Language

Tools, artistry flourished with climate change, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 21, 2013   View Article

Sophisticated stone tool-making, artistic symbolism and trade networks were all innovated during times in the Stone Age when the South African climate abruptly became warmer and wetter, according to a new study.

The research is the first to “show that there is a link between the occurrence of these cultural innovations and climate change,” study leader Martin Ziegler, an earth science researcher at Cardiff University in Wales, told NBC News.

Robots show randomness in evolution of language

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 4, 2012   View Article

Even if everything about different groups of animals is identical down to the level of their genes and physical surroundings, they can develop unique ways to communicate, according to an experiment done with robots that use flashing lights to “talk.”

The Swiss researchers used the robots to get handle on why there is such diversity in communication systems within and between species, something that is difficult to do in living animals.

Humans wired for grammar at birth

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 13, 2011   View Article

“Blueberry!” I tell my 15-month-old son as I hand him one, hoping that he makes the connection between the piece of fruit and its name as I daydream about the glorious day when he says, “Please, Dad, can I have another blueberry?”

For now, he points at the bowl full of tasty morsels and babbles something incomprehensible. His pediatrician, family and friends all assure me that he’s on the right track. Before I know it, he’ll be rattling off the request for another blueberry and much, much more.

Righties ruled 600,000 years ago

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: April 20, 2011   View Article

Lefties were as outnumbered 600,000 years ago as they are today, according to telltale markings on teeth found on Neanderthal and Neanderthal ancestors in Europe.

The finding serves as a new technique to determine whether a person was left- or right-handed from limited skeletal remains, and it also suggests that a key piece for the origin of language was in place at least half a million years ago, David Frayer, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas, told me today.

How tweets reveal where you’re from

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 7, 2011   View Article

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog, but on Twitter, your tweets likely reveal where you are. Computer scientists report that the microblogging service reflects regional dialects and slang.

10 steps in the evolution of portable computing

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: February 18, 2009   View Article

The laptop computer of today is a far cry from the clunky the Osborne 1, a clunky machine some experts consider the world’s first successful portable computer. Discover how portable, digital computers have evolved over the years.

Lizards Do “Push ups” to Get Their Neighbors’ Attention

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 24, 2008   View Article

Lizards use “push ups” to attract attention in noisy environments, according to new research that used robotic lizards.

The robots, fashioned to mimic the appearance and body language of live anole lizards, helped scientists confirm a longheld theory that animals use grand gestures, such as the lizard push-up, and loud noises to get the attention of other members of their species in chaotic, noisy environments.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach