At The Beat The Time Will Be… 11/11/11 11:11:11

11/11/11 11:11:11

This is providing that my Atomic Clock is correct.

Image Detail

Clocks that do not lose time

Scientists have developed laser clocks that can keep time without missing a beat in nearly two billion years. They are so precise that
they could lead eventually lead to automated cars.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) based in Boulder, Colorado have developed an advanced clock which measures the vibrations of electrons in mercury ions and go 1.7 billion years without missing a beat.
Atomic Clock NBS-2 (1960)
 The new clocks are known as optical clocks and use lasers to measure the frequency with which electrons in atoms vibrate. Currently the most accurate clocks are known as atomic clocks which can measure to an accuracy of one second over 80 million years. As a comparison a
normal wristwatch will lose around 15 seconds a month.
The international committee for weights and measures is planning to replace its atomic clocks with optical ones by 2020.
Scientists believe that installing optical clocks on satellites they will be able to track objects within less than a metre leading to automated motorway driving or landing an aircraft without human intervention.
Historical accuracy of atomic clocks from NIST.
The European Space Agency has said that they are considering fitting an optical clock to a satellite as part of its cosmic vision programme. This programme will run from 2015 to 2025 exploring ways of using space for scientific advancement.
Scientists in Britain, US, Germany, France and Japan are now competing to make a clock more powerful time so accurately that it will not have lost a second since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. They believe this clock will be built within a decade.

Read more:


Video: New Atomic Clock Reaches A 100 Quadrillionth Of A Second Accuracy

by Serkan Toto  From

A team of researchers at the University of Tokyo has developed a new type of optical atomic clock that boasts a 100 quadrillionth of a second accuracy (one quadrillion has 15 zeros). The optical lattice clock is the brain child of Professor Katori who says his device observes a million atoms simultaneously whereas conventional atomic clocks measure time by using single atoms.

The Professor explains:

“(…) if one clock is placed one centimeter higher than another clock, the higher clock is affected by less gravity, so it goes faster. That difference could be read out in the 18th decimal place of the clocks in one second averaging time. Until now, clocks have been thought of as tools for sharing a common time. But with clocks like this, conversely, we can understand that time passes at different speeds, depending on the time and place a clock is at.”

The idea is to eventually use the new clock to improve GPS (which is based on atomic clocks delivering 14-or 15-digit accuracy) or to predict earthquakes, for example.

This video (shot by Diginfonews in Tokyo, in English) provides more insight:


Twisted Design: Telling Time With Toys and Bluetooth

 From Gajitz

Who knew that watching a clock work could be so hypnotizing? The Tilted Twister clock from Hans Andersson is composed of two Lego Minstorm bricks connected by Bluetooth. The master brick is in charge of tracking the time and operating the minute digits. The slave brick is responsible for moving the seconds indicator and the hour digits.

Watching the time change ever so slowly from one minute to the next is a surprisingly entertaining venture. The digits all consist of five layers of black and white tiles. The tiles are twisted around by the top layer until they form the appropriate digit.

Staring at the video of this awesome clock is one thing, but it’s so loud that it would probably be a huge pain to live with. Still, it might be worth the irritation just to have such a unique and artful timepiece keeping you grounded in reality.

Related articles


Alaska braces for possible worst ever storm

Alaska braces for “epic” storm; evacuations begin

By Yereth Rosen | Reuters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – An “epic” storm was bearing down on western Alaska on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said, warning that it could be one of the worst on record for the state.

The storm, moving inland from the Aleutian Islands, was expected to bring hurricane-force winds with gusts up to 100 miles per hour, heavy snowfall, widespread coastal flooding and severe erosion to most of Alaska’s west coast, the National Weather Service said.

A passengers sleeps inside the Alaska Airlines check-in area in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Achorage, Alaska

A passenger sleeps inside the Alaska Airlines check-in area in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Achorage, Alaska, November 8, 2011. Passengers were left stranded as flights in Anchorage were cancelled to villages in northwest Alaska as an “epic” storm was bearing down on western Alaska on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said, warning that it could be one of the worst on record for the state.

“This will be an extremely dangerous and life threatening storm of an epic magnitude rarely experienced,” the service said in a special warning message.

Nome and the rest of the Seward Peninsula, a section of land that juts out toward Siberia, were expected to be the hardest-hit areas, said Andy Brown, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Image via Wikipedia

“It’s going very far north,” he said.

