Archive | Ideas, Humanities, & Education

Study: More Credit Due to Neanderthals

DENVER, Sept. 21 (UPI) — The long-held belief that Neanderthal man developed “modern” tools only through contact with more advanced Homo sapiens is wrong, a U.S. researcher says.

Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado, Denver, has challenged a half-century of conventional wisdom maintaining that Neanderthals were thick-skulled, primitive “cavemen” overrun and outcompeted by more advanced modern humans arriving in Europe from Africa, a university release says.

“Basically, I am rehabilitating Neanderthals,” Riel-Salvatore says. “They were far more resourceful than we have given them credit for.”

Riel-Salvatore identified projectile points, ochre, bone tools, ornaments and possible evidence of fishing and small game hunting at archaeological sites associated with a culture of people knows as the Uluzzian throughout southern Italy.

They emerged in an area geographically separated from modern humans.

“My conclusion is that if the Uluzzian is a Neanderthal culture it suggests that contacts with modern humans are not necessary to explain the origin of this new behavior,” Riel-Salvatore says.

“This stands in contrast to the ideas of the past 50 years that Neanderthals had to be acculturated to humans to come up with this technology,” he said.

“When we show Neanderthals could innovate on their own it casts them in a new light. It ‘humanizes’ them if you will.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Study: More Credit Due to Neanderthals

DENVER, Sept. 21 (UPI) — The long-held belief that Neanderthal man developed “modern” tools only through contact with more advance Homo sapiens is wrong, a U.S. researcher says.

Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado, Denver, has challenged a half-century of conventional wisdom maintaining that Neanderthals were thick-skulled, primitive “cavemen” overrun and outcompeted by more advanced modern humans arriving in Europe from Africa, a university release says.

“Basically, I am rehabilitating Neanderthals,” Riel-Salvatore says. “They were far more resourceful than we have given them credit for.”

Riel-Salvatore identified projectile points, ochre, bone tools, ornaments and possible evidence of fishing and small game hunting at archaeological sites associated with a culture of people knows as the Uluzzian throughout southern Italy.

They emerged in an area geographically separated from modern humans.

“My conclusion is that if the Uluzzian is a Neanderthal culture it suggests that contacts with modern humans are not necessary to explain the origin of this new behavior,” Riel-Salvatore says.

“This stands in contrast to the ideas of the past 50 years that Neanderthals had to be acculturated to humans to come up with this technology,” he said.

“When we show Neanderthals could innovate on their own it casts them in a new light. It ‘humanizes’ them if you will.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Doodling Elevates Creative Thinking

OAK BROOK, Ill., Aug. 24 (UPI) — Doodling is thinking in disguise that elevates creative thinking and is often used to achieve breakthrough ideas, a U.S. doodling expert says.

Sunni Brown — self-proclaimed leader of the Doodle Revolution and author of the book “Gamestorming: A Playbook for Rule-breakers, Innovators and Changemakers” — says the doodle on a student’s homework may not be an absent-minded distraction. Many of the world’s leading innovations — from the light bulb to the telephone — began with use of simple visual language, or doodling, Brown says.

Doodling shouldn’t be confused with daydreaming, Brown says. It can jump-start memory and increase concentration and focus, so teachers and parents shouldn’t discourage doodling in learning environments — although attentive, intentional listening should be an integral part of the process.

“Doodling can actually be a successful multi-modal learning exercise,” Brown says in a statement. “So it’s OK when a review of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in English class, for example, might get played out via a doodle in students’ notes. The graphic, visual representation can actually help with recall and memory.”

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Doodling Elevates Creative Thinking

OAK BROOK, Ill., Aug. 24 (UPI) — Doodling is thinking in disguise that elevates creative thinking and is often used to achieve breakthrough ideas, a U.S. doodling expert says.

Sunni Brown — self-proclaimed leader of the Doodle Revolution and author of the book “Gamestorming: A Playbook for Rule-breakers, Innovators and Changemakers” — says the doodle on a student’s homework mat not be an absent-minded distraction. Many of the world’s leading innovations — from the light bulb to the telephone — began with use of simple visual language, or doodling, Brown says.

Doodling shouldn’t be confused with daydreaming, Brown says. It can jump-start memory and increase concentration and focus, so teachers and parents shouldn’t discourage doodling in learning environments — although attentive, intentional listening should be an integral part of the process.

“Doodling can actually be a successful multi-modal learning exercise,” Brown says in a statement. “So it’s OK when a review of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in English class, for example, might get played out via a doodle in students’ notes. The graphic, visual representation can actually help with recall and memory.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Computer Glitch Silences Satellite

PARIS, Aug. 23 (UPI) — A European Space Agency observation satellite has suffered a computer glitch — its second — and can’t transmit its data to the ground, agency officials say.

The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer spacecraft — launched in March 2009 –is orbiting Earth on a mission to make the most precise maps of minute variations in gravity on the continents and oceans across the globe, the BBC reported Monday.

A problem with the processor in the satellite’s main computer forced operators to switch over to its backup computer system in February. Now that unit has developed a fault, and engineers are struggling to return the spacecraft to full operation.

“There’s no doubt about it: we’re in a difficult situation, but we are not without ideas,” GOCE mission manager Rune Floberghagen said. “If we have just two half-computers, we can stitch them together and get GOCE working again”

Other systems on the satellite continue to work normally, including the gradiometer that senses subtle differences in the pull of gravity from place to place on Earth’s surface.

The second computer developed a fault in July affecting a communication link between the computer and a module that prepares telemetry for transmission to the ground. As a result, data are not being sent back to Earth.

