A Research Three-Pack

I follow way too many other bloggers and there’s no way I can read all the posts or even use a small percentage of articles that interest me as inspiration for my own posts here.

So, here are a few things that piqued my interest this week from just one site – discovermagazine.com.

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

Roman numerals aren’t very useful. It’s a clunky system and by the sixth century A.D. the Hindu-Arabic number system was developed in India and it was better. It uses only 10 numerals – 1-9 and the wonderful 0.

And yet, Europeans still used them until the 13th century. Roman numerals were very limited for math, science, trade, and commerce.

The movie industry began using Roman numerals a long time ago as the way to show the copyright/release date of a film. Why? Since people can’t figure out the numerals quickly a film released the previous year wouldn’t be seen as “old.” Quick – what number is MCMLIII?

Just this month I saw the Super Bowl logo for this year which continues to use Roman numerals. When I first glanced at the logo I thought LIV which is 54. But that center I is actually the winner’s trophy and it is Super Bowl LV or 55.

That clock shown at the top has Roman numerals as other analog clocks sometimes do. It works because we can spatially know that a hand at III is in the position of 3 o’clock.

I also like reading about research and sometimes about things that make you wonder why it is being researched and who is funding that research. I was attracted to one piece titled “What’s Worse: Binge Drinking or Imbibing a Little Bit Every Day?” My first guess? They’re both bad for you.

You can read the results for yourself but I’d advise you to binge all the seasons of Schitt’s Creek instead of vodka. Maybe have a nice cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa while you’re watching.

Sometimes the silly-sounding research isn’t so silly when you dig in. So when I saw that scientists were studying if animals can be “Right- or Left-Pawed” I classified it as the silly stuff. But many creatures do favor one side of the body over another in the same way as humans do.

Southpaw pooch?

It is not about figuring out if your dog or cat is a righty or lefty. What interests scientists is how that preference might give us insights into evolution and brain development.

Scientists thought that handedness was unique to humans, but new research shows many animals do have a preferred hand, limb, or even tentacle, and it likely starts in the brain.

I recently watched the really interesting documentary My Octopus Teacher on Netflix and another one on PBS Nature. Octopuses are really smart with brains in their arms and two in their head.

“As soon as you have two sides of the brain, they start task-dividing,” says Ruth Byrne, a biologist who’s studied handedness in octopuses.

I learned about biological chirality which is an asymmetry that can be expressed either physically (one of your feet is a little bigger than the other) or a behavioral tendency to favor the use of one side over the other.

You know, why more humans are right-handed is still not conclusively known. One theory: The left side of the human brain is the language side and maybe developing the left side of the brain for speech and language might have also led to our right-handed bias among humans.

There are also cultural biases that are pro-righties. like, scissors, doorknobs, zippers, writing in spiral notebooks and three-ring binders. It is even rougher in parts of Africa and the Middle East where there are taboos against touching communal food or shaking hands with the fingers on your left.

Let’s do more research and figure this stuff out!

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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