17 December 2007

Balene ucigase vanand in grup

Trei orca colaboreaza pentru a face un val suficient de mare incat sa dea o foca jos de pe un iceberg (2min40s):
The behaviour was first seen in 1979, but at the time it was considered a one-time moment of orca ingenuity. Now, Ingrid Visser of the Orca Research Trust in New Zealand and her colleagues report on six further observations of the animals using group hunting behaviour to divide ice floes, push them into open water, and create waves to wash animals off them into their waiting jaws. The behaviour has been seen only along the Antarctic Peninsula and nowhere else in the world, they note, including other icy orca habitats in the Arctic and Antarctic. [Visser, I. N. et al. Mar. Mamm. Sci. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2007.00163.x (2007).]
Ceea ce e cel mai spectaculos la comportamentul asta e faptul ca arata ca orcile sunt capabile sa separe actiunile in termeni de mijloace si scopuri si ca sunt in stare sa se vada unele pe altele ca agenti (sa inteleaga ce scopuri are altcineva). Pana acum nu era confirmat decat ca cimpanzeii mai sunt in stare sa faca asa ceva (in afara de oameni). De asemenea, balenele ucigase se recunosc in oglinda (chiar si o oglinda extrem de mica fata de dimensiunile lor): Tehnicile de vanatoare sunt probabil invatate si fac parte din cultura lor. Se pare ca diferite grupuri de orca au culturi diferite. De pilda tehnica prin care orcile prind foci de pe uscat sarind pe plaja e invatata:
Hunting school Both the beaching and the wave hunting seem to be techniques that pod elders teach to younger animals. The Argentinean orcas have been seen nudging youngsters onto the shore, encouraging them to try the tactic, often coming up alongside to demonstrate. In the group at the Antarctic Peninsula, young orcas are often present during the hunt, and adults sometimes put living seals back on the ice after catching them, seemingly so that the young can have another try. “This is orca culture,” says Visser. [...] Orcas (Orcinus orca) are not considered an endangered or threatened species; they are found in all the world's oceans. Some local populations, however, are threatened by changes to their habitat. Whether subsets of orcas with unique cultures should be considered separately is a matter that has not really been dealt with, he says. “Distinct social populations with specialized traditions are far more at risk than the genetic population, and our conservation policies need to reflect that,” says Astrid van Ginneken at the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Washington.
Fact about orcas:
Orcas have been known to feed on over 25 different species of whales and dolphins, including some that are much bigger than themselves (sperm whales, gray whales and even blue whales). Not all orcas eat other mammals though. The resident population off Vancouver Island, for example, eat fish, and their favourite food is salmon. Male orcas generally don't live as long as females. In the wild, males average 35 years or so, maximum 50-60 years, females average 50 years, maximum 80-90 years. However, one male, known as ‘Old Tom’ was reportedly spotted every winter between 1843 and 1932 off New South Wales, Australia. This would have made him at least 89 years old! Once in captivity, an orca's lifespan is drastically reduced to an average of only 5 or 6 years.

06 December 2007

Auto-organizare in fluide feromagnetice

Al doilea experiment e chiar tare.
A fluorocarbon-based ferrofluid, with about 400-G saturation magnetization and low field magnetic susceptibility of 3, is placed within a glass Hele-Shaw cell of 1.1-mm gap. Magnetic fields are applied that have in-plane clockwise rotating and dc axial magnetic fields. The ferrofluid is surrounded by a 50/50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and deionized water, which prevents ferrofluid wetting of the glass plates. In all cases, the rotational field strength is 20 G rms, and the frequency is 25 Hz. The dc magnetic field will be increased from 0 to 100 to 200 G. The first experiment uses a 50-µl drop of ferrofluid. The dc axial field is first increased to 100 G, and then the clockwise rotating field is turned on. The ferrofluid drop is circular before the magnetic field is applied. When the dc magnetic field is applied, the ferrofluid drop forms a spiking labyrinth pattern. Then the clockwise rotating field is applied, and the spikes begin to curl in on themselves, forming a smooth spiral pattern after some of the spikes are absorbed into the larger structure. The smooth spirals form from viscous shear as the clockwise rotating magnetic field causes counterclockwise flow on the outside ferrofluid surfaces, which return on the inside surfaces. The second experiment uses a 200-µl drop of ferrofluid. First, the clockwise rotating field is applied, which causes a counterclockwise flow that holds the circular fluid drop together without spikes. Then a 100-G dc axial field is gradually applied. This results in the ferrofluid drop appearing to expand before a phaselike transition at a critical dc magnetic field strength around 100 G. Careful observations show that the pattern forms at slightly less than 100-G dc field under a thin ferrofluid coating on the top glass plate, which then abruptly peels away at slightly increased dc axial magnetic field. The magnetic field is then increased from 100 to 200 G to form an intricate internal pattern surrounded by a circle of ferrofluid with spiraled arms. The second experiment is repeated again three more times under essentially identical conditions, with common features but it appears that the fine features are different each time.

Care-i faza cu mecanica cuantica

04 December 2007

"Nu religiile sunt violente sau pasnice, ci oamenii"

Lewis Black - Anticipation

Chimpanzeii au memoria mai buna decat oamenii

Link
Dr. Matsuzawa and a colleague, Sana Inoue, first trained chimps to recognize the numerals 1 through 9 in sequence. Ai, the first chimp trained, an adult female was found with a memory capability equal to that of adult humans. When the researchers went to see if there was a difference with chimps younger than 6, the animals had a touch screen where scattered numerals appeared for up to two-thirds of a second and were then masked by white squares. With the shortest exposure time, about a fifth of a second, the chimps had an 80 percent accuracy rate, compared with adult humans’ 40 percent. Dr. Matsuzawa said the ability reminded him of the phenomenon called eidetic imagery, in which a person memorizes details of a complex scene at a glance. This so-called photographic memory is present in a very small number of children, and is often associated with autism. Dr. Matsuzawa speculated that perhaps somewhere back in common evolution, humans and chimps had this ability. But humans lost it because they gained something else, communicating through a complex language. As Ai demonstrates, adult chimps lose the ability, too. Dr. Matsuzawa suggested that as the chimps age, their memory capability is otherwise occupied.
BBC Video

