Placing Animals

It never occurred to me that people might have their own definition of what constitutes an animal. Personally, I’ve always considered anything that is categorized under the kingdom Animalia to be an animal. That means all vertebrates and invertebrates (yes, even sponges) that are heterotrophs are animals. Maybe I’ve been taking the “Animalia” word too literally, but I think it’s called that for a reason and its scientifically accurate. Animals are not plants, bacteria, fungi, or protista. So, that means anything outside of those—insects, mussels, octopi—fit the profile of ‘animal’. I’ve always just assumed all people thought this way, and after reading this book I was surprised to learn otherwise. For example, when we read Eating Animals there was a section where Foer was talking about the consumption of animals and he nonchalantly excluded fish because “fish are not animals”. I just remember being confused and slightly annoyed at the fact that he didn’t think fish were animals, and I didn’t realize then that there is no universal definition for the word. This book showed me that in the U.S. alone, a lot of states exclude fish and, more than that, a lot of states exclude livestock. To think that some people believe a cow or pig isn’t an animal seems outlandish to me, but I guess after reading this I can be more conscious of other people’s opinions of what constitutes an animal and consider their perspectives. However, I also think that the lack of a universal definition facilitates conflict between parties who have different belief systems and goals, and will hinder cooperation.



Stretching the boundaries of neural implants

Researchers have developed a rubber-like fiber that can flex and stretch while simultaneously delivering both optical impulses and electrical connections. Unlike brittle implantable fibers in the brain that allow scientists to monitor electrical responses, these new fibers are stretchable and very flexible to better complement the movements of the spinal cord. Because of their flexibility, these new fibers may open new avenues for neuroscience research and act as an intermediate to helping doctors combat spinal cord injury.   

To learn more visit MIT’s website!

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