Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Drawing inspiration from Voss-Andreae's background in physics, “Quantum Man” is the image of a walking man seen as a quantum object. Made up of over a hundred vertically oriented steel sheets, the 8’ (2.50 m) tall sculpture provides a metaphor for the counter-intuitive world of quantum physics. Symbolizing the dual nature of matter, the sculpture seems to consist of solid steel when seen from the front but nearly disappears when seen from the side, as light shines through the spaces between the slabs.
In 2007, Voss-Andreae created a second version called "Quantum Man 2" in stainless steel.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
SAKAI, Japan — Huge sheets of glass are guided by robotic arms, sliding and turning in a towering germ-free plant, the world's first making giant "10th generation" panels for flat screen TVs.
Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp.'s futuristic-looking plant doesn't have a single worker on the floor. Each sheet, measuring about 3 meters (3.3 yards) by 3 meters, is being made and tested by computerized machines.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
A startup company in Hunstville, Ala. has revealed an invention that can reconfigure the charges of magnets in never-before-seen patterns, a breakthrough that may lead to new varieties of contact-free attachments and friction-free gears. The company, Correlated Magnetics Research (CMR), creates magnets that, instead of carrying a positive charge on one end and a negative on the other, have complex field patterns that can be used to attract corresponding magnetic fields. When the correlated patterns on two magnets match, they attract and clasp. With a simple turn, the correlation is lost and the two sides can be easily separated. ... Programmable magnets could be used for spaceship hatches, prosthetics ball joints, sports-equipment clasps and maglev-train hardware, according to the company. CMR is asking manufacturing companies to buy licenses to use the new technology in their products, so these magnets could conceivably turn up almost anywhere, especially in niche markets such as NASA hardware and military gear. In truly foolproof assembly directions, unlike those that plagued Fullerton, these smart magnets would ensure that every part links only where it belongs.
Monday, November 23, 2009
"I will never forget the day they discovered me," Mr Houben was quoted as saying. "It was like a second birth."
Mr Laureys said that in about 40% of cases in which people are classified as being in a vegetative state, closer inspection reveals signs of consciousness.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Their idea worked. The mice walked. In their paper, published in April 2009, they wrote that the “effects were not subtle; indeed, in nearly every case these severely parkinsonian animals were restored to behavior indistinguishable from normal.”
Over at MIT, Boyden was asking the obvious question: Would this work on people? But imagine saying to a patient, “We’re going to genetically alter your brain by injecting it with viruses that carry genes taken from pond scum, and then we’re going to insert light sources into your skull.” He was going to need some persuasive safety data first.
That same summer, Boyden and his assistants began working with rhesus monkeys, whose brains are relatively similar to humans’. He was looking to see whether the primates were harmed by the technique. They triggered the neurons of one particular monkey for several minutes every few weeks for nine months. In the end, the animal was just fine.
The next step was creating a device that didn’t require threading cables through the skull. One of Deisseroth’s colleagues designed a paddle about one-third the length of a popsicle stick. It has four LEDs: two blue ones to make neurons fire and two yellow ones to stop them. Attached to the paddle is a little box that provides power and instructions. The paddle is implanted on the surface of the brain, on top of the motor control area. The lights are bright enough to illuminate a fairly large volume of tissue, so the placement doesn’t have to be exact. The light-sensitizing genes are injected into the affected tissue beforehand. It’s a far easier surgery than deep brain electrical stimulation, and, if it works, a far more precise treatment. Researchers at Stanford are currently testing the device on primates. If all goes well, they will seek FDA approval for experiments in humans.
Treating Parkinson’s and other brain diseases could be just the beginning. Optogenetics has amazing potential, not just for sending information into the brain but also for extracting it. And it turns out that Tsien’s Nobel-winning work — the research he took up when he abandoned the hunt for channelrhodopsin — is the key to doing this. By injecting mice neurons with yet another gene, one that makes cells glow green when they fire, researchers are monitoring neural activity through the same fiber-optic cable that delivers the light. The cable becomes a lens. It makes it possible to “write” to an area of the brain and “read” from it at the same time: two-way traffic.
Why is two-way traffic a big deal? Existing neural technologies are strictly one-way. Motor implants let paralyzed people operate computers and physical objects but are incapable of giving feedback to the brain. They are output-only devices. Conversely, cochlear implants for the deaf are input-only. They send data to the auditory nerve but have no way of picking up the brain’s response to the ear to modulate sound.
No matter how good they get, one-way prostheses can’t close the loop. In theory, two-way optogenetic traffic could lead to human-machine fusions in which the brain truly interacts with the machine, rather than only giving or only accepting orders. It could be used, for instance, to let the brain send movement commands to a prosthetic arm; in return, the arm’s sensors would gather information and send it back. Blue and yellow LEDs would flash on and off inside genetically altered somatosensory regions of the cortex to give the user sensations of weight, temperature, and texture. The limb would feel like a real arm. Of course, this kind of cyborg technology is not exactly around the corner. But it has suddenly leapt from the realm of wild fantasy to concrete possibility.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This year, one inquiry bore fruit, although of a somewhat ambiguous nature, when biologists in Leipzig, Germany, genetically engineered a mouse with the human version of FOXP2 substituted for its own. The upgraded mice squeaked somewhat differently from plain mice and were born with subtle alterations in brain structure. But mice and people are rather distant cousins — their last common ancestor lived some 70 million years ago — and the human version of FOXP2 evidently was not able to exert a transformative effect on the mouse.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
A group of engineers working on a novel manufacturing technique at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., have come up with a new twist on the popular old saying about dreaming and doing: 'If you can slice it, we can build it.
"You start with a drawing of the part you want to build, you push a button, and out comes the part," said Karen Taminger, the technology lead for the Virginia-based research project that is part of NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program.
In reality, EBF3 works in a vacuum chamber, where an electron beam is focused on a constantly feeding source of metal, which is melted and then applied as called for by a drawing -- one layer at a time -- on top of a rotating surface until the part is complete.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Despite a 30-year lifespan that gives ample time for cells to grow cancerous, a small rodent species called a naked mole rat has never been found with tumors of any kind—and now biologists at the University of Rochester think they know why.
The findings, presented in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the mole rat's cells express a gene called p16 that makes the cells "claustrophobic," stopping the cells' proliferation when too many of them crowd together, cutting off runaway growth before it can start. The effect of p16 is so pronounced that when researchers mutated the cells to induce a tumor, the cells' growth barely changed, whereas regular mouse cells became fully cancerous.
"We think we've found the reason these mole rats don't get cancer, and it's a bit of a surprise," say Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, professors of biology at the University of Rochester and lead investigators on the discovery. "It's very early to speculate about the implications, but if the effect of p16 can be simulated in humans we might have a way to halt cancer before it starts."
Gorbunova and Seluanov are now planning to delve deeper into the mole rat's genetics to see if their cancer resistance might be applicable to humans.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Using traditional chemical rockets, a trip to Mars – at quickest — lasts 6 months. But a new rocket tested successfully last week could potentially cut down travel time to the Red Planet to just 39 days. The Ad Astra Rocket Company tested a plasma rocket called the VASIMR VX-200 engine, which ran at 201 kilowatts in a vacuum chamber, passing the 200-kilowatt mark for the first time. "It's the most powerful plasma rocket in the world right now," says Franklin Chang-Diaz, former NASA astronaut and CEO of Ad Astra. The company has also signed an agreement with NASA to test a 200-kilowatt VASIMR engine on the International Space Station in 2013.
more (with video)
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
(CNN) Scientists at NASA have discovered a nearly invisible ring around Saturn -- one so large that it would take 1 billion Earths to fill it.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted a massive, nearly invisible ring around Saturn.
Its diameter is equivalent to 300 Saturns lined up side to side. And its entire volume can hold one billion Earths, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said late Tuesday.
The obvious question: Why did it take scientists so long to discover something so massive?
The ring is made up of ice and dust particles that are so far apart that 'if you were to stand in the ring, you wouldn't even know it,' Verbiscer said in a statement.
Also, Saturn doesn't receive a lot of sunlight, and the rings don't reflect much visible light.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Need to see a thousand meters in the dark?
