The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Mechanisms that enable parrots to ‘dance’ may point to the evolutionary root of human dance New research starring YouTube sensation Snowball the dancing cockatoo spotlights the surprising variety and creativity of his moves and suggests that he, and some other vocal-learning animals, may be capable of some of the kind of sophisticated brain function thought to be exclusively human.The white bird with the yellow-crested head became an Internet sensation in 2009 when videos of him grooving in perfect time to “Another One Bites the Dust” by the British rock band Queen went viral. To date, 7.3 million people have clicked on the three-and-a-half-minute clip and millions more have watched videos of the bird bouncing and bobbing to chart-toppers by Michael Jackson and the Back Street Boys.But was he really dancing or just imitating his owner? Or did someone edit in music over his moves to make it look like he could dance? The questions troubled Ani Patel, a Tufts neuroscientist long interested in music cognition who had recently hypothesized that only vocal learners could move in time to a musical beat. He needed to know more.“It was unbelievable when I first saw that video,” said Patel, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, who is working on a book about the evolution of music cognition based in part on his cross-species research. “I still remember it. I was staring at the screen and my jaw just hit the floor. I thought, ‘Is this real? Could this actually be happening?’ Within minutes I’d written Snowball’s owner.”To test his theory, Patel and a team of researchers filmed Snowball while they alternately slowed down or sped up some of the bird’s favorite dance tracks. They watched as the parrot repeatedly synchronized his steps to the varied tempos.“He predicted the timing of the beat, and he did this spontaneously without having been trained,” said Patel, whose 2009 findings were similar to those reported by Harvard researchers that same year involving the African grey parrot Alex and his ability to match his movements to the beats of novel songs.Now, thanks to Patel’s new paper, “Spontaneity and diversity of movement to music are not uniquely human,” Snowball’s legion of fans have another video gem, a compilation piece featuring the parrot’s 14 different dance moves, some of which Patel and his collaborators suspect the bird came up with on his own.,The study published in Current Biology lists the more than a dozen separate movements Snowball liked to break out back in 2009 when dancing to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and the 1980 Queen hit. Researchers filmed Snowball dancing to the songs, then coded his individual movements. In order to qualify as a distinct move, the parrot had to repeat it at least two times at different points in the study. The report’s lead author, R. Joanne Jao Keehn, a cognitive neuroscientist and a trained dancer, analyzed the videos frame by frame and labeled Snowball’s different motions. She found that among the bird’s favorite steps are the “Vogue,” the movement of his head from one side of his lifted foot to another; the “Headbang with Lifted Foot,” when he lifts his foot and bangs his head simultaneously; and the “Head-Foot Sync,” during which he moves his head and foot in unison.In addition to being wildly entertaining, the bird’s variety of movements point to a type of cerebral flexibility that suggests his creative choreography is not simply “a brainstem reflex to sound,” said Patel. “It’s actually a complex cognitive act that involves choosing among different types of possible movement options. It’s exactly how we think of human dancing.”,In the paper, Patel and his team list the five traits they believe are required for an animal to be able to spontaneously dance to music: vocal learning; the ability to imitate; a propensity to form long-term social bonds; the ability to learn a complex sequence of movement; and an attentiveness to communicative movements. Humans and parrots share all five.“We think these five together in an animal brain lay the foundation for an impulse to dance to music with diverse movements,” said Patel, who noted other animals can do some of the five things but not others. Monkeys, for example, can imitate movements but have very limited vocal learning capacity, he said, and thus can’t move rhythmically to music. “It’s unusual for all five things to come together, and when they do it means a brain is primed to develop dancing behavior if it’s given exposure to music with rhythm and beat.”Ever the skeptical scientist, Patel initially wondered whether Snowball might simply be copying the moves of his owner, Irena Schulz, who dances with him from time to time. But, Schulz, who has a master’s degree in biology and has been a willing research partner, said she only makes a limited number of motions while getting down with her fancy-footed bird. In addition, Snowball was never rewarded with food during the research, said Patel. Instead, he seemed to be dancing for social reasons, and for the pure fun it.“Dancing has a deep social component,” said Patel, “and for him, dancing seems to be a social thing.”Though the initial videos were made in 2009, Patel put the work aside to focus on a new job and a move across the country. But a few years ago, he was inspired to take another look when he read a scientific paper suggesting the term “imitation,” when used to describe something one species appears to mimic from another, implies a complicated biological process. Even if Snowball was emulating a human’s dance moves, Patel realized, he was translating those movements into a completely different motor system, solving what scientists call the “correspondence problem.” “If he is actually coming up with some of this stuff by himself, it’s an incredible example of animal creativity because he’s not doing this to get food; he’s not doing this to get a mating opportunity, both of which are often motivations in examples of creative behavior in other species.” — Ani Patel That itself “would be remarkable,” said Patel. Equally impressive, he added, is the possibility that the bird is creating the new moves on his own.