Even if the fault cannot be fixed, GOCE has collected almost two-thirds of the gravity data the mission was expected to produce, the agency said.

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'Father' of SETI Search Honored

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 17 (UPI) — A U.S. scientist said to be the father of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence was honored at a convention of like-minded researchers, observers say.

In 1960 while at Cornell University, astronomer Frank Drake started the first experiment — Project Ozma — to search for evidence of alien life, SPACE.com reported Sunday.

At a banquet at the SETI convention in Santa Clara, Calif., over the weekend, Drake, 80, was honored by attendees.

Though Drake’s initial experiment did not succeed in discovering any cosmic neighbors, it began the search that is still ongoing today.

Drake and others at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. believe the search will succeed one day.

“We are fully aware of the great importance of our enterprise,” Drake said. “That discovery will be one of the most important to occur for any civilization.”

Drake is still active in SETI, participating in optical and radio searches for signs of life.

“Frank is not only a pioneer but he continues to bubble up new ideas for SETI,” Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak said.

If and when humanity does receive a signal from aliens, Drake said, it will transform society.

“All of history has been just prologue,” he said. “There is a new history about to come to us.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Report Sets 10-year Science Goals

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) — A new 10-year plan for astronomy and astrophysics has set suggested goals and priorities for scientists to consider up to 2020, U.S. officials say.

A report by the National Research Council has identified the highest-priority research activities that will “set the nation firmly on the path to answering profound questions about the cosmos,” a U.S. National Academy of Sciences release said Friday.

The report — the council’s sixth 10-year survey — identifies space- and ground-based research activities in three categories: large, midsize, and small.

At the top of the plan’s recommended large space activities — those with a price tag of $1 billion or more — is the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, which could settle fundamental questions about the nature of dark energy, determine the likelihood of other Earth-like planets and survey our galaxy and others.

For large-scale, ground-based research initiatives that exceed $135 million, the report’s first priority is the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a wide-field optical survey telescope that would observe more than half the sky every four nights, probing diverse areas of study such as dark energy and supernovae.

“Powerful new ways to observe the universe and bold ideas to understand it have created scientific opportunities without precedent,” Stanford professor Roger Blandford, chair of the committee that wrote the report, said.

“The program of research that we recommend will optimize the science return for future ground-based projects and space missions in a time of constrained budgets and limited resources,” he said.

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Computers Won't Help Weak Study Methods

LINCOLN, Neb., Aug. 12 (UPI) — College undergrads who study ineffectively using paper often transfer bad study habits when using a computer, a U.S. researcher says.

Ken Kiewra of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says college undergrads tend to study on computers as they would with traditional texts — they tend to mindlessly over-copy long passages verbatim, take incomplete or linear notes, build lengthy outlines that make it difficult to connect related information and rely on memory drills like re-reading text or recopying notes.

Kiewra, an expert in study methods, suggests teachers help students dispel crippling studying myths such as highlighting, outlining and rehearsal and instead teach strategies that help them succeed.

“Learning occurs best when important information is selected from less important ideas, when selected information is organized graphically, when associations are built among ideas and when understanding is regulated through self-testing,” Kiewra says in a statement.

The study, published in The Journal of Educational Psychology, finds undergraduates in the study scored 29 to 63 percentage points higher on tests when they used study techniques like recording complete notes, creating comparative charts, building associations and composing practice questions on their screens.

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Britain's Oldest Dwelling Uncovered

MANCHESTER, England, Aug. 10 (UPI) — British archaeologists working at a Stone Age site in North Yorkshire say they’ve uncovered Britain’s oldest surviving house.

Teams from Manchester and York universities say the 11-foot circular structure dates to at least 8,500 BC, when Britain was still a part of the European landmass, a University of Manchester release said Tuesday.

The structure was unearthed next to an ancient lake at Star Carr, near Scarborough, a site comparable in archaeological importance to Stonehenge, scientists say.

Researchers are also excavating a large wooden platform next to the lake, made from split and hewn timbers, said to be the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe.

The house at Star Carr predates what was previously Britain’s oldest known dwelling at Howick, Northumberland, by at least 500 years.

“This changes our ideas of the lives of the first settlers to move back into Britain after the end of the last Ice Age,” Dr. Chantal Conneller the University of Manchester said.

“We used to think they moved around a lot and left little evidence. Now we know they built large structures and were very attached to particular places in the landscape,” she said.

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Thinking About God De-stresses Believers

TORONTO, Aug. 7 (UPI) — Thinking about God reduce distress, but only in believers, while atheists are more distressed after thinking of God-related ideas, Canadian researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough looked at brain activity in people primed to think about God and found decreases in activity in the anterior cingulate cortex — an area of the brain associated with regulating bodily states of arousal when things were going wrong — such as making mistakes. However, atheists were more distressed making mistakes after thinking of God-related ideas.

In the study, published in Psychological Science, participants either wrote about religion or did a scrambled word task with God-related words before brain activity was recorded while the participants did tasks with high error-rates.

“Eighty-five percent of the world has some sort of religious beliefs,” study co-author Michael Inzlicht says in a statement. “I think it behooves us as psychologists to study why people have these beliefs; exploring what functions, if any, they may serve.”

Although not unequivocal, Inzlicht says, there is some evidence that religious people live longer and tend to be happier and healthier.

“We think this can occur with any meaning system that provides structure and helps people understand their world,” he says.

Inzlicht suggests atheists may have done better in the study if prompted to think about their own beliefs.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Other, Religion0 Comments

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