Sunday, December 13, 2009

The natural state of the human mind

Well, I won't worry about ALL of the natural state of the human mind. I will just focus on the topic of numbers. I listened to this recent podcast today of the WNYC program "Radiolab". The program starts out with exploration of the minds of babies. How does a baby experience numbers? Who knows? Who knew? How does one find this out? Well, if all this interests you, then this podcast is a really, REALLY fun way to spend an hour being exposed to scientific research and the interior workings of the human mind in a joyful, experimental way that makes one happy to experience. Try it!

Comments welcomed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A VERY different story: Christmas in Calgary

Well, now THIS is a story unlike any I have ever heard before. If you have three minutes for a lovely lady, who tells quite a good story (even if I do say so), lend an ear and sit back. It's THAT time of year.

Comments welcomed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A parallel point of view

Since we observe things with both eyes at the same time, and all light that falls on our eyes is viewed at once, we don't really think about that concept too much. This is one man's way of showing the process.

Comments welcomed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Asimov's fictional model used now

I grew up reading science fiction. One of my very favorite authors was Isaac Asimov. He brought hard science into his stories in ways that made them ever so much more engaging and "real" to me as a science-enthused youngster of the 1950's. My favorite of his longer works was his Foundation trilogy (at least in the fifties...he later wrote several surrounding stories to expand on that future world).

The stories of this series were started by exposing readers to a brilliant mathematician named Hari Seldon, who used his skills to forecast actions of the many worlds in his civilization far into the future. Imagine MY surprise when I find out current, real-world arithmeticians are using current computers to work down the path he created in his stories!

Here is the abstract of the work done:
The Seldon model combines concepts from agent-based
modeling and social network analysis to create a computation
model of social dynamics for terrorist recruitment.
The underlying recruitment model is based on
a unique hybrid agent-based architecture that contains
simple agents (individuals such as expatriates) and abstract
agents (conceptual entities such as society and
mosques). Interactions between agents are determined
by multiple social networks which form and dissipate
according to the actions of the individual. We have implemented
a Java-based toolkit to evaluate the dynamics
of social behavior and the specific dynamics associated
with terrorist recruitment described by expert social scientists,
creating an architecture for simple adaptation to
other group phenomenon.
A fellow science fiction fan/ham radio operator sent me this link today (it is a Portable Document File). I'm pleased to expose you to it.

And researchers at Virginia Tech are using 163 variables from 100 gigabytes of population data to help them to determine possible influenza spread. Discussion of the effort can be found here.

Comments welcomed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Cheats Who Call Us

Even if you are registered on the National Do Not Call List, companies are finding lots of ways around it. I found this on the eHow site:

    Permission Tricks

  1. Some scammers trick consumers into giving the scammer permission to call, despite the fact that the consumer's number is on the Do Not Call Registry. Scammers do this in a variety of ways, but one of the most common is to ask people to fill out contest entry forms at a fair, convention or other event. If you don't read the entire entry form, including the small print, you may not realize that by filling it out you have just given a company and its affiliates the right to call you. Websites often ask for your phone number and bury the fact that you've given them permission to call you in the Terms of Use or other fine print.

Comments welcomed.