Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Dolphins, Robots and all manner of other stuff.

Seems to be a lot going on right now, so I'll attempt some sort of 'news round up' science style, with 'witty' headlines like the papers do. See if you can spot the theme of the subjects (answers at the ends)

"Walking on the wild (dolphin) side!"

It turns out that Dolphins have been spotted 'Tail Walking', that thing they do in water parks after extensive training. Wild dolphins aren't meant to do this, it doesn't really serve a purpose. What's more interesting is how they're all learning it. Experts site this as an example of cultural development and behaviour, which is nice. On the other hand, could this be another example of global warming? Tail walking looks like someone trying to lower themselves into a hot bath, maybe the water's just too warm. Or maybe the dolphins are just getting ready to leave the planet. Maybe they're aware of some impending apocalypse? But that would be silly....

"Martian Robot keeps on rolling"

The British scientists have unveiled the next generation of Martian robots. That is, robots that are going to Mars, not robots that have come from there, although that would be more impressive. These robots are incredibly versatile, robust, and can cover any terrain and incline. As someone who grew up in the 80's, when radio controlled vehicles struggled to work on carpet, lasted about 3 minutes before needing recharging and lost signal if they went more than 10 metres away, I find this all very impressive. I have just a few questions. Namely-
  • considering the amount of time and money spent on these robots, are they going to make sure the spacecraft works this time? Or are they just going to strap it to an over sized firework again and hope for the best?
  • Is this robot going to be controlled by standard computational means, or by a few blobs of rat neurones? (See previous blogs) I just wonder which works out cheaper.
  • Looking at the video of the robot in the article, it appears to be plugged into something via a cable. Seeing as it'll be sent to Mars eventually, isn't this going to be an issue? Imagine how much they'll have to spend on extension wires.

"Sick as a Pedigree Dog"

Apparently, the intense in-breeding of pedigree dogs has given them a wide variety of health problems. Duh? This is basically eugenics on a domestic scale. Inbreeding = Genetic defects, its a very well known fact and it's weird for people to think it doesn't affect any other species. Of course it does, why wouldn't it? Mongrels are what you want, all messy and brilliant and robust. It seems to be a persistent effect that some of the most attractive people in the media are mixed race, people subconsciously notice a more varied gene mix perhaps? But the dog thing is stupid. I blame Paris Hilton and her lot, designer dogs sort of enrage me. Apparently, some of these handbag bound animals can't be left outside on their own as large birds might take them. That's not a dog! Even rats won't allow themselves to just be snatched by birds.

"Jade Goody has Cancer (which isn't funny, of course)"

Jade Goody has cervical cancer, which is terrible. I'd be a horrible person if I joked about that. . . . . no, I won't. Although.... no, no, too soon. It's a terrible thing for anyone to have, and I would never say she deserves it. I would probably say there are many people who deserve it less, if I thought I'd get away with it, but that's by the by. She has had such bad luck in life already, I mean she's only made millions by being a professional idiot, after she worked so hard to improve herself and all that. I'm sure she must have done at some point, who would be content with just being an ignorant laughing stock who's very position as a 'role model' lowered the national IQ severely (I assume)? But then she does have two kids, she lives for them apparently, and shows this by leaving them with carers while she travels the globe trying to salvage her reputation.
Hopefully, she'll beat this illness and end up justifying her success. If anything gives hope to other sufferers then that's good in my book. And after that blatant cop-out, I wonder if it's possible to establish a link between reality TV shows and cancer? They did with cigarettes, maybe we can do it with this? Then they'll have to ban them and make some decent sodding telly for a change.

AND THE THEME IS... Dolphins, Robots, Dogs, Jade Goody = All are often wrongly attributed with possessing human-like intelligence.

Let the backlash begin (assuming anyone reads this, which I doubt)


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