Greenpeace has a new cinema advertising campaign [AdAge's advertising spots of the week; the third advert down] that is great. I don't know how many people it will encourage to adopt more Earth-friendly purchasing/consumption habits, but it is really funny. I know Evelin and I should do a better job of activist purchasing, but we do try. We eat low on the food chain, shop at the farmers market, grow our own food organically, and we buy wind power to feed into the grid.
The latest issue of AKG Report, the PR magazine of Austrian microphone manufacturer AKG Acoustics, has a really neat article about measuring elephant vocalizations. Given the source, it's not surprising that the article focuses heavily on the technical methodology and equipment used to record the vocalizations (particularly the low-frequency calls) of the African elephants at the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria. However, there are some interesting observations about how elephant calves learn to speak; Tiergarten Schönbrunn has two calves who are being observed as part of these studies. Actually, the zoo has several interesting studies of its elephants under way.
Even more interesting, at least to me, is that the same Arbeitsgruppe Bioakustik working group that is studying the elephants is also planning to study panda vocalizations:
Scientists have known for some time that giant pandas emit various sounds. What remains unknown, however, is when and in what connection are particular sounds first uttered by adolescent giant pandas? Do male and female giant pandas produce different sounds?Considering the little bits we've been able to determine about Mei and Tian's vocalizations, the idea of measuring the vocalizations and trying to correlate specific tones/pitches/frequencies with activities/stimulus/etc. is really exciting.
The "Bioacoustics working group" [Arbeitsgruppe Bioakustik], a cooperative effort between the zoo and the University of Vienna since 1996, will eavesdrop on the two pandas and will analyze their characteristic sounds for the first time.