Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, May 26, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page A:7



Mountain Views-News Saturday, May 26, 2018 


Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc



I remember as a kid, hearing the term “bird-brain” 
often used in a derogatory manner, directed at 
someone who’d just done something really stupid. 
To me, it seemed rude, but un-like many other 
words that we kids could have used to convey the 
same sentiment, bird-brain was one we knew we 
could get away with in front of the adults.

 The teasingly taunting term, “bird-brain” is 
assumed to have been derived from a similarly 
insulting moniker, “bird-witted”, which dates back 
to the early 1600’s. The original term was used to 
describe a person with what we might call today, 
‘attention deficit disorder‘, presumably applicable 
because a bird appears to lack focus when flying to 
and fro in rapid motion, with no apparent direction. 
Ironically, in reality, this notion could not be further 
from the truth.

 The presumptuous premise behind the 
use of the idiom, “bird-brain” is based on the 
human‘s erroneous perspective that birds have 
proportionately small brains and therefore must 
lack intelligence. In applying that thoughtless 
theory to calling someone a bird-brain indicates 
that a person who acts foolishly must have a small 
brain like a bird, and therefore he must be stupid.

 The remarkable irony behind this theory lies in 
the fact that birds are far-and-way more focused than 
the average human believes or perceives. As a matter 
of fact, some species of birds are even considered 
to be among the most intelligent wild creatures in 
the animal kingdom, and certain species of birds 
possess some amazing brain capabilities that God 
apparently did not see fit to instill in the human 
being. I’m not talking about instinctual behaviors 
only, I am referring to scientifically proven facts 
about the biological properties of a bird’s brain that 
equate to higher intelligence as we humans define it.

 The most blatantly obvious example of 
‘bird brain brilliance’ was proven through an 
experiment conducted by animal psychologist, 
Irene Pepperberg at Harvard 
University. Doctor Pepperberg 
purchased an ordinary pet-store 
parrot that she named “Alex“ (a 
cute, catchy acronym for Aviary 
Language EXperiment), and 
went right to work, teaching and 
observing him. By the end of the 
experiment, Pepperberg wrote in 
her book, Alex & Me that Alex 
could identify 50 different objects 
and recognize quantities up to 6; 
that he could distinguish 7 colors 
and 5 shapes, and understand the 
concepts of “bigger”, “smaller”, 
“same”, and “different”, and that he was learning 
the concepts of “over” and “under” when he passed 
away on September 6, 2007.

 Yes, it is true that a parrot will sometimes simply 
mimic sounds and words with no knowledge 
of what they mean, but they are also capable or 
learning a wide vocabulary of terms and concepts 
with a complete understanding of what they mean 
and how to appropriately respond to them.

 In case the brain power of a parrot does not 
convince the average human that a bird’s brain is 
indeed brilliant in spite of its size, a particular very 
remarkable trait possessed by the pigeon is enough 
to turn anyone green with intelligence envy. The 
pigeon has an internal GPS (global positioning 
system) inside his ‘tiny little’ bird brain. 

 The results of a recent study conducted by Drs. 
Le-Qing Wu and J. David Dickman was published 
in Science, the world’s leading journal of original 
scientific research (April 26, 2012), describing the 
fact that “neuronal responses in a pigeon’s brain 
stem show how single cells encode magnetic field 
direction, intensity and polarity - qualities that are 
necessary to derive an internal model representing 
directional heading and geosurface location.” To 
put it in a nut shell, the pigeon possesses a unique 
neural substrate for a vertebrate magnetic sense. 
In other words, a bird-brained pigeon is capable 
of finding any location he wishes to find on the 
earth’s surface without having to strap on a Tom-
Tom! Now run and tell that, Getting, Parkinson and 
Easton! Oh, and by the way, that thoughtless theory 
about birds lacking focus and direction goes right 
out the window when it comes to the common park 

 So, the next time you are tempted to call someone 
a bird-brain when they’ve done something stupid, 
think again. The fact is, our seemingly flighty 
feathered friends have got it going on when it comes 
to brain brilliance!

Maggie is a 2-year old gorgeous sable German 
Shepherd girl wearing a girly patch of white fur on 
her chest and flaunting two beautiful hazel brown 
eyes. This girl is just stunning! Weighing about 
55 pounds this lean and regal girl could definitely 
strut herself in any dog show and win everyone’s 
heart. Her regal looks are a perfect match for her 
sporty and outgoing personality. She is calm on 
her walks and does well on the leash and she does 
enjoy long walks and/or runs in the outdoors. 
When off leash, she is pretty playful and loves to 
play fetch with toys or tennis balls. It is hard to 
believe that this pretty girl was found wandering 
on the streets of Rosemead without a home for an 
unknown period of time. Now, she’s just waiting 
for her forever family and one that could love her 
unconditionally and never let her loose on streets 
all alone. If you are a fan of the gorgeous sable 
German Shepherds, Maggie is the girl for you! Her 
adoption fee is $145 and includes spay surgery, 
vaccinations, microchip and a free wellness exam 
at a participating veterinarian. Feel free to call 
us at (626) 286-1159 for more information. She 
currently resides at the San Gabriel Valley Humane 
Society located at 851 E. Grand Avenue in San 
Gabriel which is located off San Gabriel Blvd, 
north of Mission and south of Las Tunas Drive. To 
arrange a ‘Meet and Greet’, please stop by any time 
from 10:30am to 4:30pm Tuesday through Sunday.


That’s tiny 
back to being 
available, as his 
pending adoption 
did not happen, 
through no fault 
of Baxter’s. Cute 
Baxter, born 
2011, is a 15 
pound neutered 
male, Miniature 
Pinscher mix, with a sleek, sable-colored coat. He’s 
a little shy a first, but is a very loving, happy dog who 
loves to give kisses and cuddle. He loves to go for 
walks and is learning to use his inside voice when 
seeing other dogs and people. He’s a quick learner. 
Baxter would love a home with a fur sister or brother, 
but because he can be a bit shy, he would do better in 
a home with older children. To learn more contact 
(818) 398-6951 or 
He’s healthy, current on vaccines, and ready to love 
you. See more pictures and his video at http://www. 


To study the most extreme objects in the universe, 
astronomers sometimes have to go to some extreme 
places themselves. Over the past several months, 
a team of scientists has braved cold temperatures 
to put the finishing touches on a new telescope in 

 Taking advantage of excellent atmospheric 
conditions, the Greenland Telescope is designed to 
detect radio waves from stars, galaxies and black 
holes. One of its primary goals is to join the Event 
Horizon Telescope (EHT), a global array of radio 
dishes that are linked together to make the first 
image of a supermassive black hole.

 The Greenland Telescope has recently achieved 
two important milestones, its “first light” and 
the successful synchronization with data from 
another radio telescope. With this, the Greenland 
Telescope is ready to help scientists explore some 
of the universe’s deepest mysteries.

 “We can officially announce that we are open for 
business to explore the cosmos from Greenland,” 
said Timothy Norton of the Harvard-Smithsonian 
Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Senior Project 
Manager for the telescope. “It’s an exciting day for 
everyone who has worked so hard to make this 

 In December 2017, astronomers were able 
to successfully detect radio emission from the 
Moon using the Greenland Telescope, an event 
astronomers refer to as “first light.” Then in early 
2018, scientists combined data from the Greenland 
Telescope’s observations of a quasar with data from 
the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, 
or ALMA, in Chile. The data from the Greenland 
Telescope and ALMA were synchronized so that 
they acted like two points on a radio dish equal in 
size to the separation of the two observing sites, an 
achievement that is called “finding fringes.”

 “This represents a major step in integrating the 
telescope into a larger, global network of radio 
telescopes,” said Nimesh Patel of CfA. “Finding 
fringes tells us that the Greenland Telescope is 
working as we hoped and planned.”

 The Greenland Telescope is a 12-meter radio 
antenna that was originally built as a prototype 
for ALMA. Once ALMA was operational in Chile, 
the telescope was repurposed to Greenland to take 
advantage of the near-ideal conditions of the Arctic 
to study the universe at specific radio frequencies.

 The Greenland location also allows 
interferometry with the Submillimeter Array in 
Hawaii, ALMA and other radio dishes, to become 
a part of the northernmost component of the EHT. 
This extends the baseline of this array in the north-
south direction to about 7,500 miles—nearly the 
Earth’s diameter.

 “The EHT essentially turns the entire globe into 
one giant radio telescope, and the farther apart 
radio dishes in the array are, the sharper the images 
the EHT can make,” said Sheperd Doeleman of the 
CfA and leader of the EHT project. “The Greenland 
Telescope will help us obtain the best possible 
image of a supermassive black hole outside our 

 The Greenland Telescope joined the EHT 
observing campaign in the middle of April 2018 to 
observe the supermassive black hole at the center of 
the galaxy M87. This supermassive black hole and 
the one in our galaxy are the two primary targets 
for the EHT, because the apparent sizes of their 
event horizons are larger than for any other black 
hole. Nevertheless exquisite telescope resolution is 
required, equivalent to reading a newspaper on the 
Moon. This capability is about a thousand times 
better than what the best optical telescopes in the 
world can achieve.


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: