Humans Excel at… Please Wait… Patience

first_imgHere’s another thing that distinguishes humans from animals: patience.  Current Biology usually has a “Quick Guide” feature on some aspect of biology.  In the latest issue, patience was the patient.  First of all, what is it?Humans and other animals often make decisions that trade off present and future benefits.  Should a monkey eat an unripe fruit or wait for it to ripen?  Should I purchase the iPhone at its debut or wait for the price to drop in a few months?  In these dilemmas, large gains often require long waits, so decision makers must choose between a smaller, sooner reward and a larger, later reward.Animals experience these tradeoffs all the time, particularly when foraging for food.  A Clark’s nutcracker (a Western bird) can, for instance, store 33,000 seeds for later consumption, “that is 33,000 decisions to delay gratification.”  But being impulsive can have its payoffs, too.  “He who hesitates is lost,” a proverb says.  If you don’t snatch at the seed in front of you, it could fall into the river.    Following several questions and answers about patience (how it is measured, how animals measure up, etc.) came the question of interest to the human animal: “Are humans uniquely patient?”The most extreme examples of nonhuman animal patience pale in comparison to the levels of patience seen in humans.  Rather than waiting for only seconds or minutes, humans will wait days, weeks, months or even years for gains.  Is this a true cognitive divide?  The answer is yes and no.  In one sense, comparing the human and nonhuman experimental work is like comparing apples and oranges because the methodologies differ so greatly.  Repeated choices with all real rewards and time delays may yield different results from one-shot choices with hypothetical rewards and delays.  When tested in a manner similar to other animals, human subjects look similar to (or sometimes even more impulsive than!) chimpanzees.    Thus, in certain situations humans show similar levels of patience as other primates.  Yet, clearly situations exist in which humans are much more patient than other animals.  It is difficult to imagine even chimpanzees investing in the future in a way comparable to depositing money into a retirement account 30-40 years before receiving a return.  Nonetheless, we know that, for instance, many species show impressive abilities for future planning.  Western scrub jays can plan for their breakfast in the morning.  Monkeys and apes, especially chimpanzees, strategically invest in relationships with group members to climb the political ladder of their dominance hierarchies.  Though these species lack the complex language and symbolic systems (such as money and legal contracts) that allow humans to work over vast temporal horizons, they do demonstrate a flexible means of dealing with the future.  Perhaps the recent surge in interest in animal patience will tell us whether long-term patience is a uniquely human virtue.In short, put your money into an IRA instead of investing in a Monkey Bank. 1.  Jeffrey R. Stevens and David W. Stephens, “Quick Guide: Patience,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 8 January 2008, Pages R11-R12.They missed the whole point.  Human patience is a virtue, not a trait.  The fact that animals (and humans) may have instincts that work in a raw-biological context tells us nothing about the rationality and virtue behind human patience.  If it were merely instinctive, it would not require training and education and conscious choice.  If it were a biological trait, we would not see so many exceptions.    Humans have the capacity for long-term gratification because we were made in the image of God.  That is the only explanation that makes sense for the ability to wait for payoff for decades, or a lifetime.  That is what explains parents denying their gratification for the sake of their children, so that they will be able to have opportunities they never had.  And that is what enables a soul to deny itself till death for a joy in a future life, following the example of Christ, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).    We are animals, but we are not mere animals.  All theists recognize we are rational animals; it’s not like they believe humans float above the ground.  We have stomachs and sex organs and biological urges like the rest of biology.  That curious blend of body and soul is what makes our lives so interesting and challenging.  We were made for an unseen reality that can override our natural urges.  That is why we have need of patience.  That is why we are admonished to “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (v.3).    Having a biological propensity like the animals to weigh the costs and benefits of immediate vs delayed gratification does in no way diminish the unique capacity of humans for patience, nor does a listing of the misdeeds of impulsive or diseased individuals who act only according to their animal natures.  Indeed, try to imagine a chimpanzee investing in an IRA for 40 years.  Without a soul, with its rational capacity for language, choice and wisdom, such capabilities would be unexplainable.  Current biology demonstrates it.(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Seriously, Ceres and Comets Look Surprising

first_imgHere are surprises found at asteroid Ceres and Comet 67P by spacecraft arriving there this year.CeresThe DAWN spacecraft is continuing its science orbits around asteroid Ceres (also classified as a dwarf planet). Here are some of the recent headlines:Dwarf planet Ceres offers big surprises for scientists (PhysOrg):The closer we get to Ceres, the more perplexing the dwarf planet grows. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has found several more bright spots as well as a pyramid-like peak jutting out of the frigid world’s surface.The discovery is painting an increasingly complex portrait of one of the biggest “fossils” from the early solar system.“I expected to be surprised because we knew so little about Ceres,” Christopher Russell, Dawn’s principal investigator and a planetary scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an email. “I never expected bright spots and a pyramid to be the surprises.”Mystery haze appears above Ceres’s bright spots (Nature News). “Discovery bolsters idea that intriguing marks are made of ice, not salt.” Relation to Pluto? “Ceres’s striking 5-kilometre-high mountain, informally dubbed the pyramid, may be like the mountains seen last week on Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft, Russell adds.”Strange Bright Spots on Ceres Create Mini-Atmosphere on Dwarf Planet (Space.com): The spots appear to have a haze layer above them, indicating possible sublimation. “This is our major mystery,” Russell said.  “Overall, Dawn’s observations are showing Ceres to be a relatively active world rather than an inert chunk of rock and ice,” the article states.Dawn has also spotted numerous long, linear features whose cause is unknown, as well as one big mountain that mission team members have dubbed “The Pyramid.” This massif, which is about 3 miles (5 km) tall and 19 miles (30 km) wide, features a flat top and strangely streaked flanks, Russell said.New names and insights at Ceres (PhysOrg): some of the features have been named. The crater with the bright spots has been named Occator by the IAU. Other features are named after other pagan gods. Article includes map and rotating globe of Ceres in false color.Update 8/10/15: Crater counts come up short, creating a “mystery” of the “missing craters.” Ceres has only 10% the number of craters scientists predicted from its assumed age. “There is a story there — what it is, exactly, needs to be seen,” a member of the DAWN science team remarked on Space.com. Ceres never seems to have been volcanically or tectonically active. The only possibility scientists are toying with is moving ice. Crater count results are preliminary, but “I don’t think we will find a factor of 10 more craters,” they said.Comet 67PRosetta’s Philae Lander was featured in a special edition of Science Magazine.  Here are the primary findings reported there and on other sites:CHO-bearing organic compounds at the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko revealed by Ptolemy (Science Mag): “an apparent absence of aromatic compounds such as benzene, a lack of sulfur-bearing species, and very low concentrations of nitrogenous material.”Organic compounds on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko revealed by COSAC mass spectrometry (Science Mag): “The absence of large quantities of NH3, HCHO, and CO2 in our best fit may seem surprising because they were expected to be present as components of cometary ice.” It’s a stretch to call cyanide (HCN) a “prebiotic” material, but they say, “The complexity of cometary nucleus chemistry and the importance of N-containing organics imply that early solar system chemistry fosters the formation of prebiotic material in noticeable concentrations.”The landing(s) of Philae and inferences about comet surface mechanical properties (Science Mag): “the cometary matter near the surface may be processed and thus not representative of the pristine state after formation.”Philae’s comet discoveries create series of conundrums (Nature): “One puzzle is that the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is much harder than scientists had expected,” Elizabeth Gibney writes. But that’s not compatible with another finding: “The data also show the comet to be very porous — between 75% and 85% empty space.”Some scientists say the findings suggest that the comet is not an unaltered time capsule from the dawn of the Solar System, as researchers had presumed.“It seems like the more we know, the less we know,” says Geraint Morgan, a co-investigator on the lander’s Ptolemy instrument and a physical chemist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK. “The comet is more complicated than we might have imagined.” ….That the comet could have changed since its formation has implications for the wider mission, which had assumed that such bodies had existed largely unaltered since the start of the Solar System, says Seiferlin. But both the hard crust and a large variety of surface materials and structures found on the comet could be the result of recent modifications, he says.Surprising Comet Discoveries by Rosetta’s Philae Lander Unveiled (Space.com)“Before the landing of Philae, we believed cometary surfaces might be very soft (loose regolith under low gravity). Some colleagues even feared the lander may sink deeply into the surface at touchdown,” Philae project manager Stephan Ulamec, of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), told Space.com via email. “Although we were aware of our limited knowledge, the fact that some of the material is so hard, and that the surface is so heterogen[eous], was indeed a bit surprising.“Spacecraft Sees What a Comet Is Made Of (National Geographic): the comet “has a surface that varies from hard as asphalt to soft as a sandy beach. Its interior isn’t like a rocky snowball, as scientists thought it might be, but rather a smooth mixture of dust and ice. And it’s home to organic compounds that not only have never been seen on a comet before, but also support the idea comets brought the building blocks of life to Earth billions of years ago.”Comets: Soft Shell, Hard Core? (Science Daily): “the near surface material might have changed since its formation. Up to now, many researchers had assumed that it has remained in virtually the same state since its formation about 4.5 billion years ago.”Science on the Surface of a Comet (Astrobiology Magazine): “Taken together, these first pioneering measurements performed on the surface of a comet are profoundly changing our view of these worlds and continuing to shape our impression of the history of the Solar System.”Comet yields ‘rich array’ of organics (BBC News): article quotes Ian Wright who bows before the holy OOL (origin of life):“I see this cometary material that we’re analysing as frozen primordial soup. It’s the kind of stuff that if you had it, and warmed it up somehow, and put it in the right environment, with the right conditions, you may eventually get life forming out of it.“What we may be looking at here is our abiological ancestral material – this is stuff that went into the mix to produce life.“In many ways it’s quite a humbling thing to be working on, because this is life before life happened.“Inside Imhotep [Crater] (PhysOrg): “A few bright patches are seen on exposed walls. They appear bluer than the average colour of the comet in colour-composite images and suggest the presence of ice. If they are confirmed as water-ice, these could be some of the youngest areas on the comet.”Need we point out that secular astronomers were wrong again? Just about every body in the solar system has turned out to be much different than predicted by slow-and-gradual, bottom-up models (see a partial list in the 6/05/03 commentary). We have been told for decades that comets are dirty snowballs, fluffy objects unchanged for billions of years. Wrong. DAWN scientists are surprised at Ceres, like they were surprised at Vesta last year. No one is saying that the observations match what they predicted from accretion models. We expect more surprises for the secular crowd as data continue to come down.The origin-of-life stuff is just silly. Ian Wright deserves three SEQOTW awards. He bows down before chemicals like cyanide and soot, humbled in the presence of great possibilities. So let him test it scientifically. Warm it up, put it in the right environment, in the right conditions, and see if life forms. It will be a long wait (see online book). (Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Replicated Testing Plots Yield Solid Research

