Friday, April 27, 2012

What the octopus knows....

...and what we humans can learn from nature about how better able to defend ourselves in the world. No small order but one tackled by marine biologist Rafe Sagarin in his book "Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease." Apparently, the skin cells of this creature are attuned to externals threats in the environment similar in ways to methods employed by the humble ground squirrel. The squirrel can audibly signal enemies that it is on to their game so beware. (In the case of rattlesnakes, which can't hear but  are sensitive to heat, the squirrel can heat up its tail as a warning device.) The lesson for humans is to ramp up methods of perception by deploying multiple sensors  - to be proactive rather than reactive. "We focus too much on failure," says the author/lecturer Sagarin. Animals have built-in warning systems that humans ignore to our peril (ie.animals changed behavior in advance of the Katrina disaster ).DARPA - the Defense Department research arm - smartly issues challenges asking leaders ahead of time how to solve a problem before it arises. Like Steve Jobs apparently managed to do to get results that have made Apple perhaps the 'safest' investor stock on the planet... All this and more at  AAAS April 5. Just another 'harmless' discussion of high quality on DC's daily calendar. 

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