Alex the African Grey is pretty damn awesome. Smartest parrot in the world. The ifMUD people know that, and I'm pretty sure someone's tipped 'em off to the fact that Alex celebrated his 30th hatch day recently and has also discovered the concept of zero (rather, "a numerical concept akin to zero") -- and if not, well, let me present the announcement and a financial call-to-arms, courtesy sanspoof, who's had the pleasure of working with Dr. Irene Pepperberg and knocking back the cork nuts with Alex ("cork nut" is a term Alex himself coined for almonds, a favorite snack.)
Alex is an African Grey parrot that is learning to recognize various letters, can count to 7 and is working on 8, and learned the color 'grey' by looking at himself in a mirror and asking 'what color?' He's just turned 30. Irene Pepperberg (my professor last semester, and an awesome lady), who bought him from a pet store and has been studying him ever since, has just won an award for her paper on Alex's zero-like concept, which is a major coup given how hard it is to get any recognition in the animal cognitive field nowadays. The pursuit is very uncool right now; it's not techy or sexy, and lots of scientists are finding themselves with cut funding or the inability to renew grants. So, in order to help in some small way, I'm making t-shirts to benefit the Alex Foundation. You can buy them here.
So help keep Alex in cork nuts by getting a t-shirt! It has a parrot on it! You like parrots!