Posts Tagged ‘Evolution

Galaxies Will Destroy Each Other – Millions Of Stars Will Form and Explode

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Several of the dwarf galaxies in the Hickson Compact Group 31 are slowly merging. Will the result of these galactic collisions be one big elliptical galaxy? Most assuredly.

The pictured galaxies of Hickson Compact Group 31 will pass through and destroy each other, millions of stars will form and explode, and thousands of nebula will form and dissipate before the dust settles and the final galaxy emerges about one billion years from now. The above image is a composite of images taken in infrared light by the Spitzer Space Telescope, ultraviolet light by the GALEX space telescope, and visible light by the Hubble Space Telescope. Hickson Compact Group 31 spans about 150,000 light years and lies about 150 million light years away toward the constellation of Eridanus.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. English (U. Manitoba), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgement: S. Gallagher (U. Western Ontario)


Written by Aaron Nee

March 10, 2010 at 2:55 am

Posted in science

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Bridging the Species Gap

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I feel inclined to post every episode of Radio Lab and perhaps I should.  The show is always thought provoking and informative.  Recently the program has been exploring animal minds.  The most recent episode includes two ape stories.  The feature story is quite interesting and I believe This American Life did a story on the same ape, Lucy.  Tacked on to the end of the Lucy story is a short piece on a Bonobo named Kanzi.  It is this little story that I can’t stop thinking about.  Kanzi not only appears to have learned a psuedo english with which he successfully talks to humans and other bonobos, but he also has exhibited a concept of justice.  I highly recommend listening to this and all the other Radio Lab podcasts.

Here are a few other interesting things about Kanzi that are listed on Wiki.

Examples of Kanzi’s behavior

  • In an outing in the Georgia woods, Kanzi touched the symbols for “marshmallows” and “fire.” Susan Savage-Rumbaugh said in an interview that, “Given matches and marshmallows, Kanzi snapped twigs for a fire, lit them with the matches and toasted the marshmallows on a stick.”[5]
  • Paul Raffaele, at Savage-Rumbaugh’s request, performed a Maori War Dance for the Bonobos. This dance includes thigh-slapping, chest-thumping, and hollering. Almost all the bonobos present interpreted this as an aggressive display, and reacted with loud screams, tooth-baring, and pounding the walls and floor. All but Kanzi, who remained perfectly calm; he then communicated with Savage-Rumbaugh using bonobo vocalizations; Savage-Rumbaugh understood these vocalizations, and said to Raffaele “he’d like you to do it again just for him, in a room out back, so the others won’t get upset.” So a private performance in another room was successfully, peacefully and happily carried out.[5]
  • Sue Savage-Rumbaugh has observed Kanzi in communication to his sister. In this experiment, Kanzi was kept in a separate room of the Great Ape Project and shown some yogurt. Kanzi started vocalizing the word “yogurt” in an unknown “language”; his sister, Panbanisha, who could not see the yogurt, then pointed to the lexigram for yogurt.[5]
  • Kanzi’s accomplishments also include tool use and tool crafting. Kanzi is an accomplished stone tool maker and is quite proud of his ability to flake Oldowan style cutting knives. He learned this skill from Dr. Nick Toth, who is an anthropologist with the Stone Age Institute in Bloomington, Indiana. The stone knives Kanzi creates are very sharp and can cut animal hide and thick ropes.
  • In one demonstration shown on the television show Champions of the Wild, Kanzi was shown playing the arcade game Pac-Man and understanding how to beat it.

You can find several videos of Kanzi at  Bellow is a video of Kanzi making a tool and then using it to get to some bananas.

Written by Aaron Nee

March 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Posted in science

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