Courtesy JMTThe way technology usually works, things get smaller and faster to be more efficient. That's not the case with wind turbines. Read this interesting piece on how new innovations are making wind turbines taller (reaching up into the sky the length of a football field), the blades are getting longer and are moving slower. All of this is actually generating more electricity.
Courtesy Brother O'MaraOooh, Facebook. You’re like a little invisible community of invisible robot people. You let us know what our worst enemies are up to these days, what our cousins look like when drunk, and who really identifies with Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” (No, like, really. When the sun shines, we’ll shine together, you know?)
And, of course, you’re turning out to be a fun sociological laboratory.
Remember a year and a half ago when you found out that you were a narcissist for having so many Facebook friends? And you were all, “Whatever. That guy I high-fived in the hotel lobby and I are besties, and he’s a vital friend, and so adding him to my friends list doesn’t mean that I’m just trying to accumulate meaningless social capital by presenting to the world how many people are interested in me in some way.”
And I was all, “Yeah, ok, you’re right.” Because your feelings, even if you are a narcissist, are very important to me, and I didn’t want you to be a sad narcissist.
But you know what else is important to me? Being right. And also science. So check this out: All but 150 of your Facebook friendships are… meaningless!
Say what?! My friendship with the Argentinean with a very similar name to mine is meaningless?
Yes, I’m afraid so. If you’re being honest with yourself, you and Juan Gordon aren’t actually that close.
See, evolutionary anthropologists have found out that humans can keep track of about 150 relationships. And that number is nothing to sneeze at; 150 is a lot of relationships, perhaps the most of any animal.
As the new PBS series, The Human Spark, points out, brain size (at least in primates) seems to relate to the number of individuals an animal can keep track of. Chimps, with fairly large brains, can keep track of about 50 individuals. Humans have brains about three times the size of a chimp’s brain, and we can keep track of about three times that number of individuals. It’s part of why we can live in huge cities, and all that. (Read more about it and see clips from The Human Spark at Science Buzz’s Human Spark page.)
And that seems to be the rule: we can have meaningful relationships with only about 150 people. (I don’t mean meaningful in the “we tell each other secrets under the blankets” way, but rather in the “something that can be called a ‘relationship’ in anything by the most inclusive sense of the word” way.)
So what about those other 527 Facebook friends you have? Are they just chopped liver? Yeah, pretty much. Evolutionary anthropologists at Oxford University wanted to see if the 150 relationships rule remained true in online communities, where people seem to have much, much larger networks of “friends,” so they compared the actions of Facebook users with thousands of friends to those with hundreds of friends (or less.) The anthropologists found that there was no difference between the groups’ number of interactions on Facebook. That is, people with thousands of friends didn’t interact with or follow the actions of any more users than people with a couple hundred friends did. Just like in real life, you can have meaningful relationships with only so many people, and the rest are just there to (maybe) make you look cooler.
What do you think? Did you and your giant friend list just get sonned by anthropology, or do you think you and your 2000 friends are proving that online communities and relationships don’t follow the limits of biological evolution? (Because, of course, when the sun shines we—all 2000 of us—shine together.)
Courtesy PieAre SquareYup, you heard me correctly: sea kittens...kittens of the sea. At least, that's the mental image PETA would like us to picture every time we sit down to a fish dinner. Sea kittens are the latest marketing campaign cooked up by those crazy (like a fox?) folks at PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
According to PETA's website, the youth-oriented campaign hopes to give fish a make-over that will make them sound more cute and cuddly than they are. "PETA thought that by renaming fish sea kittens, compassionate people who would never dream of hurting a dog or a cat might extend that sympathy to fish, or sea kittens," says PETA campaign coordinator Ashley Byrne.
Byrne added, "Most parents would never dream of spending a weekend torturing kittens for fun with their families, but hooking a sea kitten through the mouth and dragging her through the water is the same as hooking a kitten through the mouth and dragging her behind your car."
When you visit PETA's Save the Sea Kittens website, you’ll notice that it’s definitely geared towards families with young children. You can make your own sea kitten, a.k.a. dress up cartoon fish in ridiculous outfits, or read sea kitten bedtime stories, which are even more factually-bereft than normal children's stories - you don't believe me, but it's true!
Beyond the website, PETA has focused its efforts on schools. PETA members have sent letters to several high schools, including Spearfish High School in South Dakota and Whitefish High School in Montana, asking them to change their names to Sea Kitten High School. Just imagine the fear the Sea Kittens would strike into the heart of their opponents on the basketball court or the football field!
Speaking of fear, campaign coordinators are counting on it to discourage kids from eating "sea kitten" products. "Knowing that the fish sticks in the school cafeteria are really made out of tortured sea kittens makes most kids want to lose their lunch." Personally though, if my memory of the fish sticks in the school cafeteria is anything to go on, they were gag-inducing enough on their own without knowing how they’re made – tortured or not.
While the results of this campaign remain to be seen, it's generating a lot of press, from newspapers and press releases to confused and frustrated bloggers. Even the Colbert Report jumped on the bandwagon and you can watch what Stephen Colbert had to say about the campaign during Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger below. (The PETA segment is about 1 minute, 30 seconds into the clip.)
Courtesy bistromathgirlAs for me, I'm all for ending harmful fishing practices - the lesser known purpose of this campaign - but that's not going to stop me from having some tasty fish for dinner tomorrow! And somehow, I don't really think that my pet fish will have anything to say on the matter...
Check out these sites for more information on the campaign and its impact around the world: