.... "If the brain was so simple that we could understand it, then we would be so simple that we couldn't." -- Emerson M. Pugh
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
For any not familiar with the infamous work, these lines from near the paper's end give the flavor of the presentation:
"Thus, a liberatory science cannot be complete without a profound revision of the canon of mathematics. As yet no such emancipatory mathematics exists, and we can only speculate upon its eventual content. We can see hints of it in the multidimensional and nonlinear logic of fuzzy systems theory; but this approach is still heavily marked by its origins in the crisis of late-capitalist production relations. Catastrophe theory, with its dialectical emphases on smoothness/discontinuity and metamorphosis/unfolding, will indubitably play a major role in the future mathematics; but much theoretical work remains to be done before this approach can become a concrete tool of progressive political praxis. Finally, chaos theory -- which provides our deepest insights into the ubiquitous yet mysterious phenomenon of nonlinearity -- will be central to all future mathematics."It may be best to start by reading Sokal's explanation for perpetrating the hoax in the first place, before actually reading the fraudulent paper itself.
The original paper in its entirety, is here.
And much further discussion and follow-up can be linked to from this Sokal webpage:
Alan also authored an entire book, "Beyond The Hoax," about the whole affair.
And, all-in-all, I'm not so sure that much has changed in the dozen years passed since the hoax's unveiling --- indeed, the public's comprehension of science today may be even worse than before :-(
Friday, September 26, 2008
"Spacing," in the form of rhythm, syllabic stress, and of course speed, is no doubt also centrally operative in the auditory task of speech processing/recognition.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
This is more than just a humorous exercise, as it indicates how strongly certain sound combinations can carry connotations or senses in brain processing quite apart from their literal meanings (and in turn says something about semantic organization of the brain). In some ways this is almost the opposite of "onomatopoeia" where words actually do sound, to some degree, like the meanings to which they refer:
crunch, buzz, murmur, clang, purr, whisper, splash, hiss
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Most readers likely know that palindromes are words, phrases, or sentences composed of the same letters reading forwards or backwards: "otto," "madam I'm Adam," "never odd or even".
Numbers obviously can also be palindromic: "11," "6116," "503305". Clearly one can invent palindromic numbers pretty much at will; still some are more interesting than others. The long number above is made from the first 27 digits of pi 'mirroring' themselves to create a palindrome. Nothing overly peculiar about that, but making it more interesting is the fact that it is also a prime number (of 53 digits). The next two such 'pi-palindromic' primes have 301 and 921 digits respectively. The study of prime numbers (evenly divisible only by themselves and 1) is virtually a book-length topic by itself. Prime numbers not only remain a central long-running and mysterious subject within mathematics (and specifically 'number theory'), but also play a key role in modern day encryption technology, and were central to Carl Sagan's best-selling novel/movie "Contact," as well.
BTW, the largest prime number yet known was recently discovered: 243,112,609 -1
(yes, it's even larger than the debt the current Administration will be leaving behind to the next President)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This sentence contains one hundred and ninety-seven letters: four a's, one b, three c's, five d's, thirty-four e's, seven f's, one g, six h's, twelve i's, three l's, twenty-six n's, ten o's, ten r's, twenty-nine s's, nineteen t's, six u's, seven v's, four w's, four x's, five y's, and one z.
Monday, September 22, 2008
If it's something you may have interest in attending, start here for more info or to register. Even though it is many months off, be aware that registration is limited and could fill up well ahead of the January dates. A chance to meet some of your favorite bloggers, get energized about science communication, and learn-from/socialize-with some like-minded folks. Come for all the free swag :-), stay for the learning and camaraderie.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
One of the most famous and well-studied effects in experimental psychology is the "Stroop Test" (named after its originator) involving naming/identifying the color of words that are themselves names of colors, which strongly cognitively interfere with that very naming process. Take the Stroop test here.
Wikipedia entry for same here.
One more indication of just how much our cognition is influenced, even overwhelmed, by the language substrate that we learn.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Agnes Scott College, Decatur Georgia - Tuesday October 23rd, 7.30pm-9.30pm
For tickets call the ASC Information Desk at 404 471-6430
Luhrs Center, Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania - Thursday October 25th, 8pm
Lorain County Community College, Ohio - Monday October 29th, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Adrian College, Michigan - Wednesday October 31st, 12pm
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Her home webpage here: http://www.drjilltaylor.com/
And a bit more on right- and left-hemispheric brain processing here.
Or, put in layman's terms, men are from Mars and women are from Venus.
(...Just thought we should establish this once-and-for-all, before all of us get sucked down a Black Hole later today, when CERN's Large Hadron Collider is switched on ;-)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
A few sites with more info on this most famously-generated of mathematical fractals :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal (the Wikipedia entry for "fractals")
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Suppose you are driving around town with your spouse in the front seat. You (as the driver) can carry on a perfectly reasonable, fluent, intelligent conversation with your spouse even while navigating traffic, correctly obeying signs and lights, making turns as needed, operating brakes, turn signals, clutch if necessary, etc. You successfully carry out all these perceptual and mechanical or physical operations virtually at a subconscious level even while focusing on the conversation with your spouse. We've all done it, or something like it.
But now suppose you are asked to very consciously focus visually on the traffic signs, street scenes, vehicles around you, and general traffic environment (as if there was going to be a pop quiz later). You would now find it VERRRY difficult to simultaneously carry on such a fluid, intelligent conversation with your spouse; a choppy, halting conversation maybe, but not the smooth, continuous, proficient communication as before. In short, an experienced driver can attend to the perceptual requirements of a traffic environment around him/her successfully in a fairly automatic, ingrained manner, but language, on the other hand, is a learned cerebral activity that requires more direct conscious attention and control --- and this is so even though language is itself very automatic (one does not consciously think about grammatical and semantic rules when conversing), just not as automatic in the same way or degree as various visual and physical activity. Different levels of consciousness, and different parts/structures of the brain are involved.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Journal citation here.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
And in an earlier post at the same blog, research is discussed regarding the role of consonants versus vowels in an infants' incredible ability to learn speech processing.
This all relates to the study within linguistics of "prosody," or the rhythm, stress, and intonation of language, and it's relationship to structure and semantics. This is probably one of the most important, and yet least understood, areas of all linguistics, and very rich ground for ongoing research.
Given that all languages do have rhythmic and stress components it is natural that music could have some influence on the learning of language. Moreover, I have always been intrigued by the frequency with which individuals skilled in mathematics also possess greater-than-average musical talents; playing and/or composing music. I suspect that mathematical algorithms, yet to be uncovered, very much underly most music, and there is much cerebral linkage between the two talents. Moreover, language itself (with its prosodic elements) may eventually reduce in part to certain mathematical rules/formulas. THAT, however, is of course a long way off.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
More info on the volume here (Amazon) and here (book review, pdf).
Monday, September 1, 2008
see more spoonerisms here
Wikipedia entry here
The satirical comedy troupe, the Capitol Steps, have become famous for their 'spooneristic' (taken to extreme) comedy bits over the years; audio example of one here:
...and more of their offerings here.