Archive for the ‘Special’ Category

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Domestic dogs display empathic response to distress in humans

June 9, 2012

Dr Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer, both from the Department of Psychology, developed an innovative procedure to examine if domestic dogs could identify and respond to emotional states in humans.

Eighteen pet dogs, spanning a range of ages and breeds, were exposed to four separate 20-second experimental conditions in which either the dog’s owner or an unfamiliar person pretended to cry, hummed in an odd manner, or carried out a casual conversation.

The dogs demonstrated behaviours consistent with an expression of empathic concern. Significantly more dogs looked at, approached and touched the humans as they were crying as opposed to humming, and no dogs responded during talking. The majority of dogs in the study responded to the crying person in a submissive manner consistent with empathic concern and comfort-offering.

“The humming was designed to be a relatively novel behavior, which might be likely to pique the dogs’ curiosity. The fact that the dogs differentiated between crying and humming indicates that their response to crying was not purely driven by curiosity,” explained Dr Custance. “Rather, the crying carried greater emotional meaning for the dogs and provoked a stronger overall response than either humming or talking.”

The study also found that the dogs responded to the person who was crying regardless of whether it was their owner or the unfamiliar person: “If the dogs’ approaches during the crying condition were motivated by self-oriented comfort-seeking, they would be more likely to approach their usual source of comfort, their owner, rather than the stranger,” said Jennifer. “No such preference was found. The dogs approached whoever was crying regardless of their identity. Thus they were responding to the person’s emotion, not their own needs, which is suggestive of empathic-like comfort-offering behavior.”

Text and image via Medical Xpress

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Geoengineering Could Disrupt Rainfall Patterns

June 8, 2012

A geoengineering solution to climate change could lead to significant rainfall reduction in Europe and North America, a team of European scientists concludes. The researchers studied how models of Earth in a warm, CO2-rich world respond to an artificial reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface.

The study is published June 6 in Earth System Dynamics, an Open Access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Tackling climate change by reducing the solar radiation reaching our planet using climate engineering, known also as geoengineering, could result in undesirable effects for Earth and humankind. In particular, the work by the team of German, Norwegian, French, and UK scientists shows that disruption of global and regional rainfall patterns is likely in a geoengineered climate.

“Climate engineering cannot be seen as a substitute for a policy pathway of mitigating climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” they conclude in the paper.

Text and Image via ScienceDaily

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Free Voina

December 7, 2011

On December 05, one of founding members of the Russian art collective Voina, Leonid Nikolaev, was abducted by Russian police and his whereabouts are unknown. Nikolaev was attending a rally against election fraud in St. Petersburg when he was grabbed by police along with other protesters and taken away.

Vor (Oleg Vorotnikov). Artist, activist and the leader of Voina. Born August 17th, 1978 in Bereznyaki, Perm Krai. Oleg has been involved in arts since 1995. He renounced the use of money in 1998. Since 1999, Oleg has been concentrating on social practices in urban space. In 1999 he married artist Kozlenok (Natalia Sokol). Oleg graduated from Moscow State University’s philosophy department in 2003. In the fall of 2005, he began doing street art with Kozlenok, forming the art collective Voina. Oleg has participated in every Voina action to date. In 2006-2007 he worked as the head of the information department at Moscow State Cinema Museum. Vor and Kozlenok’s son Kasper Can’t-Take-Our-Eyes-Off-Him Sokol was born on April 19th, 2009. Kasper became Voina’s youngest member. In November 2010, the Russian Federation initiated a politically motivated parental rights termination process against Oleg. He was incarcerated in St. Petersburg from November 2010 to February 2011 on charges related to Voina’s Palace Revolution action (article 213 part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code). n May 2011 he was declared a federally wanted fugitive. In July 2011 Russian police issued an international arrest warrant for Oleg. He is unemployed and homeless, facing charges under articles 213, 318 and 319 of the Russian Criminal Code (criminal case #276858) in connection with the “Palace Revolution” action and with his participation in an opposition rally on March 31st, 2011 in St. Petersburg.

Kozlenok aka Koza (Natalia Sokol). Artist, activist, author of Voina actions and the group’s chief coordinator. Born June 3rd, 1980 in Balakovo, Saratov Oblast. Kozlenok renounced the use of money after meeting artist Vor (Oleg Vorotnikov) in 1998. She’s been married to Oleg since 1999. In 2003, she graduated from Moscow State University’s physical department. She finished grad school there in 2006. Kozlenok holds a PhD in physics, and is affiliated with the sub-department of molecular physics at MSU. She’s been doing street art since the fall of 2005 as a member of Voina, and has participated in every Voina action to date. On April 19th, 2009 she gave birth to Kasper Can’t-Take-Our-Eyes-Off-Him Sokol, Voina’s youngest activist. In November 2010, the Russian Federation initiated a politically motivated parental rights termination process against Kozlenok. She’s been living without any documents since November 15th, 2010, when Russian police seized all her papers. In August 2011 she was declared a federally wanted fugitive. Kozlenok is homeless and facing charges under article 319 of the Russian Criminal Code (criminal case #299810) in connection with an incident on March 31st, 2011 in which police officers were doused with urine during an opposition rally in St. Petersburg.

