Eikonal Blog



Filed under: education, health, mind & brain, society — Tags: , , , — sandokan65 @ 09:26
  • Poverty @WikiPedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty
    • Poverty is general scarcity or dearth, or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money.
  • “Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions (And why their “bad” decisions might be more rational than you’d think.)” by Derek Thompson (The Atlantic; 2013.11.22) – http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/your-brain-on-poverty-why-poor-people-seem-to-make-bad-decisions/281780/
  • “This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense” by Linda Tirado (The Huffington Post; 2013.11.22) – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-tirado/why-poor-peoples-bad-decisions-make-perfect-sense_b_4326233.html
  • “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts” by Killermar (2013.11.22) – http://killermartinis.kinja.com/why-i-make-terrible-decisions-or-poverty-thoughts-1450123558
  • “The High Cost of Not Having Enough” by Emily Badger (The Atlantic > Cities; 2013.09.04) – http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/09/high-cost-not-having-enough/6759/
  • “How Poverty Taxes the Brain” by Emily Badger (The Atlantic > Cities; 2013.08.29) – http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/08/how-poverty-taxes-brain/6716/
  • “Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function” by Anandi Mani1, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir and Jiaying Zhao (Science; 2013.08.30; Vol. 341 no. 6149 pp. 976-980) – http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6149/976.abstract
    • Burden of Poverty: Lacking money or time can lead one to make poorer decisions, possibly because poverty imposes a cognitive load that saps attention and reduces effort. Mani et al. (p. 976; see the Perspective by Vohs) gathered evidence from shoppers in a New Jersey mall and from farmers in Tamil Nadu, India. They found that considering a projected financial decision, such as how to pay for a car repair, affects people’s performance on unrelated spatial and reasoning tasks. Lower-income individuals performed poorly if the repairs were expensive but did fine if the cost was low, whereas higher-income individuals performed well in both conditions, as if the projected financial burden imposed no cognitive pressure. Similarly, the sugarcane farmers from Tamil Nadu performed these tasks better after harvest than before.
    • Abstract: The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.


Near-Death Experiences

Filed under: mind & brain — Tags: , — sandokan65 @ 09:17


Skills acquisition


Related: On importance of practice – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/on-importance-of-practice/


Life writing


Sites, People


Asperger’s syndrome, Autism, ASD



Distraction-Free Tools


Microsoft office foolies


Intelligence in Earth’s nonhuman life



  • “Complex thinking goes beyond primates: Dolphins understand zero, elephants rescue each other” by Seth Borenstein (Winnipeg Free Press; 2012.06.24) – http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/sci_tech/complex-thinking-goes-beyond-primates-dolphins-understand-zero-elephants-rescue-each-other-160191285.html
    • Dolphins understand concept of “zero”. Can do everything that chimpanzees and bonobos can do. Likely have personalities.
    • Animal intelligence “is not a linear thing,” said Duke University researcher Brian Hare, who studies bonobos, which are one of man’s closest relatives, and dogs, which are not. “Think of it like a toolbox,” he said. “Some species have an amazing hammer. Some species have an amazing screwdriver.”
    • Elephants work cooperatively, solving problems faster than chimps.
  • “Line blurs between man, animal: Monkeys do math, baboons seem to read, orangutans plan ahead” by Seth Borenstein (Winnipeg Free Press; 2012.06.24) – http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/sci_tech/line-blurs-between-man-animal-monkeys-do-math-baboons-seem-to-read-orangutans-plan-ahead-160191235.html
    • Some of the shifts in scientific understanding of animals are leading to ethical debates. When Emory University researcher Lori Marino in 2001 co-wrote a groundbreaking study on dolphins recognizing themselves in mirrors, proving they have a sense of self similar to humans, she had a revelation. “The more you learn about them, the more you realize that they do have the capacity and characteristics that we think of as a person,” Marino said. “I think it’s impossible to ignore the ethical implications of these kinds of findings.”





Mammals: Primates

Mammals: Elephants

Mammals: Cetaceans (dolphins, whales, …)

  • “Talk with a dolphin via underwater translation machine” by MacGregor Campbell (New Scientist – issue 2811; 2011.05.09) – http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028115.400-talk-with-a-dolphin-via-underwater-translation-machine.html
  • “Intelligence of Dolphins: Ethical and Policy Implications” – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Session1526.html
      Charter: The dolphin brain has a large cerebral cortex and a substantial amount of associational neocortex. Most anatomical ratios that assess cognitive capacity place it second only to the human brain. More important, recent research in marine science has revealed that dolphins have a remarkable degree of cognitive and affective sophistication. For example, dolphins can recognize their image in a mirror as a reflection of themselves — a finding that indicates self-awareness similar to that seen in higher primates and elephants. These and other studies, which have found that dolphins are also capable of advanced cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, artificial language comprehension, and complex social behavior, indicate that dolphins are far more intellectually and emotionally sophisticated than previously thought. Considerable research indicates that they are significantly different from fish and other marine species, and this research has significance for commercial policy and practice. This symposium will present the scientific findings and explore their ethical and policy implications.
    • Lori Marino (Emory University): Anatomical Basis of Dolphin Intelligence – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Paper1487.html
        Many modern dolphin brains are significantly larger than our own and second in mass to the human brain when corrected for body size. Despite evolving along a different neuroanatomical trajectory than human brains, cetacean brains exhibit several features that are correlated with complex intelligence, including a large expanse of neocortical volume that is more convoluted than our own, extensive insular and cingulate regions, and highly differentiated cellular regions.
        These characteristics of dolphin brains are consistent with current behavioral evidence. In this presentation I will discuss the neuroanatomical basis of complex intelligence in dolphins, how the neuroanatomy provides evidence for psychological continuity between humans and dolphins, and the profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions. Specifically, I will focus on the growing worldwide industry of capturing and confining dolphins for amusement in marine park shows, “swim-with-dolphin” and “dolphin-assisted therapy” facilities. Our current knowledge of dolphin brain complexity and intelligence suggests that these practices are potentially psychologically harmful to dolphins and present a misinformed picture of their natural intellectual capacities.
    • Diana Reiss (Hunter College of the City University of New York): Self-Awareness and Dolphins – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Paper1488.html
        Bottlenose dolphins are highly social mammals with large and complex brains. Studies conducted in the field and aquaria have provided increasing evidence for the dolphin’s cognitive-social prowess, revealing that dolphins are cultural animals – much of their behavior is learned and passed down through generations.
        They have demonstrated the capacity for mirror-self recognition (MSR), a hallmark of a level of self-awareness, previously thought to be restricted to humans but also shared by the great apes, elephants and magpies. Despite profound differences in neuroanatomical characteristics and evolutionary histories dolphins, primates (human and great apes), and elephants show striking parallels in both the progression of behavioral stages and actual responses to a mirror providing compelling evidence for convergent cognitive evolution. MSR may index an increased self-other distinction that also underlies the social complexity and altruistic tendencies shared among these species.
        Can our scientific knowledge be used to influence international policy decisions and ethical considerations of the treatment of dolphins? Do scientific facts translate and transcend cultural boundaries? In the dolphin drive hunts in Japan, there are no restrictions on capture or killing methods of the highly sentient dolphin and other small whales. The killing methods fail to meet even the most minimal requirements used in U.S. laboratories and slaughterhouses. Scientists are making the argument on the basis of the scientific evidence that the drive hunts are unjustifiable and indefensible in that they inflict pain and suffering on animals that are intelligent, sentient, socially complex and have capacity to experience pain and suffering.
    • Thomas I. White (Loyola Marymount University): Ethical Implications of Dolphin Intelligence: Dolphins as Nonhuman Persons – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Paper1489.html
        The scientific research on dolphin intelligence suggests that dolphins are “nonhuman persons.” (Like humans, dolphins appear to be self-conscious,
        unique individuals [with distinctive personalities, memories and a sense of self] who are vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional pain and harm, and who have the power to reflect upon and choose their actions.) At the same time, fundamental differences between humans and dolphins have also surfaced. (The dolphin brain has an older architecture than the human brain, and dolphin and human brains have features not found in the other. Dolphins possess a sense that humans lack [echolocation]. Humans and dolphins have profoundly different evolutionary histories.) This juxtaposition of important similarities and differences has significant ethical implications.
        The similarities suggest that dolphins qualify for moral standing as individuals-and, therefore, are entitled to treatment of a particular sort. The differences, however, suggest that species-specific standards may apply when it comes to determining something as basic as “harm.” The policy implications are considerable. For example, certain human fishing practices are indefensible and would need to change. (Over 300,000 cetaceans are thought to die annually around the world as a result of fisheries by-catch. Thousands more typically die in the annual Japanese drive hunts.) Similarly, changes would need to be made regarding the hundreds of captive dolphins currently used in entertainment facilities. The economic, political and diplomatic challenges in ending ethically problematic practices, however, are daunting and multi-faceted. Unfortunately, humans have a poor track record for recognizing the rights and interests even of members of our own species once they’ve been dubbed “inferior.” Meaningful change in human/dolphin interaction, then, is likely to unfold slowly. Yet developing an interspecies ethic could mark a significant turning point in the relationship between humans and other intelligent beings on the planet.
  • “Non-human Persons” by petchary (Petchary blog) – http://petchary.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/non-human-persons/ – dog knows more worlds (over 1000) that a two-years old.

Mammals: Carnivora (cats, dogs, …)

Aves (Birds)

Aves (Birds): Corvids [Corvidae]

  • Corvidae (WikiPedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvidae
  • “Rook reveal remarkable tool use” – http://vodpod.com/watch/1672586-rook-reveal-remarkable-tool-use
  • “Bird Tool Use Evolved for Better Grub, Literally” by Jennifer Viegas (Dicsovery News; 2010.09.16) – http://news.discovery.com/animals/bird-tool-use-evolved-for-better-grub-literally.html
  • “Ravens Reconcile after Aggressive Conflicts with Valuable Partners” by Orlaith N. Fraser, Thomas Bugnyar (PLoS; 2011.03.25) – http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0018118
      Reconciliation, a post-conflict affiliative interaction between former opponents, is an important mechanism for reducing the costs of aggressive conflict in primates and some other mammals as it may repair the opponents’ relationship and reduce post-conflict distress. Opponents who share a valuable relationship are expected to be more likely to reconcile as for such partners the benefits of relationship repair should outweigh the risk of renewed aggression. In birds, however, post-conflict behavior has thus far been marked by an apparent absence of reconciliation, suggested to result either from differing avian and mammalian strategies or because birds may not share valuable relationships with partners with whom they engage in aggressive conflict. Here, we demonstrate the occurrence of reconciliation in a group of captive subadult ravens (Corvus corax) and show that it is more likely to occur after conflicts between partners who share a valuable relationship. Furthermore, former opponents were less likely to engage in renewed aggression following reconciliation, suggesting that reconciliation repairs damage caused to their relationship by the preceding conflict. Our findings suggest not only that primate-like valuable relationships exist outside the pair bond in birds, but that such partners may employ the same mechanisms in birds as in primates to ensure that the benefits afforded by their relationships are maintained even when conflicts of interest escalate into aggression. These results provide further support for a convergent evolution of social strategies in avian and mammalian species.
  • “Angry Birds: Crows Never Forget Your Face” by Jennifer Viegas (Discovery News; 2011.06.28) – http://news.discovery.com/animals/angry-crows-memory-life-threatening-behavior-110628.html

    • Mess with a crow, and it will remember your face for over five years, research shows.
    • Crows remember the faces of “dangerous humans,” with the memories likely lasting for a bird’s lifetime.
    • Crows may scold people who threaten them, bringing in relatives and even strangers to mob the person.
    • The crows within mobs then indirectly learn about the person, so they too associate that individual’s face with danger and react accordingly.
    • “Others have shown that some crows make and use tools, forecast future events, understand what other animals know, and — in our case — learn from individual experience as well as by observing parents and peers,” Marzluff explained. “These are all advanced cognitive tasks shown by only a few animals.”
    • He suspects other social, long-lived species that live closely with humans might also share information in a similar manner. Possibilities include animals such as coyotes, raccoons, gulls, pigeons and rats. All could practice a combination of social and trial and error learning. The latter provides the most accurate information, but it is clearly riskier than indirect social learning.
  • “Crows are Feathered Engineers” by Gene Charleton (Discovery News; 2010.06.10) – http://news.discovery.com/tech/feathered-engineers.htmlCrows living in the jungles of New Caledonia use tools to solve problems.
  • “Feathered engineers” by Gene (Texas AM Engineering; 2010.06.02) – http://engineeringworks.tamu.edu/2010/feathered-engineers/
  • “Mirrors and Magpies” by fatfinch (The Fat Finch Bird Brain Blog; ) – http://fatfinch.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/mirrors-and-magpies/
  • “Self-Recognition in the Pica Pica (Magpie)?” (2008.08.19) – http://cognitivetrammeling.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/self-recognition-in-the-pica-pica/

Aves (Birds): Parrots


Cephalopod: Squids, etc

  • Cephalopod intelligence (WikiPedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalopod_intelligence
  • This is probably a stretch (in domain of science-fiction), but it sounds like something that just could be the case. Is decoration of your nesting ground a sign of intelligence? Also, assuming that some ancient cephalopod indeed had this intelligence, then the questions is what happened to that intelligence during the following 50 millions of years? It looks like it had gone nowhere to be seen these days.
    • “The Revenge of the Imaginary Kraken” by Brian Switek (Wired; 2011.10.12) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/10/the-revenge-of-the-imaginary-kraken/
    • “Gigantic KRAKEN fingered in prehistoric murder mystery – Prof reckons monster was also a Triassic Van Gogh” by Anna Leach (The Register; 2011.10.12) – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/12/kraken_killer/
        “The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait.”
    • “Ancient Krakens Making Self-Portraits?” (SlashDot; 2011.10.11) – http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/10/11/134240/ancient-krakens-making-self-portraits
        First time accepted submitter Sanoj writes “Strange patterns of ichthyosaur bones have been found on an ancient deep-water seabed. One paleontologist has put forward the theory that these could have been the work of giant cephalopods who were eating the swimming dinosaurs and then arranging the vertebrae to resemble their own tentacles [http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/58953-triassic-kraken-may-have-created-self-portrait]. Sound far-fetched? Apparently, the modern octopus also does this.”
    • “The Giant, Prehistoric Squid That Ate Common Sense” by Brian Switek (Wired; 2011.10.10) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/10/the-giant-prehistoric-squid-that-ate-common-sense/
    • “Smokin’ Kraken?” by Sarah Simpson(Discovery News; 2011.10.100) – http://news.discovery.com/earth/smokin-kraken-111011.html
    • “Triassic ‘Kraken’ may have created self-portrait” by Kate Taylor (TG Daily; 2011.10.10) – http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/58953-triassic-kraken-may-have-created-self-portrait
    • “TRIASSIC KRAKEN: THE BERLIN ICHTHYOSAUR DEATH ASSEMBLAGE INTERPRETED AS A GIANT CEPHALOPOD MIDDEN” by Mark A.S. MCMENAMIN and Dianna L. SCHULTE MCMENAMIN (2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis [9–12 October 2011]; Paper No. 120-3) – http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/abstract_197227.htm
        The Luning Formation at Berlin‑Ichthyosaur State Park, Nevada, hosts a puzzling assemblage of at least 9 huge (≤14 m) juxtaposed ichthyosaurs (Shonisaurus popularis). Shonisaurs were cephalopod‑eating predators comparable to sperm whales (Physeter). Hypotheses presented to explain the apparent mass mortality at the site have included: tidal flat stranding, sudden burial by slope failure, and phytotoxin poisoning. Citing the wackestone matrix, J. A. Holger argued convincingly for a deeper water setting, but her phytotoxicity hypothesis cannot explain how so many came to rest at virtually the same spot. Skeletal articulation indicates that animals were deposited on the sea floor shortly after death. Currents or other factors placed them in a north‑south orientation. Adjacent skeletons display different taphonomic histories and degrees of disarticulation, ruling out catastrophic mass death, but allowing a scenario in which dead ichthyosaurs were sequentially transported to a sea floor midden. We hypothesize that the shonisaurs were killed and carried to the site by an enormous Triassic cephalopod, a “kraken,” with estimated length of approximately 30 m, twice that of the modern Colossal Squid Mesonychoteuthis. In this scenario, shonisaurs were ambushed by a Triassic kraken, drowned, and dumped on a midden like that of a modern octopus. Where vertebrae in the assemblage are disarticulated, disks are arranged in curious linear patterns with almost geometric regularity. Close fitting due to spinal ligament contraction is disproved by the juxtaposition of different-sized vertebrae from different parts of the vertebral column. The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait. The submarine contest between cephalopods and seagoing tetrapods has a long history. A Triassic kraken would have posed a deadly risk for shonisaurs as they dove in pursuit of their smaller cephalopod prey.
  • “Octopus Is First Invertebrate to Use Tools, Turning a Coconut Into Mobile Home (Video)”
    by Jaymi Heimbuch (TreeHugger; 2009.12.15) – http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/12/octopus-is-first-invertabrate-to-use-tools-turning-a-coconut-into-mobile-home.php

Plan group intelligence

Bacteria group intelligence

Related here: Intelligence – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/intelligence/.


Memetic diseases

Mass hysteria

  • “The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills” by Alexis Madrigal (the Atlantic; 2011.09.14) – http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/09/the-dark-side-of-the-placebo-effect-when-intense-belief-kills/245065/
      While people of all cultures experience sleep paralysis in similar ways, the specific form and intensity it takes varies from one group to the next …
      They died in their sleep one by one, thousands of miles from home. Their median age was 33. All but one — 116 of the 117 — were healthy men. Immigrants from southeast Asia, you could count the time most had spent on American soil in just months. At the peak of the deaths in the early 1980s, the death rate from this mysterious problem among the Hmong ethnic group was equivalent to the top five natural causes of death for other American men in their age group.

      Something was killing Hmong men in their sleep, and no one could figure out what it was. There was no obvious cause of death. None of them had been sick, physically. The men weren’t clustered all that tightly, geographically speaking. They were united by dislocation from Laos and a shared culture, but little else. Even House would have been stumped.

      Doctors gave the problem a name, the kind that reeks of defeat, a dragon label on the edge of the known medical world: Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome. SUNDS. It didn’t do much in terms of diagnosis or treatment, but it was easier to track the periodic conferences dedicated to understanding the problem.

  • “What’s Causing ‘Mass Faintings’ at Cambodian Factories?” by Andrew Marshall (Time > World; 2011.09.20) – http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2093516,00.html
      … In the past three months, at least 1,200 workers at seven garment and shoe factories have reported feeling dizzy, nauseated, exhausted or short of breath, and hundreds have been briefly hospitalized. No definitive explanation has yet been given for these so-called mass faintings. One baffled reporter described them as “unique to Cambodia.” (Read how companies are abandoning Chinese factories in search of cheaper options.)
      Hardly. It’s been almost 50 years since girls at a boarding school in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) were struck by an illness whose symptoms — fainting, nausea and helpless laughter — soon spread to other communities. Or consider the Pokémon contagion in 1997, when 12,000 Japanese children experienced fits, nausea and shortness of breath after watching a television cartoon. Sufferers of World Trade Center syndrome, meanwhile, blamed proximity to Ground Zero for coughs and other respiratory problems long after airborne contaminants posed any health threat.
      All these are examples of mass hysteria, a bizarre yet surprisingly common phenomenon that is increasingly recognized as a significant health and social problem. For centuries it has crossed cultures and religions, taking on different forms to keep pace with popular obsessions and fears. In our post-9/11 world, it thrives on the anxiety caused by terrorist attacks, nuclear radiation and environmental gloom. “At any one time there are probably hundreds of episodes happening all around the world,” says Simon Wessely, a psychology professor at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. “They just don’t normally get reported.”


More: Memetics – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/memetics/


Gut bacteria, second brain, etc

Filed under: health, mind & brain — Tags: , , , — sandokan65 @ 13:37
  • “Your Gut, Your Brain, and Economics – Should Economists Considers Gut-Brain Communication?” by Daniel R. Hawes (Psychology Today; 2011.08.02) – http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quilted-science/201108/your-gut-your-brain-and-economics
  • “Gut flora: You are what your bacteria eat” by Neil Katz (CBS News; 2011.04.21) – http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20056028-10391704.html
  • “Scientist Find Gut Bacteria Divides People Into Three Types” (FOX News; 2011.04.21) – http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpps/health/scientist-find-gut-bacteria-divides-people-into-three-types-dpgoha-20110421-fc_12862614
    Three enterotypes
  • “Bacteria Divide People Into 3 Types, Scientists Say” by Carl Zimmer (NYTimes; 2011.04.20) – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/science/21gut.html
    • Enterotype 1:
      • produces more enzymes for making vitamin B7 (also known as biotin).
      • high levels of bacteria called Bacteroides
    • Enterotype 2:
      • produces more enzymes for vitamin B1 (thiamine).
      • Bacteroides were relatively rare, while the genus Prevotella was unusually common.
    • Enterotype 3
  • “Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome” (Nature; 2011.04.20?) – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature09944.html
      Abstract: Our knowledge of species and functional composition of the human gut microbiome is rapidly increasing, but it is still based on very few cohorts and little is known about variation across the world. By combining 22 newly sequenced faecal metagenomes of individuals from four countries with previously published data sets, here we identify three robust clusters (referred to as enterotypes hereafter) that are not nation or continent specific. We also confirmed the enterotypes in two published, larger cohorts, indicating that intestinal microbiota variation is generally stratified, not continuous. This indicates further the existence of a limited number of well-balanced host–microbial symbiotic states that might respond differently to diet and drug intake. The enterotypes are mostly driven by species composition, but abundant molecular functions are not necessarily provided by abundant species, highlighting the importance of a functional analysis to understand microbial communities. Although individual host properties such as body mass index, age, or gender cannot explain the observed enterotypes, data-driven marker genes or functional modules can be identified for each of these host properties. For example, twelve genes significantly correlate with age and three functional modules with the body mass index, hinting at a diagnostic potential of microbial markers.
  • “How Microbes Defend and Define Us” by Carl Zimmer (NYTimes; 2010.07.12) – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13micro.html
    How Microbes Defend and Define Us
  • “A human gut microbial gene catalogue established by metagenomic sequencing” (Nature; 2010.03.04) – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v464/n7285/full/nature08821.html


Fermi paradox

Filed under: astronomy, evolution, life, mind & brain, physics — Tags: , — sandokan65 @ 10:03

Be quiet you stupid young species! (or else be gone)

  • “Is ET avoiding us out of a fear of human galactic conquest?” (io9; 2011.04.10) – http://io9.com/#!5790567/is-et-avoiding-us-out-of-a-fear-of-human-galactic-conquest
  • “Is ET Scared of Human Conquest?” (13point7 blog) – http://thirteenpointseven.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/is-et-scared-of-human-conquest/
  • “Interstellar Predation Could Explain Fermi Paradox” (The Physics arXiv blog; 2011.04.08) – http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26622/
      In a casual chat over lunch back in 1950, the Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi posed a now famous question. If intelligent life has evolved many times in our galaxy and beyond, why do we see no sign of it?

      Kent puts it like this: “If cosmic habitats are widely enough separated that they are very hard to find, by far the best strategy for a typical species to avoid defeat in such competitions may be to avoid entering them, by being inconspicuous enough that no potential adversary identifies its habitat as valuable.”

      That raises important questions about whether humanity is wise to advertise its existence. Various attempts to send messages to the stars have already been made and many scientists have pointed out that this could be a serious mistake, even a suicidal one.

  • “Too Damned Quiet?” by Adrian Kent (arXiv.org > physics > arXiv:1104.0624; 2011.04.04) – http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.0624
      Abstract: It is often suggested that extraterrestial life sufficiently advanced to be capable of interstellar travel or communication must be rare, since otherwise we would have seen evidence of it by now. This in turn is sometimes taken as indirect evidence for the improbability of life evolving at all in our universe. A couple of other possibilities seem worth considering. One is that life capable of evidencing itself on interstellar scales has evolved in many places but that evolutionary selection, acting on a cosmic scale, tends to extinguish species which conspicuously advertise themselves and their habitats. The other is that — whatever the true situation — intelligent species might reasonably worry about the possible dangers of self-advertisement and hence incline towards discretion. These possibilities are discussed here, and some counter-arguments and complicating factors are also considered.


Filed under: mind & brain — Tags: , , , — sandokan65 @ 09:58


Memory sports


On importance of practice

Filed under: education, mind & brain, skils — Tags: , , , , — sandokan65 @ 15:15
  • “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” by Amy Chua (Wall Street Journal; 2011.01.08) – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html
    Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?

      What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.

Related: Skills acquisition – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/skills-acquisition/


Gypsy information


Brain training

Filed under: iq, mind & brain — Tags: — sandokan65 @ 23:34


Dunbar’s numbers

Dunbar numbers for current variant/species of humans:

  • 7 – immediate family
  • 21 – extended family and close friends
  • 35 – community, friend, distant family
  • 60+ – everyone else
  • 150 – the maximal # of people one may know by name (really?)


  • “Human Brain Limits Twitter Friends to 150” (The Physics arXiv Blog; 2011.05.30) – http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26824/The number of people we can truly be friends with is constant, regardless of social networking services like Twitter, according to a new study of the network.
    • “Validation of Dunbar’s number in Twitter conversations” by Bruno Goncalves, Nicola Perra and Alessandro Vespignani (arXiv.org > physics > arXiv:1105.5170 [physics.soc-ph]; 2011.05.28) – http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.5170
    • Abstract: Modern society’s increasing dependency on online tools for both work and recreation opens up unique opportunities for the study of social interactions. A large survey of online exchanges or conversations on Twitter, collected across six months involving 1.7 million individuals is presented here. We test the theoretical cognitive limit on the number of stable social relationships known as Dunbar’s number. We find that users can entertain a maximum of 100-200 stable relationships in support for Dunbar’s prediction. The “economy of attention” is limited in the online world by cognitive and biological constraints as predicted by Dunbar’s theory. Inspired by this empirical evidence we propose a simple dynamical mechanism, based on finite priority queuing and time resources, that reproduces the observed social behavior.
  • Dunbar’s number (WikiPedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number
  • “OMG: brains can’t handle all our Facebook friends” by Chris Gourlay (The Sunday Times; 2010.01.24) – http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/the_web/article6999879.ece
    • … “Dunbar developed a theory known as “Dunbar’s number” in the 1990s which claimed that the size of our neocortex — the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language — limits us to managing social circles of around 150 friends, no matter how sociable we are.”
  • Dunbar’s number – (Justified by the Scriptures; 2010.11.04) – http://justifiedbythescriptures.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/dunbars-number/
  • “Social Media and Me – It’s Good to Talk” (Vintage1951 blog; 2010.07.07) – http://vintage1951.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/social-media-and-me-its-good-to-talk-2/
    • “Dunbar’s Number is a well-known concept in anthropology, which states that an individual can only maintain strong stable relationships with around 150 people. The number is held to be a function of the size of the neocortex, a theory tested by comparing the social groupings of other primates. Some people claim that any group loses cohesion and eventually its identity when its size exceeds Dunbar’s number.
  • “The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell – Review” by Phil O’Brien (Personal Network Blog; 2010.07.22) – http://personalnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/the-tipping-point-malcolm-gladwell-review/
    • “Dunbar’s Number. He explains the principle of humans naturally having a most efficient group size of 150 people. Robin Dunbar (from Oxford University) has done research in to ancient civilisations – and modern business groups … and 150 keeps on recurring.”
  • “150 Connections on LinkedIn – should I retire on Dunbar’s Number?” by Phil O’Brien (Personal Network Blog; 2010.09.10) – http://personalnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/150-connections-on-linkedin-should-i-retire-on-dunbars-number/
  • “Dunbar’s Number – is it 22,500 in practice?” by Phil O’Brien (Personal Network Blog; 2010.11.01) – http://personalnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/dunbars-number-is-it-22500-in-practice/
  • “Sorry, Facebook friends: Our brains can’t keep up” by Don Reisinger (Digital Home; 2010.02.28) – http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-10440330-17.html
  • “How Many Friends Are Too Many?” (Healthymemory’s Blog) – http://healthymemory.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/how-many-friends-are-too-many/
  • “Unravelling the size distribution of social groups with information theory on complex networks” by A. Hernando, D. Villuendas, C. Vesperinas, M. Abad, A. Plastino (arXiv; v3 = 2009.09.16) – http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.3704v3
  • “Defying the Dunbar number” by Rajiv Jayaraman (MIS Asia; 2009.02.20) – http://mis-asia.com/opinion__and__blogs/bloggers/defying-the-dunbar-number
    • “There is a need to double the Dunbar number to at least 300 to reflect the realities of the new hyper-connected Web 2.0 world. Will you dig that?
  • “Defying the Dunbar number” (Knolskape; 2009.02.20) – http://www.knolskape.com/blog/2009/02/defying-the-dunbar-number/
  • “Primates on Facebook – Even online, the neocortex is the limit” (the exonomist; 2009.02.26) – http://www.economist.com/node/13176775?story_id=13176775
  • “What is the Monkeysphere?” by David Wong (Cracked.com; 2007.09.30) – http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html
    • “You see, monkey experts performed a monkey study a while back, and discovered that the size of the monkey’s monkey brain determined the size of the monkey groups the monkeys formed. The bigger the brain, the bigger the little societies they built.They cut up so many monkey brains, in fact, that they found they could actually take a brain they had never seen before and from it they could accurately predict what size tribes that species of creature formed.

      Most monkeys operate in troupes of 50 or so. But somebody slipped them a slightly larger brain and they estimated the ideal group or society for this particular animal was about 150.

      That brain, of course, was human. Probably from a homeless man they snatched off the streets.”
  • “The ultimate brain teaser” – http://www.liv.ac.uk/researchintelligence/issue17/brainteaser.html
  • “The Dunbar Number” by Jeff Freeman (2004?.06.28) – http://web.archive.org/web/20051214141613/http://mythical.blogspot.com/2004_06_01_mythical_archive.html
  • “Dunbar, Altruistic Punishment, and Meta-Moderation” by Christopher Allen (Life Without Alacrity; 2005.03.17) – http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2005/03/dunbar_altruist.html
    • “There I was able to show that even though the Dunbar Number might predict a mean group size of 150 for humans, that in fact for non-survival oriented groups the mean was significantly less, probably between 60 to 90.”
  • “The Dunbar Number as a Limit to Group Sizes” by Christopher Allen (Life Without Alacrity; 2004.03.10) – http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html
  • “Communities of practice and Dunbar’s number” (Mopsos; 2004.03.12) – http://www.blog.mopsos.com/archives/000075.html
    • “Essentially, as we increase group sizes beyond 80, to 150, 200, or even 350-500, we typically do so by breaking larger groups down into smaller ones, and continually reducing community sizes down to the point where they can be understood and managed by people — and so efficiency reasserts itself.In my experience and vision of communities of practice, I tend to find similar numbers floating around. Typically vibrant communities of practice have around 100 – 150 members. As social structures, they are “onion-shaped”, with layers of membership behaviors.

      At the center, the “core group” of the community of practice is typically composed of 5 to 7 people. These are the guys who are willing to spend some time together, typically 15%-20% of their time (not much more, because they are busy on their projects anyway), reflecting on past experience and planning ahead for the community’s learning activities in a peer mode. Then you have a second layer of 20-30 active contributors, typically those who follow the community ritual: they come regularly at meetings, they often contribute, and they also complain when something goes wrong in the planned schedule. These are the ones, whose attention is grabbed by other topics but have made some time for the community activities in their calendar, typically 2% to 5% of their time. And finally you have the “lurkers”, who actually don’t follow the community ritual, but participate just enough to be aware of what is going on. They also contribute a minima to maintain a feeling of social belonging, typically a few hours twice a year.”

Amygdala connection

The size of person’s amygdala either pre-determines, or is a consequence, (or correlates from some unknown reason), the size of persons social circle.


Language evolution and families

Origins of language

Language evolution

Famiies: Semitic

Related here: Linguistics links – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/linguistics-links/ | Learning languages / Language acquisition – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/learning-languages-language-acquisition/ | Bilingualism – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/bilingualism-multilingualism/.



Filed under: memetics — Tags: , — sandokan65 @ 16:31

Miracula Aeternitatis

Filed under: alchemy, languages, music — Tags: , , — sandokan65 @ 12:56

Cirque Du Soleil : Miracula Aeternitatis

  • Composer: Violaine Corradi
  • Album: Dralion
  • Vocals: Erik Karol
  • Keyboards: Sylvain Grand
  • Cello solo: James Darling
  • Guitars: Lionel Hamel
  • Text inspired by the first verse of the “Tabula Smaragdina” (Emerald Tabled)
  • at Youtube: http://youtube.com/watch?v=DGkTRCdRRVs
Quod fuit est quod erit
Et quod erit est sicut quod fuit
Quod fuit ad perpetranda
Miracula aeternitatis

    Quod superius est sicut quod inferius
    Ad perpetranda miracula

Quod fuit est quod erit
Et quod erit est sicut quod fuit
Quod fuit ad perpetranda
Miracula aeternitatis

    Quod inferius est sicut quod superius
    Ad perpetranda miracula

Quod fuit ad perpetranda
Miracula aeternitatis

    Quod superius est sicut quod inferius
    Ad perpetranda miracula

Tabula Smaragdina

Filed under: alchemy, languages — Tags: , — sandokan65 @ 12:49
Tabula Smaragdina
Verum, sine mendacio, certum et verissimum: True, without error, certain and most true:
1. Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius 1. That which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, to perform the miracles of the one thing.
2. Et sicut res omnes fuerunt ab uno, meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae ab hac una re, adaptatione. 2. And as all things were from [the] one, by [means of] the meditation of [the] one, thus all things of the daughter from [the] one, by [means of] adaptation.
3. Pater eius est Sol. Mater eius est Luna. Portavit illud Ventus in ventre suo. Nutrix eius terra est. 3. Its father is the sun, its mother[,] the moon, the wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the earth.
4. Pater omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic. 4. The father of all the looms of the whole world is here.
5. Virtus eius integra est si versa fuerit in terram. 5. Its power is integrating if it be turned into earth.
6. Separabis terram ab igne, subtile ab spisso, suaviter, magno cum ingenio. 6. Separate the earth from the fire, the fine from the dense, delicately, by [means of/to] the great [together] with capacity.
7. Ascendit a terra in coelum, iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et inferiorum. 7. It ascends by [means of] earth into heaven and again it descends into the earth, and retakes the power of the superior[s] and of the inferior[s].
8. Sic habebis Gloriam totius mundi. 8. Thus[,] you have the glory of the whole world.
9. Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas. 9. Therefore[,] may it drive-out by [means of] you of all the obscurity.
10. Haec est totius fortitudinis fortitudo fortis, quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque solidam penetrabit. 10. This is the whole of the strength of the strong force, because it overcomes all fine things, and penetrats all the complete.
11. Sic mundus creatus est. 11. Thus the world has been created.
12. Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles, quarum modus est hic. 12. Hence they were wonderful adaptations, of which this is the manner.
Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi. Completum est quod dixi de operatione Solis. Therefore I am Hermes the Thrice Great, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. What I have said concerning the operation of the Sun has been completed.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.