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Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Posthumous Paper

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the math-is-for-the-birds dept.

Math 111

ananyo writes "Even in death, the world's most accomplished parrot continues to amaze. The final experiments involving Alex – a grey parrot trained to count objects – have just been published (abstract). They show that Alex could accurately add together Arabic numerals to a sum of eight, and correctly add three small sets of objects, putting his mathematical abilities on par with (and maybe beyond) those of chimpanzees and other non-human primates."

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111 comments

Alex is Dead? (5, Funny)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115495)

Why wasn't that on Slashdot?

Re:Alex is Dead? (5, Funny)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115533)

Because some people on Slashdot don't like parroted stories. I see complaints about that frequently.

Bert

Re:Alex is Dead? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116575)

My green-wing Macaw's name is Bert...
Not that it's relevant other than this being a story about a parrot and you signing as Bert.

I was genuinely sad when Alex died. He was an amazing animal.

Re:Alex is Dead? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116975)

My neighbor had a large (1.5 feet tall) parrot he kept in a cage on the side of his house. He had trained the parrot to utter a few phrases, including, "Hello" and "Yoo-hoo!"

Well, one day my neighbor left and my friends and I were getting high in my backyard. The parrot started squawking loudly. Since there was no fence between my neighbor's house and mine (we live in a rural area), my friends and I decided to feed the parrot with a large clump of bread with a whole Alka-Seltzer stuffed inside it. The bird greedily gobbled up the seltzer-bread. Then he puffed up like he was trying to look tough, and all this white fizzy stuff was coming out his ass.

Still clutching his perch with his talons, he swung over forwards and donked his head on the cage bars before collapsing on the cage floor. The stuff coming out his ass sounded a lot like frying eggs.

Re:Alex is Dead? (4, Informative)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115547)

It was [slashdot.org] (you insensitive clod).

Re:Alex is Dead? (3, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116207)

Reading the thread for nostalgia purposes, is it weird to be bothered that I didn't notice a post years ago in the discussion on the ethics of bird-keeping someone saying their parrot didn't come from the rain forest because it's Australian? That I missed the chance to inform the nimrod that Australia has extensive rain forests and if not their specific bird then almost certainly the species hailed from those rain forests? That part of the problem with bird ownership is owners' ignorance about birds' natural habitats and behaviors?

That's weird, right?

I'm pretty sure that's weird.

Re:Alex is Dead? (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116857)

There are parrots all over Australia, not just in the rain forest, many pet species (eg: common budgie, sulphur crested cockatoo) are well adapted to dry conditions and prefer grassland/scrub.

Re:Alex is Dead? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116917)

Fair enough, I cannot say their parrot was from a rain forest, but I can still complain about "it's from Australia so not from a rain forest"

Re:Alex is Dead? (5, Funny)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115551)

'E's just resting, you know.

Re:Alex is Dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115807)

Beautiful plumage!

Re:Alex is Dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115947)

Why get a helper monkey when you can get a counting parrot?

Re:Alex is Dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115825)

Why wasn't that on Slashdot?

Because it WAS [slashdot.org]?

Re:Alex is Dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116299)

No, he's just pining.

Re:Alex is Dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116673)

Didn't you see the Monty Python sketch.

Re:Alex is Dead? (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#39117399)

"Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Posthumous Paper"

Man that's one pretty smart parrot. I mean, simple arithmetic is one thing, but writing scientific papers is really hard!

Sea animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115581)

How do dolphins and octopuses rank? I tried a search w.r.t. octopuses but didn't find anything (and wikipedia has nothing about it).

Re:Sea animals? (5, Funny)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115643)

They (octopuses sic) have trouble with base 10, they're pretty good with octal.

Re:Sea animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116461)

You know that base 10 is octal, right? (It's a joke. And possibly true.)

Re:Sea animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116897)

Not many seem to get it.

Re:Sea animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39117237)

10 type of people in the world. Those that know binary and those that don't.

I love lemon meringue pie! Throw it bitches!!!

Re:Sea animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120071)

this is DEEP HUMOR

Re:Sea animals? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115985)

Of course you did not find anything related to octopuses intelligence on Wikipedia. Search for the Necronomicon instead.

Re:Sea animals? (4, Informative)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116151)

How do dolphins and octopuses rank? I tried a search w.r.t. octopuses but didn't find anything (and wikipedia has nothing about it).

