their friends? Just a few decades ago we would have answered “no” to all such questions. Now we’re not so sure.
Experiments with animals have long been handicapped by our anthropocentric attitude: We often test them in ways that work fine with humans but not so well with other species. Scientists are now finally meeting animals on their own terms instead of treating them like furry (or feathery) humans, and this shift is fundamentally reshaping our understanding.
Humans are not the only animals capable of meta-cognition: the ability to think about their thinking. A recent article in Science Daily demonstrates that chimpanzees are capable of meta-cognition:
[C]himpanzees named items immediately and directly when they knew what was there, but they sought out more information before naming when they did not already know.
The research team said, “This pattern of behavior reflects a controlled information-seeking capacity that serves to support intelligent responding, and it strongly suggests that our closest living relative has metacognitive abilities closely related to those of humans.”