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Why Are Babies So Dumb If Humans Are So Smart?

Fascinating theory. The hard work of raising helpless babies is part of the natural selection process that made us as a species so intelligent. Natural selection favors humans with large brains, because those humans tend to be smarter. This may create evolutionary incentives for babies that are born at an even earlier developmental stage, which require more intelligence to raise. This creates the dynamic: over time, helpless babies make parents…

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Comment: Why women taking their husband’s name could be about biology

I’m somewhat interested in the topic, but I’m actually posting about this because my freshman writing students are now in the process of gathering sources for their research paper. I have to train them to ignore reader-friendly science journalism like this, and instead engage directly with the academic source this reporter is summarizing. That’s a daunting task, especially for a college freshman who is still adjusting to learning from college-level…

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from “The Poet” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The poets made all the words, and therefore language is the archives of history, and, if we must say it, a sort of tomb of the muses. For, though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a stroke of genius, and obtained currency, because for the moment it symbolized the world to the first speaker and to the hearer. The etymologist finds the…

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Venus Flytraps Are Even Creepier Than We Thought

I clicked for the topic, but it was the writing that captured me. The first impulse sets a secret timer, and what the fly does in the next 20 seconds will determine its fate. If it avoids the hairs, it will live. If it bumps a second one, it sets off another electrical impulse, which raises the trap’s calcium levels above a critical threshold. The plant responds by sending water into…

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NASA Releases New Earthrise Image

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recently captured a unique view of Earth from the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit around the moon. “The image is simply stunning,” said Noah Petro, Deputy Project Scientist for LRO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The image of the Earth evokes the famous ‘Blue Marble’ image taken by Astronaut Harrison Schmitt during Apollo 17, 43 years ago, which also showed Africa prominently in the picture.” In this composite image…

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Cave Gave Game: Subterranean Space as Videogame Place | Electronic Book Review

Electronic Book Review just published an article I wrote with Dave Thomas, on cave space in video game ecology. Parts of this article are a companion to my 2007 Digital Humanities Quarterly article on the 1970s text computer game Colossal Cave Adventure. Crowther’s translation of real world caving experience into the digital medium provides a precise bridge between the cave as environment and the cave as game design metaphor. The…