Newtoon: Liebneez! I failed calculus again.
Liebneez: Phew, is this like, the fourth time? Well, well, don’t be disheartened. College calculus courses are invented with the sole purpose of messing up our otherwise pleasant existence.
Newtoon: Honestly, despite the fact that my name is so similar to Sir Isaac Newton’s, I am beginning to suspect that I am actually dumb.
Liebneez: Nonsense. Let me see where your problem lies…. Hm. Newtoon, all these calculations seem fine, you just didn’t add up the numbers right.
Newtoon: I know. I simply cannot do addition. I have no idea how I survived elementary school.
Liebneez: Speaking of doing addition, do you know that monkeys can do mental addition almost as well as college students?
Newtoon: Oh, wow. I don’t know that. That’s awesome! How do you know?
Liebneez: There are some researches who conducted an experiment, which goes like this: the researchers display variable numbers of dots on the screen to two rhesus monkeys. They show one set of dots on a computer touch screen for a half-second, and then another set a half-second later. They then show two separate clusters of dots at the same time, one of which was the correct sum of the first two sets. If the monkey chooses the correct cluster, they will be rewarded.
Newtoon: Er… Liebneez. I can’t follow.
Liebneez: (Sigh) ok. Say the researchers first show 5 dots on the screen quickly, and then 8 dots. After which, the screen displays two sets of dots, one consists of 13 dots, while another consists of 16 dots. And the monkeys should choose the 13 dots cluster, because it represents the correct sum of 5 and 8.
Newtoon: I thought the correct cluster is the one with 16 dots…
Liebneez: No, it is not.
Liebneez: Anyways. They gave the task to the two monkeys as well as 14 college students from Duke University, and it turned out that the college students’ test result was not significantly better than the monkeys’.
Newtoon: Wow. Monkeys are smart. I wonder whether some of them are called Newton, or Newtoon, or Newtom, or… Liebniz.
Liebneez: I really don’t see names as a factor in this discovery. The main point seems to be that arithmetic ability is pretty primitive in the course of human evolution, not that there are monkeys named after some mathematician.
Newtoon: Yeah, but still! The monkeys are smarter than I ever thought. Hey, do you think I should get some monkeys or chimpanzee to sit in my calculus midterm in my stead?
Liebneez: Although I don’t think they can read any of the mathematical signs, but they can probably do better additions than you. You know, if you are going to implement this plan, you better stop shaving.
Newtoon: Good thinking. Cool. I now pledge to become the most monkey-like student in my calculus class next year!