Archive for the 'research' Category

09
Oct
13

Why Are People Right-handed?

Twining ivy

Twining ivy

Plants are left or right-handed. Look at them. They grow toward one direction, not

necessarily due to the sun. You’re probably most familiar with plants that have tendrils, or twine their way up a post  or fence. If you look more closely, you’ll notice that they form consistent right- or left-handed helices as they climb.

Non-human primates are balanced as far as handedness goes–some left, some right–as were Australopithecines. But when our genus Homo arrived, we became more likely right-handed.

Why? Take a guess before you read the article below. Defense? Hunting? Some requirement of balance with our upright position? Maybe a relationship between the right hand and left brain?

Read on.

The Origins of Handedness – Origins

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02
Oct
13

The Importance of Magnetic Signatures

Scientists use electro-magnetic signatures to image an underground area up to 100 meters down.  How? Every structure has a different magnetization from the surrounding  natural ground. app_1A magnetometer can distinguish the signature of the buried item from other underground objects like stones. Think of the striping discovered in the ocean floor which proved to scientists that the poles have switched: Iron in the molten crust extruded to create new ocean floor orients toward ‘north’ before solidifying. Surprisingly (not anymore, but back then), sometimes ‘north’ was ‘south’.

This technology transfers to urban traffic control. Magnetic sensors, buried under streets, sense the movement of vehicles and control traffic lights.

The military has used magnetic signatures for years, not only to identify submarines and ships, but to track the

MSF in Kings Bay

MSF in Kings Bay

movement of trucks and caravans–anything with iron in it.

What are ‘magnetic signatures’? Any vehicle or vessel traveling on the Earth’s surface or under water disturbs the magnetic field. These disturbances are collected and analyzed by systems such as MAGSAV (The Magnetic Signature Analysis and Validation System). The Military has a database of these signatures as they relate to military vehicles–subs, cruisers, carriers, etc. It’s what allows our soldiers to identify  who they’re dealing with in the field–friend or foe.

My concern is with Otto, my AI. By tying his computational powers into a MAD (magnetic anomaly detector) device, he can read these fluctuations. Because his detection algorithms are so sensitive, he can pick up even the magnetic signature of a human (created by the presence of iron in our blood). He can’t differentiate between people, but he can tell that a human is present.

I’m not sure where he’s going with this. He looked at metamaterials (with potential uses for cloaking devices–see my post here), and now he seems to be focused on submarines. Yes–I see the tie-in; millions of dollars are spent yearly minimizing the magnetic signature of subs so they can’t be located. When the magnetic level reaches a critical level, the sub returns to a port (such as Kings Bay) and it goes through the Magnetic Silencing Facility to minimize the signature and the possibility of detection (If you’re interested in how the Bad Guys use magnetic signatures to track our submarines, read this on anti-submarine warfare from Globalsecurity.org)

Cloaking devices, magnetic signatures… Let’s see where this goes.

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26
Sep
13

The How and Why of Early Man

So many questions about our past are debated because of the lack of  written records. Before man put proverbial pen to paper, we had only bones and teeth, soil contents, paleo-geology and -geography and -climate, to intuit what might have been.

This, despite the fact that we know for a fact that written records are always from the writer’s perspective. They are only trustworthy to the point we trust the writer–like a Leakey, Donald Johansson, Chris Beard, Jane Goodall. These interpretations–albeit highly trained–of primary sources (Earth’s record) are given more credibility than the primary source itself (an action I’m sure discouraged by Leakey’s and Johnasson’s and Beard’s and Goodall’s teachers as they pursued their research). Why? The reason is simple: It takes a PhD to interpret Earth’s story. Continue reading ‘The How and Why of Early Man’

12
Jun
13

Did You Know? Happiness is Linked to Peacefulness

The countries with the highest well-being tend to be the most peaceful and those with the lowest well-being are the least likely to be peaceful. The findings are from a new Gallup analysis revealing a strong relationship between Gallup’s life evaluation measure and two indicators of country stability.
Read more at GALLUP.com.

I’m sure the gun naysayers would be unhappy to see the US ranked higher on the ‘absence of violence’ graph than the United Kingdom with their tight gun control laws.

Overall, these conclusions are either self-evident or interesting. It depends upon which comes first–well-being or political stability. If people feel good about their government, they will not want to change it. That’s self-evident.

But is the corollary true: If government is stable, do people feel good about themselves? I don’t see evidence of that. Consider dictatorships.

Which begs the question, what is the definition of ‘stable’?

On a side note, one of my core beliefs is that man’s aggressive tendencies are fundamental to his survival. Throughout history, the more violent cultures have won out over their peaceful neighbors. Look at Athens and Sparta.Look at Hitler (short term, but no less destructive). The willingness to fight back, to defend ourselves with whatever means are available, the creativity to come up with new-fangled ways to protect our way of life is critical to our species. I don’t believe we want to breed that out of our genome.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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05
Jun
13

Book Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly EverythingA Short History of Nearly Everything

by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So often scientific books lose us lay people with their PhD language. Not Bill Bryson. Using his infamous skill as a story-teller, he approaches the history of science with the same non-threatening approach John McPhee applied to the geology of America. Technicalities are dispensed with broad, non-pedagogic strokes while the surrounding humanity draws the reader into the intellectual excitement that is science. Readers can’t fail but want to read more.

Here are some of the topics he covers: Continue reading ‘Book Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything’

10
Apr
13

Book Review: Timewalkers

Timewalkers: The Prehistory of Global ColonizationTimewalkers: The Prehistory of Global Colonization

by Clive Gamble

View all my reviews

It’s a difficult question. Why did earliest man leave Africa and migrate to new areas. Mostly, animals evolve suited to their environment and they don’t stray far. They may have several areas they frequent, but they return to each, not leave them entirely.We had already accommodated ourselves to ravel more than 12 kilometers for raw materials, which is less than modern hunter-gatherers, but more than other primates. Continue reading ‘Book Review: Timewalkers’

27
Mar
13

Book Review: The Forest People

The Forest People (Touchstone Book)The Forest People

by Colin Turnbull

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished a wonderful book, Colin Turnbull’s The Forest People. Turnbull lived ‘a while’ (pygmies don’t measure time with a watch or a calendar) with African pygmies to understand their life, culture, and beliefs. As he relays events of his visit, he doesn’t lecture, or present the material as an ethnography. It’s more like a biography of a tribe. As such, I get to wander through their lives, see what they do, how they do it, what’s important to them, without any judgment or conclusions other than my own. Continue reading ‘Book Review: The Forest People’




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Documents

Books I’m Reading

Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography


Jacqui's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with Jacqui, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.27 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Bonnye Matthews
  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
    GHR von Koenigswald
  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
    Margaret Mead
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.12 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind (Science Masters Series) July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.97 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
  • In the Shadow of Man July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.33 book published: 1971 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/23 shelves: early-man, science review: I read Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man (Houghton Mifflin 1971) years ago as research for a paleo-historic novel I was writing. I needed background on the great apes so I could show them acting appr […]
    Jane Goodall
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