Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In other news...

The monthly review of magazines at the local bookstore yeilded a few good articles. First off were a few about Roald Gunderson, who builds houses using trees in their natural state. They are not cut into dimensional lumber. The results are unorthodox to say the least, and once you are past the shock it is really very charming. But what impressed me the most were the structural advantages of this approach, as well as the low cost and sustainability of this construction method.

But if you ask enough people, you will soon discover that very few things are genuinely new. Roald Gundersen's approach, while already tried by a few creative hippies, was presaged hundreds of years ago in the form of Japanese Minka houses, which utilize long unmilled tree trunks as structural beams and rafters. The "taiko beam" is especially graceful. They are truly beautiful buildings.

Also not new is Robert Lanza's idea of scientific biocentrism. This idea already existed within Chinese philosophy hundreds of years ago. One well known example is Wang Yang-Ming. Lanza does reinterpret this idea for a new generation and places it within the context of modern science, giving it new life. So I am glad for that.

I also came across an article in Natural History Magazine about the role of alloparenting in human evolution.

3 comments:

aratina said...

Alloparenting! Wonderful. Another point to consider when studying the necessity of language in our species.

Keir said...

Marmosets and tamarins (subfamily Callitrichidae) are interesting animals, and it is very shameful that several species, including the Cottontop tamarin mentioned in the article, have recently become critically endangered (on the order of less than 3000 members alive). They dispaly what might be the closest thing to altruism. If this characteristic placed genus Homo on the evolutionary path that led to us today, who knows where it could take the marmosets and tamarins in a few millenia?

aratina said...

No kidding. Evolution really is an awe inspiring process.