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Most occupations require people skills. But for some, a preternatural capacity for concentration and near-total recall matter more. Those jobs, entrepreneur Thorkil Sonne says, could use a little autism....Sonne worked in IT, a field more suited to people with autism and related conditions like Asperger's syndrome. "As a general view, they have excellent memory and strong attention to detail. They are persistent and good at following structures and routines," he says. In other words, they're born software engineers.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The idea is new and will prevail for a new segment in the market. A segment which would go mainly with the multimedia and Internet freeks. Playing a HD movie wireless from your keyboard(oops PC) to HDTV, streaming online content, browsing the web would be a new experience altogether.
The built in screen is good, features full 16bit colors, though resolution is still unknown. It shouldn’t be less than that of iPhone (320×480). Though you can’t do much over the 5″ touch display, Asus has still smartly added a Cellphone like interface which runs apps like Doc, Facebook, browser just like your iPhone. I’m not sure how much will that be of utility, since it’s not a phone-like gadget. But still, it will primarily serve as Info and Media controller.
Fair deal. The only thing that remains in question is How far will battery’s juice last when you are streaming HD movies to your TV? If Asus does well over this, we are sure, they got it all.
The October launch is set for U.S and Europe. Meanwhile, get the feel by watching this Hands-on Video (via netbooknews.com)
Monday, September 14, 2009
Unwinding household sticky tape in a vacuum emits radiation strong enough to X-ray a human figure, according to a new study in the British journal Nature.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have measured the energy emitted from peeling scotch tape off the roll and found that it peaked at 15-keV and was emitted in short, sharp bursts."We didn't believe it. We really didn't think it could be true," said co-author Carlos Camara, referring to the team's initial scepticism. "We took some pictures of our hands to see the bones and prove that it was possible. We have a whole collection (of pictures)... it is absolutely remarkable."
Friday, September 11, 2009
Digital Contacts Will Keep an Eye on Your Vital Signs
Very cool augmented reality LCD contacts.
Scientists, eye surgeons, professors and students at the University of Washington have been developing a contact lens containing one built-in LED, powered wirelessly with radio frequency waves.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
A skull that rewrites the history of man
The conventional view of human evolution and how early man colonised the world has been thrown into doubt by a series of stunning palaeontological discoveries suggesting that Africa was not the sole cradle of humankind. Scientists have found a handful of ancient human skulls at an archaeological site two hours from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, that suggest a Eurasian chapter in the long evolutionary story of man.
The skulls, jawbones and fragments of limb bones suggest that our ancient human ancestors migrated out of Africa far earlier than previously thought and spent a long evolutionary interlude in Eurasia – before moving back into Africa to complete the story of man.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Monopoly City Streets: "On the 9th SEPTEMBER, a world of property empire building on an unimaginable scale will be launched! A live worldwide game of MONOPOLY using Google Maps as the game board. The goal is simple. Play to beat your friends and the world to become the richest property magnate in existence.
Own any street in the world. Build humble houses, crazy castles and stupendous skyscrapers to collect rent. Use MONOPOLY Chance Cards to sabotage your mates by building Hazards on their streets.
Which strategy will you employ? Determined drive? Ingenious daring? Intelligent caution? Will you thrive under the pressure of a fast growing global property empire – or will you crumble? Find out if you’ll thrive, or even survive, in the amazing world of MONOPOLY City Streets. It's going to be epic fun!"
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Researchers say they have built the world's smallest laser — one a thousand times smaller than what's available today. And today's lasers are already small enough to fit on a computer chip.
These new types of lasers open up all sorts of new possibilities for new technologies. And they break down the conventional wisdom about how small lasers can be.
"This is a nanopendulum, basically. It can be confined to almost any small place."
...those real applications could include future generations of computer storage. Today's lasers can burn a whole movie onto a DVD. And, Zhang says there's plenty of room for improvement.
"For example, you can use this to make a very high-density DVD recorder. You may be able to store an entire library on one disk."
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Now, the picture above is pretty unremarkable, right? Black and white (trivia: molecules have no color), grainy, shot in the kind of out-of-focus manner you expect from a guy like me, who can't seem to venture out beyond the Auto setting on his entry-level Nikon D40 DSLR. But wait a second. Doesn't the image kind of seem, well, familiar? Like high school chem class familiar? Balls and sticks familiar?
Here's another image; a computer generated image that's much more at home for anyone who studied atoms and molecules in the dead and gone days of 1997:
Make sense now? That B&W structure is an actual image of a molecule and its atomic bonds. The first of its kind, in fact, and a breakthrough for the crazy IBM scientists in Zurich who spent 20 straight hours staring at the "specimen"—which in this case was a 1.4 nanometer-long pentacene molecule comprised of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms.
