Q and A: The Anthropology of Searching for Aliens

Before we can understand an alien civilization, it might be useful to understand our own, wrote Wired.com April 5. To help in this task, anthropologist Kathryn Denning of York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, studies the very human way that scientists, engineers and members of the public think about space exploration and the search for alien life. From “Star Trek” to SETI [search for extraterrestrial intelligence], our modern world is constantly imagining possible futures where we dart around the galaxy engaging with bizarre alien races. Denning points out that when people talk about these futures, they often invoke the past. But they frequently seem to have a poor understanding of history. Read full story.

Speaking multiple languages may help delay dementia symptoms
The brains of people who grow up speaking two languages are wired differently, and those differences protect them from dementia as they age, wrote Minnesota Public Radio news April 4. That’s the news from two studies out this month from a scientist in Canada who has spent decades trying to figure out whether being bilingual is bad or good. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” said Ellen Bialystok, a distinguished research professor of psychology at York University, Faculty of Health, in Toronto. “Suddenly people are interested. I figure it’s because everybody’s scared about dementia.” Read full story.