Officials in Nome issued an evacuation order late on Tuesday for people living along Front Street, a beachside avenue that serves as the finish line for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and for other low-lying areas in town.

At least three other communities were housing residents in local shelters as of Tuesday afternoon, said Bryan Fisher, chief of operations for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

But long-distance evacuations from the remote region were not considered feasible, Fisher told a media briefing in Anchorage.

View Video-

“Air traffic will not be flying in the weather that we’re expecting in the
next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

Posing an additional threat is the lack of sea ice off northwestern Alaska,
forecasters said.

The last time a storm of a similar magnitude was sent in the same northward direction was 1974, but the sea surface was much more frozen then, Brown said.

“History tells that the sea ice helps subdue the storm surge,” Brown said. “With no sea ice there, we could see the full brunt of that 6- to 9-foot storm surge.”

Arctic sea ice this year reached the second-lowest coverage since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Alaska Division of Homeland Security & Emergen...

“Forty years ago, a big storm like this would come through and the sea ice would act as sort of a buffer,” said Mark Serreze, director of the Snow and Ice Data Center.

“The Bering Sea has and always will have these strong storms. What is
different now is their potential destructiveness as you lose the sea ice cover,” he added.

Federal, state and local agencies were making emergency preparations in advance of the storm. The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management set up an incident command, with numerous agencies coordinating responses.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it has staged helicopters in the region and sent a cutter to prepare for emergency responses, with a special focus on the crab-fishing fleet.

Numerous government agencies have set up an incident command, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Nome, with 3,600 residents, is one of the largest cities in western Alaska. The communities spread along the coastline are mostly traditional Native settlements, with a few hundred to a few thousand inhabitants, and no roads linking communities.

Although the region is sparsely populated, the storm presents significant dangers, Alaska Senator Mark Begich said in a written statement.

“I realize we are in a remote part of the country, but many people and communities are in harm’s way,” Begich said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)

Mind Food From Great Ones

7 Lessons From 7 Great Minds

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and have a conversation with one of the greatest minds in history? Well, you can’t sorry, they’re dead. Unless of course you’re clairaudient, be my guest. But for the rest of us, we can still refer to the words they left behind.

Even though these great teachers have passed on, their words still live, and in them their wisdom. I’ve made a list of seven what I believe are some of the greatest teachings by the world’s greatest minds.

1. Realizing Your Dreams

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
– Lawrence J. Peter

In order for us to achieve our dreams, we must have a vision of our goals. Writing down our dreams and creating a list of actions helps us stick to our plan. As it’s said “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. When we turn our goals into measurable actions, we gain clarity and are able to see the necessary steps we must take in order to achieve them.

Action: Visualize a life of your wildest dreams. What did you dream of doing when you were a child? What would you do if you had a million dollars? Create a vision for your goals and start breaking them down into small actions that you can take on a day by day basis.

2. Overcoming Fear

“It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best way to learn something is to dive right in to it. When we overcome our fear of failure, we learn that only those who are asleep make no mistakes. Fear is the only thing keeping us from experiencing a life of love and fulfillment. If we make a commitment to an uncompromisable quest for truth, we will realize that as we grow more into the truth, our fears start to disappear.

Action: You must define your fears in order to conquer them. Create a list of everything you’re afraid of and start facing them one at a time. Make a commitment to yourself now to not let fear rule your life.

3. Intention and Desire

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”– Guatama Buddha

Our thoughts determine our reality. When we stop thinking about what we don’t and begin thinking about what we do want, our lives begin to transform. Instead of working against our desires and intentions, we move into alignment with them.

Action: Create a list of your intentions and desires. Wherever you go, take this list with you. Read it when you wake up and before you go to sleep.

4. Happiness

“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”
Benjamin Franklin

Happiness comes from an inner peace, understanding and acceptance of life; a perspective of truth that opens your eyes to the beauty of life all around us. Happiness cannot be achieved by external status, it must be an internal state that we realize when we see our innate perfection.

Action: Realize that happiness is a choice. In every decision you make ask yourself “how can I respond to make myself happy and fulfilled?”

5. Self Acceptance

“If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Jesus

When we stop trying to be what we are not, we realize our authenticity. Before we had knowledge, we were completely authentic. We learn to use knowledge to measure and judge, which is a powerful tool we have as humans. However we create an image of perfection in our mind of what we should be, but are not. We confuse knowledge for nature. We believe in the lie of our imperfection. When we realize this we can reclaim the truth of our perfection and live in love and acceptance.

Action: Make a commitment to never go against yourself. Practice non-judgment and realize that the same part of your mind that condemns you is the same voice that caused you to take the action in the first place. We don’t even have to believe what we say to ourselves.

6. Appreciation and Gratitude

“So much has been given to me, I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.” Helen Keller

How many times do we count our misfortunes rather than our blessings? When we take time to open our eyes to the miracle of life we can see the many gifts that have been given to us. Remembering all the beautiful aspects of life and all the reasons you are blessed can immediately shift our mood. We can move from sorrow and despair to appreciation and hope.

Helen Keller.

Action: Each time you find yourself complaining about something, re-direct your focus to something you are grateful for. Make a habit of transforming your awareness of troubles into an awareness of abundance.

7. The Art of Simplicity

“I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.”
– Blaise Pascal

Perfection is not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. As Bruce Lee once said “the height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” True mastery of our lives is realizing the simple joys of life, removing distractions and clutter from our lives.

Action: The art of simplicity is knowing what to take away. Practice recognizing when you’re spending your time on unimportant tasks and re-focus on the important.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other many great teachings that I did not include here because I felt like they were already expounded on thoroughly elsewhere, such as Einstein and Gandhi’s timeless classics. There are also great teachings to be found from our parents or friends.

Courtesy of

Norman Ramsey Dies- Worked On Atomic Clock

Norman Ramsey Dies at 96; Work Led to the Atomic Clock


Norman F. Ramsey, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who developed a precise method to probe the structure of atoms and molecules and used it to devise a remarkably exact way to keep time, died on Friday in Wayland, Mass. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Ellie.

In 1949, Dr. Ramsey invented an experimental technique to measure the frequencies of electromagnetic radiation most readily absorbed by atoms and molecules. The technique allowed scientists to investigate their structure with greater accuracy and enabled the development of a new kind of timekeeping device known as the atomic clock. Dr. Ramsey received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989 for both achievements.

“If you made a list of the most outstanding physicists of the 20th century, he’d be among the leaders,” said Leon M. Lederman, emeritus director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., which Dr. Ramsey helped found.

Associated Press   Norman F. Ramsey in 1989.
 Early in the 20th century, physicists began to decipher the structure of atoms from measurements of the wavelengths of light they released and absorbed, a method called atomic spectroscopy. In 1937, the physicist Isidor Isaac Rabiof Columbia University developed a means of studying atoms and molecules by sending a stream of them through rapidly alternating magnetic fields. As Dr. Rabi’s student at Columbia in the late 1930s, Dr. Ramsey worked to refine it.

In 1949, when he was at Harvard, Dr. Ramsey discovered a way to improve the technique’s accuracy: exposing the atoms and molecules to the magnetic fields only briefly as they entered and left the apparatus. His new approach — which Dr. Ramsey called the separated oscillatory fields method, but which is often simply referred to as the Ramsey method — is widely used today.

Dr. Ramsey’s research helped lay the groundwork for nuclear magnetic resonance, whose applications include the M.R.I. technique now widely used for medical diagnosis.

But the most immediate application of the Ramsey method has been in the development of highly accurate atomic clocks. Since 1967 it has been used to define the exact span of a second, not as a fraction of the time it takes Earth to revolve around the Sun, but as 9,192,631,770 radiation cycles of a cesium atom.

In 1960, working with his student Daniel Kleppner, now an emeritus professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Ramsey invented a different type of atomic clock, known as the hydrogen maser, whose remarkable stability has since been used to confirm the minute effects of gravity on time as predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Atomic clocks like the hydrogen maser are also used in the ground-based timing systems that track global positioning satellites.

National Archives and Records Administration

Dr. Ramsey signing the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.

Dr. Ramsey did not anticipate that his laboratory technique would have such applications. “I didn’t even know there was a problem about clocks initially,” he said in a 1995 oral history interview. “My wristwatch was pretty good.”

