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The Return of Artificial Intelligence It is becoming acceptable again to talk of computers performing human tasks such as problem-solving and pattern-recognition A After years in the wilderness, the term ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) seems poised to make a comeback. AI was big in the 1980s but vanished in the 1990s. It re-entered public consciousness with … more →

A Chronicle of Timekeeping Our conception of time depends on the way we measure it A  According to archaeological evidence, at least 5, 000 years ago, and long before the advent of the Roman Empire, the Babylonians began to measure time, introducing calendars to co-ordinate communal activities, to plan the shipment of goods and, in … more →

The Triune Brain The first of our three brains to evolve is what scientists call the reptilian cortex. This brain sustains the elementary activities of animal survival such as respiration, adequate rest and a beating heart. We are not required to consciously “think” about these activities. The reptilian cortex also houses the “startle centre”, a … more →

The Concept of Role Theory Any individual in any situation occupies a role in relation to other people. The particular individual with whom one is concerned in the analysis of any situation is usually given the name of focal person. He has the focal role and can be regarded as sitting in the middle of … more →

Obtaining Linguistic Data A.  Many procedures are available for obtaining data about a language. They range from a carefully planned, intensive field investigation in a foreign country to a casual introspection about one’s mother tongue carried out in an armchair at home. B.   In all cases, someone has to act as a source of language … more →

The True Cost of Food A For more than forty years the cost of food has been rising. It has now reached a point where a growing number of people believe that it is far too high, and that bringing it down will be one of the great challenges of the twenty first century. That … more →

Population Movements and Genetics A Study of the origins and distribution of hum on populations used to be based on archaeological and fossil evidence. A number of techniques developed since the 1950s however have placed the study of these subjects on a sounder and more objective footing. The best information on early population movements is … more →

Volcanoes (Earth Shattering News) When Mount Pinatubo suddenly erupted on 9 June 1991, the power of volcanoes past and present again hit the headlines A Volcanoes are the ultimate earth-moving machinery. A violent eruption can blow the top few kilometers off a mountain, scatter fine ash practically all over the globe and hurt rock fragments … more →

Attitude of Language It is not easy to be systematic and objective about language study. Popular linguistic debate regularly deteriorates into invective and polemic. Language belongs to everyone, so most people feel they have a right to hold an opinion about it And when opinions differ, emotions can run high. Arguments can start as easily … more →

Alternative Medicine in Australia The first students to study alternative medicine at university level in Australia began their four-year, full-time course at the University of Technology, Sydney, in early 1994. Their course covered, among other therapies, acupuncture. The theory they learnt is based on the traditional Chinese explanation of this ancient healing art: that it … more →