Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Belief Network

Model helps explore how changing certainty in belief of one statement can lead to changings belief in truth of others
Oct 2016,

"Changing the degree of certainty a person holds for a given belief can lead to changes in beliefs about other things that a person believes to be true.

Some beliefs provide a kind of resistance that inhibits or defends against other beliefs from 'getting in.'

"Believing that we humans, for example, are too insignificant compared to the rest of the world to be able to cause something as impressive as global warming would make it very difficult to accept the idea regardless of the evidence."

I doubt it works for Cotards however (where you think you're dead).

[and furthermore...]

Environmental messages that promote a return to a positive past found to be more effective in convincing conservatives
Dec 2016,


Truth, Belief and Society
Network Address, 2012

"Truth butters no parsnips and legitimates no social arrangements. There are at least 2 reasons for this. One is the failure of genuine knowledge to be subservient. The second is that publicly accessible truth fails to separate members of a community from non-members." (p272)

Plough, Sword and Book
Ernest Gellner
U. of Chicago Press


This image is an illustration by John Tenniel for Alice in Wonderland, and is noted for its ambiguous central figure, whose head can be viewed as being a human male's face with a pointed nose and protruding chin or being the head end of an actual caterpillar, with two "true" legs visible. It has nothing to do with this post really, I was just thinking "cool ass caterpillar picture."

Graphene is the world's first two-dimensional material (is it the universe's first...?), because it is one-atom thick, and which sucks because I can't tell my art students that there is no such thing as two dimenional things like circles and squares. I mean technically, graphene is still 3-D, because it's third dimension is as thick as a carbon atom (about 0.3 nanometers), but because no-thing is smaller than the atom-scale, then we can get away with calling it 2-D.

Graphene is a wonder material, and it will change the world "in the same way plastics did," says the guy in this article below. Thing is, it's hard to make. Like quantum computing is great and all, but a qubit is really hard to make. Anyway, that's a bit different now with this headline:

For super-strong silk threads, feed graphene to silkworms

Researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing fed the one-atom-thick, tremendously tough material to silkworms in one of the first applications of graphene that could become mainstream.

Christian Science Monitor, Oct 2016

The Poison Is In the Dose

"Every time we turn on a light, we are inadvertently taking a drug that affects how we sleep." (p.304)
-Chronobiologist Charles A. Czeisler

(I forgot to note this, but I think it's written circa 1800?)

At Day's Close: Night in Times Past. A. Roger Ekirch. Norton, New York: 2005.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Still Awaiting Omniscience

global-monitoring systems:

"In new research published Thursday in the journal Science, Northeastern network scientist David Lazer and his colleagues analyzed the effectiveness of four global-scale databases and found they are falling short when tested for reliability and validity.

The fully automated systems studied were the International Crisis Early Warning System, or ICEWS, maintained by Lockheed Martin, and Global Data on Events Language and Tone, or GDELT, developed and run out of Georgetown University. The others were the hand-coded Gold Standard Report, or GSR, generated by the nonprofit MITRE Corp., and the Social, Political, and Economic Event Database, or SPEED, at the University of Illinois, which uses both human and automated coding.

"It's so easy for us as humans to read something and know what it means," says Lazer. "That's not so for a set of computational rules."

The authors suggest that reliable data-tracking systems can be used to build models that anticipate the escalation of conflicts, forecast the progression of epidemics, or trace the effect of global warming on the ecosystem."

Using Big Data to monitor societal events shows promise, but the coding tech needs work, Oct 2016

image source

Botnet Meatnet Wetnet Nextnet

And Hairnet

Just keeping track here:

Army of webcams used in net attacks
BBC News, Sep 2016

One of the biggest ever web attacks - in which more than one terabit of data was fired at a website to knock it offline - has been reported.

Web hosting company OVH said it had been attacked by a botnet (zombie army) of hacked devices such as webcams.

The previous largest attack was thought to be one on security expert Brian Krebs' website which hit 620Gbps (gigabits per second).

