The Hidden Intelligence of Animals
Experiments on animal cognition have found that intelligence is more dynamic than we once thought and that animals may be far more clever than we have historically given them credit for.
What's the Latest Development?
Over the past decade, experiments on animal intelligence—involving primarily chimps and elephants—have found that cognition is a more dynamic process than we once thought and that animals may be far more clever than we have historically given them credit for. In 2007, a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University put human memory to shame. "Trained on a touch screen, Ayumu could recall a random series of nine numbers, from 1 to 9, and tap them in the right order, even though the numbers had been displayed for just a fraction of a second and then replaced with white squares."
What's the Big Idea?
For years, scientists believed that elephants were incapable of using tools, such as sticks to fetch plates of food just out of reach, but that may be because it's not a tool elephants find useful. In more recent tests, elephants were quick to use a wooden block to reach food tied above their heads (it is thought that grasping sticks closes an elephant's trunk, an essential sensory organ and therefore one they are extremely hesitant to give up). The lesson is that our view of human intelligence appears to have been too exclusive, dating all the way back to ancient Greece. When we meet animals on their terms, many species turn out to be quite clever.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, but they come with their own risks.
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- The results showed that vaping causes impaired circulation, stiffer arteries and less oxygen in their blood.
- The new study adds to a growing body of research showing that e-cigarettes – while likely safer than traditional cigarettes – are far from harmless.
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The Lumina Foundation lays out steps for increasing access to quality post-secondary education credentials.
- America's post-high school education landscape was not created with the modern student in mind. Today, clear and flexible pathways are necessary to help individuals access education that can help them lead a better life.
- Elizabeth Garlow explains the Lumina Foundation's strategy to create a post-secondary education system that works for all students. This includes credential recognition, affordability, a more competency-based system, and quality assurance.
- Systemic historic factors have contributed to inequality in the education system. Lumina aims to close those gaps in educational attainment.
- In 2019, Lumina Foundation and Big Think teamed up to create the Lumina Prize, a search to find the most innovative and scalable ideas in post-secondary education. You can see the winners of the Lumina Prize here – congratulations to PeerForward and Greater Commons!