By Joel N. Shurkin, Inside Science -- Let's pretend it is 56 B.C. and you have been fortunate enough to be invited to a party at the home of Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, a great social coup. Piso, after all, was Julius Caesar's father-in-law and a consul of Rome.

What's for dinner?

The American century was the result of a can-do attitude born in the 19th century. As prosperity began to increase, collectives, such as unions, became the norm, and they were endorsed by many educated elites - but they were still promoting individualism in doing so.

That individualism rose as we shifted from blue-collar union jobs to the white-collar kind. Though American conservatives claim to care about small business and American liberals claim to care about unions, the white-collar service jobs that have replaced both have caused the individualism Americans are known for today - including distrust of centralized government, subjective definitions of words and invented baby names, and even family structure.
15 years ago, the name "Aidan" was barely a blip on the radar of Americans with new babies, ranking a lowly 324th on the Social Security Administration's list of popular baby names.

Then a popular character with that name was on the television show "Sex and the City" and though fathers dreaded that their child was going to have the same name as some other child of a mother who watched the show, it happened all across America anyway. Since then, that name has been in the top 20.
Bowhunting has made a big comeback in the 21st century. Suddenly women love it - and their inclination to shoot something up close and personal without getting their hands messy is reason enough not to provoke American women.

But it won't be for food, and perhaps it stopped being for food thousands of years ago. 

We may think of bowhunting in neolithic times as being functional - to find food - but it may have instead been social cohesion, according to archaeologists who have analyzed the Neolithic bows found in the site of La Draga (Girona, Spain). 

Most in-the-know Americans assumed The
Hunger Games was ripping off Battle Royale. It
Modern humans date back only about 200,000 years. How did that turn into the population of the planet and the extinction of Neanderthals? We have to leave the world of science to speculate on that but physical evidence does provide some guideposts.

Fossil records show that some anatomically modern human groups reached the Levantine corridor - the modern Middle East - as early as 100,000 years ago but genetic testing indicates that human populations inhabiting the globe today descended from a single group that migrated from Africa only 70,000 years ago. 30,000 years is a gigantic gap and there has been little evidence to bridge the contradictory hypotheses. 

Diabetes has been described as an epidemic of modern times so why does it affect aboriginal people more?

Over the past several decades diabetes has become a prevalent health concern among Canada's First Nations communities, but it wasn't always so.

Social scientists believe that pre-Homo human ancestral species, such as Australopithecus africanus, used human-like hand postures much earlier than was previously thought.

The authors say they have the first archaeological evidence for stone tool use among fossil australopiths 3-2 million years ago. The distinctly human ability for forceful precision (e.g. when turning a key) and power "squeeze" gripping (e.g. when using a hammer) is linked to two key evolutionary transitions in hand use: a reduction in arboreal climbing and the manufacture and use of stone tools. However, it is unclear when these locomotory and manipulative transitions occurred.
Most dogs and most humans get along well now and anthropological explanations are that selective selection is the reason; wolves that were not a threat were not killed and over time the agreeable ones got shelter and food. That cooperation has led to thousands of years of being man's best friend.

Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi from the Unit of Comparative Cognition at the Messerli Research Institute at University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have an alternate idea, the "Canine Cooperation Hypothesis". They believe that since wolves already are tolerant, attentive and cooperative, the relationship of wolves to their pack mates could have provided the basis for today's human-dog relationship. 
Some cultural pundits contend that income inequality is linked to parenting inequality but new findings dispute that. 

You don't have to be wealthy to be involved in your child's life, despite modern thinking, according to a new paper which finds that poorer parents are just as involved in education, leisure and sports activities with their children as wealthier ones.

The researchers used the Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK survey, carried out between March and December 2012. Among the questions it asked were:

  • How many days in the past seven days have you, or your partner read stories with your child/children or talked with them about what they are reading?

Conformity is a bad thing, in media portrayals like Apple advertisements - yet then they have a lot of people who look a lot alike all standing in line to buy the latest iPhone.

In reality, despite the claims of creative people who insist that only one brand is for creative people, they are conforming. It is human nature to conform. Former Vice-President Dan Quayle was once criticized for not knowing how to spell 'potato' while guest judging a spelling event. It was spelled wrong on the answer card and he knew it was wrong but he conformed and politicians and the public do the same thing every day.

It makes us follow the lead of computers, even if the machines give us the wrong advice.