And Here:

What We Know About Friday's Massive East Coast Internet Outage
Wired, Oct 2016

...distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) that took down a big chunk of the Internet for most of the Eastern seaboard...aimed at Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company headquartered in New Hampshire...Dyn’s Internet directory servers were stopped by a flood of malicious requests from tens of millions of IP addresses disrupting the system...“very sophisticated and complex attack.”  ...infects Internet of Things devices (webcams, DVRs, routers, etc.) all over the world... Once infected, those Internet-connected devices become part of a botnet army, driving malicious traffic toward a given target.

image source

Origami Supreme

Sounds to me like the thing that DNA does:

Programmable Shape Shifting Materials

Previous shape-shifting materials have needed some external trigger to tell them to transform, like light or heat.

Now, a US-based team has encoded a sequence of shape transformations into the very substance of a polymer, with each change occurring at a pre-determined time.

Materials programmed to shape shift
BBC News, Sep 2016

Let Them Play

The news about DeepMind never stops. Yes, we're teaching it to teach itself, by letting it play video games. So we missed the dystopian mark, because at least they're not using straight television.

Once this intelligentity starts playing Second Life, will that be even better?

DeepMind AI to play videogame to learn about world
BBC, Nov 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fake It til You Make It

Bordo - Chinese Graffiti

It sounds like what they're saying here is that people don't want science, they want bad science. I should rephrase - money doesn't want good science, but people do. Social science in particular, is in a bit of a pickle these days (see the replication crisis).

This also sounds a lot like the word of the year for 2016, post-truth, related to 'truthiness' and referencing a world where emotional reaction has more traction that cold hard facts. This is something we've always known, albeit at times in our cultural unconscious. We make things that fight this, I'm sure people like Bejamin Franklin, newspaper editor, had something to say about it. But our defenses have been lacking, and could use a rethink.

Here from The Guardian:

Smaldino cites an experiment by the American psychologist Daryl Bem, who purported to show that undergraduates could predict the future and published the result in a prestigious journal.

"What he found was the equivalent of flipping a bunch of pennies, nickels, and quarters, asking students to guess heads or tails each time, and then reporting that psychic abilities exist for pennies, but not nickels and quarters, because the students were right 53% of the time for the pennies, rather than the expected 50%. It’s insane,” said Smaldino. “Bem used exactly the same standards of evidence that all social psychologists were using to evaluate their findings. And if those standards allowed this ridiculous a hypothesis to make the cut, imagine what else was getting through.”

Cut-throat academia leads to 'natural selection of bad science', claims study
The Guardian, Sep 2016

The Co-Citation Network vs The Journal Impact Factor

There's more than one way to measure the influence of a scientific paper. An alternative, the Relative Citation Ratio, is better for interdisciplinary research and fields with low citations.

From the National Institute of Health's Office of Portfolio Analysis via --

The co-citation network is formed from the reference lists of articles that cite the article in question. For example, if Article X is cited by Article A, Article B, and Article C, then the co-citation network of Article X would contain all the articles from the reference lists of Articles A, B, and C. Comparing the citation rate of Article X to the citation rate in the co-citation network allows each article to create its own individualized field.
Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi, Executive Director of the American Society for Microbiology, says in a blog post that RCR [Relative Citation Ratio] "evaluates science by putting discoveries into a meaningful context. I believe that RCR is a road out of the JIF [Journal Impact Factor] swamp."
One of the primary criticisms raised against RCR is that, due to the field normalization method, it could undervalue inter-disciplinary work, especially for researchers who work in fields with low citation practices. The authors investigated this possibility, but find little evidence in their analyses that inter-disciplinary work is penalized by RCR calculation.

Credit: Ian Hutchins and George Santangelo

Relative Citation Ratio: Scientists publish new metric to measure the influence of scientific research, Sep 2016


Patterns are everywhere, and now recognition is more popular than it's ever been. The performance of pattern recognition has been relegated to the domain of the living, the wetware among us. But advances in biocomputing, organic computing, neural-interfaced prosthetics, semibots, synthetic life, artificially intelligent unsupervised learning entitites, etc. have blurred the line of what we consider to be alive, and can be intelligent. Squishy robots they're called here --

From University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, via

Dr. Yashin said that patients recovering from a hand injury could wear a glove that monitors movement, and can inform doctors whether the hand is healing properly or if the patient has improved mobility.

Another use would be to monitor individuals at risk for early onset Alzheimer's, by wearing footwear that would analyze gait and compare results against normal movements, or a garment that monitors cardiovascular activity for people at risk of heart disease or stroke.

Research into 'materials that compute' advances as engineers demonstrate system performs pattern recognition, Sep 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Poverty Metrics

Rocinha Favela

Satellite images used to predict poverty
BBC News, Aug 2016

Night lights, paved roads and metal roofs are markers that can help distinguish different levels of economic wellbeing in developing countries, and are surprisingly predictive...

More Three-Body

It's hard to predict the orbital mechanics of three bodies, as seen here. 

Astronomers have found an Earthlike planet in the habitable zone of the closest star to the sun
Toronto Star, Aug 2016

I don't get paid by Liu Cixin or anything but I am crazy about his book, Three Body Problem. And in current news, his story is becoming even more plausible, as the origin for his alien race of Trisolarians is a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the same planet that has now been verified into existence. The Centauri star system is our closest Milky Way neighbor; it's four light years away.

I Network Therefore I Am

The Brainmap, ie the Connectome.
I'll just leave these here, as the paradigm inevitably shifts from physics to network science, we see more promise of finding the evasive rainbow
of human consciousness.

A new study looks for the cortical conscious network, Aug 2016

Network theory sheds new light on origins of consciousness
Medical Xpress, March 2015


Mostly unrelated image.

Today in the Can’t Make This Shit Up Department:

Ars Technica, Aug 2016

"Earlier this year, Facebook denied criticisms that its Trending feature was surfacing news stories that were biased against conservatives. But in an abrupt reversal, the company fired all the human editors for Trending on Friday afternoon, replacing them with an algorithm that promotes stories based entirely on what Facebook users are talking about. Within 72 hours, according to the Washington Post, the top story on Trending was about how Fox News icon Megyn Kelly was a pro-Clinton "traitor" who had been fired (she wasn't).
"There were so many problems with this story, ranging from plagiarism to falsity, that even a fairly simple-minded robot editor should have caught them. The Trending algorithm is clearly not ready for prime time, or maybe Facebook is just trying to redefine what it calls "a breadth of ideas and commentary about a variety of topics."

So, first, we don’t trust humans to give us information because they’re biased. We put it in the hands of the computers instead. Then we realize that since the computers are only doing what we are doing, they can’t be trusted either. … All Hail.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Quantum Terror Correction Makes Qubits Less Sensitive to Their Environment via Quantum Noise

aka All Hail Nonsense Supreme

Sometimes I just like the headlines, even if I’m half making them up.

April 2016,

More Crystals Still

Gizmodo, 2016

(Please excuse the fact that I’m posting my science news via gizmodo, I just take it as it comes.)

Quasi crystals have been known for a bit, but "nobody had found a naturally occurring quasicrystal until Princeton physicist Paul Steinhardt stumbled upon one in 2007" (Gizmodo, 2016)

Also, Neal Stephenson, in his mindf***ing Anathema, makes reference to a similar aperiodic repetition in his telling of a mindgame similar to chess where one tries to arrange different tiles in a crazy complex pattern that looks random but in fact uses some deep math to get there...(I think the game is called a tangram.)

Interlinks from Network Address:
The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene

New type of animated crystal structure discovered

“The trio readily acknowledges that they have no idea if such crystals actually exist in the real world but suggest it might be possible that they are in atomic nuclei or in electrons in solids—finding them would be a challenge, however, because they would have to be seen in action, a single snapshot would not convey the motion required to see the symmetry. They also suggest that their new crystal structure could lead to some new math as was the case when static crystal structure math led to applications in number theory and even error correction in computer applications.”

Teaching a machine to spot a crystal
Jun 2018,

Crystallizing proteins is hard—really hard. Unlike the simple atoms and molecules that make up common crystals like salt and sugar, these big, bulky molecules, which can contain tens of thousands of atoms each, struggle to arrange themselves into the ordered arrays that form the basis of crystals.

"What allows an object like a protein to self-assemble into something like a crystal is a bit like magic," Charbonneau said.

All Hail Trisolaris

Shout out to one of the most epic scifi novels I've read in a while, The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin (and perhaps the first major Chinese scifi novel to be translated into English).

The book is about a race of people that live on a world of more than one sun called Trisolaris, which sucks, so they want Earth. The thing about the three body problem, or living on a world with more than one sun, is that it's really hard to predict what's going to happen next - do we get one day of 5,000 degree heat because one sun is too close or 5,000 years of subzero temperatures because all the suns are too far away.

Trisolarians dehydrate themselves and roll up like a piece of paper so they can't be damaged as easily, and they get stored in a big old pyramid for a hundred or a thousand years until it's safe to come back out again. The book is well written, full of hyperbolic machinations, and supertight on the physics. If you haven't already, see what's in the mind of a Chinese scifi writer (as a Westerner raised on Western scifi and Western ideologies, it's very eye-opening and refreshing to read something like this).

Also, how could I forget, they make a human computer, with hundreds of thousands of living people, all performing calculations together to crack the three body problem that plagues their civilization...

And so, in conclusion, this goes out to Cixin Liu:
USA Today, July 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Xenophiles Among Us

The potato is not indigenous to Ireland.

Just what you thought; almost all of our food comes from other places in the world. Here we find out that so many foods in the world are indigenous to somewhere else. I mean, you knew that already – tomatoes are not from Italy, and so on. Consider national identities via cuisine as similar to conceptions of self: you do not exist; you are instead a combination of others. What does it mean for a food to be Italian or Chinese. Ahh, to label and categorize.

Let us not forget that every atom in our little world was forged in a massive stellar furnace and propagated throughout the universe in a spacetime-crippling explosion. The very concepts of foreign, indigenous; of self and other; are all constructions of our minds, and like a rainbow that seems to get further away the closer we approach, they fall apart under increasing scrutiny., June 2016

Advancements in Paint

The Blue Morpho Butterfly; its color comes not from the pigments on its wings, but from the way the light refracts on the microstructures of its wings (see image below).

I really like the sound of plasmonic pixels. But let’s not forget the biomimetic method of structural color vs. chemicals and pigments. The Morpho butterfly is an example where the colors are not a matter of surface treatment but of the structure of the wings themselves. They refract light differently to create a colorful pattern, although the wing is really all the same “color.”, Jun 2016

This shows how the structures on the surface of the wings create the different colors.

Post Script:
Here’s a book about where color came from:
The Color Revolution, Regina Lee Blaszczyk, MIT Press 2012

And here’s my review

Microbial Collective Memory and the Future of Human Sociothermodynamics

stickers communicating with each other

I guess the easiest way to describe this is “distributed memory?” I’ll cut directly from the article:

“When an entire population is observed, rather than individual cells, the bacteria appear to develop a kind of collective memory. In populations exposed to a warning event, survival rates upon a second exposure two hours after the warning are higher than in populations not previously exposed. Using computational modelling, the scientists explained this phenomenon in terms of a combination of two factors. Firstly, salt stress causes a delay in cell division, leading to synchronization of cell cycles; secondly, survival probability depends on the individual bacterial cell's position in the cell cycle at the time of the second exposure. As a result of the cell cycle synchronization, the sensitivity of the population changes over time. Previously exposed populations may be more tolerant to future stress events, but they may sometimes even be more sensitive than populations with no previous exposure.”

So what this is saying is that the population has a memory. Not the individual cells, but the population as a whole. In other words, a collective memory, distributed, remembers what happened last time, and behaves accordingly. Behaves? Cells don’t behave, or at least we don’t normally say things like that. But alas, cells – plural – behave.

In the trendy field of sociothermodynamics, people are treated not even like cells but like molecules bouncing around. This idea of a collective memory changes the way we may think about these “molecules.” It seems kind of silly, we know humans have memory – individual memories inside our brains and a form of collective memory in the form of … cultural products, i.e., art, architecture, writing, etc.? – and we have theories about collective memory and the Noosphere, via Carl Jung and Tielhard de Chardin. But there’s no real metrics behind this stuff, it’s all theory. For now. Combining models of sociothermodynamics with the kind of work presented above may shed new light on human behavior, we’ll see.

March 2016,

Interlinks to things about the Noosphere and such:

Beyond the Physical Horizon

This is a visual representation of the internet. Image source, June 2016

Sometimes when I think about Kuhn’s paradigm shifts in science, I wonder if physics will ever be supplanted by something else, especially when considering that we are in the Information Age, one pivot away from the Industrial Age. Is information ultimately physical, or does it transcend the physical? Can information exist apart from the physical world?

Back on track, we have here in this mention of a quantum web is a glimpse of a potential future where network science (part graph science) is the new edge of science.

In this new study, thinking about quantum networks in light of abstract mathematical graphs really optimizes the architecture of the network. (A Scientist in the article declares that “a network is a physical system,” by the way.)