07 November 2007

Harold Pinter Nobel Lecture

Art, Truth & Politics (video) Cateva citate:
Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.
I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.' It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US. The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain. What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.
How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London. ... Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.
I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man. 'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'

03 November 2007

Imprimanta 3D

Fabberele, imprimantele 3D (capabile sa construiasca un obiect plecand de la un model virtual 3D pe calculator), exista de cateva decenii, insa sunt extrem de scumpe si nu functioneaza decat cu un singur material. Acum exista insa o varianta open-source: Fab@Home. Site-ul e un wiki in care se povesteste cum sa-ti contruiesti singur acasa un fabber. Exista deja si o firma care vinde (la 3000 de dolari) fabbere aroape complet contruite. Fab@Home poate construi obiecte din aproape orice material, de la ceramica si metal pana la plastic si cascaval. Ideea construirii unui fabber open-source i-a venit unui robotician de la Universitatea Cornell, Hod Lipson, care doreste sa faca roboti care sa se inmulteasca. Din Popular Mechanics:
He just wanted to design a really cool robot, one that could “evolve” by reprogramming itself and would also produce its own hardware—a software brain, if you will, with the ability to create a body. To do this, Lipson needed a rapid-prototyping fabrication, or “fabber.” Picture a 3D inkjet printer that deposits droplets of plastic, layer by layer, gradually building up an object of any shape. Fabbers have been around for two decades, but they’ve always been the pricey playthings of high-tech labs—and could only use a single material. “To really let this robotic evolutionary process reach its full potential,” says Lipson, a Cornell University computer and engineering faculty member, “we need a machine that can fabricate anything, not just complex geometry, but also wires and motors and sensors and actuators.” Lipson and his grad student collaborators, Dan Periard and Evan Malone, decided to put the problem to the people. They developed a low-cost, open-source fabbing system—Fab at Home—and encouraged experimentation by starting an online wiki for hobbyists. People report printing with everything from food (Easy Cheese, chocolate), to epoxy, to metal-powder-impregnated silicone to make conductive wires. A Fab at Home kit costs around $2400. Lipson compares it to early kit computers such as the MITS Altair 8800, which democratized computer technology in the 1970s. At-home fabrication, Lipson says, “is a revolution waiting to happen.” As for that robot? Wait a year, he says, and it really will walk out of the machine.
Cea mai complicata chestie produsa pana acum de fabber e o lanterna - functionala: Video al procesului de constructie. Nu e inca replicatorul din Star Trek, dar suntem pe drumul cel bun! Mi se pare ca povestea asta arata si puterea modelului open-source, in opozitie cu modelul traditional al firmelor obsedate de patentarea tehnologiilor.

Povestea lui Ayaan Hirsi Ali

31 October 2007

Henry Rollins despre libertatea internetului

Noi le-am luat-o deja inainte: link.

Trent Raznor despre viitorul industriei muzicale

Link
Radiohead shook the industry earlier this month by releasing a digital version of their latest album and asking fans pay whatever price they believed the album was worth. It was unprecedented move largely because it appeared to address an issue that music industry has largely tried to ignore. Music fans, many of whom obtain songs for free through illegal file sharing, perceive the dollar value of songs as almost nothing. Unless something dramatic occurs, many believe there is a chance a large number of fans will never again be swayed to plunk down money for music. Reznor, 42, said that the music industry is spinning its wheels trying to fight that perception. He said that in the future songs can be a way to entice fans to buy concert tickets and merchandise and he recognized that this may be how musicians make their living. ... "Radiohead is one of my favorite bands," Reznor said. "When they announced they were releasing that album for free, I got dozens of text messages. It gave me goose bumps? It's such an exciting way to sell a record." ... "The greatest thing about the Internet is that everybody is their own distributor," Reznor said. "Being your own distributor is power and the thing that labels once held over artists. The power of getting your message out to an audience is very empowering as an artist. These are exciting times and things are happening that I couldn't imagine just a few years ago." As for the future, well, Reznor fully acknowledges that he--like everybody else in music--is unsure of how things will turn out. But he says he's sure of one thing: the old way of doing business is dead. "I don't know what the future holds," he said. "I don't know what model is going to work. I do know relationships between music labels and artist like myself aren't going well. These days when digital elements come into play labels have dealt with them generally poorly. It has gotten to a place where it couldn't be worse. Their treatment of artists has less sympathy and it's more like 'What can we get out of you.' My only concern has always been that my audience is treated fairly."

27 October 2007

A fost descoperita cea mai simpla masina Turing universala

O masina Turing e un computer idealizat - functioneaza fara erori si are memorie infinita. O masina Turing e universala daca poate face orice fel de calcul posibil. O reprezentare utila a masinilor Turing e urmatoarea: Fiecare rand de pe o foaie de matematica reprezinta starea memoriei masinii la un moment dat - cel mai de sus rand este primul. O patratica poate fi colorata intr-un anumit numar de culori posibile (initial exista o culoare implicita). Capul de citire poate avea si el un anumit numar de stari posibile (x, y, z, ...). O regula este o functie de culoarea patratelului pe care e capul de citire si de starea capului de citire si determina culoarea patratelului de sub capul de citire, noua pozitie a capului de citire relativa la vechea pozitie (capul se muta la stanga sau la dreapta) si noua stare a capului de citire. De exemplu o masina Turing cu 2 culori posibile si cu un cap de citire cu 3 stari posibile (x, y, z) e formata din 3x2=6 reguli. Sunt foarte multe asemenea masini Turing posibile. (Formula generala este (2nk)^nk masini Turing posibile cu n stari ale capului de citire si k culori ale memoriei.) Iata de pilda una:

 

Un program (algoritm) este un anumit input (un anumit pattern de culori) pe prima linie + pozitia initiala a capului de citire. Una dintre reguli este in mod conventional aleasa sa reprezinte comanda de oprire a programului. Patternul de culori la care s-a ajuns atunci pe ultima linie reprezinta output-ul algoritmului. (Un program care "se blocheaza" e un program care nu ajunge niciodata sa execute regula de oprire.) O masina Turing universala este o masina pe care poate fi implementat orice algoritm posibil - cu alte cuvinte o masina Turing care poate simula orice alta masina Turing. Acum a fost descoperita cea mai simpla masina Turing universala. Se stia ca nu exista nici o masina Turing universala cu 2 culori si 2 stari ale capului de citire - asa ca urmatoarea varianta candidata era 2,3. Exista 2,985,984 asemenea masini Turing posibile. In 2002, Stephen Wolfram a speculat ca poate urmatoarea masina este universala:

 

In primavara anului asta a anuntat un premiu de 25,000 de dolari celui care demonstreaza ca masina asta Turing este universala sau demonstreaza ca nu e universala. Premiul a fost luat acum de un student de 20 de ani, Alex Smith, din Birmingham.
I telephoned Alex Smith a few days ago, to tell him that we were finally convinced that he'd solved the problem and earned the prize. I asked him why he'd worked on it. He said he'd seen it as a nice puzzle. That at first he was pretty sure the Turing machine's behavior was simple enough that he could prove that it wasn't universal. But then, as he studied it, he realized that there were little bits of behavior that were more complicated. And it was with these that he managed to show universality. ... It's a very satisfying way to spend $25,000.
Asta s-ar putea sa fie un rezultat foarte important. De pilda daca Wolfram are dreptate ca universul e un calculator, regulile acestei masinii Turing sunt intr-un anumit sens legile naturii la nivelul cel mai profund (ramane sa mai determinam "doar" care este semnificatia culorilor si a starilor capului de citire). Iata care e rezultatul functionarii acestei masini Turing plecand de la un input uniform alb (fara definirea unei stari de oprire a programului):



Prosti, dar multi

Adevarul despre politicienii romani

Treacherous Rage-Addicted Investigator-Abducting, Nun-Beheading Abomination from the Sunless Earth

Transforming Artificial Replicant Intended for Calculation, Efficient Assassination and Nocturnal Utility

General Electronic Observation and Accurate Nullification Android

Sinister Terror from the Ominous Legendary Oasis

Vicious, Abhorrent Demon Inflamed by Madness

Bloodthirsty, Evil Creature from the Arcane Legendary Isle

Playful One Needing Touches and Affection

Sexy Temptress Offering Intense Caresses and Affection

26 October 2007

Iluzie optica - Change blindness

Change blindness consta in faptul ca in anumite conditii, din cauza ca nu esti atent, nu observi diferente foarte mari intre doua fotografii.
A large fraction of traffic accidents are of the type "driver looked but failed to see". Here, drivers collide with pedestrians in plain view, with cars directly in front of them (the classic "rear-ender"), and even run into trains. (That's right -- run into trains, not the other way around.) In such cases, information from the world is entering the driver's eyes. But at some point along the way this information is lost, causing the driver to lose connection with reality. They are looking but they are not seeing. What's going on? Our findings indicate that the critical factor is attention: To see an object change, it is necessary to attend to it.
Demonstratii: Link (apasa cu butonul din dreapta ca sa selectezi si alte exemple decat ala cu avionul) Si pe alt principiu: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Catedrala Mantuirii Casei Poporului

Propunerea lui Vlad Nanca :)

Despre autentificarea artei :)

25 October 2007

Kevin Kelly - "Ce vrea tehnologia?"

Kevin Kelly indica 5 caracteristici ale vietii: tinde: - sa se raspandeasca peste tot - sa devina din ce in ce mai diversificata - apar forme de viata tot mai specializate la un anumit tip de mediu - apar forme de viata tot mai complexe - co-evolutia (constrangerile sunt date de alte fiinte vii si nu de mediul fizic) devine tot mai importanta Evolutia tehnologica are aceleasi caracteristici.

Ramachandran despre sindromul Capragras, membre fantoma, si creativitate

24 October 2007

Matt Ridley despre cum interactioneaza genele cu mediul

si creeaza natura umana. Include si o descriere genei FOXP2 implicata in capacitatea noastra de a avea limbaj - prima gena de acest fel care a fost descoperita (deocamdata si singura). Link

20 October 2007

Primul robot ucigas: 9 morti, 14 raniti

Cele mai multe sisteme computerizate folosite in armata acum au rolul de a gasi tintele insa in general e nevoie de un om care sa apese pe tragaci. Armata din Africa de Sud s-a gandit sa incerce sa elimine factorul uman complet. Rezultatul: un "accident".
SA National Defence Force spokesman brigadier general Kwena Mangope says the cause of the malfunction is not yet known... Media reports say the shooting exercise, using live ammunition, took place at the SA Army's Combat Training Centre, at Lohatlha, in the Northern Cape, as part of an annual force preparation endeavour. Mangope told The Star that it “is assumed that there was a mechanical problem, which led to the accident. The gun, which was fully loaded, did not fire as it normally should have," he said. "It appears as though the gun, which is computerised, jammed before there was some sort of explosion, and then it opened fire uncontrollably, killing and injuring the soldiers." Other reports have suggested a computer error might have been to blame. Defence pundit Helmoed-Römer Heitman told the Weekend Argus that if “the cause lay in computer error, the reason for the tragedy might never be found."
Mi se pare ca motivul accidentului nu e chiar asa de greu de gasit: cine si-a inchipuit ca e o idee buna sa construiesti roboti ucigasi autonomi?!

14 October 2007

Iluzie optica: spinning silhouette

In ce directie se roteste imaginea de mai jos? Cei mai multi o vad rotindu-se in sensul acelor de ceas. Daca acoperi silueta si te uiti doar la umbra o poti face sa se roteasca si in directia inversa. Dupa o vreme schimbarea sensului de rotatie apare (la intamplare) si daca te uiti la toata imaginea, iar dupa mult "antrenament" o poti face in mod constient sa-si schimbe directia de rotatie. Explicatia pentru iluzie pare sa fie (Rishikesh Dalal):
The reason we experience the illusion is that the mind extrapolates the shadow into a 3-D object. The 3-D object could be either of two mirror images. We just don't know which mirror image to select. In fact, ANY object, regardless of its symmetry or non-symmetry can be transformed by reflection and will produce the same shadow when rotating in the opposite direction as the original. Basically just imagine reflecting the rotating object itself in a mirror - the reflected object will produce the same shadow but will be spinning in the opposite direction to produce the shadow. Our shillouhette is a perfect example of this in action - when spining clockwise, her right arm is outstretched and her head is tilted to her right. When spinning CCW, her left arm is outstretched and her head is tilted to her left. The two objects that we can extrapolate from the shadow are mirror images of each other. Most people see the clockwise rotation initially because we tend to perceive the feet as being closer to the observer when they are lower in the field of vision (as in everyday life).

Stoluri de pasari incredibile

In Anglia (partea interesanta incepe pe la 2:00): In Roma:

04 October 2007

Despre expeditia Cassini spre Saturn

si aterizarea sondei Huygens pe satelitul lui Saturn, Titan. Pamantul fotografiat din sistemul lui Saturn: Tot ce-a facut Cassini: link.

03 October 2007

Cum s-a nascut Dumnezeu

Calota polara de la Polul Nord impinsa de vant

Calota polara de la Polul Nord a scazut dramatic in ultimii ani si mai ales anul asta. Link. Deja e tot mai clar ca nu poate fi vorba de o variatie naturala. Se pare ca anul asta topirea a fost mai mare decat se asteptau oamenii de stiinta pentru ca vantul a impins calota glaciara!
Complicating the picture, the striking Arctic change was as much a result of ice moving as melting, many say. A new study, led by Son Nghiem at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and appearing this week in Geophysical Research Letters, used satellites and buoys to show that winds since 2000 had pushed huge amounts of thick old ice out of the Arctic basin past Greenland. The thin floes that formed on the resulting open water melted quicker or could be shuffled together by winds and similarly expelled, the authors said. ... While experts debate details, many agree that the vanishing act of the sea ice this year was probably caused by superimposed forces including heat-trapping clouds and water vapor in the air, as well as the ocean-heating influence of unusually sunny skies in June and July. Other important factors were warm winds flowing from Siberia around a high-pressure system parked over the ocean. The winds not only would have melted thin ice but also pushed floes offshore where currents and winds could push them out of the Arctic Ocean.
Se estimeaza ca in vreo 20-30 de ani vor putea exista curse regulate peste Oceanul Arctic.
Many Arctic researchers warned that it was still far too soon to start sending container ships over the top of the world. “Natural variations could turn around and counteract the greenhouse-gas-forced change, perhaps stabilizing the ice for a bit,” said Marika Holland, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. But, she added, that will not last. “Eventually the natural variations would again reinforce the human-driven change, perhaps leading to even more rapid retreat,” Dr. Holland said. “So I wouldn’t sign any shipping contracts for the next 5 to 10 years, but maybe the next 20 to 30.”

28 September 2007

Computer pacalit de iluziile optice

Cele doua nuante de gri din imaginea de mai sus (iluzia lui White) sunt de fapt identice. De ce apare aceasta iluzie? Teoria e ca bebelusii invata prin incercare si eroare cum sa distinga intre o culoare intunecata datorata faptului ca obiectul se afla in umbra si o culoare intunecata in sine. A face distinctia asta e insa destul de greu, si in anumite conditii creierul o da in bara - ca in cazul de mai sus, sau de mai jos:
Until now there has been no way of knowing whether this theory is correct. Beau Lotto and David Corney at University College London, UK, think they have finally done it. They created a program that learns to predict the lightness of an image based on its past experiences – just like a baby. And just like a human, it falls prey to optical illusions. They trained it using 10,000 greyscale images of fallen leaves that animals might face in nature. It had to predict the true shade of the centre pixel of the images, and change its technique depending on whether its answer was right or wrong. The researchers then tested the program on lightness illusions that would fool humans. First, it was shown images of a light object on a darker background, and vice versa. Just like humans, the software predicted the objects to be respectively lighter and darker than they really were. It also exhibited more subtle similarities – overestimating lighter shades more than darker shades. Next, the researchers tried White's Illusion. Again like a human, the program saw areas of grey as darker when placed on a black stripe, and lighter when placed on a white stripe. Previous computer models tried to directly copy the brain's structure. They could fall for either of the two illusions, but unlike a human, not both at once. Inbuilt failings Lotto's programme was instead just designed to judge shades through learning, without being modelled on the brain. He says that suggests our ability to see illusions really is a direct consequence of learning to filter useful information from our environment. "We didn’t evolve to see things accurately, but to see things that would be useful." Lotto points out. That has implications for robot vision. Most creators of machine vision try to copy human vision because it is so well suited to a variety of environments. The new findings suggest that if we want to exploit its advantages, we also have to suffer its failings. It will be impossible to create a perfect, superhuman robot that never makes mistakes. "I think it's a sensible conclusion," says Olaf Sporns, of Indiana University, Bloomington, US. "If you build machine vision systems that perform similarly to humans, you should expect them to be subject to the same illusions." Thomas Serre, a vision expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, US, is impressed with the team's results. "It's a very neat and elegant way of showing that [learning experiences] alone can explain illusions," he says.

Inteligenta = Memorie = Predictie

Jeff Hawkins despre inteligenta si despre cum ar trebui sa arate o teorie a mintii umane. Inteligenta artificiala foloseste un model de forma input -> algoritm -> output. Hawkins spune ca o abordare mai corecta ar fi una axata pe modelarea memoriei, in care agentul face in permanenta predictii despre realitate si le compara cu ce vede. Astfel de pilda noi remarcam ceva nu pentru ca am lua in calcul toate detaliile din fata noastra, ci doar daca dam peste o predictie care nu se potriveste. Inteligenta nu se refera la complexitatea comportamentului, ci la abilitatea de a face predictii. Abilitatea de a face predictii e legata de memorie, insa memoria nu este ca un depozit in care sunt depozitate informatii, ci functioneaza narativ: cand esti intr-o situatie iti aduci aminte in mod spontan ce s-a intamplat in situatii similare. Este destul de greu sa te decizi sa-ti aduci aminte ceva de genul ce am facut si am discutat acum trei ani cand am fost nu stiu unde. Iti aduci aminte in mare, insa in realitate exista si amintirile mult mai detaliate care iti apar daca esti din nou intr-o situatie in care detaliile sunt relevante.

Si daca se destrama Belgia?

Dupa peste o suta de zile fara guvern apar tot mai multi care spun ca poate ar fi bine ca Belgia sa se separe in doua. Problema e ca belgienii au votat pe criterii etnice, iar partidele de aceeasi culoare politica din Valonia si Flandra nu se inteleg intre ele. The Economist:
In a nutshell, the problem is that the parties that did best in the elections on the Flemish side of the linguistic frontier that divides Belgium, and the parties that did best on the French-speaking side of that frontier, simply cannot agree on a coalition platform for a new government. Boiled down still further, one key problem is that the man who did best of all, the Flemish centre-right politician Yves Leterme is (despite his Gallic-sounding name) hugely distrusted by Francophones in his country, who think he is a Flemish chauvinist, determined to cut loose the (poorer, state-dependent) French-speaking bits.
Financial Times:
The first lesson for the EU should be obvious: fail to show respect for core national identities at your peril. If Belgium is having problems holding two national groups together in a single state, crass attempts by deep integrationists to bind closely together the fate of 27 may end in tears. The greatest long-term danger to the EU may not, therefore, come from the proverbial British eurosceptic banging on about the threat posed by Brussels to the great British sausage. It may come from among its most passionate supporters. ... The second lesson is that the consequences of anti-reformist economic and social agendas may extend further than had hitherto been assumed. A driving force for separatist sentiment in Belgium's Flemish north has been frustration at having to subsidise a socialist-orientated Walloon south with its attendant problems of mass unemployment and welfare dependency. Differences in the ability of national groups to confront economic problems with equal seriousness can put great strains on a supra-national state entity, as was also clearly demonstrated in the divergent economic and social priorities of the Czechs and the Slovaks in the run up to the collapse of Czechoslovakia in 1993. In a too deeply integrated EU, countries that have taken their reformist responsibilities seriously - especially looking a decade or two hence when demographic decline and reductions in the working age population begin to bite - may start to ask serious questions about the value of an EU in which they have to bail out the laggards. The EU must recognise that the economic reform question is not merely about relative growth rates in a globalised world. It touches on the future of the EU itself.
FT sugereazaca UE nu este doar un proiect al celor cu o viziune supra-nationala, ci si a nationalistilor care vad o oportunitate de a-si largi aria de influenta. Pentru prima data s-ar putea ca, datorita integrarii in UE, interesele nationale contrare sa poata coexista in mod pasnic:
Democratic pragmatists, who support European integration as a means to enhancing national interests rather than as an end in itself, can plausibly argue that their vision of the EU has never been more relevant. If the Flemish and Walloons do unhook from each other, they can quickly hook back into the EU as separate entities bound by common European values. The very existence of the EU allows us to contemplate a resurgence in national sentiment without fear of violence or confrontation. In the context of Europe's past, that is no small achievement.
O alta lectie care ar fi de invatat din Belgia, subliniata de The Economist, ar fi ca un sistem de votare descentralizat, similar cu proponerea de vot uninominal de la noi, in care politicienii sunt incurajati sa se intereseze mai mult de problemele locale si mai putin de cele nationale, accelereaza tendintele de segregare:
It seems only fair, therefore, to pass on word of a rather elegant solution to the crisis currently gripping the kingdom of the Belgians, crafted by a group of French and Dutch speaking academics, the Pavia group. Their analysis is that crises like this are inevitable because parties only stand for election on one side of the linguistic frontier. In Belgium, national parties ceased to exist some years ago. If you live in Flanders you can only vote for politicians from the Flemish-speaking parties (there are a handful of bits of Flanders near to bilingual Brussels where this is not the case, but they are the exception). And the same holds true for Francophone Belgians. Even if their dearest desire is to punish Mr Leterme at the ballot box, and vote for his political rivals, they cannot: they can only vote for Francophone politicians standing in their bit of the country. The Pavia group makes a second, linked observation. The current system forces Flemish parties to make wild promises to their voters about all the concessions they are going to wring from the Francophone camp, and all the good things they will bring to Flanders. And the same thing happens, in mirror image, among the French-speaking parties. Then, once the voting is over, the best-performing parties sit down to form a coalition government, trapped by the long lists of demands they promised to make during the election campaign, but which the other side cannot begin to concede. Pavia's solution is to force all parties that want to be in the national government to fight for seats in a special "federal", ie nationwide constituency. A tenth of the 150 seats in the lower chamber of the national parliament would be elected from this nationwide constituency, with nine going to Flemish candidates, and six going to French speakers (in proportion with their relative populations). The idea is that each party would have a strong interest in winning seats from this national constituency (with so many parties, even a really large party can expect to win fewer than two dozen seats overall, so two or three more can make a difference). Once parties decide to woo voters in the whole of Belgium, that should temper their wilder, most sectarian campaign positions. This seems logical. If Belgian readers are still speaking to us, it would be interesting to hear their thoughts.

25 September 2007

Cum sa opresti o gena si sa descifrezi codul genetic

Un scurt metraj foarte misto despre descoperirea (intamplatoare) a ARN-ului inhibitor - mecanismul prin care organismul se apara de virusi si cu ajutorul caruia geneticienii pot acum sa opreasca o expresia unei anumite gene. In felul acesta poate fi descifrat codul genetic - i.e. se poate identifica functia pe care o are fiecare gena in parte. (Filmul simplifica intr-o anumita masura lucrurile spre sfarsit, pentru ca nu descrie faptul ca o anumita trasatura fenotipica este controlata de obicei de mai mult de o singura gena - problema descifrarii codului genetic devine astfel mult mai greu de rezolvat datorita numarului foarte mare de combinatii posibile.) Partea intai: Partea a doua:

21 September 2007

Inteligenta sociala vs. intelegenta abstracta

Grupul lui Tomasello a facut un nou studiu asupra diferentelor cognitive intre cimpanzei si copiii mici.
Human cognition depends on transmitted behaviors—the skills we use in adult life in society, we learn as children. The cultural intelligence hypothesis postulates that humans have a species-specific set of social-cognitive skills that other higher primates don't have that allows us to more readily learn from others. For the first time, this cultural intelligence hypothesis has been tested, and the results published in Science. The researchers conducted a series of cognition tests on a group of young children, chimpanzees, and orangutans. The tests were designed to differentiate between the cultural intelligence hypothesis and the general intelligence hypothesis that predicts that humans are simply more intelligent than other primates. The tests were designed to determine intelligence as it relates to the physical world (spatial memory, tool use, etc) and also to the social world (social learning, comprehension, intentions, etc). Interestingly, the human subjects only did significantly better in the latter series of tests, but the chimps and orangutans were as adept at the physical world tests as the infants. This provides support for the cultural intelligence hypothesis, suggesting that humans have evolved specific social-cognitive skills relevant to exchanging knowledge between individuals in cultural groups.

Predictii pentru anul 2000

Cum credea New York Times, in 1950, ca va arata lumea in anul 2000. - vom avea mancare facuta din rumegus - vom calatori cu rachete - ne vom barbieri cu ajutorul unor substante chimice - toate vasele vor fi din plastic care se va topi sub un jet de apa fierbinte - vom avea o piscina cu apa (adanca de cativa cm) pe acoperis pentru a raci casele - toata mobila va fi impermeabila si vom face curatenie in casa cu furtunul
Furniture (upholstery included), rugs, draperies, unscratchable floors — all are made of synthetic fabric or waterproof plastic. After the water has run down a drain in the middle of the floor (later concealed by a rug of synthetic fiber) Jane turns on a blast of hot air and dries everything. A detergent in the water dissolves any resistant dirt. Tablecloths and napkins are made of woven paper yarn so fine that the untutored eye mistakes it for linen. Jane Dobson throws soiled “linen” into the incinerator. Bed sheets are of more substantial stuff, but Jane Dobson has only to hang them up and wash them down with a hose when she puts the bedroom in order.
- sute de mii de oameni vor avea elicoptere personale cu care sa mearga la lucru in fiecare zi, iar trenurile de persoane nu vor mai exista - posta va fi trimisa cu racheta - vom avea cladiri din aluminiu in loc de otel - "storms are more or less under control. It is easy enough to spot a budding hurricane in the doldrums off the coast of Africa. Before it has a chance to gather much strength and speed as it travels westward toward Florida, oil is spread over the sea and ignited." - "The physician of 2000 knows just what diet is best for a patient. This knowledge, coupled with his knowledge of hormones, enables him to treat old age as a degenerative disease. Men and women of 70 in A.D. 2000 look as if they were 40. Wrinkles, sagging cheeks, leathery skins are curiosities or signs of neglect. The span of life has been lengthened to 85." - "such virus diseases as influenza, the common cold, poliomyelitis and a dozen others are cured with ease" - "doctors place heart patients in front of a fluoroscopic screen, turn on the X-rays and then, with the aid of a photoelectric cell, examine every section of the heart. Cancer is not yet curable in 2000. But physicians optimistically predict that the time is not far off when it will be cured" (Probabil ca nu au vindecat cancerul din cauza aparatelor alea cu raze X :) - si desigur, chilotii vor fi reciclati pentru a face bomboane Autorul mai prezice si ca viata va deveni complet standardizata iar diferentelor nu vor fi vazute cu ochi buni - insa acest lucru este ceva bun:
Any marked departure from what Joe -Dobson and his fellow citizens wear and eat and how they amuse themselves will arouse comment. If old Mrs. Underwood, who lives around the corner from the Dob-sons and who was born in 1920 insists on sleeping under an old-fashioned comforter instead of an aerogel blanket of glass puffed with air so that it is as light as thistledown, she must expect people to talk about her “queerness.” It is astonishing how easily the great majority of us fall into step with our neighbors. And after all, is the standardization of life to be deplored if we can have a house like Joe Dobson’s, a standardized helicopter, luxurious standardized household appointments, and food that was out of the reach of any Roman emperor?

Un cal mecanic

inventat in 1933. Din pacate nu a prins!

Picteaz-o cu verde si galben!

Un videoclip pentru un cantec Limbique:

18 September 2007

Cele mai socante 20 de experimente stiintifice

Link

Matt Ridley - Nature via Nurture

Tuvalu - 10 cm deasupra nivelului marii

Tuvalu e prima tara din lume care o sa dispara inghitita complet de ocean, datorita incalzirii globale. In consecinta 11 000 de oameni vor ramane fara tara. Funafuti, cea mai mare insula:
Some of the islands are already uninhabitable; the ocean nibbles at the narrow landmass from all sides. Nine islands totaling just 26 square kilometers (10 square miles) in area make up the fourth-smallest country in the world. There's hardly any industry, no military, few cars and just eight kilometers of paved roads. The majority of the people make their living from fishing and agriculture. The country is so small that there is only a rough division of labor, with people acting as cooks and captains, ice cream salesmen and politicians. Environmentalists have long worried about the fate of this tiny Pacific state. Now, however, international legal experts have also taken up the topic of its imminent demise. A nation's "territorial integrity" is one of the paramount legal principles. It's unprecedented, however, for a country to completely lose its territory without the use of military force. ... There is no legal definition for a country entirely without land. ... Only one thing seems clear so far: without a physical territory, all the Tuvaluans become stateless. ... Some experts now believe changes will have to be made to international law to deal with the impact of climate change. Tuvalu is not alone -- other small island nations like Kirabati, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives are also concerned about their future. Regardless of what happens the island nation of Tuvalu will at least survive its physical demise in the virtual world. Even today the country's main source of income is from selling the rights to its national ".tv" Internet domain.

