Category Archives: behavior

Determinism doesn’t mean that you can’t change your behavior, or help others to

I’m a free-will “incompatibilist”: someone who sees the existence of physical determinism as dispelling the idea of contracausal, you-could-have-done-otherwise “free will”, which is the notion of free will most common among people. Many people find my view disturbing and fatalistic, and I’m often posed this question: “If everything is determined by the laws of physics […]

Reader’s wildlife videos

Tara Tanaka has struck video gold again with this heartwarming video of seven wood ducks (Aix sponsa) being set free. (Tara’s Vimeo site is here and her flickr site is here.) Seven little ducklings were lovingly raised by the dedicated staff of St. Francis Wildlife in Tallahassee, FL during the summer of 2016. I picked […]

In which Science goes on trial and is exonerated all in one morning

by Grania As Dara O’Briain once noted, of course Science doesn’t know everything. If science knew everything, it would stop and probably go and eat ice cream for the rest of its days. But sometimes we all wish that science had the answer to our particular question du jour. Then again, sometimes just because we […]

The things rats dream about

by Grania Spingies We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. The Tempest (4.1.168-170) I should preface this with my regular caveat: I-am-not-a-scientist, nor do I play one on TV. My level expertise only allows me to say the rough equivalent of “Oh hey, this […]

Stunning duets in a neotropical wren

There’s a new paper in Science, brought to my attention by Ritchie S. King in the New York Times, that describes an amazing behavior in plain-tailed wrens (Pheugopedius euophrys). The species is neotropical: found in tropical forests in the mountains of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.  Here’s a photo from Wikipedia: What’s amazing about this species is that […]

Computer chip replaces cerebellum in a rat

The amazing results reported in this piece from New Scientist, “Rat cyborg gets digital cerebellum,” haven’t yet been published in a scientific journal, but were reported in a meeting in the UK.  The details are sketchy, but scientists apparently built a computer chip using information from the inputs of a rat’s brainstem to its cerebellum […]

A striking case of predator avoidance in fish

This YouTube video, sent in by a reader, shows how a school of fish reacts to hunting behavior of blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) off the Maldive Islands. Notice how the fish seem to move in a coordinated fashion, almost as one, and how they tend to group behind the sharks, where they’re less liable to […]

The pace of life: a crazy idea for an experiment

“The pace of life” was the title of a 1976 paper in Nature in which Marc and Helen Bornstein did something very simple: they went to 15 cities in Europe, Asia, and North America, and simply measured the rate of walking of unwitting subjects over a marked, 50-foot stretch of pavement on sunny days of […]