I could do a Carl Sagan on y’all here, but i don’t think I have the suave delivery for it. And I probably am more attuned personally to do an emotional tirade in the style of DeGrasse Tyson… only in old and white!
And I have some affinities to Jacob Bronowski: I am as old as he was when he did the “Ascent of Man” and I could scratch my head and be real pensive without trying too hard to imitate him, but this ain’t a video anyway, so fuck that too.
So I’ll roll with Mike Myers to help convey to you how incredible a time we live in with the exponential flowering of science as in no time in history before. “Science is like butter“, it is incredible what we have learned, are learning every day, and will learn. And because of peer review, replication, verification, and constant refinement and improvement we can bank on it as being reliable, because when it doesn’t work or some finding is found to be fraudulent, its gets discovered and discarded. Religion has no such process.
So I perused SCIENCE DAILY like anyone can any day of the week, EVERY day of the week, and found out what fantastic stuff we are finding out about the world we find ourselves in.
Here’s 3 significant selections out of a couple dozen new findings I could have featured!
1. First up: Walking the Walk: What Sharks, Honeybees and Humans Have in Common
So nowadays we wire up some of the last of the hunter-gatherers on earth, with GPS devices the size of of a half dollar and put it on them like a wristwatch… and sit back and collect the data. So it looks like humans, when out hunting large game and foraging, use a similar random walk pattern that other predators like sharks, tuna, and some birds employ. Called a Levy walk, it is characterized by short searches within a small space then a long walk to another small area and another unsystematic but effective search for potential prey. We wired up sharks the same way to detect their similar pattern.
I wanted Sharks with frickin’ laser beams, not GPS!
Just another clue to human nature, the real deal and not some pronouncement from an authority on some Scripture about how humans are ‘sposed to be according to somebody’s god somewhere.
2. Next we have a report on the genetic mapping of another genome, this time a rare flower, Amborella, found only in New Caledonia, an island in the South Pacific northeast of Australia. The Origin of Flowers: DNA of Storied Plant Provides Insight Into the Evolution of Flowering Plants
The report details how the genetic analysis reveals a piece of the puzzle as to how flowering plants evolved over 200 million years ago. The Creationist don’t like this stuff, its just another example of the oceans of data that pile up by the day that they have to deny in order to keep their fantasies appearing the least bit plausible. It’s a losing battle, they have already lost the war, but refuse to concede of course. Science like this done routinely every day of the week will continue to bury them. They will continue to deny and deny.
3. Last we have the results of a recent investigation in cognitive neuroscience into the genetic underpinnings of face recognition in humans. Gene That Influences the Ability to Remember Faces Identified
The finding that variation in an oxytocin receptor gene found in families of autistic children appears to affect facial recognition skill alone is intriguing. Oxytocin is a hormone known for its facilitation of bonding and nurturing behaviors in animals and humans. Interestingly, the same oxytocin receptor is implicated in mediating olfactory recognition of conspecifics in mice and voles. So here we have a hormone and its receptor(s) that are implicated in social recognition in two sets of animals; rodents and humans, and mediating it through different sensory modalities: olfaction and vision, smell and sight. A fantastic example of how genetics works. A gene and its product, a hormone receptor in this case is used in different species to mediate similar processes yet through different sensory modalities. Rodents rely largely on smell to identify things in their environment; fellow rodents, other animals, food, as many forage at night and vision is not their primary sense receptor. Humans are diurnal primates, we hunt and forage during the day and vision is our primary receptor to recognize objects and animals in our environment including, especially, other humans.
I’ve heard geneticists that say humans are just big mice;
So much neurological, physiological, and genetic research is done on mice for medical, psychological, and evolutionary reasons precisely because we share roughly 80% of our genetic material with these critters. Humans are considered just big mice for some genetic comparison purposes and they are a lot cheaper and easier to feed than a full sized human. eh?
So 3 killer pieces of knowledge from different domains of inquiry and I didn’t hit anything from chemistry, physics, astronomy or a dozen other disciplines. And Science Daily summarizes dozens of these reports like this everyday of the week.
We live in incredible times.
Ya gotta love it!