We are more animal and more ancient than we admit.
Our higher selves wrestle with the great philosophical challenges of the day. Why is there no wi-fi? Why do the cleaners over-stuff the paper towel dispenser? Do I really want to have a smart meter? And, will the Russians hack it if I do?
Meanwhile, deep within, our brains arrange things the way that – based on two million years of evolution – they always have been.
It must be tough building a business whose core products were launched in the 1950s. Fender is best known for its solid-body guitars and electric basses: the Telecaster (1950), the Stratocaster (1954) and the Precision Bass (1951).
Here’s an interesting piece from the National Geographic on how plants respond to the vibration of buzzing bees to sweeten their nectar.
To test the primroses in the lab, Hadany’s team exposed plants to five sound treatments: silence, recordings of a honeybee from four inches away, and computer-generated sounds in low, intermediate, and high frequencies. Plants given the silent treatment—placed under vibration-blocking glass jars—had no significant increase in nectar sugar concentration. The same went for plants exposed to high-frequency (158 to 160 kilohertz) and intermediate-frequency (34 to 35 kilohertz) sounds.
But for plants exposed to playbacks of bee sounds (0.2 to 0.5 kilohertz) and similarly low-frequency sounds (0.05 to 1 kilohertz), the final analysis revealed an unmistakable response. Within three minutes of exposure to these recordings, sugar concentration in the plants increased from between 12 and 17 percent to 20 percent.
But then, thinking of plants “hearing” is maybe a case looking down the wrong end of the telescope. Isn’t it possibly how hearing evolved in animals?
Ben Macintyre has a sobering column in Saturday’s Times:
Most wild coffee species are under threat, with 60 per cent facing possible extinction from shrinking natural habitat, deforestation and climate change, according to researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Wild arabica, the original of the world’s most widely used coffee, has in the past few years been classified for the first time as endangered.
Kneeling, he touches the foundation of one of the marble columns holding up St Mark’s Basilica, which symbolised Venetian power for a millennium. Fragments come away in his fingers.
“Water now enters the church 200 times a year,” said Mr Tesserin, administrator of the 11th century Italo-Byzantine masterpiece overlooking St Mark’s Square. “The marble is literally crumbling thanks to the corrosive salt.”
Psychologists at Aarhus University tracked the eye movements of users in the normal, involuntary, spirit-driven state and when using the planchette (pointer) to deliberately spell out words in a “voluntary” state.
The experimenters found that:
when looking to see whether at least one participant in a pair made a predictive eye movement, the rates of prediction were just as high as for individuals in the voluntary condition (i.e. for any given move of the planchette, at least one person usually knew where it was going); second, rates of prediction increased in the Ouija board condition, but not the voluntary condition, presumably as the participants became increasingly aware of the diminishing number of meaningful options available.
I feel I could both live and work quite happily there.
I love Georgian architecture and this looks amazing. I particularly like how the lawn rolls up to the front door.
The asking price is €1.45 million. More details here.
According to Neil Gaiman, in a recent tweet, “This is where I finished American Gods, where I wrote a lot of Anansi Boys, and where I got flu and completely failed to write any of the Graveyard Book. It’s the most peaceful and magical place. I hope it finds a new person who cherishes it.”
Increasingly fluid – “What we mean is that things are more open, less set, because people do have more ways to connect, see and experience more things.”
No turning point on trust – “Our new analysis shows no real differences in levels of trust among the young with regards to all sorts of traditional institutions.”
Just as caring – “But this does not mean that Gen Z are a cohort of activists.
Neither are they selfish snowflakes, too busy watching YouTube videos of people eating Tide Pods. The evidence suggests they are just as active in social causes as previous generations, sometimes in different ways (using technology), but just as often in traditional ways, such as volunteering.”
Inflection point on health – On obesity: “it’s not getting better either. A lot of this is arguably to do with the environment around young people which is shaped to make it harder to keep a healthy weight – the people they see, the shops they shop at, the food they have available, all create a social norm, and are often geared to make them fat.”
Importance of digital skills – “In some ways, Generation Z already have an
innate advantage over other generations, just through growing up fully integrated with technology – they are much more discerning of online sources than Millennial children ever were.”
Danger is different – “Generation Z are not the teenage rebels of ages past. Generational declines in youth crime, smoking, drinking and sexual activity reflect a significant behavioural shift.”
And digital is double-edged – “There is a growing body of evidence of the downsides from unfettered use of technology, prompting more strident statements from politicians and officials, including the head of the NHS in the UK. Social media use has correlations with anxiety, bullying, peer pressure, lower self-esteem, alongside much more positive outcomes.
We’re only in the infancy of understanding the full impact.”
Also, some fascinating data points (in no particular order):
In 25 EU countries, the number of young people detained by the police dropped by 42% between 2008 and 2014.
In the US in 2015, 22% of high schoolers had been in a physical fight that year compared with 36% in 1999.
66% of Generation Z think of themselves as exclusively heterosexual
compared with 71% of Millennials, 85% of Gen X and 88% of Baby Boomers.
Just 30% of teenagers feel the things they own say a lot about how well they are doing in life, compared with 42% in 2011.
Only 39% of teens prefer to buy gender-specific shoes, compared with
57% of Millennials.
40% of 12-15 year olds in 2010, felt that things they saw on social media were either entirely or mostly true; just 24% of Gen Z 12-15 year olds think that now.