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May 23 2017

7175 522c


generally I love raccoons but this looks like an enemy from a Souls game




TIL that a cat once co-authored a physics paper. In 1975, a physicist had just finished writing a paper and was ready to publish but realized that he had used ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ throughout, despite being the sole author. Not wanting to edit the paper, he listed his cat, Chester, as a co-author.

via http://ift.tt/2pvbu4c

This is the cat, by the way: 

I trust him

May 21 2017

5100 01fa




This scene has fascinated me ever since I was a kid. I mean, if you think about it, Meowth didn’t really learn “Humanspeak,” at least not the way we normally think about learning a language. He was already perfectly capable of understanding it (even if there were a couple words here and there he wasn’t familiar with, like “seashell” or “rocket”). And that seems to be a common thing across all Pokemon–just look at how baby Pokemon can start taking orders from their trainers from the moment they hatch.

So his problem wasn’t learning what the human words meant. It was learning how to pronounce them. And judging by the seasons changing outside the window during his learning-to-talk montage, it took him at least a year to say his first words. But once he does–once he makes it through that tongue twister for the first time–it’s like a switch is flipped and he instantly becomes fluent. In those last couple gifs you can already see him casually throwing around “huh” and “hey,” and by the next scene he’s stringing together sentences.

What does all this mean? Is pronunciation the only barrier keeping Pokemon from talking? Could any Pokemon do what Meowth did as long as they were as ridiculously stubborn hardworking as he was? Or are most Pokemon physically incapable of saying anything but their names? If so, what makes Meowth unique?

…We’ll probably never know, but it’s fun to think about.

@scientificpokedex, ya got anything on this??

I sure do!

As you can imagine, ability to mimic human speech is really made up of two parts: physically being capable of making sounds, and mentally being able to both produce and interpret language. 

For the first part, the physical aspect of speech, you need to understand that the human species spent a very long time evolving and developing parts that make communication easier. We have long throats, small mouths, deeper voice boxes, strong and rounded tongues, extremely good control of our breaths. All of these affect what sounds an animal can make: and our vocal systems are extremely complex compared to most of the animal kingdom.

Therefore, to be able to make sounds similar to human speech, an animal needs to have the right parts. Parrots, for example, are famously good at copying human speech, mostly because they too have strong, flexible, and rounded tongues like humans: meaning they can produce a lot of the same sounds.

Still, even looking at our closest relatives (apes), we can see why a lot of animals can’t imitate human speech. Many animals have a horizontal snout, whereas humans are set up very vertically. Even this severely limits an animal’s potential for mimicking human speech. So it’s very interesting, perhaps, that Meowth doesn’t seem to have much of a snout and is also bipedal, so it likely has a vertical setup as well: this is probably a big factor in why it can speak so fluently.


On that note, check out this video of an orangutan attempting human speech:

Since speech is controlled by breath, too, an animal’s lungs capabilities also limits how well it can imitate speech. Most creatures don’t have as much control over their breaths as humans. For example, a human could take a long breath immediately followed by a short breath to form a sentence with different syllables. Other animals simply don’t have that kind of lung control for variability. 

Still, it should be noted that some animals are clever enough to get around the physical barriers. One elephant, for example, was shown to mimic human speech (Korean) by putting its trunk inside its mouth, and using its trunk as a makeshift tongue to make the noises. So even if an animal doesn’t have all the right parts, they might be clever enough to get around.

Still, simply the physical aspect proves that not all pokémon are capable of human speech. You can imagine Beautifly, an insect with no lips or vocal chords or even a jaw, just a proboscis instead of a tongue. Beautifly would have no hope of ever imitating human speech, because it just isn’t capable of making the right sounds. (How it says its own name is probably more of a whistle? If I had to guess).

Okay, now for the mental aspect: The part of the brain that interprets speech is different from the part of the brain that produces speech. This diagram is for a human, but many studies have shown similar setups in other animals. For example, dogs which understand commands like “sit” or “stay” have strong speech interpretation areas in their brains. Most pokémon, too, seem to share this strength: like mentioned above, Meowth seemed capable of understanding human speech all along, but not able to mimic it yet.


If an animal simply wants to be able to mimic human speech, it really only needs the “speech production” part of the brain (Broca’s area) – not even the interpretation (Wernicke’s area). However if it wants to be able to effectively communicate, especially like Meowth, it needs very strong in both.

So the fact that Meowth is able to both understand and produce language means both parts of its brain are very strong. And that isn’t true for all animals in our world, either. Cows, for example, don’t have the right pathways in their brain to be able to learn how to make any sound other than “moo”. Zebra finches, on the other hand, only learn how to make sounds when they are young: Once they grow older, they are literally incapable of learning any new sounds and are stuck with the same bird calls for the rest of their lives.

So again, this would be a reason for not all pokémon can learn human speech. Their brains just haven’t evolved for that. Miltank may just be out of luck.

Bringing this all together…

For a pokémon to be able to mimic human speech, it needs to have a vocal system capable of making the same sounds as a human, and it needs to have a strong Brocca’s area of the brain for producing speech. Language interpretation is a different part of the brain than language production: just because a pokémon can understand human language exceptionally well does not mean it would be able to mimic it.

So, no, pronunciation is not the only barrier keeping pokémon from talking. I’m sure that there are other species out there besides Meowth that could do it, but hopefully now you have a better idea of why Meowth is so special! Physically, it must be different from cats in our world and have a flexible tongue, a vertically-oriented vocal system, deeper vocal chords, good control over it’s breath. More importantly, perhaps, a large part of Meowth’s brain is devoted to both interpreting, learning, and producing speech. 

So…why is only Team Rocket’s Meowth capable of speech, and not all Meowths we see? I’d chalk that up to necessity. An animal in the wild who has never heard or seen a human obviously has no need to imitate human speech. Not all orangutans or elephants in zoos attempt to mimic humans either: the few examples I mentioned are all very unique instances. It seems that only the creatures most social with humans, and encounter them the most, are the ones who try to speak. 

So our Meowth? He just spent so much time around humans – and so little time around other pokémon – that picking up human speech seemed a necessity. Like the elephant in the video, he wanted to bond with humans so he taught himself how to speak. 

Meowth, that’s right!

Reposted fromMystrothedefender Mystrothedefender viaschaaf schaaf
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Medieval castle stairs were often built to ascend in narrow, clockwise spirals so right-handed castle defenders could use their swords more easily. This design put those on the way up at a disadvantage (unless they were left-handed). The steps were also uneven to give defenders the advantage of anticipating each step’s size while attackers tripped over them. Source Source 2 Source 3

Not really the best illustration since it totally negates the effect by having a wide open space for those ascending. Castle tower staircases tended to look like this:

Extremely tight quarters, with a central supporting pillar that is very, very thoroughly in the way of your right arm.

Wider, less steep designs tend to come later once castles moved away from being fortresses to simply noble family homes with the advent of gunpowder.

Oh! Pre-gunpowder military tactics are my jam! I don’t know why, but this is one of my favorite little details about defensive fortifications, because the majority handedness of attackers isn’t usually something you think about when studying historical wars. But strategically-placed walls were used basically worldwide as a strategy to secure gates and passages against advancing attackers, because most of the world’s population is right-handed (and has been since the Stone Age).

Pre-Columbian towns near the Mississippi and on the East coast did this too. They usually surrounded their towns with palisades, and they would build the entrance to the palisade wall in a zigzag – always with the wall to the right as you entered, to hinder attackers and give an advantage to the defender. Here’s some gates with some examples of what I’m talking about:


Notice that, with the exception of the last four (which are instead designed to congregate the attackers in a space so they can be picked off by archers, either in bastions or on the walls themselves) and the screened gate (which, in addition to being baffled, also forces the attackers to defend their flank) all of these gates are designed with central architectural idea that it’s really hard to kill someone with a wall in your way.

In every culture in the world, someone thought to themselves, “Hey it’s hard to swing a weapon with a wall on your right-hand side,” and then specifically built fortifications so that the attackers would always have the wall on their right. And I think that’s really neat.

Ooh, ooh, also: Bodiam Castle in Sussex used to have a right-angled bridge so any attacking forces would be exposed to archery fire from the north-west tower on their right side (ie: sword in the right hand, shield on the useless left side):

These tactics worked so well for so long because until quite recently lefties got short shrift and had it trained (if they were lucky) or beaten out of them.

Use of sword and shield is a classic demonstration of how right-handedness predominated. There’s historical mention of left-handed swordsmen (gladiators and Vikings), and what a problem they were for their opponents, but that only applies to single combat.

A left-handed hoplite or housecarl simply couldn’t fight as part of a phalanx or shield wall, since the shields were a mutual defence (the right side of the shield covered its owner’s left side, its left side covered the right side of his neighbour to the left, and so on down the line) and wearing one on the wrong arm threw the whole tactic out of whack.


Jousting, whether with or without an Italian-style tilt barrier, was run shield-side to shield-side with the lance at a slant (except for the Scharfrennen, a highly specialised style that’s AFAIK unique.) Consequently left-handed knights were physically unable to joust.


There’s a creditable theory (I first read it in “A Knight and His Horse”, © Ewart Oakeshott 1962, 1998 and many other places since) that a knight’s “destrier” horse - from dexter, “right” - was trained to lead with his right forefoot so that any instinctive swerve would be to the right, away from collision while letting the rider keep his shield between him and harm. (In flying, if a pilot hears “break!” with no other details, the default evasive direction is right.)

The construction of plate armour, whether specialised tournament kit or less elaborate battle gear, is noticeably “right-handed“ - so even if a wealthy knight had his built “left-handed” it would be a waste of time and money; he would still be a square peg in a world of round holes and none of the other kids would play with him.

Even after shields and full armour were no longer an essential part of military equipment, right-hand use was still enforced until quite recently, and to important people as well as ordinary ones - it happened to George VI, father of the present Queen of England. Most swords with complex hilts, such as swept-hilt rapiers and some styles of basket-hilt broadsword, are assymetrical and constructed for right handers. Here’s my schiavona…


It can be held left-handed, but using it with the proper thumb-ring grip, and getting maximum protection from the basket, is right-handed only. (More here.) Some historical examples of left-hand hilts do exist, but they’re rare, and fencing masters had the same “learn to use your right hand” bias as tourney organisers, teachers and almost everyone else. Right-handers were dextrous, but left-handers were sinister, etc., etc.

However, several predominantly left-handed families did turn their handedness into advantage, among them the Kerrs / Carrs, a notorious Reiver family along the England-Scotland Borders, by building their fortress staircases with a spiral the other way to the OP image.


This would seem to be a bad idea, since the attackers (coming upstairs) no longer have their right arms cramped against the centre pillar - however it worked in the Kerrs’ favour because they were used to this mirror-image of reality while nobody else was, and the defender retreating up the spiral had that pillar guarding his right side, while the attacker had to reach out around it…

For the most part Reiver swords weren’t elaborate swept-hilt rapiers but workmanlike basket-hilts. Some from Continental Europe have the handedness of my schiavona with thumb-rings and assymmetrical baskets, but the native “British Baskethilt” is a variant of the Highland claymore* and like it seems completely symmetrical, without even a thumb-ring, which gives equal protection to whichever hand is using it.


*I’m aware there are those who insist “claymore” refers only to two-handers, however the Gaelic term claidheamh-mòr - “big sword” - just refers to size, not to a specific type of sword in the way “schiavona” or “karabela” or even “katana” does.

While the two-hander was the biggest sword in common use it was the claidheamh-mòr; after it dropped out of fashion and the basket-hilt became the biggest sword in common use, that became the claidheamh-mòr.

When Highlanders in the 1745 Rebellion referred to their basket-hilts as claymores, they obviously gave no thought to the confusion they would create for later compilers of catalogues…

Well if left-handed swordfighting was good enough for the Hero of Time…

Reposted fromMudfire4 Mudfire4 viaderschlaefer derschlaefer

May 20 2017

8587 d43e


I remember when they screened it [the “I am your father” scene], Harrison turned around and said “I didn’t know that! Why the f*&^ didn’t you tell me?!

Reposted fromflairandsynch flairandsynch viastarwars starwars
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Reposted fromFlau Flau viaRedHeadCath RedHeadCath
Reposted fromNaitlisz Naitlisz viaRedHeadCath RedHeadCath
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Tom 3.0

Reposted frommyry myry viaRedHeadCath RedHeadCath


when you’re fully naked your defense drops to zero but your attack skyrockets

Reposted fromMystrothedefender Mystrothedefender viaschaaf schaaf
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Sunbathing 😍 (Source: http://ift.tt/2pdzcyp)


Someone: dont do that. its not a good idea


Me, after doing the thing, facing the consequences:

Reposted fromjottos jottos viaschaaf schaaf
Reposted fromNaitlisz Naitlisz viaschaaf schaaf
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