“If he is actually coming up with some of this stuff by himself, it’s an incredible example of animal creativity,” said Patel, “because he’s not doing this to get food; he’s not doing this to get a mating opportunity, both of which are often motivations in examples of creative behavior in other species.”Patel thinks his cross-species work could help answer the longstanding question of whether musicality is an evolved part of human nature or purely a cultural invention that builds on brain circuits that have evolved for other reasons, a subject his new book will explore.But the work could do more than just help solve a Darwinian debate. Patel suggests additional research with songbirds (which, like parrots and humans, are vocal learners with strong auditory-motor brain connections) could help shed light on why rhythmic therapies can improve brain function in patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, dyslexia, and stuttering.“There are connections between timing and rhythm and several other important brain functions we use on a day-to-day basis, like movement, speech, reading, and motor control,” Patel said. “So unraveling the mechanisms of rhythm processing in an animal model where we can measure things at the cellular and circuit level is a potentially powerful way to help advance rhythm-based interventions for neurological disorders.”Happily for his fans around the world, Snowball, who is only 23 and could live for another 50 years or more, is going to keep on dancing. Some vocal-mimicking animals, particularly parrots, can move to a musical beat The nature of sounds The cacophony of wildlife is music to his ears Brainy birds Related Study shows parrots can pass classic test of intelligence
Students were split on a push from faculty and staff groups to ban smoking on campus at the “Smoke-Free Campus Forum” hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government in Taper Hall of Humanities on Wednesday night.Smoking · USC Academic Senate Vice President Patricia Riley and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Denzil Suite speak at the forum. – Katherine Montgomery | Daily TrojanThe forum, attended by about 40 students, was intended to gauge student body support for the initiative before USG takes an official position by passing a senate resolution on the subject in the next few weeks. Students were urged to pose questions and voice their opinions in a town hall format to a four-person panel of university employees involved in the initiative.“At this point, our stance is to discuss the issue more and gauge what students want to see before we, as representatives, can make any informed decision,” USG President Monish Tyagi said.The panel was comprised of key university representatives involved with the initiative, including Patricia Riley, academic vice-president of the USC Academic Senate; Paula Swinford, director of Health Promotion and Prevention Services and John Gaspari, executive director of the Center for Work and Family Life.Jared Ginsburg, USG director of campus affairs, began the forum by presenting the preliminary results from an ongoing online survey. Survey takers were able to support multiple options about limiting smoking on campus. Forty-five percent of the 1,227 respondents favored a categorical ban on smoking and 40 percent favored establishing designated smoking areas. Of the 1,227 survey respondents, 67 percent reported they never smoke. The survey will remain open for about two more weeks and can be accessed through USG’s website.Most attendees favored a compromise, such as establishing designated smoking areas rather than a ban. Some students, however, were in favor of banning smoking altogether.“If we take away the right to smoke it will lead to a healthier lifestyle and a better environment for everyone to be in,” said Niki Noe, a freshman majoring in biochemistry.The administration has not yet made a decision on the issue, said panelist and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Denzil Suite. He also said if the ban were to be put in place, there are no current plans to enforce it with citations or fines.“Our approach would be more educational and informing people where they can and cannot smoke on campus,” Suite said.The USG Senate will pass a resolution in which it will take an official position in support of or opposition to adopting a smoke-free campus policy once the survey has at least 2,000 responses, Ginsburg said.“We have to wrestle between students who feel that it is their individual right to smoke on campus and in the open air and those who feel that it is an infringement on their right, in the sense that the air that they are breathing is being obstructed by second-hand smoke of passers by,” Ginsburg said.After attending the event, some students said they felt less inclined to support a ban on smoking after hearing the side of student smokers.“At first, going in, I was thinking they should ban smoking altogether,” said Yumeng Wei, a junior majoring in business administration. “But people brought up some really good points about it being their right to smoke and that they [are] already limited as to where they can smoke.”The USC Academic Senate and the USC Staff Assembly, the respective representative bodies of faculty and staff, passed resolutions telling USC administration their constituents would support a smoke-free campus in 2010.As of July 2011, at least 530 colleges have adopted 100 percent smoke-free campus policies, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Current USC smoking policy dates back to 1993 and mostly pertains to smoking in buildings. Last October, the USC Health Sciences campus enacted a smoke-free policy. The Graduate and Professional Student Senate is also working on passing a resolution.
