Archive for May 19th, 2007

Saturday afternoon bio- links!

May 19, 2007
  1. Aetiology on history, infectious diseases and Abe Lincoln;
  2. A must-read post by Coturnix about the circadian behaviour of fruitflies, their experimental study, and the attempts to make the experimental studies as close to reality as possible. Truly fascinating!
  3. On the smartness of dolphins; via:

    Evidence from various domains of research demonstrates that cetacean brains underwent elaboration and reorganization during their evolution with resulting expansion of the neocortex. Cortical evolution, however, proceeded along very different lines than in primates and other large mammals. Despite this divergence, many cetaceans evince some of the most sophisticated cognitive abilities among all mammals and exhibit striking cognitive convergences with primates, including humans. In many ways, it is because of the evolution of similar levels of cognitive complexity via an alternative neuroanatomical path that comparative studies of cetacean brains and primate brains are so interesting. They are examples of convergent evolution of function largely in response, it appears, to similar societal demands.

    Returning to Manger, his controversial claim is reminiscent of the conclusion reached about bees by physicists and mathematicians in the 1930s—that the anatomical structure of bees and the known principles of flight indicate that bee flight is impossible. Rightfully oblivious to Manger’s contentions, cetaceans continue to provide an enormous body of empirical evidence for complex behavior, learning, sociality, and culture.

  4. Science and speculation of the fly spontaneous behaviour; via.

Montessori isn’t magic

May 19, 2007

All of this activity proves my point about the Montessori method: It is structured, sometimes rigidly so. It’s about the appeal of precision: Sailor’s pink cubes fit together only in one way, so she instinctively corrected herself when she mis-stacked them. Montessori isn’t magic. It’s fine-tuned and detail-driven and tactile, like a workshop for two dozen good-humored but serious young elves.

From this Slate article of Emily Bazelon.