ResearchBlogging.orgProposals to give the latter part of the present geological period (the Holocene) a new name … the Anthropocene … are misguided, scientifically invalid, and obnoxious. However, there is a use for a term that is closely related to “Anthropocene” and I propose that we adopt that term instead. Continue reading

This is a very interesting guest post at Remote Central:

All species vary through time and space. You don’t necessarily look the same as any one of your ancestors. Therefore “like begets like” but each individual can be a bit different. It is impossible for a sperm whale to evolve from a bowl of petunias, or a duck from a dandelion, as some creationist and Intelligent Design supporters accuse evolutionists of believing. But over time it is possible for a cow to evolve from something like a camel, or a human to evolve from something like an ape. Evolution doesn’t proceed in a straight line though, especially not a straight line with a human at the end.

Read it all here.

Paola Antonelli, design curator at New York’s MOMA, wants to spread an appreciation of design, in all shapes and forms — and to remove any stigma of it being considered mere decoration. She takes the TED2007 audience on a whistlestop tour of some design exhibitions she has organized, including “Mutant Materials,” “Workspheres” and “Safe.” Continue reading

ResearchBlogging.orgColor is funny. Anthropologists have long known that different cultures have different relationships, linguistically and in day to day practice, to the color spectrum. For example, the Efe Pygmy Hunter-Gatherers of the Ituri Forest describe things as white, black, or red, and that’s it. They live in a world of green. Going with the model for “Eskimos” having a hundred words for snow because snow is so important in their environment, one would expect that the Efe would have a hundred words for green. On the other hand, the Efe Hunter-Gatherers must have a fairly primitive culture, compared, say, to those of us living in Coon Rapids Minnesota, that of course they have fewer words for different colors. Continue reading

… according to news reports flying around the airwaves.It will be interesting to see what happens to those currently supporting him. It is likely that if Edwards does not endorse anyone, his supporters would drift to Clinton, since it is believed that Edwards has been collecting the whiter among the white votes (those who would never vote for a black man). On the other hand, those individuals may also never vote for a woman, especially a Clinton.So, perhaps many of Edward’s supporters would drift to out of the primary race entirely, and then go for the Republican nominee during the General Election. Depending, of course, on who that nominee is.Edwards will likely make his announcement at 1:00 PM EST today. That announcement, and the next seven days, will be very interesting indeed.


Welcome to the Four Stone Hearth Blog Carnival #33, ‘specializing’ in the four fields of anthropology. The previous edition of 4SH can be found at Testimony of the Spade, and the next edition will be hosted by Our Cultural World. The main page for Four Stone Hearth has additional information on the carnival, and you can submit entries via Blog Carnival.

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From Slashdot:

Schneier points out an interesting (and long, 117-pages) paper on the ethical implications of robots in war: “This report has provided the motivation, philosophy, formalisms, representational requirements, architectural design criteria, recommendations, and test scenarios to design and construct an autonomous robotic system architecture capable of the ethical use of lethal force. These first steps toward that goal are very preliminary and subject to major revision, but at the very least they can be viewed as the beginnings of an ethical robotic warfighter. The primary goal remains to enforce the International Laws of War in the battlefield in a manner that is believed achievable, by creating a class of robots that not only conform to International Law but outperform human soldiers in their ethical capacity.”

Get the report here (PDF)[source]

UC Berkeley biologist Sheila Patek gives a wide-ranging talk on the effort to measure the hyperfast movements of peacock mantis shrimp heels using high-speed video cameras recording at 20,000 frames per second. She and her team slowed down the movements of these amazing animals and showed they had the fastest known feeding strike in the animal kingdom. (In 2006, Patek’s team announced an even faster animal part: the mandible of the trap-jaw ant.)

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You’ve probably already heard that a US spy satellite known as USA-193 is no longer able to keep itself up because the software on board has failed. This is a secret spy satellite so we don’t at present know what the software was (any guesses?). It is big enough to not totally burn up in the atmosphere, and there are concerns that the satellite has nasty toxins on board. But again, since it is a secret spy satellite we can’t know this either.The expected date of entry is late February or early March.Here is a source of info and a picture of the satellite.