Pirahãs — People Who Speak Funny

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(The story of amazing Pirahã people continues from the previous post.)

All the peculiarities of Pirahãs made them virtually impossible target for missionaries. The idea of ​​one God, for example, has been met with incredulity. One? What is ONE?  Explanations that someone had created man, woman and everything puzzled them. The story of Jesus Christ, translated into language sounded funny and unconvincing. Wow, such a great and such a stupid white man! He doesn’t know where people came from. Hearing about a very kind man, whom evil people nailed to the tree with nails, Pirahãs asked whether the white man had seen it with his own eyes. No? Had he met this Christ? Also no? Then how does he know who was this Christ and what happened to him?

For a long time missionary organizations have suffered a fiasco, trying to reason with the Pirahãs and turn them to the Lord. To no avail. Pirahãs pleasantly greeted Catholic and Protestant missionaries, happily covering their nakedness with beautiful donated shorts and delightedly tasted canned food. But the “conversion” never happened.

Since 1977, Dan Everett, the British ethnologist at the University of Manchester, spent a total of seven years living with the Pirahãs. In 1977, Everett was only 25 and fervently religious, ready to do everything that his faith requires, even die for it. Then he understood that imposing your own beliefs on others is akin to colonization — colonization at the level of beliefs and ideas. Everett came to tell Pirahãs about God, salvation, heaven and hell. But Pirahãs were special people, and for them the things that were important to him, did not matter at all. Pirahãs could not understand why this man has a right to tell them how to live.piraha6

Living among these small, half-starved, never sleeping, totally calm, constantly laughing people, Everett came to the conclusion that people are a lot more complex beings than Bible says, and religion does not make us better or happier.

Pirahãs’ life philosophy wasn’t Everett’s only subject of interest. The other one — closely related — was their language, which is not as difficult as it is unique, very different from all other known language groups — the fact that literally turned the traditional idea of ​​the fundamentals of linguistics.

Pirahã language is incredibly spare. There are only seven consonants (p, t, k, ‘, b, g, s, h) and three vowels (a, i, o.) The Pirahã use only three pronouns. They hardly use any words associated with time and past tense verb conjugations don’t exist. Apparently colors aren’t very important to the Pirahãs, either — they don’t describe any of them in their language. But of all the curiosities, the one that bugs linguists the most is that Pirahã is likely the only language in the world that doesn’t use subordinate clauses. Instead of saying, “When I have finished eating, I would like to speak with you,” the Pirahãs say, “I finish eating, I speak with you.”7_Pirahã1-533x400

Everett never once heard words like “all,” “every,” and “more” from the Pirahãs. The word, “hói,” comes close to the numeral 1. But the same word also means “small” or describes a small amount irregardless of number. There is no indication they count using gestures — on their fingers, for example. In fact, Pirahã language there is no word for “finger”, only for “hand”, and they never point fingers, using the “whole hand.”

Everett tried to teach Pirahãs count in Brazilian Portuguese — um, dois, tres… After eight months not a single person could count to ten.

Perhaps, Pirahãs are simply dumber than other jungle people.  Everett says no. In his words, “Their thinking isn’t any slower than the average college freshman.”  Besides, the Pirahãs don’t exactly live in genetic isolation — they also mix with people from the surrounding populations. In that sense, their intellectual capacities must be equal to those of their neighbors.

Eventually Everett came up with a surprising explanation for the peculiarities of the Pirahã idiom. “The language is created by the culture,” says the linguist. He explains the core of Pirahã culture with a simple formula: “Live here and now.” The only thing of importance that is worth communicating to others is what is being experienced at that very moment. “All experience is anchored in the presence,” says Everett, who believes this carpe-diem culture doesn’t allow for abstract thought or complicated connections to the past — limiting the language accordingly.

[…]The debate amongst linguists about the absence of all numbers in the Pirahã language broke out after Peter Gordon, a psycholinguist at New York’s Columbia University, visited the Pirahãs and tested their mathematical abilities. For example, they were asked to repeat patterns created with between one and 10 small batteries. Or they were to remember whether Gordon had placed three or eight nuts in a can.

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Psycholinguist Peter Gorden: Are we only capable of creating thoughts for which words exist?

The results, published in Science magazine, were astonishing. The Pirahãs simply don’t get the concept of numbers. His study, Gordon says, shows that “a people without terms for numbers doesn’t develop the ability to determine exact numbers.”

