Saturday, May 20, 2017

Semibotic Semibiotic

It's not often you get to see an article about consciousness on the BBC, but you do, it's Dan Dennett getting mega-memetical. (just kidding, that doesn't even make sense, in this context.)

Is consciousness just an illusion?
Apr 2017, BBC

We're not just are robots", he says. "We're robots, made of robots, made of robots".
-Dan Dennett

More Human Than Human

It's Alive

[This image is of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, illustrated by artist Matt Kish.]

New Zealand river first in the world to be given legal human status
March 2017, BBC

["It's no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies." -New Zealand's Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.]


Buildings On Ice

No it's real though.

If there is one thing I learned in architecture school, it's that water is the building's number one enemy. (Insects are number two, by the way.)

High winds turned this New York home into an ice house
the internet, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Smearing the Clock

This image was made by smearing together hundreds of photos; it's by Toronto photographer Matt Molloy, and it's called time-stacking. Source.

I wrote a whole book on approximation and ambiguity. Not really; it was about smells and how the language of smells is imprecise and ambiguous.

But really, we see here how the slowly thawing truth of a quantum science is smearing our sense of reality all over the place:

'Blurred times' in a quantum world
Mar 2017,

The more precise a given clock is, the more it "blurs" the flow of time measured by neighbouring clocks.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Architecture inspired concrete desk accessories - The Islam

The artist/teacher/architect/art historian in me is really excited about this project that recently debuted - Architrays are an art history lesson in the form of indulgent decoration. These concrete trays are designed and fabricated by 7thFl, an industrial design duo (from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, same place I spent a good 5 years of my life learning about sustainable design). Each tray they make represents a historical period of architecture, from Gothic to Roman to the Islam tray pictured above. When it comes to geometric design, Islam knows what's up.

Here you see an example of how this kind of design is developed from a very simple algorithm, genius in its simplicity. You start with a circle, then you draw another circle so that its center lies anywhere on the first circle. Then you draw a third circle, again so that its center lies on the first circle, BUT so that the center of all three circles now make an equilateral triangle with 60 degree angles.

If you repeat this pattern all around the first circle, you get a hexagon. Look at the points of the image in the upper left, and see that they can make equilateral triangles and a hexagon. This is the starting point for the most complex, most beautiful of patterns.  And this is the theme cast into concrete by 7thFl for their Islamic Architray. In other words, these 'architrays' are a beautiful reminder of a rich history of art, design, and architecture. Check it out

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Making Memetics Work

After being thoroughly schooled on this topic of the transmission of cultural products (see the book linked below), I realize that memetics may never be the science of mind control that I think it is. However,  I think the name, the origin of the idea, and the 'stickiness' of the memtics narrative, that is, the ease with which we can explain the idea to other people, all these things make memetics the best representative of this nebulous subject of thought propagation.

As a reminder then, the meme of the meme comes from Richard Dawkins in his 1982 book, The Extended Phenotype (sequel to The Selfish Gene), where he uses likens the meme to a gene but for ideas.

Anyway, we are truly living in an age where the behavior of thoughts have become independent of their thinkers.

Viral charity campaigns have a psychological 'recipe' and all-too-brief lifespan
Feb 2017,

*Cultural Evolution: Society, Technology, Language, and Religion
(Strüngmann Forum Reports), 2013. PJ Richerson, CH Morten.

More Neurophysics

The thermodynamics of learning
Feb 2017,

While investigating how efficiently the brain can learn new information, physicists have found that, at the neuronal level, learning efficiency is ultimately limited by the laws of thermodynamics

"The second law is a very powerful statement about which transformations are possible—and learning is just a transformation of a neural network at the expense of energy. "
- Sebastian Goldt at the University of Stuttgart, Germany

In the new study, the scientists showed that learning efficiency is bounded by the total entropy production of a neural network. They demonstrated that, the slower a neuron learns, the less heat and entropy it produces, increasing its efficiency. In light of this finding, the scientists introduced a new measure of learning efficiency based on energy requirements and thermodynamics.