Perceptions of other species

Richard Feynman was famous for his deep insights expressed in terms of everyday experiences and language.  For some eye-opening insights about vision, especially insect vision, see "The compound (insect) eye" in The Feynman Lectures on Physics I, p36-6.

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That little word "of."

The word "of" has meanings that often get missed.  For example, "of" in "upwards of" properly means much the same as it means in "northwards of."   "Upwards of" means "more than."  It is often used to mean "equal to or less than."

I once asked, on a physics exam,  "Which has the better conductance of heat, glass or metal?"  One student answered, "heat."  After I had returned the exams, she came to me and argued for her answer.  It soon became clear that the "of" had no meaning to her.  She quite literally couldn't see the word because it had no referent for her.  (She had "Turner's syndrome," a condition in which the XX gene is defective; only one "X".  With Turner's syndrome and its reduction of estrogen production, girls don't go through puberty and certain intellectual developments may get bypassed because estrogen is essential to the development.)   "Unique" and "parameter" seem to get similarly misued, and much more commonly.  "Of" is more on the easy side of the edge of human comprehension; "unique" and "parameter" seem to be on the other side.   RTN

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...a barely audible whisper

"Plughh...," a barely audible whisper.

In the old "Adventure" game, the first clue you get that there is a Golden Plover Egg somewhere appears near the entrance after you enter the cave.  But is doesn't appear very often, and it's only "a whisper," always in the same room, perhaps once in twenty visits to that room, and utterly cryptic.  It's a whisper that says only, "Plughh..."

Eureka! I found it!
Here, the red flag/go-stop sign icon is a little reminiscent of that whisper.  It has delay built into a blank frame that makes it invisible for most of its cycle.  It's an interesting attention getter built into html and gif coding.  But here we want it to do something else.  Those valuable "Eurekas" that are "obvious, yet unobserved" and lead to the elementary concepts of modern science, can also be ephemeral.  When you "see," you wonder why you didn't see before.  But sometimes the next time you try to "see," it's gone.

That can be downright irritating!  RTN