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"The Old Man"

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Via BBC

Neanderthals were keen on innovation and technology and developed tools all on their own, scientists say. 

A new study challenges the view that our close relatives could advance only through contact with Homo sapiens

The team says climate change was partly responsible for forcing Neanderthals to innovate in order to survive. 

The research is set to appear in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory in December. 

“Basically, I am rehabilitating Neanderthals,” said Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado in Denver, who led the seven-year study. 

“They were far more resourceful than we have given them credit for.” 

Via BBC:

Dr Nick Neave looks at the difference between “good” and “bad” dancing

Scientists say they’ve carried out the first rigorous analysis of dance moves that make men attractive to women.

The researchers say that movements associated with good dancing may be indicative of good health and reproductive potential.

“When you go out to clubs people have an intuitive understanding of what makes a good and bad dancer,” said co-author Dr Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist at Northumbria University, UK.

“What we’ve done for the very first time is put those things together with a biometric analysis so we can actually calculate very precisely the kinds of movements people focus on and associate them with women’s ratings of male dancers.”

Dr Neave asked young men who were not professional dancers, to dance in a laboratory to a very basic drum rhythm and their movements with 12 cameras.

These movements were then converted into a computer-generated cartoon – an avatar – which women rated on a scale of one to seven. He was surprised by the results.

“We thought that people’s arms and legs would be really important. The kind of expressive gestures the hands [make], for example. But in fact this was not the case,” he said.

“We found that (women paid more attention to) the core body region: the torso, the neck, the head. It was not just the speed of the movements, it was also the variability of the movement. So someone who is twisting, bending, moving, nodding.”

Movements that went down terribly were twitchy and repetitive – so called “Dad dancing”.

Dr Neave’s aim was to establish whether young men exhibited the same courtship movement rituals in night clubs as animals do in the wild. In the case of animals, these movements give information about their health, age, their reproductive potential and their hormone status.

“People go to night clubs to show off and attract the opposite sex so I think it’s a valid way of doing this,” Dr Neave explained.

“In animals, the male has to be in good physical quality to carry out these movements. We think the same is happening in humans and certainly the guys that can put these movements together are going to be young and fit and healthy.”

Dr Neave also took blood samples from the volunteers. Early indications from biochemical tests suggest that the men who were better dancers were also more healthy.

So says Stephen Hawking.

British physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking says no, arguing in his new book that there need not be a God behind the creation of the universe.

Via ABC:

A Croatian teenager awoke from a coma last week to find she could no longer speak in her native Croatian — but was fluent in German, a language she had just started studying in school, the U.K. press reports.

Following a mysterious 24-hour coma, the thirteen-year-old girl from the southern town of Knin has been able to understand Croatian, according to the U.K. press. She can only respond in German and requires a translator to communicate with her family, the stories said.

The sermon, “The Philosophical Temper First Enjoined by the Gospel,” was preached July 2, 1826.

{1} FEW charges have been more frequently urged by unbelievers against Revealed Religion, than that it is hostile to the advance of philosophy and science. That it has discouraged the cultivation of literature can never with any plausibility be maintained, since it is evident that the studies connected with the history and interpretation of the Scriptures have, more than any others, led to inquiries into the languages, writings, and events of ancient times. Christianity has always been a learned religion; it came into the world as the offspring of an elder system, to which it was indebted for much which it contained, and which its professors were obliged continually to consult. The Pagan philosopher, on enrolling himself a member of the Christian Church, was invited, nay, required, to betake himself to a line of study almost unknown to the schools of Greece. The Jewish {2} books were even written in a language which he did not understand, and opened to his view an account of manners and customs very different from those with which he was familiar. The writings of the ancients were to be collected, and their opinions examined; and thus those studies which are peculiarly called learned would form the principal employment of one who wished to be the champion of the Christian faith. The philosopher might speculate, but the theologian must submit to learn.

 I think this is an interesting statement for an Oxford man. 19th century Oxford was a school for the Arts. Science was not it strong suit. It would be interesting to know what Newman understood by science (I wonder if he is thinking Bishop Joseph Butler and Bishop Paley of watchmaker analogy fame). There was a lot going on in Great Britain scientifically, including with folks like Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin.  This early we see Newman’s concern to bridge the gap the between faith and science, which I think he succeeds with his 1870 work As Essay in the Aid of a Grammar of Assent.

In general this sermon raises interesting questions and issues:

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Via BBC, North American birds are shrinking.

Songbirds in the US are getting smaller, and climate change is suspected as the cause.

A study of almost half a million birds, belonging to over 100 species, shows that many are gradually becoming lighter and growing shorter wings.

This shrinkage has occurred within just half a century, with the birds thought to be evolving into a smaller size in response to warmer temperatures.

However, there is little evidence that the change is harmful to the birds.

Via ABC:

A mutation that causes some Asians to flush red when they down a beer may have evolved to help their ancestors cope with rice wine. A genetic study suggests that the mutation evolved around 10,000 years ago, about the same time as Asians were starting to farm rice and figuring out how to ferment it into boozy drinks.

BBC on a study of the genetic map of Asia and on the genetic diversity of Asia.

Apparently the Chinese population is younger and migration was from the southeast in a single event. Of course this was a few years before India crashed into Asia.