Pete and Repeat walk into bar in this week’s TMQ, after the jump…
Archive for the ‘Neuroscience’ Category
A brief consumer note for my readers. Many of you know of my interests in neurology, books, and photography.
We were wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong! This is appropriate, as part of TMQ’s column this week is the “bad predictions review”.
Why were we wrong? We predicted last week that TMQ would use this week’s column for lots of gratuitous TV bashing. Instead, there’s pretty much…none.
So how does TMQ fill column space in this, the most boring week in football? After the jump, this week’s TMQ…
I missed the original entry on the Publisher’s Weekly blog; otherwise I would be bellowing “Why was I not informed?” at the top of my lungs.
What am I on about? The Antarctic Express. Think The Polar Express but with shoggoths.
And I’ve had this in the back of my mind as blog fodder for a bit now: “Experiments to Do With Your Baby“, based on the book Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid. Hmmmm hmmm hmmm. Somebody might get this for Christmas. (Hey, $8 for the Kindle edition?!)
We apologize for the delay in this week’s TMQ Watch. Allergies or a cold or something are still kicking our butts. It is our profound hope that, when science perfects the uploading of consciousness to machines, they choose not to emulate the human sinuses.
(On the other hand, are the sinuses necessary to fully emulate human consciousness? Is consciousness itself a chaotic system, with a sensitive dependance on initial conditions? Would leaving the sinuses out of the emulation change the nature of the emulation?)
But we digress. After the jump, this week’s TMQ…
(Worth noting before the jump: this week’s TMQ, and by implication, this week’s TMQ Watch, may contain possible spoilers for “Breaking Bad”, “Under the Dome”, and “The Bridge”.)
The Rational Choices of Crack Addicts
Answer after the jump.
There are some things you can always count on as the seasons change:
- The return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano. (Sort of.)
- The return of the buzzards to Hinkley, Ohio.
- TMQ’s haiku predictions column.
- WCD pointing out that many of TMQ’s haiku are not actual haiku, as they lack a seasonal reference. (We counted two out of 32.)
Now that we’ve nodded in the general direction of the eternal verities of the universe, let’s get started after the jump…
A team of French neuroscientists who compared brain waves of adults and babies has come up with a tentative answer: At 5 months, infants appear to have the internal architecture in place to perceive objects in adult-like ways, even though they can’t tell us.
This is…interesting. (And the photo of the wired-up baby is a little creepy.) I’ve been spending a fair amount of time recently around a baby (and a toddler), and I’m not 100% sure I agree with their police work there, Lou. What does “perceive objects in an adult-like way” mean, exactly? Because the baby I’ve been hanging with doesn’t seem to understand adult-like concepts like “you can’t go through a solid object”.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that. She is, after all, a baby. At least we haven’t had to have the conversation about how riding the dog like it’s a small horse is FROWNED UPON IN THIS ESTABLISHMENT.)
Charles Nelson, director of developmental medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, cautioned that the French scientists may be over-interpreting data…
Brain wave data and brain activity measured by functional MRI scans alone cannot imply a behavioral state, Nelson warned.
“If that were true, I should be able to look at your [electroencephalogram and MRI] response and know what you’re thinking or feeling, and we know that is not the case,” he said.
A while back, I wrote about the case of Robert Carroll Gillham, who set fire to a Gallery Furniture store, doing $20 million in damage, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor while awaiting trial.
The HouChron has an update on the case. Good news: Mr. Gillham’s brain tumor was removed.
Good or bad news, depending on how you look at it: Mr. Gillham probably will never stand trial on the charges.
“An expert has found him incompetent and unlikely to regain competence and neither side is disputing that,” said Brett Podolsky, his attorney. “Both sides are working on an agreed order for a lengthy civil commitment.”
Summarizing, the damage that the tumor did before it was removed, the side effects of the removal, and Mr. Gillham’s age have left him in a state where both sides agree he’s not competent to stand trial.
Gallery Furniture and [Jim] McIngvale, its colorful pitchman, are well-known Houston icons. He said Wednesday he was disappointed by the development, but had no quarrel with the criminal justice system.
“We wanted to get this behind us, and get some closure on this,” McIngvale said. “But the court system is the court system and if they say he’s incompetent, we certainly respect whatever the court system rules.”
That’s actually a pretty classy statement for a man who had $20 million worth of stuff burned up.
Picked this up from Insta, but I don’t care that he already linked it; this is one of those stories.
People who have been reading this blog regularly know that I’m fascinated by magic and the history of magic. You know that my admiration for Penn and Teller is like the universe itself; finite but unbounded.
Penn and Teller are only in this story as sort of peripheral figures, but I commend it to your attention: a New Yorker profile of Apollo Robins, the world’s greatest pickpocket.
…Robbins begged off, but he offered to do a trick instead. He instructed Jillette to place a ring that he was wearing on a piece of paper and trace its outline with a pen. By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale.
“Fuck. You,” he said, and slumped into a chair.
Robbins held up a thin, cylindrical object: the cartridge from Jillette’s pen.
Part of what makes this story so interesting to me, other than the magic angle, is that Robbins’ work, and the techniques he’s developed, reveal really interesting things about the mind and human perception.
The intersection of magic and neuroscience has become a topic of some interest in the scientific community, and Robbins is now a regular on the lecture circuit. Recently, at a forum in Baltimore, he shared a stage with the psychologist Daniel Kahneman—who won a Nobel Prize for his work in behavioral economics—and the two had a long discussion about so-called “inattentional blindness,” the phenomenon of focussing so intently on a single task that one fails to notice things in plain sight.
This is the best thing I’ve read so far in 2013. It may be the best magazine article of the year; I expect it to be in contention if we’re all still here in December.