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When something dances at the edges of your history, flirting with the core of your personal taste – don’t refuse to check it out based on its Wikipedia article
This was about Blindsight by Peter Watts*, but I forgot why I eventually checked that out: I happened upon [an incredible article he wrote] about the Portia genus of jumping spiders.
Portia spiders demonstrate some intelligent behavior – for example, changing hunting strategies based on whether the prey is carrying an egg sack (they mainly eat other spiders), or taking long detours which bring them out of sight of their prey. Smart-seeming behavior isn’t unusual in small invertebrates, but what is unusual is that all of it seems to actually hold up under examination.
For instance, take this experiment, a test of the aforementioned ability to take long detours:
A Portia spider’s eyesight is as good as most mammals, but she has a tiny field of view. So they sit at the top of the pole for an hour, scanning the scene below them like a friggin reverse CRT, until they finally compress the spacial configuration enough for it to fit into their tiny, tiny brain (bigger than a fruit fly’s, but smaller than a honey bee’s). Then they climbs down the pole and, [around two thirds of the time], picks the correct path to the food. Half the times which they pick the wrong path, they realize it immediately after rounding the first bend in the wire.
They attract prey by strumming their webs to imitate trapped insects. They take advantage of gusts of wind to cover their movements. They improvise and learn by trial and error.
It’s like this spider is simulating a mammal consciousness on a spider brain, compressing everything down until it will run on a hundredth of the amount of wetware, and it’s amazing.
*A high-concept first contact novel, [freely available online]. Some pretty awesome thought-provoking hard scifi, although kinda depressing if you let it get to you.
Portia is so cool and this is a great explanation! It’s so frustrating that nobody has looked much into the neuroanatomy of these things yet (as far as I can find) – who wouldn’t want to know how they do what they do?
Also, if you don’t mind, how did you happen upon that blog post? I think the trajectories people take through the internet are very interesting, and where cool articles like this one are found others are often nearby.
You know it was probably for the best the Terezi was some recluse who lived in the woods and ate live squirrel meat because if she actively participated in society with other teals they would have fucking necked themselves
She shows up to the meeting 20 minutes late in footie pajamas and light up sketchers and plays Zelda throughout the whole thing but no one can say shit because she got a 375 on her bar exam
Some exhausted teal co-worker: do have the file I asked for
Terezi, on her third box of chalk that week: OH FUCK Y34H
Co-worker, upon being handed an report written in gel pen and covered in glitter that will somehow be the most skilled and competently written thing he’s read all month:
also like I love how avengers infinity war was about having AS MANY CHARACTERS AS POSSIBLE and avengers: endgame is just like here’s eight white people
thanos’ snap was as random as an airport’s random security check
From a narrative point of view the snap wasn’t random, it took out the new people to refocus on the old ones. It just sucks that it points out how bad they were on race at the beginning (not that their way better at this point)