Deputy Pearse Doherty has written to the Central Bank asking that they encourage the banks and financial institutions to assist the families affected by Mica defective blocks.The families are being asked to make a 10% contribution they will have to make to the cost of making their homes safe under the forthcoming Redress/ Repair Scheme.Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn and Deputy Doherty had submitted a similar request to the Minister for Finance through a parliamentary question. However, this was ruled out of order under Oireachtas rules as the Minister is not directly responsible for the banks.Senator Mac Lochlainn said “I commend the efforts of the Mica Action Group in Donegal who have been engaging with the banks and financial institutions to attain commitments on their contribution to the 10% of the cost of making family homes safe across the county.“The Government have confirmed that the homeowners must contribute 10% of the overall costs under the soon to be announced Mica Redress/ Repair Scheme. This 10% contribution will not be possible for many families who are already struggling to pay their mortgage on homes that are falling apart”.“It is therefore incumbent on the banks and financial institutions to step up to the plate and assist these families. At the very least, they need to supply interest-free loans but they should also cover some, if not most of the 10% cost.” He added that this is very much in their financial interest as these homes have dramatically reduced in value due to the presence of these defective blocks and the deterioration of the structures.He added “If they ensure that these homes are made safe by helping the affected families with adequate financial supports, then everyone wins.”Sinn Féin have now written to the Central Bank, requesting that they encourage and facilitate the banks and financial institutions to do just that.Central Bank asked to encourage banks to assist Mica-affected families in Donegal was last modified: December 16th, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:banksdonegalFinanceMICA
A rubble-pile asteroid has such low density it should have disintegrated, but it’s doing just fine.A near-earth asteroid named 1950 DA is barely holding itself together, astronomers have found. In Science Magazine, Eric Hand asks “Why hasn’t this asteroid disintegrated?”Planetary scientists have found an asteroid spinning too fast for its own good. The object, known as 1950 DA, whips around every 2.1 hours, which means that rocks on its surface should fly off into space. So apart from gravity, some other sticky force—identified in a new study—must help to hold the asteroid together.Nature gives an even more graphic description:Our logical concepts for how asteroids should behave have taken another knock, as evidenced in a paper by Rozitis et al. on page 174 of this issue. The researchers establish that a kilometre-sized, near-Earth asteroid known as (29075) 1950 DA is covered with sandy regolith (the surface covering of an asteroid) and spins so fast — one revolution every 2.12 hours — that gravity alone cannot hold this material to its surface. This places the asteroid in a surreal state in which an astronaut could easily scoop up a sample from its surface, yet would have to hold on to the asteroid to avoid being flung off.Scientists’ best explanation is that atomic forces called van der Waal’s forces are providing the edge over gravity alone, otherwise this body should be too flimsy to exist. These are the same atomic forces thought to allow geckos to stick to walls and ceilings. Stephen Lowry discusses this force on The Conversation.Nature explains why this is significant: “Although this image of fairy-castle asteroids is entertaining, the implications of these measurements are far-reaching…. ”The evident stability of such a strange body as 1950 DA exposes our ignorance of how the geophysics of asteroids works in the microgravity regime, with its current state being difficult to reconcile with classical views of how rubble-pile bodies form from catastrophically disrupted parent bodies. Although Rozitis et al. lay out a plausible story for the current state of 1950 DA, the development of a complete theory of microgravity geophysics could have significant consequences, beyond this single case, for our evolving understanding of asteroids and the Solar System.This finding will also impact plans to disrupt near-earth asteroids that some day find themselves with our planet in its cross-hairs. Astrobiology Magazine says that trying to disrupt a large rubble-pile asteroid might create several dangerous bodies out of one. These small, sticky asteroids might be the most dangerous, New Scientist warns. Lowry thinks that disrupting one might allow centrifugal forces to overtake the van der Waals force (which only acts over small distances), resulting in complete disintegration of the body. Those are questions for governments to worry about if one is ever discovered on an impact trajectory. The question for now is: how long can these bodies exist in a tenuous balance of forces?This is a worthy class of objects to study for possible age determinations: how long can a body like this exist before disrupting by encountering other bodies? This one seems in a delicate balance. One would think after very long it would disintegrate, with all the solar and planetary disturbances at work. How many rubble-pile asteroids are there? Can dust come together like this? Many questions need new thinking, since the standard story was caught unprepared. (Visited 20 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
You can get involved with the guests on episode 17 of the Play Your Part TV series. They include entrepreneurs Lynette Ntuli and Sabelo Mahlalela.Businessman Sabelo Mahlalela is the author of Mpumalanga: Our Beautiful Province and A Child of The Promise. Mahlalela is one of the guests featured on Play Your Part on 6 January. (Images: Brand South Africa)Brand South Africa reporterIn episode 17 of Play Your Part, we hear how the SGM Foundation inspires young people through seminars and motivational programmes. Chairman of the non-profit company Sabelo Mahlalela is a featured guest on the show.This episode airs on Saturday, 6 January 2018 on SABC at 18:00.Here’s how you can get involved with Mahlalela and the other guests:Sabelo MahlalelaMahlalela is the chairman of black-owned investment company Ziya Group, as well as the chairman of the SGM Foundation. The team at the non-profit organisation support education and community-based poverty alleviation programmes. They also work with environmental and biodiversity projects.Contact detailsTwitter: @SabeloMahlalelaWebsite: www.ziyagroup.co.zaEmail: [email protected] SeetaTshepo SeetaSeeta is the founder of Spaza Sum, a black-owned management company that helps township spaza shops and rural businesses. Last year, Absa Bank extended a R3.5-million facility to eSpaza Sum Holdings to help the company uplift and modernise 22 spaza shops in Mamelodi and Pretoria West.Contact detailsTwitter: @seeta_tshepoWebsite: espazasum.co.zaLynette NtuliLynette NtuliThe founder and CEO of asset management and infrastructure solutions firm Innate Investment Solutions, Ntuli also heads the youth-oriented digital media and programme platform IgniteSA.com. It curates content in education, skills and entrepreneurial development in South Africa. She was also Glamour magazine’s Woman of The Year 2014 in the business category.Contact detailsTwitter: @MsNtuli, @InnateZA and @IgniteRSAWebsite: innatesolutions.co.zaEmail: [email protected] Your Part is broadcast at 18:00 on Saturdays on SABC2.To get involved in playing your part in South Africa:Check out the conversation on Twitter: #GetInvolved; orFind out about initiatives on Play Your Part here.Tell us how you Play Your Part through our social media channels:Follow us on Twitter: @PlayYourPartSA;Follow Brand South Africa on Twitter: @Brand_SA; orLike us on Facebook: Official Brand South Africa.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
Kenneth Jackson APTN NewsAn Alberta Crown prosecutor allowed a Metis man to plead guilty to simple drug possession in May after the RCMP told him the so-called drugs weren’t real, APTN News has learned.And it appears the RCMP sat on test results showing the drugs weren’t real for over a month.Clayton Boucher, 45, was arrested Jan. 22 after police raided a home where he was staying in Lac La Biche, Alta.After spending four months locked up in the Edmonton Remand Centre, he pleaded guilty at the end of May out of frustration with they system and needing to get out from behind bars. RCMP seized about 130 grams of suspected crack cocaine and sent two samples of powder to be tested Feb. 3 to Health Canada.The results came back negative for drugs Feb. 23 and 24.But Boucher remained in jail.Documents show a large gap between the date of results and when Alberta Crown Erwin Schulz