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Swimming Monkeys Keep Darwin Happy

first_img(Visited 32 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 The tree of placental mammals has been solved, Darwinians say, if you can handle one little complication.Science Daily begins an article with Fanfare for the Common Descent:The roots of the mammalian family tree have long been shrouded in mystery — when did the placental mammals go their separate ways? Now, researchers say they’ve found where the family tree of placental mammals first branched apart — and when it happened.As the profs at University of Bristol slap their hands together over a job well done, and the press applauds, a carnival of the animals parades by, with armadillos, mice, elephants, lions and monkeys celebrating their kinship with the scientists.The researchers assembled the largest mammalian phylogenomic dataset ever collected before testing it with a variety of models of molecular evolution, choosing the most robust model and then analysing the data using several supercomputer clusters at the University of Bristol and the University of Texas Advanced Computing Centre. “We tested it to destruction,” said Dr Tarver. “We threw the kitchen sink at it.“Astute readers may wonder why this took so long since Darwin, and how the new solution differs from previous attempts to un-shroud the mystery.“A complication in reconstructing evolutionary histories from genomic data is that different parts of genomes can and often do give conflicting accounts of the history,” said Dr Siavash Mirarab at the University of California San Diego, USA. “Individual genes within the same species can have different histories. This is one reason why the controversy has stood so long — many thought the relationships couldn’t be resolved.“Through the wizardry of computerized phylogenetic analysis, the scientists came up with a tree they liked. There was one little complication, but it was quickly subsumed under an auxiliary hypothesis.Previously, scientists thought that when Africa and South America separated from each other over 100 million years ago, they broke up the family of placental mammals, who went their separate evolutionary ways divided by geography. But the researchers found that placental mammals didn’t split up until after Africa and South America had already separated.“We propose that South America’s living endemic Xenarthra (for exmaple [sic], sloths, anteaters, and armadillos) colonized the island-continent via overwater dispersal,” said study author Dr Rob Asher of the University of Cambridge, UK.Maybe the sloth did the backstroke so it could sleep and swim at the same time. Anteaters? Don’t they have a built-in snorkel? And the armadillos might have rolled up into balls to cross the Atlantic. The reporters appear restless as they imagine this.Dr Asher suggests that this isn’t as difficult as you might think. Mammals are among the great adventurers of the animal kingdom, and at the time the proto-Atlantic was only a few hundred miles wide. We already know that New World monkeys crossed the Atlantic later, when it was much bigger, probably on rafts formed from storm debris. And, of course, mammals repeatedly colonised remote islands like Madagascar.Hey, if the monkeys can swim almost 2,000 miles, can’t the rest of you zoo mammals do a few hundred? Where’s your sense of adventure? Just do the dog paddle like those wolves over there. If a cow can jump over the moon, this shouldn’t be so hard for you reporters to swallow. The reputation of Darwin is at stake! Get over it.Wasn’t it the creationists who got laughed to scorn for postulating that animals dispersed to remote continents after the Flood by floating on rafts of debris? The evolutionists could surely test their model. Just show us some monkeys on a raft with a sign that reads, “South America or bust!” Or how about some cows doing the cow paddle in the middle of the Atlantic? Reepicheep in a boat heading for Rio?last_img read more

Learning isiZulu made easier for kids with Siyafunda

first_img12 July 2016“Children are more likely to pass and stay in school when they are taught with their optimal language at primary level,” said Siya Masuku, author and illustrator of Siyafunda, a book made for children learning isiZulu at a primary level.It all started with a conversation Masuku had with his mother, a primary school teacher in Soweto. She was concerned because there was a shortage of books at the school. “When I was growing up, my siblings and I were fortunate to have access to books at home,” he said. “The impact of our conversation made me realise how important it was to create Siyafunda.”The book’s title aptly means “we are learning”. Siyafunda is designed for children learning isiZulu at a primary level. (Image: Supplied)Unesco, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, supports a multilingual approach to education. In its Advocacy Kit for promoting Multilingual Education: Including the Excluded, Unesco’s Principles on Language and Education it stated that “mother-tongue instruction is essential for initial instruction” and the best way to maintain literacy was to have a quality supply of reading materials.The organisation estimated 40% of the global population did not receive an education in a language they spoke or understood.Watch:Never too early tolearnMasuku started making the book in January 2015, taking about a year to lay the foundations. “We are still making it to this day.”The book, he said, focused on the phonetics of the isiZulu language. “The learner is able to pronounce all 25 alphabets in the isiZulu language through the aid of an isiZulu teacher.” Siyafunda is designed to focus on learning the phonetics in isiZulu. (Image: Supplied)It makes use of compelling visuals and new words to add to a learner’s daily vocabulary, especially in early childhood education.There is also an English translator page for non-isiZulu speakers, making it easier to understand for those who don’t read isiZulu.“Siyafunda aims to increase a growing interest in approaching literacy and learning as an extramural activity.”It would be available to schools in early 2017, Masuku said.Further plansThe goal is to create a digital version of the book to be made available online. Working with Danieteach, Masuku created a platform for learners to subscribe to Siyafunda, enabling them to learn isiZulu no matter where they were.“The best feature is the narration, done by Mamoroa Ledwaba, who is an isiZulu teacher by profession,” he said. “This means learners will be able to access Siyafunda with the guidance of a virtual teacher.”last_img read more

The Chromebook Pixel Is Doomed By A Major Identity Crisis

first_imgWhy IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Related Posts taylor hatmaker When they were introduced, Chromebooks made sense as a Google-branded evolution of the netbook for the tablet shy. But in 2013, consumers still don’t understand why there are so many versions of Android – much less what Google’s Chrome OS is or who it’s for. With the Chromebook Pixel, Google’s cloud-happy notebooks have created a full-on identity crisis. (See also Google Chromebook Pixel: Bold, Beautiful And Very, Very Expensive)Chromebooks Are Already ConfusingFollowing a leaked video and a typically detail-sparse report from The Wall Street Journal, Google has launched the Chromebook Pixel, an HD touchscreen notebook that will run on its Chrome operating system and retail starting at $1,299. The Pixel, with its high price and Google-built bare bones operating system is an odd bird. With a 239-pixels-per-inch display, the aptly-named Pixel one-ups Apple’s 13″ Retina MacBook Pro and its (paltry!) 227 PPI seemingly just for the hell of it. Oh, and it’s a touchscreen, too, meaning you can smear your fingerprints all over that beautiful display.The touchscreen means that beyond “taking on” the Retina MacBooks, Google’s Chromebook Pixel will also compete directly against Microsoft’s over-hyped, overpriced Surface tablets. But for all the buzz around hybrid devices that blur the line between notebooks and tablets (Lenovo Yoga, anyone?), consumers don’t seem to have the same hunger for them that they have for “pure” tablets. The advent of the touchscreen notebook was a weird side effect from 2010-era iPad panic – there’s no evidence that consumers even want a device that combines the power of a laptop with the finger-friendliness of a tablet. And if there was, a pricey notebook with a kajillion pixels running on the hamstrung Chrome OS probably wouldn’t be it.Missing The (Price) Point  Want a powerful notebook with a (pretty) nice screen for around $1,200? Buy the $1,199 13″ MacBook Air. Want to spend a little less for a slightly weirder device, or hung up on Windows 8 for some reason? Buy a Surface Pro. Drunk? Buy an Ultrabook!Google has gained market share in recent times by offering well-built, affordable alternatives. Android tablets like the Nexus 7 and even existing entry-level Chromebooks can chip away at the competition because Google can afford to undercut the its competitors on price – the most important spec of all. The Chromebook Pixel seems to have forgotten that lesson. At $249 and $199, the existing Chromebook line is a smartly priced alternative for users heavily invested in Google’s cloud ecosystem. Starting at $1,299, Google’s touchscreen Chromebook Pixel can only hope to attract inebriated would-be power users who wandered into the wrong aisle of Best Buy.On the Venn Diagram of people who need a serious computer and people willing to put up with the limitations of the Chrome OS, that little center slice is altogether empty.Photo by Mark Hachman.center_img Tags:#Android#Chrome#Chromebooks#Google#tablets What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

10 Compelling Ways People Plan To Use Google Glass

first_imgRelated Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … A great deal of the excitement about Glass is coming from people working in higher education, as well as from students. Ben Foster, a professor at DePaul University, is one of many academics that are eager to augment the teaching experience with Google Glass, pulling up pertinent data without turning his back to students, for example. For students, Google Glass could be transformative. Some are even talking about how Glass could potentially aid those with learning disabilities.  Recording lectures, live streaming them for remote access, audio-note taking and supplementing lectures with related data are just the beginning.  Of course, exactly how Glass is used (and how useful it is) will vary depending on the curriculum.3. Enhancing Less Formal, More Hands-On Learning Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces A number of the #ifihadglass contest respondents talked about how the technology could be use by surgeons as virtual assistants in the operating room. Timothy Lee, a surgical resident at New York University, proposes using Glass to record operations for teaching purposes, enable remote assistance via livestream and show the surgeon vitals, CT scan and other pertinent medical information. By tapping into real-time data, reference material and input from live surgeons across the globe, devices like Glass could reduce the number of errors made during surgery. Here’s hoping the voice recognition is spot on.2. Revolutionizing Higher Education  Okay, so Google Glass won’t cure blindness, but the technology can be quite valuable to those with certain visual, auditory and physical handicaps. At the University of New Brunswick Libraries, Jeff Carter wants to use Glass to make things more accessible to the visually impaired via real-time optical character recognition and text-to-speech translation. Navigating the stacks would be a lot easier (for everybody, really) with digital signage overlaying the physical world. Indeed, for the visually impaired, navigating just about anywhere could be made much easier thanks to Glass’s augmented reality maps and voice control. At Shriner’s Hospital For Children in Portland, the assistive technology team is already brainstorming ways that Glass could be used to “unlock their learning potential and access their world.”6. Stargazing  Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Google Glass is coming. Sure, the early adopters will be viewed as weirdos and the idea of a tiny head-mounted camera raises all kinds of creepy privacy questions, but Glass is cool. Google’s first iteration may or may not be a slam dunk, but wearable computing is unquestionably the next big thing, and heads-up displays are going to be a part of our future, once everybody gets over the dorky stigma. To get the ideas flowing (and promote its upcoming product launch), Google asked its users to propose use cases for Glass and hashtag them #ifihadglass. The campaign, which wrapped up last week, yielded some snarky — and, of course, some truly dumb — responses, but there are plenty of smart suggestions, each of which lets us envision the type of techno-utopian sci-fi future Sergey Brin dreams about every night.  Yes, it will be awkward the first time one of your friends shows up to the bar wearing a computer on their face. That’s not what Glass is for, at least not initially. In general, people seem to be most excited about what Glass will mean for education, medicine, communicating, gaming and getting around. 1. Enhancing Surgery With Augmented Realitycenter_img This is one of the use cases people seem most excited about. And for good reason: Wearable computing and augmented reality open up new doors when it comes to gaming, which is already huge on smartphones and tablets. With technology like Glass, game developers can overlay gameplay over the real world, and plenty of them are already thinking about how to take their Android games to this new, exciting (or creepy) level. 5. Overcoming Disabilities john paul titlow Tags:#Augmented Reality#Google Glass#mobile Previously the pipe dream of optimistic futurists, real-time language translation is a reality today (even if its accuracy could use a little more polish). Using technology Google already owns (OCR and Google Translate), Glass could translate foreign signs and menus. Even more compelling is the device’s theoretical ability to translate spoken language into real-time subtitles, effectively eliminating any language barrier between two Glass-wearing individuals. Lots of people are thinking about how learning and using sign language could change too. Pretty powerful stuff. No, I don’t mean surreptitiously snapping photos of Nikki Minaj at the grocery store (although I’m sure they’ll be plenty of that sort of thing). Amateur astronomers will be able to look at the sky with a whole new layer of digital insight using tiny, face-mounted computers.  Mobile astronomy apps have been popular on smartphone users for years, and for good reason. It’s pretty neat to hold your phone up to the sky and see information about planets, constellations, galaxies and the like. Now imagine that experience without the smartphone, overlaid directly over what you’re seeing. 7. Healthier Living  While universities and colleges will be among Glass’s earliest adopters, the advantages are not limited to formal education. Just like people post tutorial videos to YouTube, a camera-equipped camera you wear on your face opens up new possibilities for teaching people things from a hands-on, first person perspective. Fixing things, cooking meals, learning to play the guitar. Anything you use your hands for can be taught (and augmented with relevant details) via a Hangout or YouTube video.  4. Augmented Reality Gaming There are all kinds of ideas being thrown around about how Glass could help people better manage their health. First, there’s the somewhat obvious example of porting already-popular fitness tracking apps like RunKeeper over to Glass for a more seamless experience. Many of things runners and fitness buffs use their smartphones for now could be simplified by Glass. If nothing else, displaying real-time stats about your run in front of you as you go could be a serious motivator. Also, the bone conduction audio makes headphones unnecessary and reduces the odds of you getting hit by a truck. If Santa Clara University student Alexander Vincent Molloy has his way, you’ll also be able to return health-related information about foods while you’re cooking or even shopping. Using Google Goggles-style image recognition and search, a Glass app could do exactly that, helping the health-conscious make smarter decisions without fiddling with their phones as much. 8. Reconnecting With History One of the most delightfully nerdy Glass use cases being talked about is augmented reality historical tours and museum exhibits. Again, just imagine some of the work that’s been done with smartphone apps and remove the phone from the equation (or at least the act of taking it out and holding it up). Armed with Glass-supported Android apps, walking through the historical Old City District of Philadelphia or the history-rich parks of Massachusetts could be like taking one of those audio-guided tours on digital steroids. Even if an app is not built specifically to overlay data and imagery on top of historical buildings, the ability to do a quick, relevant voice search without pulling out your phone will make learning about history  more immersive than ever. 9. Augmented Reality Art Like historical tours, the experience of viewing art could be enhanced using augmented reality. Some will undoubtedly balk at the idea of wearing a face computer to the MoMA. Why not just enjoy the art and leave gadgets out of it? Because there’s way more information in the world about a given painting, sculpture or design than could ever fit into an exhibit. It doesn’t have to bound by museum walls, either. European design agency Nuelandherzer says it would use Glass to create an augmented reality experience for viewing and learning about urban street art around the world.10. Real-Time Language Translation last_img read more