Computerized Graphics Flourished Even Before the Modern-Day Emoji (The Atlantic)

Smiley Face

The modern-day emoji traces it origins to 1999 and did not appear on the iPhone until 2009, but computerized graphics have had an even longer tradition of being used as forms of communication.

In 1984, stationary publishing software The Print Shop was released, and its computerized graphics of objects such as rabbits, cake, and spacescape bare fascinating points of comparison to modern-day emojis of similar objects. Read the article here.

The End of Free Will (The Atlantic)

Brain

Free will has been a cornerstone of human belief for centuries, but a growing amount of scientific evidence suggests that individual behavior might be predicted and explained entirely by the brain’s structure and chemistry.

Such a neurological understanding of human behavior might have important implications for how humans perceive their moral responsibility if they no longer think they have agency in the situation.

The Sexist History of the Biological Clock of Fertility (The Guardian)

Gender256

By the time women turn 30, many of them will have been told that their biological clock of fertility is ticking away. According to Moira Weigel of The Guardian, a host of scientific evidence does reveal that a woman’s eggs do diminish in quality and quantity over time.

But so does a man’s sperm, and research by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine suggests that “women and men are found to experience fertility problems at roughly equal rates.” So why do women often receive the blame for fertility problems? Read the article here.

Old-School Tweeting: Campus Teams Compete in 2nd Annual Birdathon

For the second year in a row, biology professor Nat Wheelwright organized a campus-wide Birdathon, inviting students, staff, and faculty to try to identify as many birds as possible in 90 minutes.

Birdathon competitors are not allowed to use fossil fuels to get around, so on a recent, overcast afternoon, small teams of five or more headed out on foot or bicycle to field edges, ponds, or patches of forest. As long as three or more team members could verify a bird by its call or by sight (or by its footprint), the teams could claim it. Two teams tied for first place after identifying 28 species: the Loonatics and the Clayton Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

Wheelwright, Bowdoin’s Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Natural Sciences and Chair of the Biology Department, each spring offers a popular science class called Bird Song. Along with studying the biology of bird song, including the mechanics, anatomy, neurobiology, endocrinology, ecology, and evolution of sound production and recognition in birds, students learn to recognize the songs and calls of common Maine birds. This year, seven of the 14 Birdathon teams were made up of students from the class.