Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Einsteins of the deep

Dolphin drivel from Mail online:-

The Einsteins of the deep: Dolphins can perform feats of maths that would baffle human computer systems.

Dolphins can perform complex feats of maths that defy human computer systems. The finding has forced scientists to reevaluate how intelligent the animals are.

When hunting, dolphins blow 'bubble nets' - but are still able to use sonar - 'counting clicks' through the mass of bubbles. The ability seems to prove that the animals can do complex 'nonlinear' maths calculations. (*) 

Human sonar systems would be baffled by the bubbles - but dolphins appear to have a mathematical ability to 'cancel them out. (**)

(*) No it doesn't, it may suggest they still use their sonar through their bubble nets. It doesn't prove they are doing calculations.

(**) No they appear to have the ability to cancel them out. The word mathematical is redundant, added for effect.


Sam Vega said...

The article also says that Dolphins can use the concept "zero". I'd like to know how the researchers work that one out. Can mackerel use it?

Roger said...

Serves you right for reading the Mail. Perhaps 'experience' and 'staying alive' come into it.

One explanation is 'maths', that is one route, but cramming a few billion brain cells into a skull then joining them up and adding the result of a few million years evolution might be another.

Imagine, if we had been able to make biological brains we might never have invented 'maths'.

Angus said...

But can they use a calculator?

A K Haart said...

Sam - researchers can be so amazingly anthropocentric, I often wonder how they get their material through peer review.

Walt Disney has a lot to answer for.

Roger - I don't really read the Mail, I just stumbled on this story. I think there are interesting issues with trying to link maths to the real world.

Angus - maybe those bubbles are a kind of abacus? I bet the researchers didn't think of that!