Octopuses are the smartest invertebrates on Earth. I do sparrow fishing as hobby and they don't stop amazing me, from their ability to deploy decoy legs able to walk alone, annoying ink jets and their fantastic camouflage they are pretty good stealing items too! They should join thepiratebay!
(it's a joke, I know the difference between stealing and copying)

Re:Sea animals? (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116457)

(it's a joke, I know the difference between stealing and copying)

Octopuses don't. Just the other day one was telling me SOPA was essential to saving Hollywood from all those filthy movie thieves. I have no idea why everyone thinks they're so smart.

I do sparrow fishing as hobby

Sparrow fishing? Is that fishing for sparrows? Fishing with sparrows? Is this live bait fishing? Seems like casting would be difficult but oh-so satisfying if they're House Sparrows.

Re:Sea animals? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39117307)

Octopuses are hard to test. They can demonstrate impressive intelligence in maze and puzzle tests - but they have very short lifespans, which makes any type of long-term learning experiment difficult. You get a year, maybe two.

Re:Sea animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39117863)

It takes a fairly stupid creature to measure intelligence by willingness and ability to solve mazes and puzzles. Man is rarely qualified to measure man, let alone other species.

Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Posthu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115591)

"putting his mathematical abilities on par with (and maybe beyond) those of chimpanzees and other non-human primates" ...and most US grade school students...

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115775)

And Most US grade school teachers.

The reason why the US is Lacking in Math and Science is most teachers Hate and are Afraid of Math and Science and past that hate of learning to their students.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115843)

I have to wonder if the reason "most teachers Hate and are Afraid of Math and Science" is because we pay them shit and treat them like shit (and, admittedly, often get what we pay for as a result) so the math/science wonks elect for more lucrative STEM careers, instead.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116271)

Teachers certainly teach their kids that teachers are underpaid and treated badly, but it's a bit naive to go on believing that as an adult, don't you think? If we demanded more of our teachers, fewer would want to or be able to do the job, and pay would naturally rise as a result, but overall as a culture we're not interested in that, we just want a place to park the kids till they can be shipped off to college.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116387)

I did a calculation a while back that compared a middle grade teachers salary with an engineers. I took into account the normal days off from holidays+summer vacation that teachers normally get, compared them to the Holidays and standard vacation time an engineer gets. With a standard 8 hour day from an engineer and a 10 hour day from a teacher. It worked out that the engineer was only getting paid a small amount more. I think 1 dollar an hour difference.

Now that 10 hour day is an average that teachers bitch and moan about to me, however from friends who are teachers I usually see them working up to 12 hours some day and 6 - 8 hours the other... So 10 hours seemed fare. Most engineers I know work more then 8 hours a day to but they don't complain about it as much.

Teacher have a powerful union behind them (My personal feeling is Unions are holding good teachers back from getting what they deserve but that is too much digressing) that makes sure that they are treated fairly most engineers do not have such protection.

But this anti-Math and Science from teachers starts well before they are teaching. Normally for anyone graduating from High School who is choosing a major a Teaching degree is one of those that you can get that has an obvious career path that doesn't require heavy Math and Science, so they go that route. I went to college I know education majors, I saw the classes they took, I saw their masters classes too... They are joke classes to give them a degree.

The Poor teacher excuse is getting really lame today. For they are a few groups without strong math or science skills who can get a decent middle class job, they are not going to be rich but they will be able to pay their bills and feed a family.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#39117347)

But this anti-Math and Science from teachers starts well before they are teaching. Normally for anyone graduating from High School who is choosing a major a Teaching degree is one of those that you can get that has an obvious career path that doesn't require heavy Math and Science, so they go that route. I went to college I know education majors, I saw the classes they took, I saw their masters classes too... They are joke classes to give them a degree.

The Poor teacher excuse is getting really lame today. For they are a few groups without strong math or science skills who can get a decent middle class job, they are not going to be rich but they will be able to pay their bills and feed a family.

I think you misunderstand what I meant, because that's pretty much what I was talking about: not that the current crop of teachers are "poor," that's not what I was getting at, but rather that the ones who AREN'T afraid of math or science are going into other fields instead of teaching. And thus the loop feeds into itself, making another set of kids who are afraid of math/science, etc...

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118073)

I went to college I know education majors

It's rather difficult to take your post seriously, as it contains a large number of grammatical errors. Did you study English in college? I'm a professional programmer with strong respect for mathematics and science, but I also happen to hold the belief that grammatically correct written communications are extremely important. Sadly, many people in my line of work, along with those employed in various engineering disciplines, seem to maintain a rather elitist attitude that mysteriously includes a strong disdain for anything other than mathematics or science.

I have never taught professionally, but I do immensely enjoy teaching in an informal capacity. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I try to stress the importance of a balanced approach to education. That said, most people are naturally better at some things than others. Perhaps this is something you might wish to consider before making any more heavily biased statements.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118431)

After reading comments on this website for 3 years now, I can definitely say that engineers win the whiny faggot race over teachers or any other profession for that matter. So many sniveling cunts bitching how they aren't appreciated and blah blah blah. Get the fuck over yourselves. Go stuff fucking tacos if you're incapable of being thankful for what you do.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119671)

While I agree on the one hand, on the other hand, go look at the administrators the average teacher has to put up with. During my 2.5 years of high school (before I did an equivalency and dropped out) we had like 3-4 new guard (ie under 30) teachers drop out, all in large part due to administrative politics, had chances for full-campus internet access dropped because of politicking over who should get to set up the system and administrate it (hint: they'd rather have 'friends' who were getting paid to do it with questionable credentials rather than professionals offering to volunteer their time to get it done.), and a student recieve an administrative parking space after being thrown out of his previous private school for being involved in a cheating ring (the parking space was later revoked, but since it was campus/district security that enforced it he continued parking there without ever being towed. Despite other students having cars towed for similiar circumstances!

And as a final example for my particular ex-school district, they closed down a former elementary school (having closed the intervening high school years before) and turned it into ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES for the district office, while cutting salary and teaching positions across the district.

So in the defense of less competent teachers everywhere: It's practically a job requirement to be a career bureaucrat if you want to keep your sanity in the average middle-american school district. And from what I've heard and see at lower and upper division colleges similiar bullshit goes on there. Including hurting students over turf wars between departments and professors over the categorization of classes in order to allow professors to improve their pay by stealing away classes that had historically been in other departments for many years before the professors in question even knew of, nevermind applied at those schools.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (4, Funny)

jeepien (848819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116137)

It also looks like your English teacher Hated and was Afraid of English, and Past that Hate to you.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (1, Informative)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 2 years ago | (#39117285)

I think you mean 'passed', unless you are implying he got over the hate...

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120049)

Whoooooosh.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (3, Interesting)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120105)

Yes. Back in about 1976 Psychology Today had a pair of articles - one showed that of all professions, teachers had the highest incidence of a 'mental block' against math, and the other showed that they were successful in communicating that to their students. In Grade 3 about 50% of all students liked math. By Grade 5, only about 15% of girls and 30% of boys liked math.

In my own experience, back in the late 1950s my school was one of those working with the experimental 'New Math' from Stanford Research Institute (now SRI international) - the books were stapled together paperbacks. The New Math basically taught math from an algebraic perspective. It worked great, and it probably accelerated my own understanding. Nationwide the New Math failed, and the analysis showed that while it worked great for students the teachers just couldn't hack it. So school systems dropped it, to the lasting detriment of all students for the last four decades.

It's yet one more unfortunate result of the stultified Education establishment, along with phonics, critical thinking and other power learning tools. The system was originally developed (by Dewey's own account) not to teach but to indoctrinate good industrial workers. The entire concept of age-based class cohorts was never efficient, cost effective or productive. It is now a completely obsolete anachronism, where crowd control and logistics comprises between 75% and 85% of a given day, and actual learning the poor relation.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115969)

"putting his mathematical abilities on par with (and maybe beyond) those of chimpanzees and other non-human primates" ...and most US grad school students...

There, FYFY

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (2)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116485)

There, FYFY

Working on your doctorate?

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116765)

Sometimes it sure seems like that.

Re:Mathematical Parrot Reveals His Genius With Pos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116829)

What exactly makes a school student "US grade"?

Rain man with wings (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115621)

Parrots live very long lives, how tantalising to study what may have been a savant from another species that couldn't score with chicks but really great with maths.

"No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting" (3, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115635)

Re:"No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting" (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115837)

I am shocked it took this many posts to find the link to the parrot sketch. What is up with Slashdot today? Oh well, there will [should] be 50 more below that one.

Re:"No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting" (2)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116213)

I am shocked it took this many posts to find the link to the parrot sketch. What is up with Slashdot today?

It's resting.

Things that still need to be done (4, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115707)

Alex was clearly pretty smart. However, it is as yet still unclear if Alex was actually a representative parrot or was smarter than other parrots. A lot of the current work being done will help answer that. There's also some concern that some of the early experiments with Alex didn't adequately handle the Clever Hahns problem- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans [wikipedia.org] where an animal rather than give actual answers uses subtle cues from the examiner on how to answer correctly. The more recent experiments help address that. It seems clear at this point that Alex's intelligence, and that of the other African Greys, is genuine, but what the average is like is still unclear. One thing is certain though: the use of the word "parrot" to mean mindlessly repeat is deeply unfair.

Re:Things that still need to be done (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115855)

One thing is certain though: the use of the word "parrot" to mean mindlessly repeat is deeply unfair

Shall we start using "FOX News fan" in place of parrot in the future?

Re:Things that still need to be done (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39117373)

Well, it would be more accurate.

Re:Things that still need to be done (4, Interesting)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116889)

I dare "blindly" guess Alex was an average African Grey. My mother happens to own one and it is honestly as smart as a very young child. It's hard to explain. He knows what kind of words use for anger, happiness, request food, denote you are eating (without requesting food for himself, and actually rejecting it, just because he noted you are eating does not mean he WANTS some,) dance, sing, laugh at jokes on the TV (i think it’s more a matter of intonation on that one than actually understanding the joke) and even tell the dog to get the hell away from him. That on top of many other tiny behavioral things.

I think their learning is mostly hindered or boosted by their teacher. My mother is an elder woman, though, without much science or math skills to go trying to impart that knowledge on the bird.

I can’t help but smile in amazement every other week for some new thing he reacts to intelligently.

My doubt does not lie on them being able to learn, but instead being able to transfer knowledge to their children. It would take insane decades, but I would love to find a species in this planet we can teach to, that in turn teach their children the same skills.

Re:Things that still need to be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39123763)

There have actually been studied instances of pods of killer whales that developed unique behavioral patterns and then passed those behaviors from generation to generation. I remember seeing it on a some Discovery documentary. Some of the stuff was really clever too. One example that sticks out in my mind involved several whales swimming in formation to cause a massive wave to wash over an ice shelf and knock prey into the water. I also remember seeing something about a monkey picking up a fishing or food preparation technique of some sort from humans in the area and then teaching the other monkeys. Now, the whole troop does it. Anyway, passing of information from individual to individual is nothing new in the animal kingdom.

Re:Things that still need to be done (1)

r1_97 (462992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120211)

We are bird breeders having several pairs of Greys. I've heard (hearsay) that Alex died from stress being pressured in learning tasks. Greys have learning abilities beyond other avian species and vary somewhat individually. This should be a lesson for tiger moms and other overly ambitious parents.

From the title I thought Alex WROTE the paper! (5, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115749)

That would've been even more impressive than his math abilities.

Dead Parrot Writes his own posthumus paper... (2)

fredmunge (717927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115805)

...that IS genius!!!

Re:Dead Parrot Writes his own posthumus paper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116223)

He's not dead...

Oh, never mind. I think that "Dead Parrot Routine" has been beaten to death.

Re:Dead Parrot Writes his own posthumus paper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116745)

Meh. I'm not all that impressed.

I knew a dead parrot who went on to write a paper about adding up to *nine*.

Re:From the title I thought Alex WROTE the paper! (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39117435)

I thought "mathematical parrot reveals his genius with posthumous paper" was referring to some human who spent his life repeating other people's mathematical ideas but then was validated by some original paper found and published only after his death.

Meaningless (1)

heptapod (243146) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115789)

The bird doesn't have an Erdos number!

Re:The bird doesn't have an Erdos number! (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116165)

But it has a Kevin Bacon Number of 3.
Alex the Parrot
WorkedWith
Irene Pepperberg
WhoWasIn
"Ripley's Believe It or Not!" (1999) {(#1.5)}
With
Dean Cain
WhoWasIn
"Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (2003) {(2003-10-08)}

implication for dinosaurs (1, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39115799)

With time, the dinosaurs might have evolved to create civilization.

Re:implication for dinosaurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115971)

Yes, but sadly it would appear very similar to the early 90s and language would be mostly catch-phrase based.

Furthermore, not the momma.

Re:implication for dinosaurs (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116211)

With time, the dinosaurs might have evolved to create civilization.

They actually had an advanced civilization but it collapsed. When the time came to actually DO something about the massive rock heading for the planet, they built a trajectory altering rocket that would land on the asteroid, dig itself in, and then fire its engines to steer the asteroid the necessary fraction of a degree away to save the planet.
Unfortunately they used touch screens for everything (instead of keyboards and mice) to cater to the T-Rex crowd with their short arms. When it was time to launch, they futilely pawed at their dPads but they just couldn't get any actual work done.

