The Evolution of Eyeglasses

I’ve been reading about the history of glasses today, and I came across the most interesting article on the use of bifocals in the animal world.

…and change, they did. Probably for the best.

It’s kind of surprising to me that eyeglasses are nearly 800 years old in the West. Invented sometime in the 13th century, they’ve become a necessary part of life for many of us in the computer age. Interestingly enough, before their invention, the use of reading stones was fairly common in the Middle Ages (I guess before these came along you just squinted). Not much happened between the invention of glasses aside from significant improvements in optics and changes in style until Benjamin Franklin came along.

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Mystery of the Koolakamba

How many types of great ape are there? Primatologists believe that between us, our closest cousins the chimpanzees, the gorillas, and orangutans that there are four genera. Are there any more? Is interbreeding between these non-human genera possible, and if so, what does this mean for humans?

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The Culture of Computers

you i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” – Bob, Facebook Chatbot

Culture is a weird thing for humans and the few animals who exhibit it. As biologists have explored the animal kingdom for longer and more continuous periods, our understanding of what culture is and what culture isn’t is being pushed by our many case studies in creatures ranging from chimpanzees to chickadees. What progress has been made is in our understanding of culture as a far more mechanical, rigid, and adaptive process than we could have ever anticipated. Like in genetics, the transfer of information is the basis of culture, and the recapitulation of genetic patterns of transmission onto cultural ones only highlights that information theory, as applied in our understanding of dual inheritance, is a unifying theme between the two. An understanding of genetics can help us understand what culture is and what culture isn’t, as can an understanding of any other type of information transfer, especially in the realm of communication, especially in the realm of artificial intelligence. Continue reading “The Culture of Computers”