Essay on “The Role of Computers in Everyday Life” …
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Although our species, (named if we consider that Neanderthals and an are subspecies of but I will use in this essay to denote today’s humans), is the only survivor of the past several million years of human-line evolution, many of our cousins and ancestors were recognizably human. When did language begin, especially spoken language? Language certainly predated the appearance of . All great apes readily learn sign language, and even when monkeys chatter, the , and there is plenty of evidence that great ape vocalizations can . The and their corvid cousins can be hard to believe; they can solve some problems better than great apes can, and birds do not have a neocortex, but seems to function like the neocortex does. Becoming that began to . If fossils are sufficiently preserved, important anatomical features can provide key evidence for human abilities and behaviors. Turkana Boy, for instance, had his inner ear, which is responsible for balance, preserved well enough so that it provided more evidence that he did not spend time in trees (it is larger in primates that regularly climb). Similarly, the , which succeeded , apparently enabled keener hearing than its predecessors were capable of, and may have reflected the beginnings of spoken language. There is strong evidence that . As with many other human traits, the potential for language seems to have existed with monkeys (), and it kept developing more sophistication over vast stretches of time, and structural and cognitive changes interacted as human language developed into today’s version.
I wrote the essay below with the help of some of my students
For this essay’s purposes, the most important ecological understanding is that the Sun provides all of earthly life’s energy, either (all except nuclear-powered electric lights driving photosynthesis in greenhouses, as that energy came from dead stars). Today’s hydrocarbon energy that powers our industrial world comes from captured sunlight. Exciting electrons with photon energy, then stripping off electrons and protons and using their electric potential to power biochemical reactions, is what makes Earth’s ecosystems possible. Too little energy, and reactions will not happen (such as ice ages, enzyme poisoning, the darkness of night, food shortages, and lack of key nutrients that support biological reactions), and too much (such as , ionizing radiation, temperatures too high for enzyme activity), and life is damaged or destroyed. The journey of life on Earth has primarily been about adapting to varying energy conditions and finding levels where life can survive. For the many hypotheses about those ancient events and what really happened, the answers are always primarily in energy terms, such as how it was obtained, how it was preserved, and how it was used. For life scientists, that is always the framework, and they devote themselves to discovering how the energy game was played.