His findings have brought new life to a controversial theory by linguist Benjamin Whorf, who died in 1941. Under Whorf’s theory, people are only capable of constructing thoughts for which they possess actual words. In other words: Because they have no words for numbers, they can’t even begin to understand the concept of numbers and arithmetic. (Brazil’s Pirahã Tribe: Living without Numbers or Time.)

Dan Everett is convinced that linguists will find a similar cultural influence on language elsewhere if they look for it. But up till now many defend the widely accepted theories from Noam Chomsky, according to which all human languages have a universal grammar that form a sort of basic rules enabling children to put meaning and syntax to a combination of words.

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Everett’s book on the culture and language of the Pirahã people.

Pirahãs — People Who Don’t Sleep

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On the banks of  the Maici River in Brazil‘s Amazonas state, in the territory on Humaitá and Manicoré municipality lives an extraordinary tribe — the Pirahã people — with the unique way of life and faith.

They do not know how to count — even to one. They eat when they feel hunger. When there is no food, phlegmatic Pirahãs take it stoically. They don’t understand why they should eat every day. They eat no more than twice a day, and often fast even when food is plentiful.piraha88

Pirahãs have no notion of private property and do not care for anything that is of value to the modern civilized man. Anxiety, fears and prejudices that plagues 99 percent of the world’s population don’t bother them one bit.

Pirahãs feel no shame, guilt or resentment. If Haaiohaaa dropped the fish in the water, it is bad — no fish, no dinner. But surely it is not Haaiohaaa’s fault.Haaiohaaa simply dropped the fish into the water. If a small Kiihioa pushed Okiohkiaa, it is bad because Okiohkiaa broke his leg and it needs to be treated. But it happened because it happened, that’s all.piraha9Pirahã parents never reprimand, shame or scold their children. Of course they’ll stop the child from touching hot embers or falling into the river, but they never get angry or irate — they simply don’t know how.
If a baby turns away from his mother’s breast, no one will force milk into him — baby  knows better why he doesn’t want to suckle. If a woman in labor goes into the forest to give birth, and then screams and yells nonstop for three days unable to do so, it means she does not really want to give birth, rather, she wants to die. There is no need to rush out there and try to dissuade her to do as she wishes. Well, her husband might still run out to the forest and try to find solid arguments… piraha4

Pirahãs sleep fitfully for half an hour now and then. Pirahãs believe that sleep is harmful — it makes you weak. In the dream you die and wake up a somewhat different person. It’s not that you do not like this new person, you just stop being yourself if you sleep for too long and too often. So Pirahãs do not sleep at night, merely doze fitfully, for 20-30 minutes, leaning against the walls of palm huts or curled up under the trees. To fend off  sleepiness, they rub juice of a certain tropical plant into their eyelids.

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The rest of the time they talk, laugh, carve something or another, dance around bonfires and play with children and animals. Sadly, sleep, however short and fitful, slowly but surely changes them — they remember that earlier they used to be different, perhaps some other people entirely.

“Those were much smaller, were not able to have sex, and even sucked their mothers’ breasts. And then those people have gone and here I am in their stead. And if I won’t sleep for a long time, I may not disappear. I’d slept and changed, I’ll take another name … “ On average, Pirahãs change their names every 6 to 7 years — a distinct “age-appropriate” name, thus the name alone can always say if Pirahã is a child, a boy, an adult or an elderly person.  piraha99

Pirahãs have surprisingly few rituals and religious beliefs. They know they are like all living things — the children of the forest. The forest is full of magic and secrets. More than that, forest is a universe devoid of order, rules and logic, and it is inhabited by ghosts and spirits. All the dead go there, therefore the forest is scary.
But Pirahãs’ fear is unlike that of Westerners. When we are afraid, we feel bad. Pirahãs, on the other hand, consider fear to be a very strong feeling, indeed, but not without certain charm. They seem to love fear.piraha7

Perhaps, it is the fabric of life in which the night’s sleep does not distinguish day and night, Pirahãs have a very odd notion of time. They do not know what is “tomorrow” and what is “today”, what is “past” and and what is “future.” Pirahã people have no notion of hours or days, mornings or nights. They never think about the future — they just do not know what it is. Past is irrelevant to them. Pirahãs live “here and now.”

— to be continued…

The Last Supper

Juan de Juanes 1523 – 1579 The Last Supper (1560)

Juan de Juanes 1523 – 1579 The Last Supper (1560)

The Last Supper. This dramatic gathering has been a source of inspiration for the visual arts. A great number of paintings depicting this Biblical meal were created by different artists at different times over the last thousand years. In various styles, these paintings depict Jesus with his disciples gathered around the table for their last meal.

Ugolino da Siena (Ugolino di Nerio) (Italian, Siena) ca. 1325–30

Ugolino da Siena (Ugolino di Nerio) (Italian, Siena) ca. 1325–30

Needles to say, these paintings were examined, analysed and studied in the smallest details. Nothing, it seems, escaped the attention of myriads of art critics. However…

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Duccio di Buoninsegna. The Last Supper (1311)

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Duccio di Buoninsegna. The Last Supper (1311)

Scientists, brothers Brian Wansink from Cornell University and Craig Wansink from Virginia Wesleyan College, teamed up to analyze something else entirely. The subject of their studies was the amount of food depicted in 52 of the best-known paintings of the Last Supper of the last millennium.
The paintings were scrutinized for content of the meals and coded to determine changes in kinds of food and size of portions over time as depicted in paintings by great masters of the past. The sizes of the loaves of bread, main dishes, and plates were compared to the average size of the heads shown in the paintings. A CAD-CAM program was used to allow sections of the paintings to be scanned, rotated, and calculated with more precision.
As was expected, the size of food in these paintings linearly increased with time. The largest Last Supper was the most recent, according to Wansink’s analysis.

From 1000AD to the present, the ratio of the main course entrée, size of the bread, and size of the plate have increased by 69.2%, 23.1%, and 65.5%, respectively.

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Hans Holbein (Junior). The Last Supper (1524)

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Daniel Crespi. The Last Supper (1624)

Crespi’s Last Supper is a real feast with abundance of food on humongous serving platters. Psychologists believe that this increase is associated with the development of agriculture, expansion of the range of products and their increasing availability. In all likelihood, the artist  was trying to portray the ideal feast according to the standards of the time. Today, though, we have surpassed them all. Our festive dinners  would be the envy of any king of the Middle Ages.

The Last Supper, ca. 1520, Andrea di Bartoli Solario, after Leonardo da Vinci, oil on canvas, currently in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Tongerlo Abbey.

The Last Supper, ca. 1520, Andrea di Bartoli Solario, after Leonardo da Vinci, oil on canvas, currently in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Tongerlo Abbey.

On the most famous version of the Last Supper, Leonardo’s (1494-1498) scientists have noticed eel, served with slices of orange on the menu. This is fundamentally different from earlier works with a rather modest offering of food on the table — like in the work of Duccio di Buoninsegna.

The Last Supper Restored, Leonardo Da Vinic

Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper

Paper: (available by clicking Wansink, B. and C. S. Wansink. (2010). The largest Last Supper: depictions of food portions and plate size increased over the millennium. International Journal of Obesity 34, 943–944.

Find A Happy Face

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Pessimist: It cannot be any worse than that!

Optimist: Sure it can! It most certainly can!

Are you a pessimist, always preparing for failure? With so much bad news, pessimism seems reasonable and optimists can appear to be ridiculously naïve in the face of so much doom and gloom. Pessimism has its place, of course, and helps us prepare for the worst, which does sometimes happen. But, pessimism can be pervasive gradually taking over our lives with devastating consequences for our health, our wellbeing and our general peace of mind. The problem is that when you think negatively all the time, that message gets reinforced and embedded in your brain. If you start thinking, and more importantly acting more positively, however, new pathways are laid down. The more positive you are the more reinforced these new pathways will become. (From Pessimist to Optimist? How Positive Actions can Change your Brain.)

Are you a pessimist оr an optimist? Take an Optimism Test. Now you know.

The ability to see the positive rather than the negative affects our ability to cope with stress and adopt a significantly more constructive solutions  to various problems.

You can find out your cognitive preferences taking this test.

Can you change your attitude and become an optimist? According to a study in the laboratory of Mark Baldwin of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, you can. The method of achieving such a change is called cognitive bias modification, CBM).
find-happy-faceCan you quickly find a happy face in the picture above?  The ability to quickly see the happy face is determined by our cognitive preferences of either negative or positive.

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You can practice psyching up your optimism on the Baldwin lab site. There is also  a simplified version on your smartphone: for Android here, for Apple here.
The exercise is deceitfully simple. Even 5 minutes a day of such training before working hours, it is claimed, will reduce the level of cortisol (stress hormone) by 17%.

