Simian songbook

Brother Earl from Randy & Earl’s Old Record Club has put together a wonderful mix of monkey related goodness. Thought you might like it.

Jungle VIP

King Of The Swingers « Randy & Earl’s Old Record Club.

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The Quietest Place on Earth Will Drive You Insane Within 45 Minutes

This Gizmodo story makes a nice follow up to saturday’s prose poem. Maybe that wasn’t fiction after all?

There’s a small room in Minnesota that blocks out 99% of all external sound. That’s an impressive number! Also impressive: nobody can take more than 45 minutes alone in the room before they go nuts.

The Daily Mail describes Orfield Labs’ anechoic chamber—perfect for making extremely sensitive audio measurements. But also perfect for sending you into a hallucinatory hell so hellacious you’ll need a chair:


‘When it’s quiet, ears will adapt. The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You’ll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. ‘In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.’ And this is a very disorientating experience. Mr Orfield explained that it’s so disconcerting that sitting down is a must. He said: ‘How you orient yourself is through sounds you hear when you walk. In the anechnoic chamber, you don’t have any cues. You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and manoeuvre. If you’re in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair.’


via The Quietest Place on Earth Will Drive You Insane Within 45 Minutes.


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A great little prose poem i just discovered.



You know that ringing sound that you will perceive when you are in a very quiet area? Some people say this is an auditory-illusion brought about the ear’s inability to detect frequencies below the threshold of the human senses. This is completely wrong. That ringing covers up something else altogether. If you are quick, patient, and maybe a little lucky, you will be able to hear past the ringing. What you will hear are voices whispering to each other. They will silence themselves quickly but with practice, you will become more adept at catching and interpreting what they are saying. You will hear things of the past, the present, and the future. However, you must be careful. Because there is no such thing as a voice without a body.


And when you start noticing them, they will start noticing you.





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For dolphins, seafood tastes salty.

New research in top science journal PNAS suggests that carnivores can’t taste very much. This is particularly bad news for dolphins. Humans and many other mammals have five types of taste receptors – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savoury or meatiness). Animals in the order Carnivora appear to have lost the ability to taste sweetness, bitterness and umami. These are all mediated by things called G protein-coupled receptors and carnivores have lost the gene that codes for this. This makes it likely that they have reduced sense of these flavours. So sadly juicy steak isn’t quite as nice is if you are a carnivore.

But it gets worse for dolphins and sealions, they appear to have lost their sense of bitterness too. Dolphins and searlions appear to have a non-functional Tas1r2 receptor, responsible for bitterness.

Leaving the poor bastards with just a sense of saltiness. Just what you’d want if you lived in the sea and ate only seafood? If I were a dolphin I’d be bitter.



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Boomhauer Explains The Meaning Of Life in 43 seconds

Boomhauer Explains The Meaning Of Life – YouTube.

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Comfort or Food? The Harlow Monkey Love Song

Anyone who gets through first year psychology will be familiar with Harry Harlow and his cruel experiments with rhesus monkeys. Little orphan monkeys were given the choice between a wire surrogate mother who provided food and a terry cloth surrogate who provided comfort. The monkeys huddled to the cuddly surrogate showing that maternal contact is essential to young primates. Now Brad Wary and students from Arundel High School in Maryland have set one of those experiments to music. They’ve made a supercute video.

Be sure to click through to the APS link below to see an amazing Harlow’s Monkeys Halloween costume.

via Comfort or Food? This Harlow Love Song Has the Answer – Association for Psychological Science.

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Do not adjust your set.

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Original source unknown 🙁

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What Einstein really thought about God..

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

Image via Wikipedia

“The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery – even if mixed with fear – that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude: in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who [c]ould survive his physical death is beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egotism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvellous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavour to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.”

From Albert Einstein The World As I See It, The Thinkers Library, No. 79, 1935 (RPA/Watts and Co)

via New Humanist (Rationalist Association) – discussing humanism, rationalism, atheism and free thought.

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Flying spaghetti monster photographed for the first time

For those that doubted the existence of the flying spaghetti monster, scientists have managed to photograph him. And the reality is more amazing than you can have imagined.. He really is out there floating in space spanning the whole universe. And even better, do you know what the meatballs are? They’re stars and planets. Here’s just a fraction of his majesty, that meatball is our own humble blue marble.

His noodly majesty is floating in space

 This is a computer visualization of the complex magnetic field that creates Earth’s magnetosphere —

Using the awesome power of a Cray XT5 Jaguar supercomputer, a team of space physicists are unlocking some of the biggest mysteries surrounding how the sun’s magnetic field interacts with our planet’s magnetosphere. They basically want to understand what happens when global magnetic fields become tangled to the extreme.

Our Planet, Tangled in Magnetic Spaghetti : Discovery News.


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onemonkey, twomonkeys, onemonkey

Regulars readers may know that onemonkey had brief incarnation as a dj. My good friend Yossarian and I used to encourage whales to provide vocal tracks for drum and bass records. You can hear the results of this cetacean collaboration on soundcloud:

Now news reaches me from Berlin of another monkey, actually two, making music:


Ludovica and OneMonkey are Michele Bornati and Sara Lucchetti.
They are a parallel duo project, coming from the “TwoMonkeys” expierience, and the solo project “Ludovica Octavia”.
Their music is a fusion between electro-noise, experimental-visceral-songs and soft melodies, which are expressed and combined by the use of an electric guitar, a drum machine, distorted voices, and other smaller instruments.

The are giving a concert tonight at Loophope, Boddinstr. 60, 12053 Berlin. Why not go along.

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Anatomical Cross-Sections Made with Quilled Paper by Lisa Nilsson | Colossal

Head cross section made with quilled paper by Lisa Nilsson

Anatomical Cross-Sections Made with Quilled Paper by Lisa Nilsson | Colossal.

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Trainspotting is not a lifestyle choice. You do not wake up one morning and decide that it would be cool to start spotting trains. It is something you feel from the very beginning. You are not interested in girls, you like trains.

It is not a phase, a rebellion or a form of mental illness. It is just a simple fact of nature. There are those people who like to watch trains and those who do not. As it happens, the trainspotters are in a minority and like all minorities they are victims of unwarranted prejudice. What the majority do determines what is ‘normal’, but ‘abnormal’ is not the same as wrong. Albert Einstein was abnormally good at sums and his sums were right. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was abnormally good at building bridges, viaducts and railway stations but no one ever laughed at him.

For a long time society has frowned on spotting. It is ridiculed and abhorred. Spotters are verbally and physically abused. All the social pressures are anti-spotting. People point and jeer. And yet still they spot. People laugh and novelists make cheap jokes about the anoraks and stereotypes. And yet still they spot.

Even among children the prejudice exists. It is an insult thrown around the playground. There are endless jokes and taunting accusations. A child who knows he is a trainspotter keeps quiet about it. Known or suspected spotters are always a target for bullying.

Parents are not much better. They can be highly unsympathetic. It is the last thing they want to hear, their son telling them that he is a spotter. They will angrily deny it or denounce their own flesh and blood. Or they may be more calm and outwardly supportive, but it still remains a family secret. And often the boy knows that deep down they hold onto the hope that it is just a phase. One day their son will meet the girl and his days of spotting will be forgotten. Just a youthful experimentation.

But if you are a trainspotter you know it is not like that. You know your love of rolling stock comes from deep within you. You see the numbers on that extra car in the Pullman’s service and it excites you. You just cannot help yourself. You know a truth that other people cannot understand. Will not understand. They try to imagine what it must be like but the idea just disgusts them. You are not like them. Except you are just like them but for one simple fact; That you see something in the serial numbers of trains that they never will. This makes you an outsider.

One does not get seduced into the spotting lifestyle by its glamour, by the clothes or the accessories. Older boys do not pressure their younger peers into joining them down the end of the platform. It is not the allure of the large and shiny locomotives or the atmosphere of the station platform. Though with time these become the things you love. The memories and associations they hold. But originally you go there because you cannot help yourself. You need it. You want it. You spot and it feels right. That number was what you needed.