You can actually make out each of those atoms and their bonds, and it's thanks to this: An atomic force microscope.
Like the venerable electron microscope, but more powerful and with an eye for the third dimension, the AFM is able to make the nano world something we humans can appreciate visually. Using a silicon microscale cantilever coated in carbon dioxide (tiny, tiny needle), lasers, an "ultrahigh vacuum" and temperatures that hovered around 5 Kelvin, the AFM imaged the pentacene in nanometers. It did this while sitting a mere 0.5 nanometers above the surface and its previously invisible bonds for 20 long, unmoving hours. The length of time is noteworthy, said IBM scientist Leo Goss in statement from IBM, because any movement whatsoever would have disrupted the delicate atomic bonds and ruined the image.
And that's the real beauty of this image. For the first time ever we can see where each of those carbon and hydrogen atoms line up, and the overall symmetrical shape they create. In 3D.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The scientists have developed a simple ‘air shower’ device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air. The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.
The researchers, from CSIRO Manufacturing Materials Technology in Melbourne, say the device increases the volume of the shower stream while reducing the amount of water used by about 30 per cent.
Monday, August 24, 2009
VideoTrace is a system for interactively generating realistic 3D models of objects from video—models that might be inserted into a video game, a simulation environment, or another video sequence. The user interacts with VideoTrace by tracing the shape of the object to be modelled over one or more frames of the video. By interpreting the sketch drawn by the user in light of 3D information obtained from computer vision techniques, a small number of simple 2D interactions can be used to generate a realistic 3D model. Each of the sketching operations in VideoTrace provides an intuitive and powerful means of modelling shape from video, and executes quickly enough to be used interactively. Immediate feedback allows the user to model rapidly those parts of the scene which are of interest and to the level of detail required. The combination of automated and manual reconstruction allows VideoTrace to model parts of the scene not visible, and to succeed in cases where purely automated approaches would fail..
Friday, August 21, 2009
This test, which detects both the presence and the quantity of certain DNA changes, could alert people who are at risk of developing the disease and could tell doctors how well a particular cancer treatment is working."
Monday, August 17, 2009
Outgoing people are 50 percent less likely to develop dementia;
Scientists in California found that middle-aged people who did just that — for a total of about 5 hours per week — lived longer and functioned better physically and cognitively as they got older; the researchers tracked runners and nonrunners for 21 years.
Most Americans eat 14 to 17 g of fiber per day; add just 10 g and reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 17 percent
You embrace techie trends
Learn to Twitter or Skype to help keep brain cells young and healthy, says Sherri Snelling, senior director for Evercare (part of United-Healthcare), a group that sponsors an annual poll of U.S. centenarians. Many of the oldest Americans send e-mails, Google lost friends, and even date online. Researchers say using the latest technology helps keep us not only mentally spry but socially engaged: "Stay connected to friends, family, and current events, and you feel vital and relevant," says Snelling.
Researchers in St. Louis reported that men and women who limited their daily calories to 1,400 to 2,000 (about 25 percent fewer calories than those who followed a typical 2,000-to 3,000-calorie Western diet) were literally young at heart — their hearts functioned like those of people 15 years younger.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Craig has figured it out; Why everything sucks. Very insightful monologue!
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed novel approaches to humanoid robot navigation and path planning using a Honda Asimo and HRP-2 Promet as their test subjects. The robots are able to perceive obstacles in their environment and walk around them to reach a goal destination. They can even predict the velocity of moving obstacles and time their footsteps in order to get through unharmed using computer vision algorithms.
Friday, July 31, 2009
MPEG Video [4.2 MB]
The Electric Unicycle
The Electric Unicycle's only control is the on-off switch. The rider controls everything else by shifting his weight. You lean forward to accelerate, lean backwards to brake, and gyrate your arms wildly to turn. With a little practice you can get more graceful and keep your arms mostly by your side.
Moolf - One of The Rarest Frogs in The World: "This rare frog which is called purple frog was discovered for the first time in 2003, in Western Ghats in India. It is the one and only place where these species can be found. The frog is really purple, has very small eyes, unusual nose and believed to be a relative of ancient frogs, that lived during the time of the dinosaurs."
