A baby's mind is a beautiful thing

Baby Brains: A conversation about the topic, Inside a Baby’s Mind, will be held at The Edwards bar and cafe on Tuesday.
Baby Brains: A conversation about the topic, Inside a Baby’s Mind, will be held at The Edwards bar and cafe on Tuesday.

Babies, in essence, are mini-scientists.

This is the conclusion of Olivia Whalen, a University of Newcastle PhD student. 

“About 30 to 40 years ago, we didn’t know much at all about what went on in a baby’s mind,” Olivia told Topics.

“But since then we’ve realised that babies are learning things in much the same way that scientists do.”

Olivia will give a talk, which is more of a conversational presentation, titled Inside a Baby’s Mindat The Edwards bar and cafe in Newcastle West on Tuesday.

It’s part of the Pint of Science Australia festival, which the CSIRO supports. 

Olivia said babies pay attention to “every single thing they can”.

“They tune into every event happening in their world to try to figure it out,” she said.

“We know that babies are very present in the here and now. So they’re conducting little experiments, they’re analysing statistics and probabilities and they form theories based on the data that they’ve collected.

“That’s how they get an understanding of how the world works. There’s quite a lot going on in a baby’s mind.”

She said experiments had shown that babies “understand things like gravity, movement, trajectory, probability and statistics”.

“Some people even go as far to say that they understand the laws of physics,” she said.

Say what?

“Babies don’t look as long at events that do follow the laws of physics,” she said.

For example, an animated car going along a road becomes boring to a baby because they understand how that works.

But a baby will look much longer at an animation of a car going through a wall and coming out the other side.

“They look longer at that because they know that shouldn’t happen,” she said.

“They do have an understanding of how the world works.”

Forecasts of technology in the future, the world of energy and brain plasticity will be also be discussed at the event, which runs at The Edwards from Monday to Wednesday.

The festival will be held in a record 21 countries this year. Events in Australia will be held in 32 pubs. 

Pint of Science is about enabling researchers to connect with communities in a familiar, relaxed setting – the pub. 

Doggy Driver

Eleebana’s Alan Cameron was driving his wife to an appointment on Wednesday, waiting to turn right onto the Pacific Highway at Belmont.

“My wife Brigid pointed out that the vehicle in front had a black and white fox terrier sitting on the mature male driver’s lap with its head in front of the driver,” Alan said.

Alan said it was bad enough that drivers were distracted by mobile phones and eating food.

But seeing a dog on a driver’s lap? This was a first for Alan. To top it off, his wife joked that “perhaps it was a guide dog”.

Italian Pizza

Topics reported on Tuesday that Adam's Ribs and Pizza at Adamstown is running the World Cup of Pizza.

The shop is selling pizzas from the countries in each group of the World Cup in the lead up to the soccer tournament, which begins on June 15.

Readers have pointed out that he won’t be able to sell an Italian pizza because the Italians failed to qualify for the tournament.

But hang on a second, all pizzas are Italian – aren’t they?