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Farmers throughout the eastern Corn Belt took advantage of some great planting weather the first part of May. So did Seed Consultants, as they traversed Ohio to put on their replicated testing plots to help farmers better understand what hybrids and varieties perform well in different regions. The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins stopped by one of those sites to see how the process works.last_img

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TechStars Boston Hosts Invite-Only Mini-Camp on Jan. 5

first_imgRelated Posts chris cameron Tags:#start#startups Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Startups in the Boston area considering applying for TechStars Boston 2010 should bite the bullet and fill out that application today in order to receive an invitation to tomorrow’s special meet and greet with TechStars mentors.The event, dubbed TechStars For A Day, will be held in Cambridge, Mass. and will provide startups with the opportunity to find out more about the TechStars program while getting some early networking under their belts. While it isn’t possible to make a definitive correlation between TechStars’ events and nation’s VC funding climate, the cities TechStars is based in – Boston, Boulder and Seattle – is where the money is flowing. In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that six out of the eight venture-backed companies that went public in 2009 were from outside of the Valley – two of which were from Massachusetts, one of which was from Seattle.In attendance will be Shawn Broderick, the executive director of TechStars Boston and founder/CEO of TrustPlus, TechStars founder and CEO David Cohen, as well as many other Boston mentors.The deadline for startups to apply for TechStars Boston 2010 is midnight, Jan. 11. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

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Tejashwi draws flak for birthday bash in plane

first_imgJailed Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad’s younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav was at the receiving end of the Opposition ire on Monday after pictures of his 30th birthday celebration in a chartered plane went viral on social media.In the pictures, Mr. Tejashwi is seen with his close aides Sanjay Yadav and Mani Yadav and Lalu Prasad’s associate Bhola Yadav. However, the day when and where these pictures were clicked is not yet known.Lashing out at Mr. Tejashwi, Bihar BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said: “These leaders were born with silver spoons, they not only make fun of the poor but are also the black spots in the name of a political party.” The RJD leader had on Saturday celebrated his birthday by planting 30 saplings at his 1, Polo Road bungalow here. He also cut a 30-pound cake during the bash, which was attended by senior RJD functionaries. The RJD, however, defended Mr. Tejashwi. “The Opposition parties are suffering from Tejashwiphobia. Why can’t a leader who talks about the poor celebrate his birthday?” said RJD spokesperson Mrityunjaya Tiwari.last_img read more

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Playoff hopes dimming as Timberwolves lose Rose, Covington, Teague for season

first_imgTrump tells impeachment jokes at annual turkey pardon event Rose, the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player, and Teague missed Minnesota’s past four games, Rose with a sore right elbow and Teague after re-aggravating a left foot injury first nagging him in December. Both will be free agents in July.An MRI of Rose’s elbow showed a chip fracture and treatment is being considered while Teague was given an anti-inflammation medication and will wear a boot before being reevaluated after the season.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsCovington, under contract until mid-2022, has been out for 34 games with a right knee bone bruise.Covington averaged 14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals this season for the T-Wolves while Rose averaged 18.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists and Teague contributed 12.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists. MOST READ Miguel Romero Polo: Bamboo technology like no other Staying the course Karl-Anthony Towns has led Minnesota this season, averaging 24.6 points and 12.3 rebounds.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Bloomberg: US would benefit from more, not fewer, immigrants Google Philippines names new country director Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Wintry storm delivers US travel woes before Thanksgiving Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose smiles at fans during a timeout in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)Minnesota Timberwolves’ slim NBA playoffs hopes suffered a major setback Thursday with the announcement that guards Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague and forward Robert Covington were ruled out for the rest of the season.The T-Wolves are 32-39 after dropping seven of their past 10 games and would need to win at least 10 of their final 11 to reach the post-season.ADVERTISEMENT SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Colombia protesters vow new strike after talks hit snag View comments LATEST STORIESlast_img read more

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