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Social Studies

We now have more in common with ants than chimps Add to ...

Ants can teach humans?

“The human population is growing at such a staggering rate that we are organizing ourselves more like ant supercolonies, with new research finding that we have more in common now with some ants than we do with our closest living animal kingdom relatives,” writes Jennifer Viegas for Discovery News. “The new study, published in the journal Behavioural Ecology, points out that both humans and ants (termites, too) live in societies that may consist of up to a million-plus members. ‘As a result, modern humans have more in common with some ants than we do with our closest relatives the chimpanzees,’ Mark Moffett, author of the study, [said] ‘With a maximum size of about 100, no chimpanzee group has to deal with issues of public health, infrastructure, distribution of goods and services, market economies, mass transit problems, assembly lines and complex teamwork, agriculture and animal domestication, warfare and slavery. … Ants have developed behaviours addressing all of these problems.’”

A troubling milestone

“The world’s air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant,” Associated Press reports. “Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn’t quite a surprise, because it’s been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350 ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395. So far, only the Arctic has reached the 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon.”

Robot on your shoulder

“Nobody likes being alone,” says an IEEE blog, “and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University are developing a robot to make sure you’ll never be alone again: the MH-2 wearable miniature humanoid lives on your shoulder and can be remotely inhabited by your friends from anywhere in the world.” The device is designed to be able to mimic human actions as accurately and realistically as possible. “This may seem a little weird at first, but here’s the idea: you’ve got a friend or a relative that you want to share an experience with. Like, you’re travelling somewhere and you want some company. Instead of having said friend come along with you … you can bring along an MH-2 instead. Back home, your friend puts on a 360-degree immersive 3D display. …Then, they get to see whatever the MH-2 sees. Meanwhile, the robot on your shoulder acts like an avatar, duplicating the speech and gestures of your friend right there for you to interact with directly.”

Mr. Dot Com?

“Florida is letting a congressional candidate put the name of his web address on the ballot,” The Huffington Post says. “Why? Because Eddie Gonzalez went before a Miami-Dade judge last January and had his name legally changed to ‘VoteforEddie.com.’ A spokesman for the Florida Department of State said Wednesday that officials have no choice because a judge granted the name change request just days after election officials told him he could not use any nicknames. ‘As a ministerial office, we have no authority to not permit his legal name to appear on the ballot,’ said the spokesman, Chris Cate.”

The prince and the toilet

“Crown Prince Willem-Alexander has spoken [of]note>at his shame [at]note>of taking part in a traditional Dutch toilet-throwing contest,” The Daily Telegraph reports. “The heir to the Dutch throne was in the small eastern village of Rhenen on Queen’s Day, April 30, where he entered – and won – a traditional village game of toilet-bowl tossing. But speaking at a function in Rotterdam on Wednesday, the prince admitted he felt ashamed when hurling the orange-coloured ceramic potty, given the lack of proper sanitary conditions in the developing world. … ‘I participated with a smile, but not without shame in thinking about the some 2.6 billion people around the world that do not have this most basic infrastructure to fulfill a daily need with dignity.’”

THOUGHT DU JOUR

“Strong people have strong weaknesses.”

– Peter Drucker (1909-2005), management consultant

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