Weekly round up: Brain size, global cooling,and a little political controversy

The usual round up of items which are not merely good news stories, but where we think that the author is on to something significant.

What’s going on in Britain? Every so often a writer comes along and says something we’ve been struggling to say ourselves, and says it with real clarity and insight. So it is with Mary Dejevsky of the Spectator on the massive cultural and ethnic re-alignment of British politics.

Meet 5000 of my closest friends We have followed evolutionist Robin Dunbar for years, and on the whole like his theories about group size and brain size in primates and other animals. Tiny worry: once, while explaining the theory to a very clever Forensic Scientist, he observed “if brain size is related to group size-why do ants have small brains?”


Brain IT interface We have long been fascinated by the idea of boosting your brainpower with artificial implants. Imagine going to a clinic, having a quick op, and you walk out able to sing like Bryn Terfel or play tennis like Roger Federer (what if they got it the other way round?-ed) A piece from Nature shows that things are coming along nicely:

A brain–computer interface for typing could eventually let people with paralysis communicate at the speed of their thoughts. The device was able to decode, in real time, signals from electrodes implanted in the brain of a 65-year-old man with full-body paralysis as he imagined writing. (Scientific American | 5 min read — or watch the 2 minute Nature video)

Cooling Nature’s way-Everyone agrees that the need to cool down the atmosphere and hit our targets is becoming acute. Here’s a heartwarming piece about using natural ecological solutions like wetlands and forest as our carbon sinks. And didn’t we read somewhere how more parks and open spaces are good for our psychological health?

Analyses of nature-based solutions often focus on how much carbon they can remove from the atmosphere. A new analysis explores how these solutions will affect global temperatures — a crucial metric as humanity attempts to limit global warming. It suggests that a nature-based strategy could reduce peak warming by an additional 0.3 °C under a scenario consistent with a 2 °C overall temperature rise by 2085. Climate-change policy analyst Cécile Girardin and seven colleagues explain how projects that manage, protect and restore ecosystems could offer climate, biodiversity and socio-economic benefits — if done properly, and soon.Nature | 12 min read

All this fascinating thought and research was done by people who have better things to do than indulge their taste for interethnic and religious violence. Compare that, gentle readers, with our Arab and Israeli neighbours, of whom it might fairly be said, to paraphrase the old Sister Sledge song:

We’re lost in hatred/Caught in a trap/No turning back/We’re lost in hatred

(With compliments to the original by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards)

Can you imagine the current combatants ever coming up with anything to better even their own lives, let alone anyone else’s? Be glad you have nothing to do with them, and enjoy a peaceful weekend

#kinship #evolution #brainsize #labour #democrats #conservatives #republicans #artificialintelligence #globalwarming #ecology #arabisraeli #palestine #gaza

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