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Digital Urban: Building Rome in a Day: A 3D City via Flickr: "With the recent rise in popularity of Internet photo sharing sites like Flickr and Google Images, community photo collections (CPCs) have emerged as a powerful new type of image dataset for computer vision and computer graphics research. With billions of such photos now online, these collections should enable huge opportunities in 3D, visualization, image-based rendering, recognition, and other research areas. The Graphics and Imaging Laboratory of the University of Washington's Department of Computer Science and Engineering are at the cutting edge of research based around crowd sourced imagery and 3D modelling."
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
"Bear in mind, unemployment in the non-farm sector in America rose to 37 percent in the 1930s. Unemployment in the United States today is 8.9 percentÖ . And government benefits -- nonexistent in the '30s -- play a vast role in cushioning the blow from an economic slowdown."
More: Fareed Zakaria at PostGlobal: The Sky Isn't Falling - PostGlobal at washingtonpost.com
OpEdNews � Gang of Sickos: Six US Senators Sell Out Constituents for $11 Million from Health Industr
A bipartisan group of six "moderate" US senators, dubbed the "Gang of Six" by news agencies, issued a demand July 17 for a slowdown on Democratic health care reform. These senators - including three conservative Democrats, one conservative Independent who caucuses with Democrats, and two moderate Republicans - asked for a slowdown on health care reform not because their constituents wished it so: recent polls show that a clear majority of Americans want health care reform now including a public health care option such as that proposed by President Obama and progressives in Congress. No, these senators asked for a slowdown on health care reform because the for-profit health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries have bid them to do so in the hope that reform can be stopped, and because these same industries have generously provided them with career campaign contributions totalling more than $11 million.
These six senators - whom I'll call the "Gang of Sickos" in honor of Michael Moore's film on America's health care crisis similarly titled - are Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Ron Wyden of Oregon; Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; and Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine (Paul Krugman calls them "the six deadly hypocrites"). Their career total and average daily contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries are summarized by Paul Blumenthal at the Huffington Post based on figures from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
More: OpEdNews � Gang of Sickos: Six US Senators Sell Out Constituents for $11 Million from Health Industr
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I got mine today. :-)
Google Voice is the company's latest attempt to shake up the wireless telecom industry and is a follow-up of sorts to its open-source Android mobile platform. Just as Android was developed in part to spur innovation within the mobile development community and also to give users the ability to switch to new carriers without swapping their mobile devices, Google Voice was created in part to make it easier for users to change mobile carriers without sacrificing their phone numbers. In this FAQ, we'll discuss what Google Voice does, how it's different from other Web-based voice providers and how it could challenge the telecom industry to add more value to its services. (See also: Google grabs 1 million phone numbers for Google Voice)
Read the rest from PC World.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
The Digital ruler is a 15 cm wooden ruler, which uses technology of electric-resistance and measurement in order to calculate length of line or distance. Unlike any other ruler, it is relative, not absolute. The 0 point of the ruler is defined by every new measurement with any pen. Electronic Ruler is a functional surprising object, offering new ways of using an old device.
Via Design Reaktor Berlin
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The House passed a plan to boost auto sales by providing vouchers of up to $4,500 for consumers who turn in their gas-guzzling cars and trucks for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Under the House bill, car owners could get a voucher worth $3,500 if they traded in a vehicle getting 18 miles per gallon or less for one getting at least 22 miles per gallon. The value of the voucher would grow to $4,500 if the mileage of the new car is 10 mpg higher than the old vehicle. The miles per gallon figures are listed on the window sticker.
Owners of sport-utility vehicles, pickup trucks or minivans that get 18 mpg or less could receive a voucher for $3,500 if their new truck or SUV is at least 2 mpg higher than their old vehicle. The voucher would increase to $4,500 if the mileage of the new truck or SUV is at least 5 mpg higher than the older vehicle. Consumers could also receive vouchers for leased vehicles.
More from the Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
From Less than Dot.
This guy is from Oahu, but he is gaining International fame.
He's a surfer himself and often gets wiped out just getting the shot.
And you can see why!
These incredible images of waves were taken by the
number one photographer of surf: Clark Little.
He has dedicated his life to photographing the waves
and has published a selection of the the best images of his career.
He captures magical moments inside the "tube", as surfers say.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
The addition of physics into a 3D scene takes away a lot of work required for traditional 'handmade' animation, it also allows amazing videos to be made such as as the one by http://www.freakymicky.de/ above...
Via Digital Urban
Friday, April 03, 2009
A free flying wing can generate more power and span more sky than fixed wing turbines. Kites can be much more efficient, and reach higher altitudes where there's more wind than the giant fixed wing turbines we have now.
A piano-sized kite/ plane can generate 10KW, enough to power about 5 homes. A 747 can make 6MW (6000KW).
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
He has been confined to a wheelchair for 20 years. Now a paraplegic man is walking again, and his doctors call it a miracle. CBS13 went to Manteca to find out how a spider bite helped get him back on his feet.
A motorcycle accident almost killed David 21 years ago. At the time he might have wished he was dead.
Ever since, David's been relying on his wheelchair to get around. Then the spider bite. A Brown Recluse [spider] sent him to the hospital, then to rehab for eight months.
A nurse noticed David's leg spasm and ran a test on him.
"When they zapped my legs, I felt the current, I was like 'whoa' and I yelled," he says.
"She says,'your nerves are alive. They're just asleep'," explained David.
Five days later David was walking.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Liquid droplets seem to form and move on the leg of the Phoenix Mars lander, as seen in images taken on days 8, 31, and 44 (seen above from left to right) of the craft's mission.
Scientists think the water could stay liquid even in the frigid Martian arctic because of its high concentration of perchlorates, salts that acts like antifreeze.
See more at National Geographic.
Friday, February 20, 2009
This video segment from Evolution: "Evolutionary Arms Race," illustrates the coevolution of the leafcutter ant and the fungi on which it feeds. Leafcutters have been "farming" this fungus for millions of years, feeding, fertilizing, weeding, and harvesting it.
Fifty million years before humankind began farming, ancient ants were already in the agriculture business.
Over time, leafcutter ants have evolved a complex system of agriculture in their nests, cultivating bumper crops of fungi that are the ants' sole food source. Foragers cut pieces of leaves from trees and drag them home to their nest, where others chew them into a paste that becomes the fungi's dinner. There are, however, at least two more participants in this relationship. Surprising the scientific community, graduate student Cameron Currie discovered a mold that threatens to kill the fungi, and the antibiotic which the ants produce in order to control it.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Throughout the world, boys and girls prefer to play with different types of toys. Boys typically like to play with cars and trucks, while girls typically choose to play with dolls. Why is this? A traditional sociological explanation is that boys and girls are socialized and encouraged to play with different types of toys by their parents, peers, and the “society.” Growing scientific evidence suggests, however, that boys’ and girls’ toy preferences may have a biological origin.
In 2002, Gerianne M. Alexander of Texas A&M University and Melissa Hines of City University in London stunned the scientific world by showing that vervet monkeys showed the same sex-typical toy preferences as humans. In an incredibly ingenious study, published in Evolution and Human Behavior, Alexander and Hines gave two stereotypically masculine toys (a ball and a police car), two stereotypically feminine toys (a soft doll and a cooking pot), and two neutral toys (a picture book and a stuffed dog) to 44 male and 44 female vervet monkeys. They then assessed the monkeys’ preference for each toy by measuring how much time they spent with each. Their data demonstrated that male vervet monkeys showed significantly greater interest in the masculine toys, and the female vervet monkeys showed significantly greater interest in the feminine toys. The two sexes did not differ in their preference for the neutral toys.
...how can these male and female vervet monkeys have the same preferences as boys and girls? They were never socialized by humans, and they had never seen these toys before in their lives. Yet, not only did male and female vervet monkeys show the identical sex preference for toys, but how they played with these toys was also identical to how boys and girls might.
In a forthcoming article in Hormones and Behavior, Janice M. Hassett, Erin R. Siebert, and Kim Wallen, of Emory University, replicate the sex preferences in toys among members of another primate species (rhesus monkeys). Their study shows that, when given a choice between stereotypically male “wheeled toys” (such as a wagon, a truck, and a car) and stereotypically female “plush toys” (such as Winnie the Pooh, Raggedy Ann, and a koala bear hand puppet), male rhesus monkeys show strong and significant preference for the masculine toys.