My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Trade Ya
Season 4, Episode 22
Angkor is one of the most important and the greatest archaeological sites in the world. This by the way the world’s largest (400 square kilometers) temple complex (almost a 1000 temples) was between IX and XV century the capital of the Khmer Empire. Probably, in the eleventh century, numbering one million inhabitants of Angkor was the largest city in the contemporary world.
The raven is sometimes known as “the wolf-bird.” Ravens, like many other animals, scavenge at wolf kills, but there’s more to it than that.
Both wolves and ravens have the ability to form social attachments and they seem to have evolved over many years to form these attachments with each other, to both species’ benefit.
There are a couple of theories as to why wolves and ravens end up at the same carcasses. One is that because ravens can fly, they are better at finding carcasses than wolves are. But they can’t get to the food once they get there, because they can’t open up the carcass. So they’ll make a lot of noise, and then wolves will come and use their sharp teeth and strong jaws to make the food accessible not just to themselves, but also to the ravens.
Ravens have also been observed circling a sick elk or moose and calling out, possibly alerting wolves to an easy kill. The other theory is that ravens respond to the howls of wolves preparing to hunt (and, for that matter, to human hunters shooting guns). They find out where the wolves are going and following. Both theories may be correct.
Wolves and ravens also play. A raven will sneak up behind a wolf and yank its tail and the wolf will play back. Ravens sometimes respond to wolf howls with calls of their own, resulting in a concert of howls and calls.
Sources: Mind of the Raven, Bernd Heinrich, The American Crow and the Common Raven, Lawrence Kilham
A similar dynamic is found in the pterosaur and Utahraptor pack in Robert Bakker’s wonderful book from the point of view of a dinosaur, Raptor Red.
The Championship for Robot-Assisted Parathletes
Hallenstadion Zurich, 8 October 2016
The Cybathlon is a championship for racing pilots with disabilities (i.e. parathletes) who are using advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies. The competitions are comprised by different disciplines that apply the most modern powered knee prostheses, wearable arm prostheses, powered exoskeletons, powered wheelchairs, electrically stimulated muscles and novel brain-computer interfaces. The assistive devices can include commercially available products provided by companies, but also prototypes developed by research labs. There will be two medals for each competition, one for the pilot, who is driving the device, and one for the provider of the device. The event is organized on behalf of the Swiss National Competence Center of Research in Robotics (NCCR Robotics).
The main objectives of the Cybathlon are:
- to promote the development of novel assistive systems and reinforce the scientific exchange,
- to improve the public awareness about the challenges and opportunities of assistive technologies, and
- to enable pilots with disabilities to compete in races, making this a unique event.
Fall Weather Friends by Choedan-Kal
Is it political if I tell you that if we burn coal, you’re going to warm the atmosphere? Or is that a statement of fact that you’ve made political? It’s a scientific statement. The fact that there are elements of society that have made it political, that’s a whole other thing.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson (via socio-logic)
How Superstitions Work
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if you’re over 24 years of age you’ve already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.
SFU’s Joe Thompson, a psychology doctoral student, associate professor Mark Blair, Thompson’s thesis supervisor, and Andrew Henrey, a statistics and actuarial science doctoral student, deliver the news in a just-published PLOS ONE Journal paper.
In one of the first social science experiments to rest on big data, the trio investigates when we start to experience an age-related decline in our cognitive motor skills and how we compensate for that.
The researchers analyzed the digital performance records of 3,305 StarCraft 2 players, aged 16 to 44. StarCraft 2 is a ruthless competitive intergalactic computer war game that players often undertake to win serious money.
Their performance records, which can be readily replayed, constitute big data because they represent thousands of hours worth of strategic real-time cognitive-based moves performed at varied skill levels.
Using complex statistical modeling, the researchers distilled meaning from this colossal compilation of information about how players responded to their opponents and more importantly, how long they took to react.
“After around 24 years of age, players show slowing in a measure of cognitive speed that is known to be important for performance,” explains Thompson, the lead author of the study, which is his thesis. “This cognitive performance decline is present even at higher levels of skill.”
But there’s a silver lining in this earlier-than-expected slippery slope into old age. “Our research tells a new story about human development,” says Thompson.
“Older players, though slower, seem to compensate by employing simpler strategies and using the game’s interface more efficiently than younger players, enabling them to retain their skill, despite cognitive motor-speed loss.”
For example, older players more readily use short cut and sophisticated command keys to compensate for declining speed in executing real time decisions.
The findings, says Thompson, suggest “that our cognitive-motor capacities are not stable across our adulthood, but are constantly in flux, and that our day-to-day performance is a result of the constant interplay between change and adaptation.”
Thompson says this study doesn’t inform us about how our increasingly distracting computerized world may ultimately affect our use of adaptive behaviours to compensate for declining cognitive motor skills.
But he does say our increasingly digitized world is providing a growing wealth of big data that will be a goldmine for future social science studies such as this one.
Awesome Space Facts for World Space Week I Martin Archer I Head Squeeze