Re:implication for dinosaurs (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39117177)

With time, the dinosaurs might have evolved to create civilization.

They actually had an advanced civilization but it collapsed. When the time came to actually DO something about the massive rock heading for the planet, they built a trajectory altering rocket that would land on the asteroid .dig itself in, and then fire its engines to steer the asteroid the necessary fraction of a degree away to save the planet...

+1 informative
Because, I always thought it was the asteroid deniers that blocked funding for the project till it was too late.

Re:implication for dinosaurs (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119245)

For all we know they might have. They then created nuclear war and global climate change which led to their extinction.

Re:implication for dinosaurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119619)

Nice to see that recognition of the fact that birds are dinosaurs.

Eight numbers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39115993)

I read somewhere that eight seems to be the limit to the amount of objects that an animal can understand. After that point, it is all many objects. Actually, there seems to be an innate sense of basic arithmetic that even we as humans have. Test yourself on this...

Take an unknown number of small objects such as marbles, quickly look at them and WITHOUT counting, guess how many there were. You will probably find that when there are eight or less objects, your guess is usually pretty good. For more than eight objects, your accuracy probably will decline. Maybe we are accessing our (animal) innate ability in arithmetic? I don't know for sure.

Was it OK to hunt it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116447)

Some of our hunter friends would have liked to shoot at it it before it dies just to prove how manly they are since it had not "rights".

So much for the "bird brain" insult.. (4, Interesting)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39116587)

Corvids are as, or may even be more, intelligent. There's the classic story of the Caledonian crow [wikipedia.org] who custom fashioned it's own tool to get at grubs, a trait previously only known to primates, to cite one example. Others abound, but I'm feeling too lazy right now to go hunt them down. Heckle and Jeckle would've outsmarted Wiley E. Coyote any day of the week.

Re:So much for the "bird brain" insult.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116877)

True, but corvids are very antisocial when it comes to other species, typically only communicate vocally in their own language that is indiscernable to humans, and can be distracted by shiney things.

Sounds oddly like geeks.

(Cue nerd-war between crows and ravens, while rooks pop in ocassionally to snipe, and at times all three agree to mock jackdaws)

Polygon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39116863)

Polygon?

When did Polly go?

That's just great. (2)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39117217)

Now your grad school adviser can look at your project and comment:
"a dead parrot would have better chances of getting its paper accepted than you."

Our grey makes up her own whistled tunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118365)

When my wife first bought her current African Grey parrot, Lolo, I thought it would be funny if she learned something from me. So, I started whistling. I started by whistling a few things like final fantasy fanfares and r2d2-like noises and eventually whistled my own (probably not very good) versions of full length songs. She has yet to pick up the fanfare but she picks up certain notes directly from it and has used those for communication. However, the really fun stuff is when she decided to whistle a random tune she's made up. They are nothing like anything I've ever whistled to her. They definitely have a music feel to them, though. I keep meaning to record her. When she wants my acknowledgement, she has a certain whistled phrase she sings to me. When I sing (not whistle, but sing.. again badly and offkey) she will start whistling her own tune.

My mother-in-law takes care of another Grey who I whistled for only a couple times when I first met him 5 years ago. Now, sometimes when I'm there he'll start whistling. My mother-in-law says it's only when I'm there.

Finally, my wife also has a Military Macaw that sings when people sing around him. He likes to hide when he's talking like that.. but it's definitely a humming, human voice like sound.

Is music as impressive as math? maybe not... but it's still impressive. Lolo amazes me every day with her beautiful, creative whistling.

The parrot wrote a paper? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119285)

That was my first thought wen I read the headline, followed by "Publishing standards must be at a new low". That was then followed by "It's no where near April 1st".
The I read the write up and realized how confused I was and, once again, how wonderfully ambiguous the English language can be. :)

Multi-Parrot Processing (2)

qualityassurancedept (2469696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119489)

Well, Alex can do sums up to 8 and so if we had 8 Alex's and an Meta-Alex that counted just Alex's and so on then you can see that we could build a quite complex Parrot Processor. This will come in handy in the post-apocalyptic world where there is no electricity but plenty of parrots because we will be able to construct vast turing machines that require nothing more than thousands of parrots and bird seed for power.

Non-Arabic Arabic Numerals (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120853)

Has anyone wondered why the Arabs don't use 'Arabic Numerals'?

Re:Non-Arabic Arabic Numerals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121779)

Always did when I was there. Turn your head sideways. Most importantly, there is a zero digit making the numerals positional. And although they write from right to left, the numbers appear normal left to right to us, since they are little-endian.

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