June 29, 2009

DJ Starscream

dj starscream by ~prisonsuit-rabbitman on deviantART
decepticon remix

Required Listening: "Rez(boss battle)"

never got the finish it

June 28, 2009

Required Listening: "Benjamin & Daisy"

by Alexandre Desplat

June 25, 2009

Barbi Benton

June 24, 2009

Intelligent Animals

I recently read a cracked.com article about smart animals, so I felt like compiling some articles about animals intelligence. If you're really interested, make sure to read the whole articles I quote from, they have more examples and info. Also, I found this to be interesting, from "Animal Minds":
It's a common complaint among animal researchers. Whenever they find a mental skill in a species that is reminiscent of a special human ability, the human cognition scientists change the definition. But the animal researchers may underestimate their power—it is their discoveries that compel the human side to shore up the divide.

"Sometimes the human cognitive psychologists can be so fixed on their definitions that they forget how fabulous these animal discoveries are,"

Orangutan's great escape causes zoo evacuation

A 137 pound orangutan with a history of mischief short-circuited an electric barrier, then built a makeshift ladder to escape from her enclosure, forcing Adelaide Zoo to be evacuated on one of its busiest days of the year.

Lying Monkeys

Spider monkeys, brown capuchins and long-tailed macaques were shown how to access food that was hidden or just out of reach. They were then put in cages with a socially higher-ranking monkey from the same species. Dominant monkeys in all three species would normally have priority over food, but in this case they did not know how to get to it.

Subordinate monkeys of all three species went straight for the food when their dominant partner was not around. But as soon as the dominant monkey was introduced, they held back. This suggests they were intentionally withholding information in order to get the food for themselves.

Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms
A new study found that male monkeys will give up their juice rewards in order to ogle pictures of female monkey's bottoms. The way the experiment was set up, the act is akin to paying for the images, the researchers say.

The rhesus macaque monkeys also splurged on photos of top-dog counterparts, the high-ranking primates. Maybe that's like you or me buying People magazine.

The research, which will be detailed in the March issue of Current Biology, gets more interesting.

The scientists actually had to pay these guys, in the form of extra juice, to get them to look at images of lower-ranking monkeys.

Peter Gabriel and Tom Levin jam with Apes
In the opening lyric of his newly released song “Fragile As A Song,” renowned musician Tony Levin writes, “What makes one day unlike another?” For him, it was playing music with a great ape named Panbanisha.

Panbanisha is one of eight bonobo chimpanzees that are part of a scientific research program at Great Ape Trust of Iowa that studies ape intelligence, culture, tool use and language. The 20-year-old female was transferred to Great Ape Trust in Des Moines one year ago from the Language Research Center (LRC) at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

It was there, several years ago, where internationally acclaimed artist Peter Gabriel("Down To Earth" for the film "Wall-E") asked Levin to play music with Panbanisha and Kanzi, a male bonobo at the LRC who also lives now at Great Ape Trust.

Tony Levin“I knew something very unusual was afoot when we walked into the facility,” Levin recently told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “Peter said, ‘Panbanisha, this is Tony, he’s going to play bass with us today.’”

Aside from Panbanisha, Tony Levin – often called a musician’s musician – has played bass with some of the best in rock history: Gabriel, John Lennon, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and King Crimson.

With Tony on bass and Peter and Panbanisha on separate keyboards, the three of them played what was called a “grooming song.” The result was an unforgettable experience for Levin. During a recent interview on WAMC Radio’s Vox Pop program in Albany, NY, he said, “As I left hours later in a taxi back to the airplane, I thought, this is going to take me a long time to process what happened here.”

PanbanishaProcessing it he did, into Fragile As A Song on his Resonator CD that was released earlier this month.

I saw you and you saw me
How music passed between us is a mystery
But there was a connection and it took me by surprise
A look of understanding in your eyes

As Tony Levin writes in his liner notes next to a photograph of Panbanisha’s fingers on the keyboard, “Processing the magic of that day – that new kind of connection – took me a long time, but how better to process with a song.”

Why no Planet Of The Apes
But if apes have the power to reason, learn skills, feel emotion and co-operate in a frenzied tree-top hunt for Colobus monkeys as chimpanzees do, why don't we have a planet of the apes?

The film reveals that although apes will co-operate to obtain food they don't have a shared commitment, they don't have the passion to urge or cheer on a tribe member and they do not have control of their emotions. They are also violent, impulsive and display deadly rivalry.

Although they can be taught to recognise symbols and words they don't have the mental capacity to contribute to a 'conversation' - and they don't make small talk. And most important of all although they can imitate, they can't teach or build on the achievements others have made - unlike more successful humans.

