.... "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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More To Do With Language Processing

In the area of language processing in the brain, here was a study headline I couldn't ignore.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Interesting YouTube video on language ambiguity with a youngster:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

RadioLab Offering

Old "RadioLab" webpage here with podcast and several good links related to music and the brain.

Gregory Chaitin

A couple of university lecture segments from mathematician Gregory Chaitin available here:



and more Chaitin cuts are available over at YouTube.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Math Factor etc.

Just recently discovered a couple of fairly interesting podcasts: "The Math Factor" available here and the "Brain Science Podcast" here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Brain Games

"Cognitive Daily" ran a post on "brain games" Xmas Eve and also asked for further suggestions from readers. If you like number, word, or other mental puzzles it may be worth checking out for some online possibilities you weren't aware of. And of course many more links are possible.
(The actual focus of the post was on the notion that such mental exercise can help maintain sharper cognitive function as we age.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Tidings...

If you're not already familiar with Scott Kim's work get introduced, first here,

and then here:


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Everything Is Relative....

A snail is mugged by two turtles. When the police asked him what happened, he said, "I don't know. It all happened so fast."

Pat: Mike, I'm calling you from the freeway on my new cell phone.
Mike: Be careful Pat. They just said on the radio that there is a nut driving the wrong way on the freeway.
Pat: One nut? Hell, there are hundreds of them!

(Taken from the wonderful little book, "Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar," by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein.)

Monday, December 22, 2008


"Zaphod Beeblebrox's Brain and the Fifty-ninth Row of Pascal's Triangle"

According to Clifford Pickover the above is the "all-time strangest title" for a published serious paper in mathematics.
And for the non-math-phobes out there here is that paper.

When Failure Is Success

If a man tries to fail, and succeeds... then which did he do?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tammet Talks About New Book

Autistic savant, Daniel Tammet, gives a preview of his upcoming book, "Embracing the Wide Sky" below:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Armchair Thinking

Recently came across a nice Wikipedia entry on 'thought experiments' which includes a good list of such thought puzzles divided into various categories (physics, math, philosophy, etc.) toward the end. If you like sitting in a chair and exercising your mind, worth a look:


Sometimes a Bird's Gotta Dance

Many of you have probably viewed one of the several YouTube videos of "Snowball" the Dancing Cockatoo by now. Well, so has a California neuroscientist who has watched the parrot's rhythmic movements and found them worthy of study, as it relates to the neural processing of music. His study/conclusions here:


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not For the Squeamish

This is the sort of story that is probably already zooming around the Internet (sounds like the National Enquirer, except that, it's TRUE!): a teratoma brain tumor, including fragments of whole body parts, was excised from the brain of a 3-day old baby in Colorado (the child is doing well following surgery, though the tumor could return). ...Not for all readers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Linear Evolution... NOT!

Interesting "Scientific American" article on the evolution of cognitive abilities in non-human animals here, with emphasis on diverse and complex independent lineages of cognitive evolution rather than simple linear development of intelligence.

More Fun With Infinity

I've adapted this from the always quirky 'FutilityCloset':

Suppose that S = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32.... ...Obviously S is POSITIVE.

Now multiply each side by 2:

2S = 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32....

Notice, the right side is exactly the same as S minus the 1

Thus, 2S = S - 1

Now, subtracting S from both sides,

S = -1

S is NEGATIVE... go figure!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Power of Suggestion...?

Whatever you do today, when you see your boss or neighbor, PLEEEASE DO NOT under any circumstances, picture in your mind a grinning, grunting, bouncing chimpanzee....

(...Got it!)

Chet Raymo on Memory

Astronomer/scientist/writer Chet Raymo muses a bit on memory in this
blog post.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

For Math Fans and Math Phobes

A newspaper article directed me to this YouTube site which seems to get good reviews for tutoring folks on a variety of basic math topics. If you're a young person struggling with math, or just someone interested in math who never fully got it when Mr. Farhquar tried teaching you in high school or college, might be worth checking out.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nassim Taleb on Charlie Rose

A bit farther afield from my usual topics, but still possibly of interest to some, Charlie Rose interview with Nassim Taleb, author of "The Black Swan" here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Brain in "Default Mode"

"New Scientist" article here on the activity of the brain.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Science Commons

New video here promoting open access or 'commons' approach to scientific information distribution:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This won't be everyone's cup-a-tea, but for lay folks with an interest in math, a decent introduction to some of Cantor's notions of 'levels' of infinity here (quite bizarre if you've never encountered them), including his "diagonal" argument/proof:

Part 2 is here.

There are actually a lot of internet videos dealing with infinity --- I'd be interested to hear other people recommend Web-based videos (YouTube or otherwise) that do a particularly good job of explaining these concepts for the lay public.
Further I'd be interested in Web video suggestions for presenting Godel's incompleteness theorem to lay folks, as well (...a more difficult task!).


What is the title of this blog post?

Or, should I simply say: what is the title of this blog post.

Or should I rather ask, who's on first???. . . .

Monday, December 8, 2008


A list of some books (in no particular order) that touch upon the subject of human intuition (...I'm not directly familiar with all of these, so am not necessarily endorsing their content):

"Body of Health: The New Science of Intuition Medicine for Energy and Balance" by Francesca McCartney and C. Norman Shealy

"Intuition: Its Powers and Perils" by David G. Myers

"The Intuitive Way" by Penney Peirce

"The Intuition Toolbox" by Paul Winter

"Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious" by Gerd Gigerenzer

"Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell

"Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind " by Elizabeth Mayer

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bruce Lipton Talk

Hour-long talk here on "the new biology" (related to epigenetics) by controversial cell-biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton, possibly of interest to some readers.
And here, a quite-good BBC program ("The Ghost in Your Genes") on the topic of epigenetics.

Quote... Unquote

"It is a mathematical fact that fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class." ~Anonymous

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cell Phones, Attention, and Driving

The link between cell phones and cancer is still a rather open and hotly debated question, but the deleterious effect of cell phone use on driving attention/awareness is a bit more clearcut, even when using hands-free gear. Here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Motion Illusion Explained

Microsaccades, tiny unconscious eye movements, apparently account for some common illusions of motion according to this finding.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How Timely...

Turns out "Cognitive Daily" was also posting on synesthesia today, a very rare form of
word-taste synesthesia.

Another Good Piece On Synesthesia

Here. With a couple of further interesting links at bottom. Synesthesia, the blending of different senses, is experienced by many people on rare occasions, and by a small percentage of people a great deal of the time (in some form), and offers a window into the brain's workings, but is yet little understood.

Pretty Dang Big

The largest known prime number discovered,
here (...until the next largest one is discovered).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Diana Deutsch Webpage

Webpage for psychology professor Diana Deutsch who studies aspects of music and speech in human brain processing. Several further interesting links therein.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Joke For Math Buffs

...And now for a little mathematics humor:

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a beer. The second one orders half a beer. The third, a quarter of a beer. The fourth, a sixteenth of a beer. The bartender has seen enough, says "sheeeesh," pours 'em out two beers, and writes up their tab accordingly.

Feelin' Kinda Small...

courtesy of the Hubble Telescope: