.... "If the brain was so simple that we could understand it, then we would be so simple that we couldn't." -- Emerson M. Pugh


Web mindshavings.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fractal Beauty

The Mandelbrot Fractal zoomed. Beautiful!!

Cool Illusion

Here. Known as the Munker-White illusion.


If one spells out numbers as full words in numerical order, one must count to the number "one thousand" before coming across the letter "A"!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Memory, Prediction, Brainworkings

Here a TED talk from Jeff Hawkins, inventor of the Palm PDA and author of "On Intelligence," discussing, in a novel way, how the brain works.

Friday, November 28, 2008

IgNobel Awards ;-)

The winners of the IgNobel Awards for 2008 were announced at a ceremony this week at Harvard. In the category of Cognitive Science the winners were:

"Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University, Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima University, Atsushi Tero of Presto JST, Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and Ágotá Tóth of the University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles."

Quote... Unquote

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” -- Einstein

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Scientific American article on the brain's tendency, indeed need, to perceive patterns in incoming stimuli (whether real or unreal).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Interesting thought experiment ("experimental philosophy")

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Directed Awareness

Fun, quick YouTube video:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Math and the Brain

Learning math causes reorganization in brain here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh Those Gossipy Girls

Research on macaques finds gender differences in vocal communication that may help explain the development of language via its primate bonding functions.

An Alchemy of Mind

Much of Diane Ackerman's wonderful paean to the brain, "An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain," is available at Google's book site,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Line Between Speech and Song

Peculiar illusion which turns repeated spoken words into 'song' reported here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quote... Unquote

"Impossible as it sounds, we have more brain cell connections than there are stars in the universe... Linger with that thought a moment, picturing the infinities of space --- a carbon-paper night struck through with countless stars. Then picture the microscopic hubbub in one brain. A typical brain contains about 100 billion neurons, consumes a quarter of the body's oxygen, and spends most of the body's calories, though it only weighs about three pounds... In a dot of brain no larger than a single grain of sand, 100,000 neurons go about their work at a billion synapses. In the cerebral cortex alone, 30 billion neurons meet at 60 trillion synapses a billionth of an inch wide. Only a tiny lightning-bolt-like apostrophe, and a space essential as the gap between neurons, stands between impossible and I'm possible."

-- Diane Ackerman, "An Alchemy of Mind"

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Book From Savant Tammet

British autistic savant Daniel Tammet has a new upcoming (Jan. 2009) book, "
Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind." Amazon link here. (His first book, "Born On A Blue Day," was an international bestseller.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Confronting Darwin?

Princeton researchers confront 'randomness' aspects of Darwinian evolution theory here and here with molecular biology, in what is likely to be a source of inquiry, discussion, and... contentiousness, for years to come.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sight Restored Following Blindness

This post from Cognitive Daily looks at the question of whether a person blind from birth can see things normally in the rare event of having their sight restored.

...Just one of several interesting posts linked to from here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gladwell Article

Here a New York Times feature article on Malcolm Gladwell, popular author of previous best-selling books, "Blink" and "The Tipping Point," and the upcoming, "Outliers."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Babbling, It's Not Just For Humans

Article reports that baby birds go through a babbling stage in the course of learning their adult birdsong, possibly indicating certain general principles for 'language acquisition' that run across species.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quote... Unquote

"The trouble with integers is that we have examined only the very small ones. Maybe all the exciting stuff happens at really big numbers, ones we can't even begin to think about in any very definite way. Our brains have evolved to get us out of the rain, find where the berries are, and keep us from getting killed. Our brains did not evolve to help us grasp really large numbers or to look at things in a hundred thousand dimensions."
-- Ronald L. Graham

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The torch is passed...

It's a NEW day in America!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Movement After Death

This entry from 'Mind Hacks' was posted, appropriately enough, just prior to Halloween.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Alex and Me"

Dr. Irene Pepperberg's poignant memoir of her life with Alex the African Grey Parrot of cognitive research fame, is now available in bookstores: Alex and Me.

Brief review of it here.

Book excerpt and video clip here.

And lastly, here one of the several "YouTube" tributes to Alex posted upon his sudden unexpected death last year.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Quote... Unquote

"The enormous usefulness of mathematics in natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious, and there is no rational explanation for it. It is not at all natural that "laws of nature" exist, much less that man is able to discover them. The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve."
-- Eugene P. Wigner