11 September 2007

Iubire franco-germana

Probleme cu Carta Drepturilor Omului a Uniunii Europene

Pana acum numai Marea Britanie si Polonia au anuntat ca nu vor semna Carta Drepturilor Fundamentale a Uniunii Europene. Statutul legal al cartei, in ce masura ce scrie acolo trebuie implementat de state, este inca discutabil. Mi se pare ca exista o serie de probleme cu carta: Carta incepe destul de enervant cu:
The peoples of Europe, in creating an ever closer union among them, are resolved to share a peaceful future based on common values.
Eu unul nu vad Europa drept o uniune a popoarelor. Ce fac cei care, asemeni mie, nu apartin nici unei etnii? Putin mai tarziu este scris totusi:
It [the Union] places the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice.
Primul drept este dreptul la demnitate. Ce-i aia?! Nici o explicatie, nimic. "Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected." Adica ce anume exact trebuie respectat si protejat? Articolul asta va fi folosit de toti fundamentalistii religiosi care vor sa impiedice criticile. Sub incidenta articolului "Dreptul la integritatea persoanei" stau si:
- the prohibition on making the human body and its parts as such a source of financial gain, - the prohibition of the reproductive cloning of human beings.
In primul rand ca astea doua nu sunt drepturi ci interziceri. In al doilea rand nu sunt de acord cu ele. Daca e sa luam de buna "the prohibition on making the human body ... as such a source of financial gain" atunci industria modei sau fotografiile nud ar trebui interzise! Iar dreptul de a-ti vinde organele ar elimina piata neagra a organelor, iar interzicerea clonarii umane e pur si simplu o absurditate. In afara de factorul "yak!" nu exista nici un argument serios impotriva ei, un om clonat ar fi exact la fel ca unul normal - nemaivorbind ca exista deja persoane care au exact acelasi cod genetic: gemenii identici. Daca mai devreme carta este suspicios de vaga, acum este exagerat de specifica. Ceva atat de particular precum clonarea nu are ce cauta intr-o carta a drepturilor fundamentale. In plus, interzicerea clonarii vine in contradictie cu un alt drept scris in carta!
Freedom of the arts and sciences The arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Academic freedom shall be respected.
Ce carta e aia care se auto-contrazice?! Cand vine vorba de a descrie dreptul la religie, din carta lipseste dreptul de a nu avea religie!
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance. 2. The right to conscientious objection is recognised, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of this right.
Punctul 2 trebuie vazut in legatura cu "dreptul la demnitate", el nu se refera la dreptul de a critica religia (cu toate ca asa e exprimat), ci ofera dreptul statelor de a impiedica critica religiei. Cat de patetic arata acest pasaj in comparatie cu dreptul la religie garantat de Constitutia Americana:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press
sau dreptul din declaratia de la Revolutia Franceza:
10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
Scurt si la obiect, atat dreptul la religie cat si la a critica orice religie. Nici o gargara cu "demnitatea". Dreptul la proprietate este "tricky":
Everyone has the right to own, use, dispose of and bequeath his or her lawfully acquired possessions. No one may be deprived of his or her possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss. The use of property may be regulated by law in so far as is necessary for the general interest.
Daca ne-am fi nascut ieri, pasajul asta ar parea ca suna foarte bine. Insa... Acel "except in the public interest" suna extrem de ciudat. Exact asta spun si Chavez sau Putin cand nationalizeaza firmele de petrol. In al doilea rand "fair compensation" este o fraza extrem de dubioasa, pentru ca in general toti cei care vorbesc de "fair" o fac in opozitie cu pretul real de pe piata. Acest pasaj stabileste deci dreptul statului de a-ti confisca proprietatea si a te despagubi dupa cum considera el ca-i "drept" sau "rezonabil", i.e. nu la pretul real al proprietatii tale asa cum e ea pe piata. Este o gluma proasta ca acest pasaj chipurile garanteaza dreptul la proprietate, el garanteaza dreptul statului de a-ti fura proprietatea. Dreptul de aici e chiar o scadere fata de acum 200 de ani:
17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.
Necesitatea a fost acum inlocuita cu "public interest", "equitably indemnified" a fost inlocuit cu "fair compensation", iar de la compensatia inainte de a-ti fi luata proprietatea s-a ajuns la "intr-un timp rezonabil de scurt dupa ce ti-a fost luata". Articole ipocrite:
Article 20. Equality before the law Everyone is equal before the law. Article 21. Non-discrimination 1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
Astea suna foarte bine, insa nu vor fi aplicate prea curand. Conform articolului 20 nu ar putea exista asa ceva precum imunitate parlamentara sau monarhii. Conform articolului 21 nu ar putea exista legi care sa faca discriminari pozitive. Drepturile muncitorilor. Dreptul de a face parte din sindicat nu e insotit si de dreptul de a nu face parte dintr-un sindicat. Muncitorii au:
the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their interests, includingstrike action.
insa in multe tari problema este exact opusa, ca muncitorii sunt obligati sa negocieze numai la nivel colectiv, iar cand sindicatele actioneaza violent impotriva celor care angajeaza asa zisi "spargatori de greva" statul nu face nimic ca sa impiedice violentele. Una dintre problemele majore ale tarilor din Europa este somajul, iar somajul este cauzat de coduri ale muncii extrem de rigide. Carta pune aceste rigiditati printre "drepturile fundamentale":
Article 30: Protection in the event of unjustified dismissal Every worker has the right to protection against unjustified dismissal, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices. Article 31: Fair and just working conditions 1. Every worker has the right to working conditions which respect his or her health, safety and dignity. 2. Every worker has the right to limitation of maximum working hours, to daily and weekly rest periods and to an annual period of paid leave.
Aceste drepturi sunt o aberatie. Daca conditiile de munca nu sunt bune, nu-i respecta sanatatea, sigurata si demnitatea, nu-i ofera suficient timp liber etc. muncitorul n-are decat sa plece in alta parte. Cine e statul sa decida ce conditii sunt sau nu "bune" sau sa ne impuna cat timp maxim avem dreptul de a munci?! Dreptul de a nu fi dat afara e o incalcare flagranta a dreptului la proprietate - e treaba angajatorului ce face cu capitalul sau, si dat fiind ca el e cel care-si asuma toate riscurile legat de profitul sau pierderile afacerii lui, el trebuie sa aiba dreptul sa-si organizeze afacerea absolut oricum vrea. Angajatii nu risca nimic, indiferent daca firma merge bine sau nu, ei isi primesc salariile pe munca depusa. Dat fiind ca angajatorul cara riscurile el trebuie sa aiba dreptul sa-si aleaga angajatii oricum vrea. Cine e statul sa-i bage pe gat sa munceasca cu cine el/ea nu vrea sa o faca?!
Everyone residing and moving legally within the European Union is entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices.
Asta-i motivul pentru care Uniunea Europeana e obligata sa aiba mega-legi anti-imigratie si pentru care imigratia ilegala e asa o mega-afacere; fara aceasta prevedere orice imigrant (fie el legal sau ilegal) ar fi obligat sa-si gaseasca de lucru - altfel ar muri de foame. Astfel sunt o gramada care vin in Europa (legal sau ilegal si apoi abtin statut legal) pentru a trai apoi din ajutoarele sociale platite de europeni. Un articol interesant:
1. No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national law or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than that which was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of a criminal offence, the law provides for a lighter penalty, that penalty shall be applicable. 2. This Article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles recognised by the community of nations.
Intrebarea e de ce exista si punctul 2? Nu era suficient 1? De pilda 1 spune ca daca esti acum condamnat pentru, e.g. trafic de marijuana, si mai tarziu pedeapsa pentru traficul de marijuana e micsorata, atunci si pedeapsa ta va fi micsorata; insa punctul 2 spune ca daca mai tarziu vanzarea de marijuana va deveni legala, tu vei fi in continuare tinut in puscarie. Pare cam absurd. Ultimul articol suna cu adevarat ciudat, putand fi suspectat ca e de-a dreptul auto-contradictoriu:
Prohibition of abuse of rights Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognised in this Charter or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for herein.
Cu alte cuvinte nu ai voie sa interpretezi aceste drepturi in asa fel incat sa fie incalcate drepturile. Insa cum iti dai seama daca sunt sau nu incalcate drepturile altfel decat interpretand?! Cu alte cuvinte, n-ai voie sa interpretezi aceste drepturi in asa fel incat sa incalci interpretarea acestor drepturi! O lipsa ciudata din carta de drepturi fundamentale: dreptul de a nu te auto-incrimina. Concluzia trista e ca la peste 200 de ani de la Revolutia Franceza europenii sunt inca incapabili sa scrie ceva care macar sa se apropie de ceea ce a fost conceput atunci si cu atat mai putin de ceea ce au conceput americanii de atunci.

Robert Ince despre Creationism :)

08 September 2007

Poster electoral rasist in Elvetia

Cel mai mare partid din Elvetia, Partidul Popular, are urmatorul poster electoral: Posterul se refera la o propunere de a expulza automat din Elvetia orice infractor de origine straina. Presedinta tarii, Micheline Calmy-Rey, din Partidul Social Democrat, a calificat posterul drept rasist.
Calmy-Rey's comments came on the same day that the People's Party was ordered by a judge to remove a campaign video from its website. Footage showed staged scenes of youth violence and pictures of foreigners juxtaposed with picture-postcard scenes of Switzerland, along with the message: "Heaven and Hell". The ruling came after seven of the youths featured complained they had been duped into taking part.
Partidul Liberal a facut doua parodii ale posterului:

07 September 2007

Cel mai important eveniment din ultimii 10 ani

In 1996 la nivel global 42% din oameni lucrau in agricultura, 21% in industrie, 37% in servicii. In 2006 procentajele din agricultura si servicii s-au inversat: 36% agricultura, 22% industrie, 42% servicii. Pentru prima oara in istoria lumii majoritatea oamenilor nu mai lucreaza in agricultura. Este interesant si faptul ca tranzitia nu a avut loc crescand numarul celor care lucreaza in industrie, ci a crescut direct numarul celor care ofera servicii.
To me this stuck out as the news of the day. This is a huge milestone. In the west we’re accustomed to the farming sector being 4-6% or so, but that certainly has not been true in most of the word. You might think the industrial revolution was a long time ago, but the reality is that farming has remained the center of the overall human condition. Until sometime in these past few years, that is. And thus passes a tremendous milestone in the history of our species. Farming, invented around 8000 BC, quickly dominated human activity and has continued to for some 10,000 years. And we even find that the agriculture->industry->services transition doesn’t hold up globally. The industry segment simply isn’t big enough, so increasingly workers go directly from farming to services.
Mai mult.

14 August 2007

Definitia liberului arbitru

Free will commonly entails not only the subjective notion of willing to do something, but also that nobody but myself would be able to predict my behavior. … Along those lines, in the Behavioral Sciences one may therefore want to define free will a little differently. For an individual to possess free will, it would only require that: (1) all of the causes of the behavior are intra-individual and (2) the individual's behaviors are not predictable (within a level of scientific certainty) by someone else who is extra-individual. It is not that difficult to satisfy both requirements, depending on how certain of the above terms are defined. This definition explicitly does not touch the subjective feeling of free will, which I think is an advantage. This definition would allow for a conversion of free will from a philosophical question to a biological study area. The subjective experience of free will would then, consequentially, fall into the topic of consciousness.
Björn Brembs

12 August 2007

Un parazit care ataca creierul furnicilor

Articolul pe larg.
The spores of the fungus attach themselves to the external surface of the ant, where they germinate. They then enter the ant's body through the tracheae (the tubes through which insects breathe), via holes in the exoskeleton called spiracles. Fine fungal filaments called mycelia then start to grow inside the ant's body cavity, absorbing the host's soft tissues but avoiding its vital organs. When the fungus is ready to sporulate, the mycelia grow into the ant's brain. The fungus then produces chemicals which act on the host's brain and alter its perception of pheromones. This causes the ant to climb a plant and, upon reaching the top, to clamp its mandibles around a leaf or leaf stem, thus securing it firmly to what will be its final resting place. The fungus then devours the ant's brain, killing the host. The fruiting bodies of the fungus sprout from the ant's head, through gaps in the joints of the exoskeleton. Once mature, the fruiting bodies burst, releasing clusters of capsules into the air. These in turn explode on their descent, spreading airborne spores over the surrounding area. These spores then infect other ants, completing the life cycle of the fungus. Depending on the type of fungus and the number of infecting spores, death of an infected insect takes between 4-10 days.