Immigrant chidren perform as well as their peers

The Cognews posted by Cloudwatcher reports that research indicates no significant  differences in academic grades between the immigrant children and the second-and -third generation children belonging to the same race. The obvious conclusion is that the economic prosperity or lack of it has made no difference to the academic performance of the children.

The study does not talk about the performance of the immigrant children versus their white counterparts.

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Lucy’s older sister found

Scientists have discovered another “Lucy” type of skeleton,estimated to be 3.30 million years old.Lucy was discovered in 1974 and the present discovery estimated to be 100000 years older is hailed as a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. The skeleton , which is of a three year old female is believed to have come from a body which was quickly buried by sediment in a flood. It is a member of the Australopithicus afarensis which lived in Africa between 4 million and 3 million years ago. Most scientists believe that the Afarensis stood upright and walked on two feet but it is still a matter of debate whether it had the tree climbing ability. The fossil find includes complete skull including an impression of the brain and the lower jaw,all the vertebrae from the neck to the just below the torso, all the ribs,both shoulder blades and collar bones,both knees and one complete foot.

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Genetics and energy costs

During drought the farmer cannot pump up enough water, due to the high energy costs, to irrigate his wheat field. This forces him to adopt dryland methods of cultivation.A semi-dwarf variety of wheat would use up less energy in developing the stalks. This is not the best of the solutions.It does not improve productivity either.But this is the  second best solution .More particularly in drought-prone areas of India.

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Beauty is Truth,Truth is Beauty

Keats’ famous line(Beauty is Truth,Truth is Beauty) strikes one as a serious blemish on the beauty of the poem Ode to a Grecian Urn, according to T.S.Eliot. The reasons cited by Eliot for his objections to the line are Beauty is not necessarily Truth. What probably is meant is what the imagination seizes as Beauty must be the Truth. This is a matter of putative belief.

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Why is the sky blue ?

Plato speculated that the blue of the sky was due to the interaction of the air with the celestial darkness beyond.Newton concluded that water droplets in the air could explain the sky’s blue.He ignored the light being in the form of waves.John Tyndall interpreted the phenomenon in terms of the wave theory of light but could not identify the scattering particles that were responsible for the blue of the sky. Maxwell’s explanation was close to the modern perception that air molecules scattering light are responsible for the blue of the sky.

The violet wavelengths from the sun , being shorter in length should be scattering more than the blue ones ,making for the possibility of a violet sky. But the sky appears blue due to our daytime vision which is more sensitive to the blue than to the violet wavelength.

So the sky is actually violet, not blue!Nevertheless my sky remains blue, the poet’s sky, the child’s sky, the lover’s sky.

Are humans hard wired to appreciate music ?

The enjoyment of music in humans is supposed to be an activity which takes place in the same parts of the brain as those stimulated by food and sex. Humans are somehow hard wired to be musical but how this has come to be in the course of evolution is a puzzle difficult to solve. Darwin related the innate musical ability of humans to the need for attracting the females just like in the case of birdsongs. This assumes that females are not musically inclined which is an absurd proposition.In fact it may be that music may have evolved as a baby- calming tool in hunter-gatherer societies. Perhaps the explanation may be more acceptable that communal music making has been found to be, in the course of evolution,useful for team building which is an essential adaptive skill. The answers are hardly conclusive .Perhaps music may have evolved as a mere byproduct of human language.

Drake Bennett ,Boston Globe

Humans strange , Neanderthals normal

Eric Trinkaus an anthropologist at Washington University has arrived at the research finding that it is the homo sapiens which is the odd man out ,not Neanderthals as has been believed to be the case so far.Neanderthals ,according to him, are direct descendants of our ancestors whereas the homo genus seems to have branched off from the family tree.