Results tagged “Crows” from onegoodmove

Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday

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Ben Goldacre tells Julian Baggini why he expects rigour in the reporting of science

All intelligent, reflective people know that the news full of sloppy reporting, hasty inferences and dubious statistics. You might think it used to be different or that it was forever thus. Either way, what we now need are valiant knights of truth to expose BS wherever it is found and shame the news services into upping their game. Philosophers, perhaps, ready to step up and become heroes?

LANGUAGES are wonderfully idiosyncratic. English puts its subject before its verb. Finnish has lots of cases. Mandarin is highly tonal.

Yet despite these differences, one of the most influential ideas in the study of language is that of universal grammar. Put forward by Noam Chomsky in the 1960s, it is widely interpreted as meaning that all languages are basically the same and that the human brain is born language-ready, with an in-built program that is able to decipher the common rules underpinning any mother tongue. For five decades this idea has dominated work in linguistics, psychology and cognitive science. To understand language, it implied, you must sweep aside the dazzling diversity of languages and find the common human core.

But what if the very diversity of languages is the key to understanding human communication? This is the idea being put forward by linguists Nicholas Evans of the Australian National University in Canberra and Stephen Levinson of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands

When new reports about global warming come out, they typically include a picture of the land and sky, with arrows marking the movement of carbon dioxide around the planet. Some arrows rise up from cities and farmland, while other arrows plunge down to forests and oceans. This sort of diagram does a great job of illustrating the big picture. Thanks to human activity, carbon dioxide is rising into the atmosphere faster than the planet can draw it down. But the giant scale of this picture hides some of the most important players in the global warming story, which are as crucial to the future of the planet as factories and forests: the planet’s vast swarms of microbes.

Camp Inquiry in upstate New York seems at first like an ordinary summer camp: the campfire blazes as camp-goers in shorts and sandals toast marshmallows in anticipation of s'mores. A few yards away, some teenagers take turns squinting into a telescope to see Saturn.

Freeloading crows start to contribute to group efforts when hardworking birds become handicapped, a study shows.

Carrion crows (Corvus corone) form stable groups that share the responsibilities of breeding and caring for the young. Dominant breeders rely on helpers to feed chicks, but they also tolerate individuals that don't seem to help at all. Puzzled about the reasons for this leniency, scientists have suggested that dominants may indirectly benefit from the survival and future reproduction of lazy relatives, and that larger groups — even those filled with dallying birds — may have a lower risk of predation or be more efficient at foraging.

The Amazing Crow

Aesop's fable? This one turns out to be true - Science, News - The Independent
update: Here is the video

One of Aesop's fables describing a thirsty crow which was able to drink from a half-full pitcher after raising the water level by adding pebbles may have had a basis in real life.

Scientists have found that rooks – a member of the crow family – were able to figure out how to raise the water level in a laboratory container by dropping stones inside to retrieve a tasty worm floating on the surface.

Four different rooks, called Cook, Fry, Connelly and Monroe, quickly discovered that they could raise the water level in a transparent container by adding stones, just like the mythical crow in the fable, which illustrates the virtue of ingenuity and how necessity is the mother of invention.

(tip to pedantsareus)