Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

No matter how old people are, they seem to believe that who they are today is essentially who they’ll be tomorrow. That’s according to fresh research that suggests that people generally fail to appreciate how much their personality and values will change in the years ahead — even though they recognize that they have changed in the past. Daniel Gilbert, a psychology researcher at Harvard University who did this study with two colleagues, says that he’s no exception to this rule. “I have this deep sense that although I will physically age — I’ll have even less hair than I do and probably a few more pounds — that by and large the core of me, my identity, my values, my personality, my deepest preferences, are not going to change from here on out,” says Gilbert, who is 55. He realized that this feeling was kind of odd, given that he knows he’s changed in the past. He wondered if this feeling was an illusion, and if it was one that other people shared: “Is it really the case that we all think that development is a process that’s brought us to this particular moment in time, but now we’re pretty much done?” Gilbert says that he and his colleagues wanted to investigate this idea, but first they had to figure out how. The most straightforward way would be to ask people to predict how much they’d change in the next decade, then wait around to see if they were right. “The problem with that is, it takes 10 years,” says Gilbert. So the researchers took a much quicker approach. They got more than 19,000 people to take some surveys. There were questions about their personality traits, their core values and preferences. Some people were asked to look back on how they changed over the past 10 years. Others were asked to predict how they thought they would change in the next decade. Then the scientists crunched the data. “We’re able to determine whether, for example, 40-year-olds looking backwards remember changing more than 30-year-olds looking forwards predict that they will change,” Gilbert explains. They found that people underestimated how much they will change in the future. People just didn’t recognize how much their seemingly essential selves would shift and grow. And this was true whether they were in their teen years or middle-aged.

You Can’t See It, But You’ll Be A Different Person In 10 Years : Shots – Health News : NPR

Posted: January 6, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

[Artificial Intelligence] may well be the most vital of all commodities, surpassing water, food, heat and light. Without it, we will certainly not survive as a species.

One of our problems is data – masses of it. A few hundred years of scientific inquiry and the invention of the data-generating and sharing mechanism that is the internet has left reams of crucial information unused and unanalysed.

AI is not about sentient robots, but machines that mimic our organic intelligence by adapting to, as well as recognising, patterns in data. AI is about making machines understand.

Jamie Carter / Peter Cochrane, { South China Morning Post } (via olena)

Posted: January 1, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Tackle this logisticians’ parlour game and you may be a bit closer to understanding the nature of truth itself

“Three gods A, B, and C are called, in some order, True, False, and Random. True always speaks truly, False always speaks falsely, but whether Random speaks truly or falsely is a completely random matter. Your task is to determine the identities of A, B, and C by asking three yes-no questions; each question must be put to exactly one god. The gods understand English, but will answer all questions in their own language in which the words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are ‘da’ and ‘ja’, in some order. You do not know which word means which.” Welcome to the “Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever”. If you should happen upon three questions that will unmask the gods, don’t stop there. Your next task: make the puzzle even harder.

Posted: December 26, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.”[1]

Bernard d’Espagnat

Bernard d’Espagnat (born 1921) is a French theoretical physicist, philosopher of science, and author, best known for his work on the nature of reality.

Posted: December 24, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

A tree with “dragons blood” running beneath its bark, a rare mountain top snowdrop and a critically-endangered orchid are among more than 60 new species discovered by botanists in the past year.

Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew made the discoveries during a series of expeditions to some of the remotest corners of the world. Yet despite only recently being catalogued, many of the new plants could disappear all together due to threats to their habitats. One tree, found growing on top of a ridge among knife-like limestone blades of rock in Thailand, oozes a dark red sap – rumoured in local folklore to be “dragons blood” and drunk as a medicinal tonic – is already considered threatened. Dr Paul Wilkin, a team leader at the herbarium at Kew who identified the tree as a new species, said the limestone outcrops where it grows are quarried for building material while it is also heavily collected by locals who consider it to be lucky. With tough leathery leaves and a dark red sap that oozes from the bark when damaged, it is known as the Red Dragon Tree, or Chan Daeng in Thai. The botanists have now given it the scientific name Dracaena jayniana. (via Tree that weeps dragons blood among new discoveries – Telegraph)

Posted: December 17, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

A white tiger is a striking creature. Tigers are always impressive animals, but when you take away the orange, the result is a big cat that looks like a phantom out of a dream. They seem almost magical, and yet I firmly believe that the world would be a better place if there was not a single white tiger in it. There are only about 4,000 tigers, at most, remaining in the wild. Yet there are probably tens of thousands of captive tigers around the world (there is no official census). This would appear to make a compelling case for the existence of zoos and private collections. If tigers can survive and breed well in captivity, then perhaps more can be introduced to the wild when safe habitat becomes available. Yet that system isn’t working the way we think it does. A huge number of the captive tigers are hybrids of various subspecies and are so inbred that they will never be suitable for reintroduction to the wild. No tigers are more emblematic of this problem than white tigers. I recently asked friends on Facebook to write down their thoughts about white tigers without searching for any new information. Some very intelligent people were under the impression that white tigers are a variety of Siberian tiger, camouflaged for a snowy climate. Others applauded zoos with white tigers for supporting conservation of white tigers while lamenting a lag in reintroduction efforts. Only one out of 27 respondents knew that white tigers are not a subspecies at all but rather the result of a mutant gene that has been artificially selected through massive inbreeding to produce oddball animals for human entertainment. This level of misinformation should not come as a surprise. Many of the venues that display white tigers have a long history of shading the truth about their mutants. The Cincinnati Zoo, an otherwise respectable institution, labels their white tigers as a “species at risk!” Nowhere on the zoo’s website or at its tiger enclosures does it point out that this species at risk is in fact an ecologically useless hybrid of Bengal and Siberian strains, inbred at the zoo’s own facility for big money. The Cincinnati Zoo repeatedly bred closely related animals over the past few decades to produce more of the white tigers, which they sold for around $60,000 each. (via White tiger controversy: Zoos shouldn’t raise these inbred, ecologically irrelevant animals. – Slate Magazine)

Posted: December 1, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

One of the first chemical reactions children learn is the recipe for photosynthesis, combining carbon dioxide, water and solar energy to produce organic compounds. Many of the world’s most important photosynthetic eukaryotes such as plants did not develop the ability to combine these ingredients themselves. Rather, they got their light-harnessing organelles—chloroplasts—indirectly by stealing them from other organisms. In some instances, this has resulted in algae with multiple, distinct genomes, the evolutionary equivalent of a “turducken*.” Chloroplasts originally evolved from photosynthetic bacteria by primary endosymbiosis, in which a bacterium or other prokaryote is engulfed by a eukaryotic host. The chloroplasts of red and green algae have subsequently come to reside within other, previously non-photosynthetic eukaryotes by secondary endosymbiosis. Such events have contributed to the global diversity of photosynthetic organisms that play a crucial role in regulating and maintaining the global carbon cycle. In most organisms that acquired photosynthesis by this mechanism, the nucleus from the ingested algal cell has disappeared, but in some cases it persists as a residual organelle known as a nucleomorph. Such organisms have four distinct genomes. (via Tiny Algae Shed Light on Photosynthesis as a Dynamic Property | ZeitNews)