Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ed Links (And Other Stuff)

Fascinating: African fractals, in buildings and braids

"I am a mathematician, and I would like to stand on your roof." This is how Ron Eglash greeted many African families while researching the intriguing fractal patterns he noticed in villages across the continent. He talks about his work exploring the rigorous fractal math underpinning African architecture, art and even hair braiding.

Animals Do the Cleverest Things

The chimp who outwits humans; the dolphin who says it with seaweed; the existential dog -- the more we learn about other animals the harder it is to say we're the smartest species.

Are the family clichés true?

The middle one's always difficult, the eldest is a bossy boots and the youngest is a tearaway. But are the family clichés true? Finally, scientists have the answer. Steve Connor (youngest of two) reports

The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language

Her intellectual profiles of four key players – Noam Chomsky, Pinker, and the primate researchers Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Philip Lieberman – form the first four chapters of the book. They disagree strongly, and their disagreements inform the rest of the book. This covers a huge range in a sometimes bewildering attempt to explain the existence of grammar and syntax.

Still Reverberating: Nunn on the economic consequences of the slave trade

Can part of Africa’s current underdevelopment be explained by its slave trades? To explore this question, I use data from shipping records and historical documents reporting slave ethnicities to construct estimates of the number of slaves exported from each country during Africa’s slave trades. I find a robust negative relationship between the number of slaves exported from a country and current economic performance.

US Middle School Math Teachers Ill-prepared, Study Finds

Middle school math teachers in the United States are not as well prepared to teach this subject compared to teachers in five other countries, something that could negatively affect the US as it continues to compete on an international scale.

Children play harder and longer when their child care centers provide portable play equipment (like balls, hoola hoops, jump ropes and riding toys), more opportunities for active play and physical activity training and education for staff and students, according to a study published in the January 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health examined environmental factors that encourage children to be active with greater intensity and for longer periods of time.

New research is challenging the notion that parents who divorce necessarily exhibit a diminished capacity to parent in the period following divorce. A large, longitudinal study has found that divorce does not change parenting behavior, and that there are actually more similarities than differences in parenting between recently divorced and married parents.

Young people whose mothers drank when pregnant may be more likely to abuse alcohol because, in the womb, their developing senses came to prefer its taste and smell. Researchers have found that because the developing nervous system adapts to whatever mothers eat and drink, young rats exposed to alcohol (ethanol) in the womb drank significantly more alcohol than nonexposed rats.

Scientists have found that when monkeys choose between different options, the value neurons assign to each option does not depend on the menu of choices. This phenomenon may explain a behavioral trait called preference transitivity, which is the hallmark of rational economic choice. The results may also elucidate our understanding of certain "choice deficits" such as eating disorders, compulsive gambling and other abnormal social behaviors.

Researchers have discovered genetic evidence that human evolution is speeding up -- and has not halted or proceeded at a constant rate, as had been thought -- indicating that humans on different continents are becoming increasingly different.

No comments: