Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why does Sugar Loaf mountain in Rio is called Sugar Loaf

Sugar crystals were clumped together and were removed from the molds into blocks that had taken the geometry form of these metal molds

The Portuguese who arrived in Brazil in the sixteenth century, believed that the hill Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro was a piece made ​​by man.
Legend Says that it was the Father Anchieta himself who gave the name to the hill "sugar loaf" because it seemed like the cones obtained when refining sugar.

The way to produce sugar during the Renaissance was the “purging”, reffering to the old way to purge the sugar, i.e., separating the formed crystals from molasses, operation characteristic of the old sugar mills. In mills, the separation consisted in placing the massecuite obtained in metal pots molds that were shaped like an inverted cone with a lower hole through which the honey was drained by gravity.
Charles Landseer circa 1827 Sugar Loaf view from Silvester Road

To assist purging process it was necessary to keep the sugar with an appropriate degree of humidity, which is managed by placing one or more layers of mud or manure at the top of the mold, which were thoroughly moistened every five or six days. These operations had to be done carefully in order to assure the quality of the final sugar. Once drained molasses, after a period that could reach a month, depending on the weather, the sugar crystals were clumped together and were removed from the molds into blocks that had taken the geometry form of these metal molds. It kept resemblance to the production of bread, which was also baked in molds, and so by analogy, we started to call "sugar loaf" cone of crystals obtained after purging.

But the cones were not homogenous in terms of quality of sugar, nor were practical to pack and carry. Thus, once produced, were broken, by taking into account layers lighter and darker, corresponding to a sugar whiter the base of the cone and darker at its apex. This is another reason that it was a conical mold, as the region of the base of the cone, sugar whiter, was much more voluminous than the apex, where sugar was darker. The regions of the cone that had darker sugar were withdrawn through a machete in an operation called "mascavar" and brown sugar was called "muscovado" which also means "broken." The remaining block of white sugar was broken with the aid of cuttings and wood was then placed in boxes for transport.

There were also special sugars, such as the base of the cone, carefully cut with a thickness of a few centimeters, was packed straw or leather, or trim shaped cubes in order to present. Molasses resulting from the purge was sent back to the pots, where during his concentration was beaten with the help of a slotted spoon and sugar originated the "hit", both white and brown sugar. This process is similar to "mixers" the current amorphous sugar refineries. The described methods have been used for hundreds of years, since the advent of sugar production. With the invention of centrifuging as a method for separation of sugar crystals in the first half of the nineteenth century, the system of purging the sugar by gravity employing molds was quickly abandoned and become curious the past, as well as the words which originated these practices.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our perception of the world

The adage ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ can easily be proven wrong when we realize that our civilization have a higher level of material comfort provided by the latest technologies achievements, our life expectancy is much greater than our ancestors' was, we are traveling all over the world and we are having fun just because our scientists always found pleasure in discovering more and more.
The Simpsons, episode 257 "HOMЯ"Lisa Simpson was proved wrong when put “As intelligence goes up, happiness goes down. See, I made a graph.” The Simpsons, episode 257 "HOMЯ"

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So, the key to our development is in the knowledge of the world around us. Each animal on the planet has different tools for these purposes; these "organs of the senses" vary widely from animal to animal and provide them with different interpretations.

How does a one-millimeter worm perceive the world around it?

We know that we have a far better perception of the world around us than a roundworm – the question is – is our senses the best tool to understand the world?

Perhaps strange phenomena such as the manifestation of ghosts, apparition of UFOs and precognition are mere natural events, which our sensory organs together with our brain’s discernment does not allow us to understand.

A dog has no idea of the enormous amount of information that exists in a library and may interpret the shot a shotgun as the "wrath of human gods". And so much for the worm, it does not make the slightest idea of what a bridge is.

Perhaps when we find a far more advanced living being and ask him about ghosts and UFOs, his explanation would be extremely difficult for us to understand. We may have the same difficulty to understand his explanations as a dog trying to learn how to project and build a bridge using advanced software and the utmost technology.
Sebastian Stoskopff, L'été ou Les cinq sens - July 13, 1597 – February 10, 1657).

Human consciousness is still in a stage "experimental" - is a very recent acquisition of nature. Life began on Earth 3.5 billion years ago, but we just achieve consciousness about 6000 years ago (if we take the writing as the first manifestation of consciousness). This is a subject rarely addressed by science, because misoneism makes us seek solace in religion, which gives us a greater sense of comfort.

There is an animal on our planet that can help us better understand how we interact with our universe, in 1963, Sydney Brenner proposed that the small nematode called Caenorhabditis elegans should be considered the perfect model organism for scientific investigation of animal development and behavior. With about 1 mm long, the C elegans are not parasites, they are free-living, spend 14 hours as an embryo, live in soil and feed on bacteria. It is the first multicellular organism for which scientists have been able to sequence its whole genome.

C. elegans has two types of sex: hermaphrodite and male. A hermaphrodite makes sperms when its in a larval stage and makes ova in an adult stage. A male can only make sperm. Males are a little smaller than hermaphrodites.
the range of electromagnetic perception we have is extremely narrow

The perception that a Caenorhabditis elegans has about the world is much simpler than ours. While this worm has only the somatic sensory system, humans have the traditional five senses of Aristotle; we hear from 20hz to 20,000 Hz, we see from 400 to 790 THz (it is imperative to say that the range of electromagnetic perception we have is extremely narrow, see comparison chart above) we have the sense of touch, smell and taste, and some others like nociception (pain); equilibrioception (balance); proprioception and kinaesthesia (joint motion and acceleration); sense of time; thermoception (temperature differences); and possibly an additional weak magnetoception (direction), and we have a very sophisticated brain to analyze all those data.

The process of perception begins with an object in the real world, termed the distal stimulus or distal object. By means of light, sound or another physical process, the object stimulates the body's sensory organs. These sensory organs transform the input energy into neural activity—a process called transduction. This raw pattern of neural activity is called the proximal stimulus. These neural signals are transmitted to the brain and processed. The resulting mental recreation of the distal stimulus is the percept. Perception is sometimes described as the process of constructing mental representations of distal stimuli using the information available in proximal stimuli.

The Caenorhabditis elegans has about 302 neurons in the brain /whole nervous system, with ~ 5,000 synapses. (Humans have about 85,000,000,000 neurons in the brain /whole nervous system, with ~ 1014-1015 synapses). The nervous system is by far the most complex organ in C. elegans, almost a third of all the cells in the body (302 out of 959 in the adult hermaphrodite to be precise) are neurons. 20 of these neurons are located inside the pharynx, which has its own nervous system.

C. elegans has no eyes but they are affected by the ultraviolet light by its transparent body, they should react to the radiation in order not to be exposed to it.

More complex animals have intricate perceptual systems that respond to many different features of their environment – insects, despite their impressive eyes, are most sensitive to trails of chemicals; bats are blind to light but responsive to sonar pulses; dogs and pigs depend more on smell than vision for sensing the world.

Non-human animals may possess senses that are absent in humans, such as electroreception and detection of polarized light.

Many animals (salamanders, reptiles, mammals) have a vomeronasal organ that is connected with the mouth cavity. In mammals it is mainly used to detect pheromones to mark their territory, trails, and sexual state. Reptiles like snakes and monitor lizards make extensive use of it as a smelling organ by transferring scent molecules to the vomeronasal organ with the tips of the forked tongue. In mammals, it is often associated with a special behavior called flehmen characterized by uplifting of the lips. The organ is vestigial in humans, because associated neurons have not been found that give any sensory input in humans.
Dogs do not go to libraries to read, worms do not build bridges and the man still believes that many natural phenomena are supernatural. We all have our limitations of perception and consciousness.
What should be the next steps in the evolution of humans?

The starting point for assessing what would make us smarter would be by improving our brain. But scientists insist that the size of the birth canal is the factor that ultimately limited brain size. For that I have the appropriate answer:
The same way that organs like the lungs and heart are protected by a bony armor called the ribcage, which is deformed at birth, allowing passage through the birth canal and then returning to normal, the brain could be inside that same structure (if this morphological alteration take place, we would look like Blemyas - lol).

But what benefit would we have if we had a brain bigger? - I believe that the most important modification would be our communicability, since our social need should be greatly increased.

According to Dr. A. K. Pradeep in his book “The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind”, we received a tremendous amount of information in our brains, but we have great difficulty to process it consciously and an even bigger difficulty to communicates them.

Dr. Pradeep says that we receive approximately 11 million bits through our senses, but we only process consciously about 40 bits a second.

And when we have to tell an experience received in our brain, we have to translate this billions of bits into a few words, task extremely synthetic, which allows millions of information to be omitted and also allows noise and communication errors.

So our next step in the evolutionary response would be 'Homo blemmyae'. In his/her large brain would have billions of neuronal transmission and reception organelles, and thus would be able to practice telepathy.
Blemya Talk Show - Maybe monsters like the Blemya make us better understand monsters like the Blemya

Since we can directly interact in the minds of our fellowmen, lack of reliability would be eliminated, the feeling of pain of our mate would affect us directly, thus we would eliminate all the things that can cause suffering on others, such as treason, corruption, etc.. We also should eliminate poverty, indifference, and hunger since we do not want to feel the effects of these ills issued by someone next to us.

This would be called the era of the 'Homo blemmyae collectivum'.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

History of Itã – The man from Sambaqui

at the same moment they arrive at the midden, Itã and his party feed on the prosperous place replete with clam
Year 6700 BC - A small hominid approximately 4.9ft tall leads a group of hunters/gatherers in the interior region near the beach of Cabeçudas in Santa Catarina State (at that time the sea level was higher than today).

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Itã - The man from Sambaqui

We can call this little hominid ITA (shell / polished stone in Ancient Tupi).

ITA proceeds with a small group and finds a tiny Sambaqui abandoned amid a rich reserve of clam on a beautiful and warm beach. This small formation of 6 men led by ITA is sort of a landing party that aims to explore the surroundings after being expelled from a rich site a few miles away.

This Sambaqui seems to have been abandoned due to scarcity of mollusks, but ass time went on, no longer an depleted sambaqui and now shows some prosperity.

Itâ promptly goes back to this family group camped not far form there and tells the 200 members of his tribe about that good news.

This is a fictional story based on the ultimate facts of archaeological research but it may well have happened. There is along the Brazilian coast and on the estuary of large rivers hundreds of archaeological sites of a semi-nomadic people who lived with a certain social organization called Sambaquis.

The Sambaquis (tamba'kï of Tupi, literally "mound of shells") are found throughout the Brazilian coast, also are also called shell mounds, casqueiros, berbigueiros, Sell Middens, etc. These deposits of historical material called the attention of the early settlers, were visited by Emperor D. Pedro II, eminent naturalist, who was enchanted by them were targeted for study by the University of São Paulo and attracted the attention of Paul Rivet, the legendary director of the Museum of Man, and "father" of modern American anthropology. On the southern coast of Brazil were studied by imminent the archaeologist João Alfredo Rohr.

Aspect of a sambaqui

These various archaeological sites of monumental dimensions that sometimes reach up to 30 meters high served as housing, shelter and even a cemetery. For a long time it was believed that it was only the fossilized remains of ancient peoples but recent studies indicate that these shell mounds were purposely built.

The study of these constructions provides an intricate material just like a puzzle that show us how it was the daily life of prehistoric men who inhabited the Brazilian coast.
Objects placed beside the bodies indicate funeral ritual - Museum of Man Sambaqui - Santa Catarina - Brazil

Remains of fish and mollusks indicate that they were fishers and gatherers. "We found that most groups were sedentary and not nomadic, as previously thought," says archaeologist Paul DeBlasis, University of São Paulo (USP).

Then see step-by-step how Sambaquees made ​​hooks from a bone fragment .
Remains of campfire and food indicate that the diet of Sambaquees came mainly from the sea. Some communities already grew vegetables, which brought an unexpected problem: corpses in middens from Rio de Janeiro, thad shown great incidence of caries that may be related to excessive consumption of cassava (Manihot esculenta).
This statue of a couple of birds - Zoólito - indicates that the men from  Sambaqui dominated the concept of art

The dexterity of Sambaquees was recorded in zoólitos, stone sculptures representing over two hundred animals and geometric figures. In some cases, artisans have made images of fish with such care that it is possible to recognize the species represented.

From the south-central coastal plain of Santa Catarina, between Passagem da Barra (municipality of Laguna) and Lake Figueirinha (municipality of Jaguaruna), 76 middens were mapped, of which 48 have already being dated.
Utensils for many jobs

The difference in cultural and in dietary habits, led to the conclusion that they were the work of a society distinct from the Tupi-Guarani, who then populated the entire coastal region of Brazil. Recent studies suggest that the middens have been constucted by people who lived on the Brazilian coast between 10 000 and 2000 years before present.

The systematic survey and dating of sites in Santa Catarina identified patterns of spatial distribution of middens in the region, as the sedimentary context of the time of construction, stratigraphy and age. Thus, they recognized themselves in the sites of the region: geological and geomorphological five contexts of location, three stratigraphic patterns, and four phases of occupation sambaquieira based on the number of sites and the type of constructive dominant pattern.

The wonderful work done by researchers at the Museum of Man from Sambaqui - Padre João Alfredo Rhor in Florianópolis – Santa Catarina promises to reveal even more secrets about the beautiful story of the first men who inhabited Brazil, long before the arrival of settlers.

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