learned of the results.Schulz wrote the RCMP Feb. 22 asking for the powder to be tested “as soon as possible” apparently unaware that the RCMP had already sent the samples off to be tested. Boucher had also been maintaining it was baking soda and not cocaine since his arrest.There were two samples sent to Health Canada – and both were .4 grams according to the list of exhibits.In documents obtained by APTN News, Schulz claimed his assistant followed up with RCMP Mar. 13 and again April 3, but was told, “there is still no analysis of the drugs as of yet.”This happened again on April 20 but the RCMP, again, said there were no results.Finally, on May 3, the RCMP confirmed to Schulz the powder seized was not cocaine.It is unclear from the documents if the RCMP had those test results when the Crown had repeatedly requested them.APTN has requested this information from the RCMP but has not heard back.On May 4, Schulz contacted Boucher’s Legal Aid-appointed lawyer, Leighton Grey, telling him of the test results. They both agree to meet back in court May 30.But by this point, Boucher was struggling in jail and wanted out.Boucher told his lawyer May 15 he wanted to plead guilty to two counts of simple possession and claims his lawyer had never told him that the test results came back negative.“I only pleaded guilty ’cause my wife passed away and had a horrible time coping while incarcerated. That’s the only reason,” said Boucher in an interview with APTN Monday.APTN contacted Grey for comment, but have not heard back.(Clayton Boucher with his wife Phyllis Favel in an undated photo)Boucher’s common-law wife, Phyllis Favel, 34, died in a car collision April 30, a woman he calls the “love of his life.”Boucher did get to go to the funeral – in a bright orange jail-issued jumpsuit and shackles.“I stood out like a sore thumb,” he said. “It was horrible.”On May 30, Boucher pleaded guilty to two counts of simple possession – he was released the same day.“The Crown based the guilty pleas on the two entries on the exhibit list of 0.4 grams of cocaine wrapped in plastic which was viewed by both the Crown and defence to be spitballs (small packages of cocaine wrapped in plastic),” wrote Schulz in an email last month to the Law Society of Alberta that provided a timeline of events.Schulz said the description and weight were consistent with small amounts of cocaine.But according to documents, the tests came back negative.“I went to bed every night and woke up every morning knowing it wasn’t drugs. It killed me,” said Boucher.When he was released, Boucher went to the Lac La Biche RCMP detachment to get his belongings. He claimed later in a complaint against the RCMP that an officer there told him tests on the powder had come back negative.“The complainant was crushed by this,” his complaint states, “and it quickly dawned on him that the RCMP knew all along that the substance was not cocaine but allowed him to plead guilty regardless.”He told APTN this was the first time he learned not only that there had been a test but of the results.On July 10, Schulz received a call from the RCMP saying Boucher had filed a complaint.“The RCMP advised that the 0.4 grams were not spitballs rather samples taken from the large bags of cocaine which (did not come back as drugs),” Schulz wrote in his email to the Law Society.But the RCMP had already told Schulz the powder came back negative back on May 3 according to documents obtained by APTN.On July 11, the RCMP sent Schulz the lab results confirming, again, two samples sent to Health Canada came back negative.Boucher appealed the conviction – which was filed by Grey – not knowing that Grey had been told about the test results according to documents.On Sept. 26, the Court of Appeal of Alberta overturned Boucher’s conviction after receiving a letter from Jonathan Martin, senior counsel for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.Martin confirmed in the letter the lab results came back negative for all the so-called drugs, meaning Boucher pleaded guilty to possessing baking soda that was found in a kitchen cupboard, according to the exhibit list.“A review of the file and communications from Mr. Schulz and the RCMP establishes that the substances in the counts under appeal did not analyze as controlled substances. The non-existence of this information at the time of the disposition would have been highly relevant to the decision to plead guilty,” wrote Martin.Boucher questions now how the results were non-existent when the RCMP had provided the results to the Crown.Boucher received more documents last week, including the Health Canada lab results, and it was then that he learned the results were completed by Feb. 24.