Trainspotting is in the blood. It is biological but you will never find a ‘spotting gene’. Spotting is a complex behaviour. And it does not define the spotter, it is just one facet of his character. The stereotypes are just stereotypes. They will not all be wearing the same clothes, sporting the same haircuts. Two spotters are no more alike than two supporters of the same football team. They go to the same places at the same times, dressing somewhat alike and drawn by a common love but when they leave the stadium or the station they go in their different directions. Spotters are just you and I, but with different feelings about trains. You might be sitting next to one right now and you would never know.

There is nothing ‘unnatural’ about spotting. It is not a mental illness that can be cured, or a sin to be resisted. What could be sinful about it? It hurts no-one, it does not frighten the iron horses. Why do non-spotters get so worked up about it anyway? What these people get up to in the obscurity of their station platforms in not affecting you. They are not waving it in your face or forcing it down your throat. They are not making you and your children join them in their unusual pastime. Trainspotters are just different and diversity is to be celebrated.

If you pass laws against it, you will not stop them. They might go Underground but still they will spot.

Yes, mature trainspotters will welcome and encourage youngsters. It is good that they do. They have lived it from the inside. They know what it is like. They know how difficult it is to be different from societies accepted norms. To have no-one to turn to, to confide your feelings, your fears. Or ask those troubling questions about transition from narrow gauge to wide.

We need more spotterdarity. It is a tragedy that through the prejudices of others, people should become ashamed of you they really are. That they must hide themselves, remain closet spotters. Or acting shy and furtive. You can spot them; anorak hoods raised and zipped right up to obscure their faces, they loiter only two thirds of the way down the platform, pathetically pretending that they are waiting for their train. How much more wonderful the out and proud spotter; his parka flapping open in the wind, pockets bulging with notebooks and Thermos flasks, he stands proudly at the very end of the platform a video camera in one hand, his huge Pentax resting majestically on its tripod.

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More top croc news

Now the exciting world of crocodile classification has just become twice as complicated. It used to be that it was easy to tell crocodiles from alligators. If you were in Africa it was a crocodile. Now it turns out that there are two types of crocodiles living in the nile. nice crocs and nasty crocs.


In the 1970s, the industry that was involved in tanning crocodile hides was looking for ones with fewer bony scutes. A man called Fuchs did an analysis of the scutes to identify stocks that have fewer of them. He proposed some of these subspecies but the crocodile researchers threw out his work and said this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

That’s the earliest sign of a morphological difference. People had been looking and looking and they just couldn’t see these differences. There had been all this evidence throughout the years about some extreme differences but most of the anecdotes were about their behaviour. Crocodiles are generally very hard to tell apart from their exterior features.

What about their behaviour?

There was anecdotal evidence about the weird behaviour of this crocodile. Many people, from Herotodus to current researchers, have described a sort of Nile crocodile that behaved differently. From my reading of the earlier literature about the exploration of the Nile, there were some suggestions of a smaller crocodile hanging out in the estuaries while the large, aggressive ones that everyone was afraid of lived in the middle of the Nile. Matt Shirley and I have thought about analysing the fine-scale ecological differences between the two to see if you could tap into how they could have overlapped in the Nile for so long before the recent period. Did they use different habitats or have different prey?

Tara Shine found these crocs living in caves in Mauritania that initially appeared to be sluggish because they were hanging out at the hottest time of the year. But people could feed them and come up to them and they weren’t aggressive at all. And some of the local populations apparently consider these crocs sacred.

Nile crocodile is actually two species (and the Egyptians knew it) | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine.

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Alligators, Crocodiles and Babies?






Fake Science : What’s The Difference Between The Alligator And Crocodile?

This was news to me. And I wrote a fair bit of about alligators, crocodiles and babies in my PhD (with a little help from Ogden Nash).

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