Kasper Can’t-Take-Our-Eyes-Off-Him Sokol. Artist, Voina member since birth. Born April 19th, 2009 on a ship in Moscow. Stateless. Participated in every Voina action since May 2009. Voina’s youngest activist. In November 2010, the Russian Federation initiated a politically motivated parental rights termination process against Kasper’s parents Kozlenok (Natalia Sokol) and Vor (Oleg Vorotnikov). Kasper has been beaten twice and arrested three times (twice in 2011 alone) by Russian police in connection with Voina’s activity. He is homeless.

VOINA. A street collective of actionist artists who engage in political protest art. Political orientation: anarchist. Enemies: philistines, cops, the regime. Organization type: militant gang, dominated by horizontal ties in everyday life and employing vertical relationships during actions. The group preaches renunciation of money and disregard towards the law (“the no-whoring way”). Founded by Vor and Kozlenok in October 2005, the group was named after Vor (“War”). Initially, Voina actions were clandestine and anonymous, and were called “training” or “practice”. Voina has enjoyed public recognition since 2008. To date, over 200 activists have participated in Voina actions. At least 20 criminal investigations into the group’s activities have been initiated, some of them still ongoing. According to Russia’s Investigations Committee,

“Art group VOINA’ is a left-wing radical anarchist collective whose central goal is to carry out PR actions directed against the authorities, and specifically against law enforcement officials with the aim of discrediting them in the eyes of the public. Branches of VOINA exist in all major Russian cities. The group’s sympatizers number approximately 3000. VOINA members maintain contacts with anarchist groups and individuals from all around the world holding left-wing radical views on art and on the world order (Italy, Slovakia, France, USA, South Africa, Greece)”.

Leo the Fucknut (Leonid Nikolaev). Artist, Voina activist. Born December 27th, 1983 in Moscow. College dropout (studied materials science). Leonid has been participating in Voina actions since December 2009. In May 2010 he was titled Voina President after a series of actions against killer VIP drivers (“Leo the Fucknut is our President” (“Leo the Fucknut is our President”). He was incarcerated in St. Petersburg from November 2010 to February 2011 on charges related to Voina’s “Palace Revolution” action (article 213 part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code). Leonid has been a member of the political council at the Moscow branch of Solidarnost, a united democratic movement. He is continuously involved in opposition activity in Russia, and has been arrested in excess of 30 times. Leonid currently lives in Moscow. He is unemployed and facing charges under articles 213 of the Russian Criminal Code (criminal case #276858) in connection with the “Palace Revolution” action.

Leonid Nikolaev whistling in protest to illegitimate elections. December 4th, 2011.

The arrest of Leonid Nikolaev.

Goals and objectives of the Art-Group Voina in the period 2008-2010

1. Rebirth of heroical behavioral ideals of an artist-intellectual, in a manner of Russian libertarian decemberism. Creation of image of artist as romantic hero, who prevail over the evil. Creation of lively romantic models in today`s soulless commercial conceptual art.
2. Rebirth of lively expressive art, which is sincere and honest and provoking observers` deep emotional experience. Actualization of monumental expressive genres, where large scale harmonizes with totally rich in content orientation, in contrast to outdated hypertrophy of forms, which deovid of sense.
3. Creation of innovative topical art-language, which is producing for pure art, but not for a money. It is mean language, which is adequate for today’s cultural and socio-political context, which is can show actual of the new epoch, which have no analogues in the past. Creation of Russian national actual art, without outmodedness and provinciality, and which provokes admiration of intellectuals all over the world.
4. Rebirth of Russian laughing culture, traditions of absurdity and sarcasm in context of high art, that is Rebirth of lively merriment in the art-spaces. Creation of political street-art in Russia in the best traditions of skomorokh and carnival middle-age art.
5. Conceptual destruction of glamour timeserving and conformist Russian art-market, which is reproducing outdated forms of art, artificially falsifying processes of pricing of art-market and creating financial pyramid from devalued art-junk.
6. Creating of real left front of art in Russia in traditions of futurism of 1920 years, which is radically shift all ideological poles by the facts of its being. Rebirth of political protest art all over the world.
7. War with “werewolfes in straps” for the freedom of contemporary art. War with socio-political obscurantism and ultra-right reaction for the triumph of nano-modernization in Russia. Subversion and destruction of outdated repressive-patriarchal socio-political symbols and ideologies. Art-war against all global world for total triumph of justice in Art-Area.

All the text was obtained at Free Voina

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More on ‘Earliest’ evidence of human violence

December 2, 2011

Reconstructed Maba 1 cranium (A) Right lateral view (B) anterior view (C) left lateral view (D) posterior view (E) superior view (F) basal view [Credit: University of the Witwatersrand]

Archaeology News Network: An East Asian human fossil from Maba, China and dated to the late Middle Pleistocene age has provided evidence of interhuman aggression and human induced trauma occurred 126,000 years ago.

A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that a 14 mm ridged, healed lesion with bone depressed inward to the brain resulted from localized blunt force trauma. Was it an accident or interhuman aggression?

The Maba cranium was discovered with the remains of other mammals in June 1958, in a cave at Lion Rock in Guangdong province, China. The Maba cranium and associated animal bones were unearthed at a depth of one meter by farmers removing cave sediments for fertilizer. Continue HERE

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Lutetia may have witnessed the birth of the Earth

November 19, 2011

Image credit: ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team. MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

DISCOVER: When we look at the solar system now, we see it after it’s had billions of years of evolution under its belt. Things have changed a lot since it first formed out a swirling disk of material, 4.5 billion years ago. We can make some pretty good guesses about the way things looked back then, though. We can see other systems forming around other stars, for example, to get an idea of what things look like when they’re young.

But we can also look at our own solar system, look at the planets, the comets, the asteroids, and, like astronomical archaeologists, get a glimpse into our own cosmic past.

We know that asteroids formed along with the rest of the system back then. We also know that there are many kinds of asteroids: rocky, metallic, chondritic, some even have ice on or near their surface. Some formed far out in the solar system, and some formed near in. The thing is, we think the vast majority of the asteroids that formed close to the Sun were absorbed by — and by that, I mean smacked into and became part of — the inner planets, including Earth. Only a handful of those asteroids still remain intact after all this time. But now we think we’ve found one: the main belt, 130 km-long asteroid Lutetia.

Lutetia up close and personal

On July 10, 2010, the European Space Agency probe Rosetta passed just 3162 km (1960 miles) from the asteroid Lutetia, a lumpy rock 130 km (81 miles) end-to-end.

This image, taken at closest approach, shows how battered and worn Lutetia is. Craters pockmark the surface, including several that are many kilometers across. Like the Martian moon Phobos, grooves line the surface, which may be from boulders rolling around, perhaps ejected from some of the craters when they were formed. They may alternatively be stress fractures from impacts; there is still a lively debate over what causes these features in small bodies.

Much of the surface appears smooth, indicating great age for this object. Over billions of years it’s been assaulted by dust grains moving at incredible speeds, as well as the solar wind. This has essentially sandblasted the surface, taking – literally – the edge off of the rims of craters.

We have very few high-resolution images of asteroids, and the more we get, the more we learn about them. Given that every now and again we get hit by them, I’m a big fan of understanding them better. Continue HERE

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What Monkeys Can Teach You About Money

September 4, 2011

Allen St. John: How a Yale research team made history by teaching capuchins to spend money … and discovered that they’re just as smart—and stupid—as your financial advisor.

It’s a little bigger than a quarter and about twice as thick, but because it’s made of aluminum, it weighs roughly the same. It’s flat and smooth, except for what seem to be a few tiny bite marks around the perimeter. To you, it might look like a washer without a hole. To Felix, an alpha male capuchin monkey, and his friends at Yale University, it’s money.

“When one of the monkeys grabs a token, he’s going to hold onto it as though he really values it,” explains Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale. “And the other monkeys might try to take it away from him. Just like they would with a piece of food. Just as you might want to do when you see a person flaunting cash.”

During the past seven years, Santos and Yale economist Keith Chen have conducted a series of cutting-edge experiments in which Felix and seven other monkeys trade these discs for food much like we toss a $20 bill to a cashier at Taco Bell. And in doing so, these monkeys became the first nonhumans to use, well, money.

“It sounds like the setup to a bad joke,” says Chen. “A monkey walks into a room and finds a pile of coins, and he’s got to decide how much he wants to spend on apples, how much on oranges, and how much on pineapples.” Continue HERE

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[Dissenter] Rosa Luxemburg

August 2, 2011

Rosa Luxemburg in 1910: a soapbox fighter not a soulless statistician. Photograph: Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist activist in early 20th-century Berlin, murdered by her political enemies after World War I. She’s the topic of the debut edition of “Long Story Short,” a new podcast on people and ideas in Jewish life. HERE