“Last Thursday in Edmonton,” said Boucher of when he finally got the documents.He had traveled there from North Battleford, Sask., where he is currently living, to pick up the documents.“I had been asking for the certificates since my release and I finally got them with disgust,” he said.Boucher said he has a criminal record and at the time of his arrest had an outstanding probation warrant.“But I am not a drug dealer,” he said.He said he already filed a complaint against Schulz and Grey with the Law Society of Alberta, which had been declined on Oct. 4.The Law Society, like Schulz, argued – at least in part – that Boucher pleaded guilty to drug possession.Boucher said he has since sent the Law Society the Health Canada certificates and the file has now been forwarded to the conduct department.APTN asked the RCMP in Lac La Biche to comment Monday and again Tuesday when a spokesperson said the file had been sent to RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.Boucher also claims the RCMP told him that it is taking disciplinary action against several Mounties.APTN has still not received a response from the RCMP.An email to Schulz’s assistant asking why he allowed a man to plead guilty for a crime he didn’t commit hasn’t been answered.Meanwhile, Boucher said he believes if he had been out his wife would still be alive.“We went everywhere together,” he said. “Now I am serving a life sentence. Every day is a horrible day.”But there was one good thing to come from this, he said. After his release he moved to North Battleford with the help of his sister.He was awarded a certificate of bravery earlier this month for alerting a woman that her roof was on fire June 8.She had no idea of the fire when Boucher began pounding on her door.Contact Kenneth here: [email protected]
‘When robert Vadra said ‘We are mango people in a banana republic’, he made news and while we deliberated over it, we made humour,’ said Sundeep Sharma.The 32-year-old organised an open mic nite called A Comedy Open Mic for Mango People last weekend in the Capital to provide a platform to new talent and give comedy regulars a place to try out new material.’The first day of organising an open mic was a funny day in itself. The venue where we had decided to perform first had some problem and the venue had to be cancelled. First I thought that the name Banana Republic (meaning a failed state) is playing up to its reputation and is not auspicious, then the idea the show must go on took over me,’ Sundeep narrated on a lighter note. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The show featured both amateurs and professional comedians like Rajneesh Kapoor, Amit Tandon, Zakir Khan, Joke Singh Nishant Comedian, Moneesh Chakravarty (who made his debut), Manu Sharma, Vasu Ritu Primlani, Appurv Gupta and Nitin Gupta (Rivaldo) of the popular Delhi circuit.As and when the stage was taken over by the performers, the crowd went berserk with laughter. Be it Zakir Khan’s introspection over how some girls he knew transformed into pretty chicks later — thereby completing a metamorphosis — must have left Franz Kafka in splits. Similarly, Tandon cracked a few punches on married men and their witty musings after marriage. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixManu’s comical timing on the other hand was bang on with his playful antics based on the name of the venue and how he has to face the brunt of sharing his name with a killer in real life. Sundeep too displayed his comical skills by giving a five second discount time to understand all intelligent jokes.Vasu shared her plight of being a fairer sex in the male dominated society on a lighter note, as Nishant wished hard to buy that car which would ensure one can drive from Gurgaon to Connaught Place in just 15 minutes — as claimed by a random property dealer.Rajneesh Kapoor, a veteran in the comedy circuit, tickled the funny bone with his experience of asking for directions in the Capital, where a cow is a pertinent milestone.Similarly Rivaldo gave some tips on how to deal with hair loss and how display pictures on Facebook are in sync with your respective boyfriends and girlfriends. For all the lovers of comedy in the Capital, Sharma will be back again with his next in December.