Their mental rocket is on the launch pad but it hasn't taken off

Bear Intelligence

The only other land animals of comparable trainability are primates. In fact, bears are comparable in intelligence to the higher primates short of the great apes. In North America, bears have the largest and most convoluted brains relative to their size of any land mammal. They are considered by many wildlife biologists to be the most intelligent land animals of our continent
One of the most remarkable photos I have shows a black bear walking upright on hard-packed snow and holding a large stick. The bear is making big curlicues in the snow with the stick and examining his handiwork with intense concentration. Another example is from the National Zoo in Washington. A black bear there figured out how to escape from his enclosure. He was smart enough to keep it a secret. He would escape late at night after everybody left with his friend, an Indian sloth bear, and the two of them would tour the zoo, being careful to return to their enclosures before dawn. They kept this up for quite a while before the zookeepers got suspicious and caught them at it

No Joke: Animals Laugh, Too
Studies by various groups suggest monkeys, dogs and even rats love a good laugh. People, meanwhile, have been laughing since before they could talk.

"Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain, and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our 'ha-ha-has' and verbal repartee," says Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Bowling Green State University.

When chimps play and chase each other, they pant in a manner that is strikingly like human laughter, Panksepp writes in the April 1 issue of the journal Science. Dogs have a similar response.

Rats chirp while they play, again in a way that resembles our giggles. Panksepp found in a previous study that when rats are playfully tickled, they chirp and bond socially with their human tickler. And they seem to like it, seeking to be tickled more. Apparently joyful rats also preferred to hang out with other chirpers.

Laughter in humans starts young, another clue that it's a deep-seated brain function.

Animal Minds
For the next 20 minutes, Alex ran through his tests, distinguishing colors, shapes, sizes, and materials (wool versus wood versus metal). He did some simple arithmetic, such as counting the yellow toy blocks among a pile of mixed hues.

And, then, as if to offer final proof of the mind inside his bird's brain, Alex spoke up. "Talk clearly!" he commanded, when one of the younger birds Pepperberg was also teaching mispronounced the word green. "Talk clearly!"

"Don't be a smart aleck," Pepperberg said, shaking her head at him. "He knows all this, and he gets bored, so he interrupts the others, or he gives the wrong answer just to be obstinate. At this stage, he's like a teenage son; he's moody, and I'm never sure what he'll do."

"Wanna go tree," Alex said in a tiny voice.

Alex had lived his entire life in captivity, but he knew that beyond the lab's door, there was a hallway and a tall window framing a leafy elm tree. He liked to see the tree, so Pepperberg put her hand out for him to climb aboard. She walked him down the hall into the tree's green light.

Most owners talk to their dogs and expect them to understand. But this canine talent wasn't fully appreciated until a border collie named Rico appeared on a German TV game show in 2001. Rico knew the names of some 200 toys and acquired the names of new ones with ease. He could learn and remember words as quickly as a toddler.

Kaminski(cognitive psychologist)handed Schaefer(Betsy's owner) a stack of color photographs and asked her to choose one. Each image depicted a dog's toy against a white background—toys Betsy(dog) had never seen before. They weren't actual toys; they were only images of toys. Could Betsy connect a two-dimensional picture to a three-dimensional object?

Schaefer held up a picture of a fuzzy, rainbow-colored Frisbee and urged Betsy to find it. Betsy studied the photograph and Schaefer's face, then ran into the kitchen, where the Frisbee was placed among three other toys and photographs of each toy. Betsy brought either the Frisbee or the photograph of the Frisbee to Schaefer every time.

They gave Betty(crow) other tests, each requiring a slightly different solution, such as making a hook out of a flat piece of aluminum rather than a wire. Each time, Betty invented a new tool and solved the problem. "It means she had a mental representation of what it was she wanted to make. Now that," Kacelnik said, "is a major kind of cognitive sophistication."

Animals That Count
Rosa Rugani and Lucia Regolin at the University of Padua took advantage of this quirk to test whether chicks could perform simple calculations. They placed each chick in the middle of a platform and showed it two groups of balls or paper. Next, the researchers hid the two piles behind screens, and sequentially moved objects between them in view of the chick. This forced the chick to perform simple computations to decide which side now contained the biggest number of its newfound brethren (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol 276, p 2451).

Without any prior coaching, the chicks scuttled to the larger quantity at a rate well above chance, correctly determining that 1 + 2 was greater than 4 - 2, that 0 + 3 exceeded 5 - 3, and that 4 - 1 was more than 1 + 1. "They are doing some simple, very simple, arithmetic," Regolin says. This suggests that numeracy is an innate ability in many animals that does not require training.


All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans.

Her cunning has not stopped there. One day, when a gull flew into her pool, she grabbed it, waited for the trainers and then gave it to them. It was a large bird and so the trainers gave her lots of fish. This seemed to give Kelly a new idea. The next time she was fed, instead of eating the last fish, she took it to the bottom of the pool and hid it under the rock where she had been hiding the paper. When no trainers were present, she brought the fish to the surface and used it to lure the gulls, which she would catch to get even more fish. After mastering this lucrative strategy, she taught her calf, who taught other calves, and so gull-baiting has become a hot game among the dolphins

Dolphins and Man.....Equals?
Outside of his striking friendliness, the Dolphin seems to have been blessed with a well developed sense of humor. Dolphins have been known to silently maneuver behind an unsuspecting pelican and snatch its tail feathers -- usually leaving the bird minus a few. Other pranks include grabbing unsuspecting fish by the tail, pulling them backward a few feet as well as bothering slow turtles by rolling them over and over. Once a dolphin was seen placing a piece of squid near a grouper's rock cranny. When the fish came out, the dolphin promptly snatched the bait away, leaving the puzzled fish behind.

A dolphin kept in complete captivity (with only human contacts) was trained to raise to the surface, emit a sound when any word was shouted over the surface of the water. After a careful examination of all the tapes, a conclusion was made that 18% of the sounds he emitted were considered humanoid emissions -- in other words, the dolphin was imitating our words.

Stanley Kubrick on Dolphins
But an equally fascinating question is whether there could be another race of intelligent life on earth. Dr. John Lilly, whose research into dolphins has been funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has amassed considerable evidence pointing to the possibility that the bottle-nosed dolphin may be as intelligent as or more intelligent than man. He bases this not only on its brain size—which is larger than man's and with a more complex cortex—but on the fact that dolphins have evolved an extensive language. Lilly is currently attempting, with some initial success, to decipher this language and establish communication with the dolphins. NASA's interest in this is obvious, because learning to communicate with dolphins would be a highly instructive precedent for learning to communicate with alien races on other planets. Of course, if the dolphins are really intelligent, theirs is obviously a nontechnological culture, since without an apposable thumb, they could never create artifacts. Their intelligence might also be on a totally different order than man's, which could make communication additionally difficult. Dr. Lilly has written that "It is probable that their intelligence is comparable to ours, though in a very strange fashion...they may have a new class of large brain so dissimilar to ours that we cannot within our lifetime possibly understand its mental processes." Their culture may be totally devoted to creating works of poetry or devising abstract mathematical concepts, and they could conceivably share a telepathic communication to supplement their high-frequency underwater language

What is particularly interesting is that dolphins appear to have developed a concept of altruism; the stories of shipwrecked sailors rescued by dolphins and carried to shore, or protected by them against sharks, are by no means all old wives' tales. But I'm rather disturbed by some recent developments that indicate not only how we may treat dolphins but also how we may treat intelligent races on other planets. The Navy, impressed by the dolphin's apparent intelligence, is reported to have been engaging in underwater-demolition experiments in which a live torpedo is strapped to a dolphin and detonated by radio when it nears a prototype enemy submarine. These experiments have been officially denied; but if they're true, I'm afraid we may learn more about man through dolphins than the other way around. The Russians, paradoxically, seem to be one step ahead of us in this area; they recently banned all catching of dolphins in Russian waters on the grounds that "Comrade Dolphin" is a fellow sentient being and killing him would be morally equivalent to murder.

Dolphins Smarts
Consequently, you may surprised to know that the dolphin brain is actually much larger than the human brain. Dolphins have two hemispheres just like humans however, theirs are split into four lobes instead of three. The fourth lobe in the dolphin's brain actually hosts all of the senses, whereas in a human, the senses are split. Some believe that having all of the senses in one lobe allow the dolphin to make immediate and often complicated judgments that are well beyond the scope of a human ability.

When studying the neo-cortex, which is the outside surface of the brain that is responsible for forming perceptions, memories and thoughts, dolphins have more convolution than the most intelligent humans. It is thought that dolphins may also be able to use the hemispheres of their brain separately as they have separate blood supplies which is something that is exclusive only to the dolphin. To add more weight to this supposition, dolphins are also able to move their eyes independently which has lead some researchers to suggest that the dolphin may actually be able to sleep with one side of it's brain at a time.

Where Do The Smarts Come From?
Social Competition

June 23, 2009

Mia Wasikowska

June 2, 2009

Photoshopping Movie Posters

Photoshop in movie posters and ads... blog for some interesting examples of the original photos and the manipulation they would've undergone for the poster designs.