Albert-László Barabási, head of Barabási Labs and author of two major books on network science as well as a full textbook on the subject:
Network Science [the textbook]

Inter-links from Network Address:
-on Barabási’s Bursts

Current News in Network Science (aka Connection Science?)
April 2016,

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Flat Earth Hate

Extra sensory perception, screenshot search results

New Scientist, March 2016

“Rat brains quickly adapted to use data from four infrared sensors, allowing them to "see" in the dark and paving the way for augmenting the human brain.”

And what's next? Gravity sensors? jk


April 2016,

Though the method currently only supports painting on flat surfaces, one potential benefit of the new technique over standard printing is that it may be usable on more complicated, curved painting surfaces.

The Flesh Engine Revs Up

distributed artificial intelligence, aka the swarm

Watch out Skynet, the Flesh Engine is starting to flex its wet muscles. Or should I say - watch out future, because we're about to know the shit out of you.

A swarm AI predicted the Kentucky Derby. The overall field of predictive analysis is taking strides. First there was the guy who predicted the Obama election, over at Nate Silver's 538.

His was all-algorithm though. Good algos, but not this good. As expected, it turns out that people are still better. James Surowiecki, in his book The Wisdowm of Crowds (2004), asserts that large groups of regular people are better at making decisions, and at predictions, than anything. They're better than a small group of experts, and they're better than anything an algorithm can do. As individuals, we're fallible, but as a group, we cross-cancel each other. In Surowiecki's opening example, taken from statistician Francis Galton, a large group of people were asked to guess the weight of an ox. Nobody got it right, but the average of every person's guess was the correct weight.

Surowiecki points out that the stock market predicted the culprit behind the Challenger disaster way before anyone else, because the day after the accident, the stocks in a company that made rubber O-rings went way down. Not until famed scientist Richard Feynman dropped one of those O-rings in a glass of water during a high profile testimony did the groupthinking stock market's "prediction" come true.

China has been plugging in the flesh engine for some time now.

What is the value of living, breathing humans? Stinking, thinking humans? Hopefully we will find out before it's too late, before they're all gone.

Post Script
Yahoo Finance, April 2016

Ahh Headlines

 Mar 24, 2016 report:

(—A female cichlid hybrid fish has been observed to have grown male reproductive organs, impregnate itself and then to have offspring, a team of researchers in the U.K. are reporting in a paper published in the ...

And in other news:

BBC News, March 2016

BBC News, March 2016


Finally A User Manual for Being Human

How to be Human
There is a new approach to stalling the takeover of human civilization by Artificial Intelligence. That’s right, we’re going to teach it right from wrong – using crosscultural metamanual moralgorithms.

Taken from
“Researchers Mark Riedl and Brent Harrison from the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology believe the answer lies in "Quixote"—to be unveiled at the AAAI-16 Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. (Feb. 12 - 17, 2016). Quixote teaches "value alignment" to robots by training them to read stories, learn acceptable sequences of events and understand successful ways to behave in human societies.”

And this is where sh** starts to get real, folks.
“"The collected stories of different cultures teach children how to behave in socially acceptable ways with examples of proper and improper behavior in fables, novels and other literature," says Riedl, associate professor and director of the Entertainment Intelligence Lab.”

feb 2016,

I’m Not Fkkking Flat You’re Fkkking Flat

image source

Because here at network address, we just love all things conspiracy.

Something about gravity waves got the Flat-Earthers mad pissed.

Anyway, I have an idea for a board game where you get ahead by disproving flat earth theories, but instead of a flat game board, it’s a globe, and the first person to get to the center of the earth wins. In the meantime, test the prototype – watch an extensive doc on flat earth conspiracy and try to articulate why the theories don’t add up. Some are easier to disprove than others, but overall, they cover a wide range of disciplines, so there’s a chance for everyone.

gizmodo, feb 2016

Quantum Surrealism

Mutual Metaphors, MARS1, Fecal Face show 2010

Can't wait to see this one come up more often, feb 2016


Exciplexes perhaps

And other words that make me excited, that’s all.

These exciplexes are tunable just by changing the distance between the molecules, even by a few nanometers., feb 2016

Majorana Fermions Strike Again

The Majorana fermion. Love it.

How could you not? The thing is its own anti-particle. So technically, it doesn’t even exist, right?, feb 2016