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Study finds human brains did not shrink 3,000 years ago

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  • Largely accepted concept is that size of human brain changed 3,000 years ago.
  • It is posited that group thinking caused brain to shrink.
  • New paper refutes concept, says human brain remained “remarkably stable over last 300,00 years”.

Refuting a common and largely accepted concept, a new paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution argues that the size of the human brain did not change 3,000 years ago — or ever, for that matter.

Anthropologist Brian Villmoare from the University of Nevada and scientist Mark Grabowski of Liverpool John Moores University have responded to a paper by Jerome DeSilva of Dartmouth College and colleagues in 2021.

The 2021 paper suggested that in the Iron Age, the human brain lost up to 150 cubic centimetres of its volume, which is nearly the size of a lemon. 

DeSilva’s team posited that “self-domestication” and more group thinking than individual thinking caused the brain to shrink.

While DeSilva’s study analysed 10 million years of evolution including apes, Villmaore said that it was useless and pointless to compare sapiens’ brains to any other species.

One reason was the lack of sufficient fossils of other human species. The author explained that we have been entirely different species.

Villmaore told Haaretz they doubted the statistical treatment of data in DeSilva’s paper. Therefore, the no shrinkage study used the same data as they found it “the most complete”. 

However, their statistical methodology was different and so were their conclusions, eventually.

“The point was that we need to toss all this stuff about human devolution out,” he said. “It is just not true.”

Their study concluded that the size of the human brain had remained “remarkably stable over the last 300,00 years” and that shifting to agriculture and community did not affect brain size.

Responding to DeSilva comparing ants and human societies saying that collective intelligence reduced size in both the clades, the no shrinkage paper pointed out differences between the two.

Villmaore said that humans were a competitive species, unlike ants who are mostly just slaves. Vertebrae, he said, make alliances, are aggressive, social and have larger brains.

He said that we could compare elephants and rhinos as the former live in herds while the latter does not.

“The elephant brain is six times bigger than that of the rhino,” he said.

He also pointed out another flaw. He said that DeSilva said that the shrinking occurred globally while tying it with the agricultural revolution.

However, this revolution would have taken place at different times in different parts of the planet. This does not explain all human brains shrinking in the world.

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Bitcoin rises beyond $64,000 as new records are set.

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On Monday, Bitcoin reached a two-year high and broke $64,000 as a surge of capital brought it dangerously close to record highs.

It reached its best level since late 2021 at $64,285 early in the Asian day, and it closed the session 2% higher at $63,850. The highest point for bitcoin was $68,999.99, reached in November 2021.

This year, the largest cryptocurrency by market value has increased by 50%, with the majority of the gain occurring in the last few weeks due to a spike in trading volume for U.S.-listed bitcoin funds.

Earlier this year, US authorities legalised spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

Their introduction provided access for new major investors and has sparked renewed energy and enthusiasm similar to the surge to all-time highs in 2021.

As investors gain confidence, the flows don’t seem to be stopping, according to Markus Thielen, head of research at Singapore-based cryptocurrency analytics firm 10x Research.

Rival, smaller ether, has benefited from conjecture that exchange-traded funds may soon be the source of inflows for it as well. Although it’s up 50% so far this year, Monday’s price of $3,490 was barely below two-year highs set last week.

Alongside the rally, stock index records have tumbled on the Nikkei (.N225) in Japan, opened a new tab on the S&P 500 (.SPX), opened a new tab on the tech-heavy Nasdaq (.IXIC), opened a new tab on volatility gauges in equities (.VIX), opened a new tab on foreign exchange (.DBCVIX), and opened a new tab on the S&P 500 (.SPX).

“As long as bitcoin continues to be a high-volatility tech proxy and liquidity thermometer, cryptocurrency will do well in a world where the Nasdaq is setting new all-time highs,” said Brent Donnelly, president and trader at Spectra Markets.

“The market is back to how it was in 2021, when everything is rising and people are having a good time.”

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WhatsApp adds a calendar function to make message retrieval simple.

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The “search by date” tool is an inventive innovation that makes it simple for users to access their favourite previous chats.

Users of Android and iPhone may now search for messages or media on a given day by using the app’s calendar interface, which is a new feature of the update. The laborious process of manually reading through chat history is eliminated by this function, which is especially helpful for regular users who have large message archives.

The announcement was also announced by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his WhatsApp channel, highlighting the company’s dedication to improving user accessibility and ease.

When users click on the calendar icon and choose a desired date, WhatsApp takes them directly to the messages that were sent and received on that specific day. This makes searching easier, which is especially helpful for those looking for certain details or memories that are hidden in their conversation history.

The addition of the calendar function to WhatsApp’s recent version rollout brings more formatting options for text, including strikethrough, bold, italic, and monospace. Additionally, the platform has given security improvements first priority, guaranteeing a secure environment for its large user base.

Nevertheless, in the middle of these developments, Android users of WhatsApp should be aware of a recent modification pertaining to conversation backups. Google Drive backups of conversations are no longer available for free since they now count against the user’s storage allotment.

To utilise this new feature, users can simply access WhatsApp, select a chat, tap on the name of the person or group, and choose the “Search” option. The calendar interface will then facilitate seamless navigation to messages from the selected date.

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VPNs, X, and Slow Internet Services Are Still Blocked in Pakistan

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Users are reporting poor performance on numerous social media sites due to widespread slowdowns in internet access. Furthermore, X (previously Twitter) has been inaccessible for the past six days, despite the Sindh High Court’s directive to allow access. In the meantime, Pakistan is blocking VPN services.

X Remains Unblockable

On February 17, 2024, the Pakistani government first prohibited access to X when it was discovered that Rawalpindi’s Commissioner had rigged election results. The block is still in effect, even though there has been no official announcement or explanation for it. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the prohibition, the administration has not yet disclosed any plans for reinstatement. Furthermore, officials are giving media outlets conflicting information about the limitations.

Blocked VPN Services

Virtual private network (VPN) services are being widely blocked nationwide, which exacerbates the problem. Apart from limiting accessibility to X, the government has initiated the banning of prominent VPN providers, impeding users’ capacity to establish connections with any server.

sluggish internet access

There is a noticeable slowdown in internet speeds and a decline in performance across Pakistan. The problem hasn’t been acknowledged by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), nevertheless. Even though internet service providers (ISPs) insist there aren’t any outages, consumers on social media sites are nonetheless complaining about poor access.

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