Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RIP Alex 1977 - 2007

A sad day. One of the great minds of our time has passed on. The leaps and bounds made by by intellectual titans such as Alex contribute to our understanding of the conscious mind and all of its potential. Taken from us at the tender age of thirty. It's simply sad. A picture of the dearly departed.

Alex, a parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials, has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain.

The cause of Alex's death was unknown. The African grey parrot's average life span is 50 years, Brandeis University scientist Irene Pepperberg said. Alex was discovered dead in his cage Friday, she said, but she waited to release the news until this week so grieving researchers could get over the shock and talk about it.
This story might pass by without notice, but here's the really creepy part.
The last time Pepperberg saw Alex was Thursday, she said. They went through their back-and-forth goodnight routine, which always varied slightly and in which she told him it was time to go in the cage.

She recalls the bird said: "You be good. I love you." She responded, "I love you, too." The bird said, "You'll be in tomorrow," and she responded, "Yes, I'll be in tomorrow."
Did the bird know? Did he sense impending doom hovering over his feathery shoulder? Or was that just some odd selection taken at random from his lexicon of phrases. Here was this creature who had a group of people caring for it, working so hard, every day for three decades to coax out the ability to bridge the gap... speak our language... communicate. And in the end, maybe Alex had something important to say about the nature of everything... but we just didn't bridge that gap well enough to grasp it.
You be good.
I love you.

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