Alex, possibly the smartest and most famous parrot ever, died last Thursday at 31. He was a research subject for scientists at Harvard who were amazed by his ability to learn language. He could differentiate colors and shapes adn knew more than 100 words. Dr. Irene Pepperberg bought Alex from a pet store in 1977. The New York Times wrote:
Alex showed surprising facility. For example, when shown a blue paper triangle, he could tell an experimenter what color the paper was, what shape it was, and — after touching it — what it was made of. He demonstrated some of his skills on nature shows, including programs on PBS and the BBC. He shared scenes with the actor Alan Alda on the PBS series "Look Who’s Talking."
Our Wired News reporter Rachel Metz wrote about the African Grey parrot in 2005. It's a good read, especially the part where Pepperberg explains how Alex apparently figured out the meaning of "none" on his own. Alex, you will be missed!
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand. - Frank Herbert
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. - Albert Einstein
Knowledge is a powerful weapon, but only when its user can wield it.