 

There Is Nothing To Do on Gunkanjima…

Living in Japan, the Briton Michael Gakuran (Michael Gakuran) visited the island Hasim. Other names for the island: Gunkanjima, Hashima and Battleship Island. For 50 years Hashima was one the most densely populated places on earth. However, by 1974 minerals on the island dried up, and all of its residents left the island.hashima1

Starting in the late 19th century, Hashima served as a coal mining facility and residential complex for 5,000 people. After the decline of coal mining in the 1970s, however, the island became completely abandoned, only opening up again to tourists in 2009.hashima

hashima2 hashima1 HashimaGoogle has a nice treat for those who’d be curious to have a glimpse of Battleship Island without actually travel there and invites Google users to Take a stroll through abandoned “Battleship Island” on Google Maps:

Hashima has transformed into an eerie tourist destination where you can see a once thriving town decaying and totally devoid of life. Apparently, Hashima’s buildings are deteriorating so rapidly that you can hear parts of the concrete collapse as the wind blows from the ocean.

While we can’t replicate those unearthly sounds on Google Maps, we can now give you 360° panoramas of the Hashima with today’s launch of Street View imagery for the island. Thanks to assistance from Nagasaki City, we were able to collect imagery with the Google Trekker beyond the cordoned-off areas for tourists and into off-limits paths around the island. We also used our Business Photos technology to let you peek into the abandoned buildings, complete with ancient black-and-white TVs and discarded soda bottles.

Bad Guys Draw First

ковбой2The great Niels Bohr, the Nobel laureate and quantum physicist, was apparently a big fan of Hollywood westerns. More often than not, in these movies bad guys get shot in a gunfight even though they’re always the ones who reached for their guns first.

Niels Bohr was so intrigued with the puzzle that he came up with a theory: the one who draws second moves faster because he reacts without thinking.

Nils BohrDrawing a gun, taking aim and shooting first, bad guy is inevitably forcing the opponent to act reactively, instinctively, without thinking, and such reactive action is faster than a conscious, thoughtful action.

Bohr tested his theory by staging his own mock duels with toy guns at his institute in Copenhagen. His gunslinging partner, the Russian-born theoretical physicist and cosmologist George Gamow, played a bad guy, drew first and lost every time.

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Gunslingers who wait for their opponent to draw first in a gunfight are faster, psychologists have found. But they’re still dead meat. Caption, in Russian, says, roughly, Last laugh belongs to a guy who shoots first.

Does it prove Bohr’s theory?

“[Bohr] can’t have won because he was quicker in reacting,” says British professor and experimental psychologist Andrew Welchman. “It must be that he was a really good shot as well as a really good physicist.”

Niels Bohr’s theory was right but only to the point Birmingham University researchers concluded. After all, Bohr was no neurophysiologist.  This conclusion makes the scientist from experiments conducted recently.

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The researchers simulated gunfights by sitting volunteers opposite each other and asking them to hit a sequence of buttons as soon as the other person moved. They then looked at which was faster overall: initiating the “gunfight” or reacting.

“In our everyday lives, some of the movements we make come about because we decide to make them, while others are forced on us by reacting to events. Bohr’s suggestion reflects this everyday intuition. We wanted to know if there was evidence for these reactive movements being swifter than the equivalent proactive ones,” Welchman said.

Welchman’s study found that while a gunslinger moved faster when they drew second, the difference was on average only 21 milliseconds – too slow to beat someone who had already pulled a gun.

“You move faster if you draw second, but you’re still going to die,” Dr Welchman said. “You’ll die satisfied that you were quicker, but that’s not much use to you.”ковбой1

“As a general strategy for survival, having this system in our brains that gives us quick-and-dirty responses to the environment seems pretty useful. It probably wouldn’t save you in a Wild West duel because your brain takes around 200 milliseconds to respond to what your opponent is doing, but it could mean the difference between life and death when you are trying to avoid an oncoming bus,” Welchman said.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The research suggests there might be two different circuits in the brain: one for reacting to an external stimulus and the other for starting movements.maxresdefault

There is a good evolutionary explanation for the increased speed of reactive action: The brain circuitry has evolved in such a way that to give our ancestors potentially lifesaving precious seconds when encountered with a sudden danger.

Mozart Meets Parkinson

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Psychologists have long known that music is good for us. It stirs positive emotions, improves blood flow to the brain and muscles, cranking up our mental abilities and physical endurance.

And a recent study, published on March 31, 2015, showed how music affects us at the genetic level. The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians.

According to a recent announcement from the University of Helsinki, Finland, listening to classical music enhances the activity of genes responsible for brain functions, including dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning, and memory. A study by a Finnish team of researchers showed that listening to classical music down-regulated genes that mediate neurodegeneration, and up-regulated several genes known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evolutionary background of sound perception across species. (Listening to Classical Music Enhances Genes Linked to Brain Functions.)

In a nutshell, this is what Finnish scientists (Kanduri et al.) have done: They invited a group of people with different attitude to music and different musical abilities to take part in the study. In the group there were professional musicians as well as music lovers who played no musical instruments, people totally indifferent to music and “everyone in between.” Blood tests were performed on participants’ blood samples before and after “subjecting” the group to music.

People didn’t know what would be played to them. The researchers agreed on Mozart Violin Concerto No.3 in G Major K. 216, lasting around 20 minutes.

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It was found that during the 20 minutes of Mozart, in some people certain genes were notably activated (the paper uses the term up-regulated.)

The up-regulated genes were found to affect dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor behavior, neuronal plasticity, and neurocognitive functions including learning and memory. Particularly, candidate genes such as SNCA, FOS and DUSP1 that are involved in song perception and production in songbirds, were identified, suggesting an evolutionary conservation in biological processes related to sound perception/production. (–From the published paper.)

SNCA, the gene involved in the production and transport of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that provides work memory and learning. When SNCA is “off”, the likelihood of Parkinson’s disease is greatly increased. At the same time, listening to music down-regulated genes that are associated with neurodegeneration, thus listening to music may have a neuroprotective effect.

Music performance is also known to induce emotion-related psychophysiological responses and generate a robust brainstem encoding of linguistic pitch patterns. However, the molecular mechanisms and biological pathways mediating the effects of music performance so far remain unknown.(–From the published paper.)

Unfortunately to those people who aren’t musically inclined, “The effect was only detectable in musically experienced participants, suggesting the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects,” the researchers remarked in a University of Helsinki announcement.

As a quick remedy, do your SNCA a favor and listen:

Mansudae

BehanzinStatueBéhanzin (1844 – December 10, 1906) is the eleventh King of Dahomey, modern-day Benin. He fought against the French colonizers and is remembered as a great hero by the people of Benin. This impressive monument is erected in Abomey, the country’s capital.
.JoshuaNkomoStatueAnd this is a no less monumental statue of former vice-president and independence fighter Joshua Nkomo, revered by the people of Zimbabwe. The statue was commissioned by the government of the country.

le_monument_de_la_renaissance_africaine.jpg.CROPThis one is African Renaissance, the highest monument on the African continent, erected in Dakar, Senegal, in 2010.

At 160 feet tall, the bronze monument is over one-and-a-half times the height of the Statue of Liberty. It depicts a man with a bare, ripped torso holding an infant aloft in one arm and guiding a woman with the other. The infant points ahead to indicate the glorious future, while the woman extends her arm behind to acknowledge the troubled past. Her hair is swept back by the wind, as are her scant, gossamer-like garments.

HeroesAcreNamibiaThe Heroes’ Acre monument is situated south of Windhoek, Namibia. It is built as a symmetric polygon with a marble obelisk and a bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier with a Kalashnikov in his hand, having uncanny resemblance to Sam Nujoma, Namibia’s President from 1990 to 2005.

What these monuments, made of tons of bronze, strewn over African continent — Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, Zimbabwe — have in common?

It is their maker. These mammoth monuments were erected by Mansudae Overseas Projects, a design and construction company from North Korea — the international commercial division of the Mansudae Art Studio. Perhaps the world’s biggest art factory, Mansudae employs roughly 4,000 North Koreans, including some 1,000 artists, handpicked from the country’s best academies.

“They seem to have developed a small cottage industry,” says Marcus Noland, an expert on North Korea and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The North Koreans are desperate for money, and my guess is that at some point they figured out that essentially exporting their capacity to make glorious monuments to great leaders was something they could do to both win friends and possibly influence people, but also possibly make money.”

Germany is thus far the only Western democracy to have engaged the services of Mansudae. It did so in 2005, commissioning the fountain re-creation for €200,000 total ($264,480 today).

“The top tier artists in Germany simply don’t make realist work anymore. North Koreans on the other hand haven’t experienced the long evolution of modern art; they are kind of stuck in the early 1900s, which is exactly when this fountain was made.” (–Klaus Klemp, deputy director of Frankfurt’s Museum of Applied Art.)

And it went perfectly well, with the exception of a slight style issue: the North Korean sculpted the woman with “kind of a cement block hairdo,” in Klemp’s words — a little too Communist/socialist/realist for 21st-century Germany.

This re-creation of Frankfurt’s Fairy Tale Fountain was built at Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea. (via Wikipedia)

This re-creation of Frankfurt’s Fairy Tale Fountain was built at Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea. (via Wikipedia)

Only Mansudae Art Studio’s artists are sanctioned to portray the Kim dynasty:feature_northkorea

How does someone become a Mansudae artist? What training is involved?

Most of the Mansudae artists are graduates from Pyongyang University of Fine Art. There’s no examination or that sort of thing but top-scored graduates usually want to become Mansudae artists. Once you become Mansudae artist, you can learn from famous artists and continue your training.

In secondary school, the ones who have potential go to the after-school activities. At the time of graduation you take an examination to enter university … this is an ordinary course of training but it’s not all that is needed to reach the high level of expertise. (Jon Pyong-jin, oil painter awarded the title ‘merited artist.)

A state-artist in residence at the Mansudae Art Studio Photograph: Alamy

A state-artist in residence at the Mansudae Art Studio Photograph: Alamy

Most Mansudae paintings, drawings, prints, and statues are of a uniform style and depict a pastel world filled with paternalistic leaders, rosy-cheeked children, loving mothers, vibrant nature scenes, and patriotic heroes. But the classically trained artists are good enough to create all manner of realist art.

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Old News: Genetic Savings and Clone

клонириваниеCats, as we know, have nine lives. On October 17, 2004 in the laboratory of the Genetic Savings & Clone Inc, Nikki, the Maine Coon cat started her second life. Little Nikki, a replica of the original Nikki who died a year earlier at age 19, became the first animal clone created for commercial rather than scientific purposes in a commercial rather than scientific laboratory .

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A Texan cat lover named Julie has become the world’s first owner of a cloned-to-order feline, paying $50,000 for a genetic duplicate of her dead pet.

To produce Little Nikki, researchers used a technology known as chromatin transfer, in which Nicky’s DNA was transplanted into an egg cell whose nucleus had been removed. The embryo was then placed in the womb of a surrogate mother who gave birth to Little Nikki.

ulie holds her 9-week-old clone, "Little Nicky," yesterday in Texas. Little Nicky was sold to Julie by Genetic Savings and Clone for $50,000. She says its appearance and personality are identical to that of her previous cat.

Julie holds her 9-week-old clone, Little Nicky. Julie says its appearance and personality are identical to that of her previous cat.

It was a risky process, however. Lou Hawthorne, Genetic Savings and Clone’s chief executive, said that roughly a third of the clones in their experiments did not survive beyond 60 days. Between 15% and 45% of cloned cats born alive die within 30 days.

The company that offered the cloning service, Genetic Savings and Clone, was launched in 2000 by billionaire and University of Phoenix founder John Sperling. Sperling had hoped to have his hunting dog Missy cloned, but scientists were never able to accomplish that feat. Nonetheless, Sperling decided to go into the business of trying to help others recreate their dearly departed pets.

Unfortunately, even for the most devoted of pet owners, there’s a limit to how much they’ll pay to have their dearly departed feline recreated. Genetic Savings and Clone’s hefty $50,000 price tag was just too much to generate much interest in their services. The company recently reduced the price to $32,000, but still there were no takers. The company sent letters to its customers last month letting them know that they will have to close at the end of the year. The letters said that Genetic Savings and Clone has been “unable to develop the technology to the point that cloning pets is commercially viable.” (– Genetic Savings and Clone Forced to Shut Down.)

The company closed in 2006. Before Nikki there were goat, cow, rabbit, horse, mule, deer, mouse and the famous sheep Doll, all created in scientific labs. By the beginning of 2000s cloning technology was already fairly well developed, and scientists were able to clone human embryonic stem cells, an invaluable biological material from human tissue genetically suitable individual patient.

Many people were convinced that somewhere in clandestine laboratories human cloning is about to begin, or is in full swing. Reflecting the collective paranoia, in 2002, the second episode of George Lucas’ Star Wars, Attack of the Clones  in the final epic battle two armies, biological clones and mechanical droids.

Further reading: