Posts from the ‘human’ Category

We once had a chimp who could sort photographs of apes and human beings into two piles. Apes on one pile, humans on the other. The only trouble was, every time she got to her own picture, she put it on the pile with the human beings.

Dr. Geoffrey H. Bourne, Yerkes Primate Research Center. Bartlett’s Unfamiliar Quotations by Leonard Levinson, 1971. (via ingridrichter)

Just a nice GIF of a white blood cell mercilessly pursuing an invading bacteria through a field of red blood cells.

Basically, each of the pathogens (bacteria) let off a chemical “scent” that the white blood cell is attracted to and chases. Similarly, the white blood cell has a chemical marker that the bacteria can pick up on, but instead it moves away. 

I must agree with Cadell; sure we have issues and going to Mars isn’t any sort of magic cure for them. They go with us. The benefits of space exploration and the potential that a colony on another planet offers is inestimably high. Most (if not all) fields of science could be further advanced, it would require the employment of thousands of people, and it would encourage another generation of scientists more than the moon landing did. 

Do we deserve to go to Mars?

And is promptly countered by prominent science writer John Hogan, who argues that it is merely a cultural development. Both hold that we can overcome it. The difference? Hogan states that if we believe that we are meant for war, it perpetuates our going to war with the reasoning that “it’s in our nature.” Could we really become the planet’s dominant species without a temperament for killing others though? I personally tend to lean toward Wilson’s belief, and that aggressiveness was necessary for us to survive and now that we’re one top, we fight each other for various reasons. Mr. Hogan makes some good points also though, and has just released a book on it. What do you think?

The esteemed E.O. Wilson says war is inevitable for our species

The Uncanny Valley

For the first time, the Japanese paper by Masahiro Mori describing the “uncanny valley” of humanoid figures has been translated. As our robots are becoming more and more lifelike, the importance of this paper also increases. It details the sharp decline in how much humans tend to accept an object once it reaches a certain level of human likeness. 

[Mori] also charts our affinities and lack thereof for still and moving objects, noting that our affinity is pretty high for a stuffed animal or a humanoid robot. But movement is key to our affinity — a humanoid robot would not move like a human, so it would be incredibly creepy, he says. 

The point where it becomes creepy is the beginning of the valley. Is it surpassable? We will have to wait and see. It will probably come down to whether we are more accepting of a robot once it can move and speak like we do, or if it’s the realization that despite how it looks it is not human. A subtle but important difference I think. Opinions?


This is you

The human genome: lookin’ good.

We are beautifully complex!