Norman Foster Ramsey Jr. was born on Aug. 27, 1915, in Washington, the son of Minna Bauer Ramsey, a mathematics teacher, and Norman Foster Ramsey, an Army officer. After receiving his Ph.D. under Dr. Rabi at Columbia, he worked at the M.I.T. Radiation Laboratory and served as a radar consultant to the secretary of war. In 1943 he went to Los Alamos, N.M., to work on the Manhattan Project, leading a team that helped assemble the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

After the war, he taught for nearly four decades at Harvard, mentoring scores of graduate students, many of whom went on to start their own research groups. Although he officially retired in 1986, he continued his work through his early 90s. In recent years, he collaborated with a team of British physicists to study the symmetry of the neutron, searching for evidence that it was not perfectly spherical.

Chip-scale atomic clock unveiled by NIST

Dr. Ramsey presided over the founding of Fermilab and another major particle accelerator laboratory, the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where he was the first head of the physics department in the 1940s.

As the first science adviser to NATO, he initiated summer school programs to train European scientists. He led a National Research Council committee that concluded in 1982 that contrary to the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, acoustical evidence did not support the existence of a second gunman in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Dr. Ramsey had an athletic flair. He learned to ski in Norway in the 1930s. Later, he took up long-board surfing and ice sailing, and he traveled with his second wife, Ellie Welch Ramsey, from the Himalayas to Antarctica. After having a knee replaced in the 1980s, he continued to ski.

Dr. Ramsey’s first wife, Elinor, died in 1983. In addition to his wife, he is survived by four daughters, Margaret Kasschau, Patricia Ramsey, Winifred Swarr and Janet Farrell; two stepchildren, Marguerite and Gerard Welch; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Colleagues said Dr. Ramsey was a tall man with bright white hair who gestured energetically and walked briskly. “He had a messianic quality when talking about his work,” said Gerald Gabrielse, a physics professor at Harvard.

William Phillips, a physicist at the University of Maryland, said Dr. Ramsey’s forceful presence and as his contributions “set the tone for a generation of physicists.”

News Photos Of The Day: Underwater Volcano Off Canary Islands

Spewing underwater volcano shakes ground, forces Spain to close island port

Jim Seida writes

Ships and aircraft have been ordered to stay away from the bubbling waters around La Restinga, and the Port’s 600 residents have been evacuated.

Spanish government handout / AFP – Getty Images

This image released Nov. 3, shows green and brown stains at sea off the coast of the Spanish Canary Island of El Hierro. A series of quakes including one measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale shook Hierro island in Spain’s Canaries, three weeks after a nearby undersea volcanic eruption. The 4.0-magnitude quake struck at 0755 GMT in the Atlantic about five kilometres (three miles) northwest of the town of Frontera, population 4,000, said a report by the National Geographical Institute.

Spanish Institute of Oceanograph / EPA

This computer-genereated image shows the underwater volcano in the southern area of El Hierro Island, in the Canary Islands, Spain, on Oct. 31.

Canary Regional Goverment handout / EPA

This image made available on Nov. 4 shows volcanic activity on Nov. 3 from underwater volcano at El Hierro island coast, Canary Islands, Spain. The volcano has being erupting and causing the ground to shake several times a day since July 2011.

Follow the volcano’s activity blow-by-blow on Earthquake Report


A Rover Named Curiosity Heading For Mars On Black Friday

NASA’s new Mars rover reaches Florida launch pad

By Irene Klotz | Reuters

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, a $2.5 billion rover designed to assess that planet’s
suitability for life, arrived at its Florida launch pad on Thursday in
preparation for a planned November 25 liftoff, the U.S. space agency said.

Mars Science Laboratory - Atlas V First Stage ...

nasa hq photo via Flickr

The spacecraft, which is about the size of a small car, was scheduled to be hoisted by crane to the top an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, NASA spokeswoman Lisa Malone said.

Powered by heat from the decay of radioactive plutonium, the rover is expected to spend one Martian year — 687 Earth days — exploring a massive crater that has a 3-mile-high mountain rising from its floor. That is about twice the height of the rock layers exposed in the Grand Canyon.

Scientists do not know how the mountain formed, but it may be the eroded remnant of sediment that once completely filled the crater.

With its 10 science instruments, including two tools that can chemically
analyze pulverized rock, the rover named Curiosity is designed to determine if the landing site, known as Gale Crater, has or ever had the organics necessary for life.

Schematic diagram of the planned rover components.

Curiosity will join the smaller rover Opportunity, which has been exploring
another region of Mars since 2004, and several orbiters, including Europe’s Mars Express. But scientists are concerned that the United States is not following through with funding for follow-on missions.


“NASA has had a string of successful missions since 1996 and killing off the (robotic science) program makes no sense,” said Robert Zubrin, an
aerospace engineer and founder of the Mars Society, a space exploration advocacy group.

“This is a very alarming situation,” Zubrin said.

Of particular concern is the lack of funds for missions to Mars beyond 2013, when a satellite to analyze the Martian atmosphere is scheduled to launch.

Mars, 2001, with the southern polar ice cap vi...

Scientists have been counting on missions in 2016 and 2018 to lay the groundwork for a return flight bringing samples from Mars back to Earth, a step that is considered important toward learning if Mars currently harbors life or ever had it. The missions were to be conducted jointly
with Europe.

“We had an agreement,” Zubrin said. “We are betraying our commitment and now Europe is searching for Russian collaborators to take our place.”

Russia, which has not launched a planetary mission in 15 years, plans to end that hiatus with a launch next week of a spacecraft and lander to explore the Martian moon Phobos. The mission also includes China’s first planetary probe, a Mars orbiter.

NASA’s robotic science program has been hit by budget constraints and by about $5 billion of cost overruns for the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which is
targeted to launch in 2018 but likely to be delayed.

Now that the shuttle program has ended, NASA’s human space flight program is also in transition as the agency works to turn over crew transport missions to and from the International Space Station to the private sector, and to develop its own craft that can travel farther than
the station’s low-Earth orbit.

The rover was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Atlas 5 rocket that will carry it into space was built by United Space Alliance, a joint venture equally owned by the Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Will Dunham)

Aircraft carrier sized asteroid to make close flyby Nov. 8th

Huge asteroid will pass Earth within the Moon’s orbit on
November 8

By Mike Wehner, Tecca | Today in Tech

2011 has been an eventful year for space junkies. We’ve already seen the final flights of the Space Shuttle program, the revelation that water may still exist on Mars, and even a close call with a sneaky asteroid that just barely grazed by our planet. On November 8 we’ll add another exciting event to that list as the massive ball of rock and chemicals named 2005 YU55 (seen above in a NASA radar image) will pass
within 202,000 miles of Earth.

asteroid 1

As its name suggests, 2005 YU55 was first discovered in 2005. The rock was spotted by Robert McMillan of the Steward Observatory in Tuscan Arizona, and in 2010 its predicted trajectory was studied to ensure no risk of an Earth impact. Unlike the 2011 MD asteroid (that made its flyby in June of this year) which was roughly the size of a school bus, 2005 YU55 is much larger. Estimates put it at roughly the size of a naval aircraft carrier. On November 8, the massive rock will squeeze by within approximately .85 lunar orbits of our planet, making it the closest near miss by an asteroid of its size since 1976.

Another close call punctuates a year of wild space news

Scientists are certain that YU55 does not pose any risk to Earth for at least the next 100 years, and the next time a large astroid will pass by the planet will be in 2028. However, space rocks have a tendency to sneak up on us — as was the case with 2011 MD, which scientists spotted just a week before its arrival. So don’t be shocked if you hear about a few more orbital visitors before our 2028 visit.

This article originally appeared on Tecca

More from Tecca:

Take a 360 degree ride- The innerspace of an outerspace vehicle

Yesterday it was the interior of the Sistine Chapel– Today it’s the cockpit of the Space Shuttle once again this 360 degree ride was provided by reader/contributor Leslie. -Bloggo

Space Shuttle Discovery – 360VR Images

Space Shuttle Discovery’s flight deck during decommissioning in the Orbiter Processing Facility

Texas Tech alumnus Rick Husband was the final ...

Just click on the picture and move the mouse in any direction to scan. Great high def detail- Don’t forget to look at the ceiling!

Click here to enter cockpit!

:: 360VR Images :: (c) 2011 by Jook Leung for THELASTSHUTTLE.COM

Wiki information GPS location


The Moral Of This Story- Animals Have Morals Too

Do Animals Know Right from Wrong? New Clues Point to ‘Yes’

By Natalie Wolchover |

In a famous YouTube video, Tank the dog sure does look guilty when his owner comes home to find trash scattered everywhere, and the trash can lid incriminatingly stuck on Tank’s head. But does the dog really know he misbehaved, or is he just trying to look submissive because his owner is yelling at him?

In another new video from the BBC “Frozen Planet” series, Adelie penguins are seen gathering stones to build their nests. One penguin stealthily steals a stone from his neighbor’s nest every time the neighbor goes a-gathering. Does the penguin thief know its covert actions are wrong?

These are some of the scenarios that interest ethologists, or scientists who study animal behavior. For years, these scientists categorically ruled out the possibility that animals might have a sense of morality — that they know right from wrong. Lately, though, the tide is turning.

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, ...

“People used to like to make that stark division between human and nonhuman animals,” said ethologist Marc Bekoff. “But there’s just no doubt that the scientific evidence for animal morality is accumulating as more and more animals are studied.” [6 Amazing Videos of Animal Morality]

Justice for all

Bekoff is a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the
University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-founder (with primatologist Jane
Goodall) of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. His extensive field research has led him to believe that morality is an evolved trait, rather than a system created by humans, and that it evolved early in the history of mammals.

“It has only been observed in certain species, because it really hasn’t been studied extensively, but I would expect that moral sentiments would be fairly widespread among mammals,” Bekoff told Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.


Much of Bekoff’s research has focused on wolves and coyotes — both of which live in tight-knit groups governed by strict rules. Bekoff has observed acts of altruism, tolerance, forgiveness, reciprocity and fairness among wolves and coyotes, and says many of these moral sentiments are evident in the way the animals play with one another.

Canids (animals in the dog family) learn social codes of conduct at a young age through play. They first invite one another to roughhouse using a “play bow”: They lie down on their forelimbs while standing on their hind legs. Even when this is followed by aggressive actions such as growling and snarling, the bow makes their playful intentions clear. During play, dominant members of the pack will engage in role reversal with weaker ones, rolling over on their backs to give low-status playmates a chance at “winning,” as well as lessening the force of their bites to prevent injury. If one playmate accidentally bites another too hard, it “apologizes,” play-bowing again to show that it is still playing, despite the slip-up.

Breaking these rules of engagement — or other rules, such as taking more than one’s fair share of food — is serious business among wolves and coyotes. “There is a consequence of being labeled a cheater,” Bekoff said. Others stop bonding with the “immoral” pack member, and eventually it wanders away from the group, usually resulting in an early death because it no longer receives the benefits of pack living. Bekoff believes the rules governing pack behavior offer a glimpse of the moral code that allowed early human societies to function and flourish.


Image by davipt via Flickr

Dogs evolved from wolves, and seem to have maintained a wolfish
sense of fairness. “They do have a sense of right and wrong. You see it when they play at the dog park, for example; when a dog asks another dog to play — even if it is larger and may be dominant — it’s going to be honest about it. It knows it would be unfair to ask a dog to play and then beat it up or try to mate with it,” he said.

Furthermore, experiments at the University of Vienna have also found that dogs become upset by unfair treatment by humans. When asked to shake hands, the dogs in the study were happy to oblige at first regardless of whether they were given treats or not. But the dogs’ enthusiasm for the trick waned when they saw other dogs being rewarded with food after a handshake, but received nothing themselves. The ignored dogs also started showing signs of distress, such as licking or scratching. The researchers argued that these stress signifiers proved the dogs were upset about being treated unfairly — not just sad about
missing out on a treat.

Bekoff’s book “Wild Justice” (University of Chicago Press, 2009), co-authored with Jessica Pierce, lists evidence of seemingly moral sentiments in many other species too, including whales, ravens, bats, elephants, chimpanzees and even rodents. For example, experiments with rats have shown that they will not eat if they know that doing so will inflict pain on other rats. When the hungry rats were given access to food, but could see that taking it caused a second group of rats to receive an electric shock, the rats stopped eating rather than inflict pain on the group. [Rats Are Ticklish, and Other Weird Animal Facts]

Furthermore, conceptions of wild animals as ruthless and violent are
completely wrong, Bekoff said. “All the research coming out these days on other primates and mammals shows that more than 90 to 95 percent of their behavior is pro-social or positive. It’s actually rare to see aggression or violence.”

Morality in the brain

Another thing that makes gauging morality in animals difficult is that
scientists are only just beginning to investigate the neural mechanisms that control moral decision-making in humans. Last year, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that applying a powerful magnet to a part of the brain called the right temporo-parietal junction in human study participants temporarily skewed their ability to make moral judgments. When questioned about the nature of various actions, the magnetic jolt made them think that actions they had previously judged to be immoral were instead morally acceptable. This and related studies suggest that our sense of morality is somehow hard-wired into our brains.

whale saying Hello

Bekoff suspects that the same brain mechanisms that control moral behavior in humans also control such behavior in other mammals. “It’s a new area and what’s exciting is that there are so many unanswered questions,” he said. “But we need to be consistent in our discussion of behavioral as well as physiological similarities between humans and other animals. As we develop techniques to do imaging in the brains of non-humans, we need to apply the same rules to neuroscience as we do to anatomy.”

That is, if the structures in human brains that control moral and emotional
behavior are also present in animals, then scientists ought to concede that these structures probably play similar roles for them, just as analogous body parts — eyes, for example — imply that we both see.

Of dogs and penguins

So what of Tank the dog, and the thieving penguin? Ethologists say a sense of right and wrong may be evident in the former animal, but not the latter.

“I do think dogs feel guilt,” Bekoff said. Knowing the difference between
right and wrong is vital for canids to successfully bond with other pack
members, he said — and dogs think their human owners are in their pack.

Nicholas Dodman, an animal behavior scientist at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, also believes dogs are capable of feeling guilty, but isn’t sure whether this means they have morality. “Perhaps in the heat of the moment the dog might empty the trash can, and then realize, ‘Oh my God, there’s this mess around, my owner doesn’t like this mess — this is going to be bad news,'” Dodman said. “So yes, they have feelings in many ways similar to our own. But whether you can extrapolate to morals is a different thing.”

As for the penguin, Bekoff has observed thieving penguins in the wild, and did not get the sense that they knew stealing stones was wrong. Ravens who steal food, on the other hand, do know they’re misbehaving, Bekoff said. The distinction arises from the different way that ravens’ and penguins’ peers react to the thievery.

Flying Dog

“In the raven situation, their social organization depends on treating each
other fairly and not stealing, so they punish animals that have stolen food and treat them different from ones that haven’t. In the penguin situation, they don’t do that. Penguins that steal are not ostracized by their group,” he said. Thus there’s no moral code of conduct being violated in the case of the penguins, and in the video, the thief steals stealthily not because it thinks its actions are wrong, but rather because that’s simply the best way to get its neighbor’s stones, he explained.

Animal morality is a tricky business, and more research is needed to discover when and in what forms it exists. That said, “The little we know now about the moral behavior of animals really leads us to conclude that it’s much more developed than we previously gave them credit for,” Bekoff said. “We are not the sole occupants of the moral arena — and it’s unlikely that we would be, given what we know about evolution.”

This article was provided by Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow us on Twitter @llmysteries, then join us on Facebook. Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover.

November- Daylight Savings Fading Away

November, the 11th Month

Today is All Saints’ Day (Hallowmas), a day when traditionally all of the saints are honored. See more about this holiday.
The ancient Celts began this month with Samhain, Gaelic for “summer’s end,” a day to bid good-bye to warmth and light as day length shortens. One way to fight the darkness is to light a fire or candle or make luminaries.We could follow the example of many of nature’s creatures, such as the toad and groundhog,

and go into hiberation—but then we’d miss Thanksgiving dinner, easily the most anticipated meal of the year!

Most of your outdoor gardening tasks are completed now, but heap leaves and compost on your garden beds. You can till them into the soil
next spring. See Gardening Jobs for November.

Expert Advice

When does Daylight Saving Time End? DST ends
on Sunday, November 6 at 2:00 A.M. Before going to bed on on Saturday, November
5, remember to “fall back” by setting your clocks back one hour. See exceptions,
the history of DST, and tell us what you think!

If All Saints’ brings out winter, St. Martin’s brings out Indian summer.

Halloween’s Trick: The October Nor’easter

Why all the snow and cold weather? Get insight on what’s happening and why in our new blog by Evelyn Browning Garris. See weather post!

(From The Old Farmer’s Almanac)


Jupiter With Moons
See a BIG picture—and more photos from our backyard