aries1988 + research   145

社會學家周雪光談肺炎危機(下):當務之急不是社會適應政府,而是政府適應社會|新冠肺炎|深度|端傳媒 Initium Media
关于层层加码,在学术文献中已有很多讨论。在我看来,层层加码在很大程度上体现了各级政府向上负责的定势,因为担心执行过程出问题,做不下去,所以给下级更大压力,以便可以确保完成任务,不出纰漏。

从上到下层层加码、越到基层执行似乎越厉害的运动式治理模式

与对具体当事人的“问责”相比,我觉得更为重要的是反思体制上的问题,推动体制改革,才能减少这类事故对生命、民生的伤害。我在前面已经说过,许多当事的官员都是在按照制度给他们规定的习惯行事。例如,训诫李文亮医生的民警,和发出训诫指令的上级官员,他们都在扮演这个体制给他们规定的角色。如果不改进体制,其他官员还会扮演同样的角色,从事同样的行为。

当政府拥有了所有权力和功劳,它就必须承担所有的责任和过失。权力和责任是对称的。
中国国家治理基本矛盾是:一方面是一个中央集权的大一统体制,但另一方面又有各种地方性差异,所以这两者之间产生非常大的基本矛盾。

当务之急不是社会去适应政府,而是政府要适应社会。政府需要有更多元化的结构来适应多元化的社会。最重要就是允许大家可以讨论,把问题提出来,通过讨论、争辩和各地在不同方向上的尝试实践,找到行之有效的治理架构。

要建立制度上的分权,而不是临时性的放权,才能有稳定的制度保障。但这个思路和现在运行的政治逻辑不一致,所以我觉得很难做到。

法国汉学家魏丕信写的《18世纪中国的官僚制度与荒政》,主要讲述分析了清朝政府怎么应对大的自然灾害,其中也涉及到信息流动传递、皇权与官僚制间关系、动员体制,以及民间社会参与赈灾救荒的一系列相关问题。这次抗疫也再次提出了这些问题。
book  state  bureaucracy  government  federation  research  comparison  epidemic 
5 days ago by aries1988
香港大学病毒学家:最坏的情况要交个底说清楚
《知识分子》:国外发达国家的分诊体系确实不同,但我们中国老百姓似乎习惯了直接找专家,动不动挂急诊,尤其是恐慌的时候?

金冬雁:我们国内就医的心态和模式与海外相比很不一样,第一找熟人,第二找最好的医院,谁都找最好的医院就把最好的医院拖死了。这个是我们医疗制度深层的问题,那现在怎么办?现在我们也还是要病人分流、居家隔离,然后医护人员给他们支持,别大部分轻症的把重症的拖死了。

金冬雁:有两个概念,一个是病死率(case fatality),就是说确诊这个病的人数做分母,死的人数做分子。另外一个是死亡率,叫 mortality,分母是所有的易感人群总数,分子是易感人群中得病死亡人数。确诊41名,6人死亡,15%这是病死率,是高的。我们推测,这个研究的研究者没把轻症和无症的患者找出来。当然,要计算死亡率,其实要到最后都死完了,大部分人恢复了以后,那时候会算的比较准确。死亡率从现在来看,肯定没有SARS高。

大部分人还是会自己好的,仍是支持性治疗为主。

中国传染科是小科,大家都不想去,这是个深层次问题了。从SARS以后稍微重视一些,但基本上仍然比较弱势。大家都想去那些高大上的科,感染科在整个医院里面的地位较低。

当务之急,要处理好封城以内的人的情绪,正确引导他们对于这个疾病、对于病毒的认识,而且要把最坏的情况交个底儿说清楚了。其实,最坏也没到坏到什么程度,也不会比季节性流感更坏。季节性流感死的人更多,毒性、传播力更大,而且造成的损失也更大。
expert  epidemic  virus  research  today  chinese  hospital 
29 days ago by aries1988
The scientific events that shaped the decade

Navigating a more sustainable path will require ambitious political and industrial will, as much as scientific ingenuity.

In many countries — especially those afflicted by varying degrees of authoritarianism and climate-change denial — that will is in short supply. But researchers must not lose hope. Working with civil society, they must step up, get out of their comfort zones and recognize activism as part of their mission13. And they must fight to restore the status of facts and truth.

The 2010s were both remarkable but also troubling. With new knowledge, and a renewed dedication to social and environmental responsibility, the 2020s must be transformational.
2010s  summary  science  innovation  research  climate  change  energy  genetics  quantum  computer 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
Became, Become, Becoming | Articles | Inference: International Review of Science
In the original short story, not just light, but the whole universe is depicted as being susceptible to explanation from two distinct standpoints. Human language and physics are shaped by an inclination to see the world in terms of cause and effect. It is for this reason that Fermat’s principle seems unintuitive. The aliens in Arrival understand the universe as involving final, not efficient, causes. Humans think of refraction as being caused by the differing densities of air and water—in effect, a succession of causal chains. The aliens would see it as a point of equilibrium of the system, and the system as an atemporal whole.

the notion that the world can be perceived and understood from two distinct perspectives, local and causal versus global and atemporal, helps to explain the effects that learning the alien language has on Banks. In the original story, the physics and linguistics reinforce one another. In the film, more has to be taken on trust.

the time of Aristotle and the distinction he made between effective (efficient) cause and final cause. In 1744, Leonhard Euler wrote that “there is absolutely no doubt that every effect in the universe can be explained as satisfactorily from final causes … as it can from the effective causes.”2

Jessica Coon, a linguist at McGill University, acted as a consultant for the film. The filmmakers sought to understand the work of linguists, what they look like, what kinds of offices they work in, and so on. They rented books from Coon and her colleagues for use on set and spent time with the speech analysis program Praat, a favorite among practitioners in the field. The effort invested in learning about the work of linguists from Coon and her colleagues at McGill is evident in the film.

As a proof of concept, the filmmakers sent the logograms to the developer Christopher Wolfram.5 He analyzed them using the Mathematica suite of programs to tease out the significance in their structure. The logograms were also sent to Coon. She applied linguistic analysis techniques, annotating the logograms as though they were an undeciphered writing system. Coon’s annotated versions can be seen scattered around on tables and pinned up on the walls of the field laboratory depicted in the film. The programs Wolfram developed to analyze the logograms are running in real time on computers dotted around the lab. The two approaches converge in an iPad-like device that Banks uses to construct her own logograms in order to communicate with the Heptapods.

Some languages, such as Korean, make an obligatory distinction in their grammar between information that is obtained first hand and information that is inferred. If Korean speakers want to convey that Toli ate dumplings, they have no choice but to say either Tolika mantwulul mekess-e, (literally, Toli dumplings ate), or Tolika mantwulul mekess-tay. Note the change at the end of the sentence: either -e or -tay. The first indicates that the speaker has direct perceptual evidence, perhaps having seen Toli eat dumplings, while the second indicates that the speaker has inferred that Toli ate the dumplings, but did not directly perceive it. If the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis were correct, Korean speakers would be tuned to this aspect of reality in a way that English speakers are not. A research team led by Anna Papafragou found that this is simply not the case.11 They studied the ability of young Korean and English children to think and reason about how one knows what one knows. Even though Korean children encode this in a huge number of the sentences they utter, they are no better than English-speaking children at this task. Where studies have found a Sapir–Whorf type effect, it appears to be very weak and a side effect of the processing of language. There is no evidence of a deep and permanent impact on cognition.

In Chiang’s short story, the Heptapod spoken language seems not too unfamiliar to Banks. Similar to the grammatical cases of Latin or German, nouns have special markers that signify meaning. There are distinguishable words, and although the order of the words is fairly free, this comes as no surprise. Many human languages express grammatical concepts through rich inflections, giving correspondingly greater latitude to order words as you will.
linguist  movie  2016  scifi  et  research  theory  grammar  scientist  korea  software  physics 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
Reading Seawater | Articles | Inference: International Review of Science

Oceanographers classify these elements into three groups: conservative, scavenged, and recycled.17 Conservative elements, which include the major constituents of seawater, such as sodium and chlorine, have residence times on the order of millions to hundreds of millions of years. Their residence times are much longer than mixing times, the period over which they are distributed via waves, currents, and eddies. If an element’s residence time is greater than its mixing time, its concentration will be fairly uniform throughout the ocean, and it can be considered to have reached a state of chemical equilibrium in seawater.

Recycled and scavenged elements have much shorter residence times, on the order of hundreds or thousands of years.18 As a result, there is insufficient time for these elements to achieve equilibrium through mixing, and their concentrations vary according to geography and depth. Scavenged elements include aluminum, lead, mercury, and other metals. These elements are attracted to the surfaces of fine clay particles and are exported from shallow waters as the particles sink to the ocean floor. The chemical concentration of scavenged elements decreases with depth in the water column.

The recycled elements exhibit the most interesting and complicated behavior of all the groups. These are the ingredients essential for life, such as carbon, copper, iodine, iron, nitrogen, phosphorous, and zinc. In the uppermost region of the ocean where almost all sea life can be found, these elements are limiting nutrients, whose scarcity makes them coveted commodities in the marine biosphere. Any of these elements lost by one organism will be snatched up by another, keeping their concentration in the water itself low. Over time, a fraction of these nutrients leaks into deeper and relatively uninhabited waters, and so the concentration of recycled elements generally increases with depth.

Surface currents, such as the Gulf Stream, transfer warmth from the tropics to higher latitudes. As it flows northward, the water cools and is subject to evaporative loss, becoming saltier and increasing in density as a result. To the north of Iceland, the Gulf Stream waters are denser than in the ambient North Atlantic and sink to the seafloor, returning south as a mirror-image deep ocean current. Prior to the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, the Gulf Stream was able to flow further north into the Atlantic, carrying heat to the high arctic. Once the saltiness of the Atlantic was no longer being diluted by the Pacific, the more saline water started sinking further south. In the absence of the heat these waters brought to the far north, winter snows persisted through thousands of summers and ice sheets grew.20

In the preoxidation era, iron emitted by submarine volcanoes could remain dissolved in the open ocean, commingling with sodium, calcium, and other ions. But when oxygen, produced by the ancestors of modern planktonic photosynthesizers, began to accumulate in shallow waters, it bonded with the iron atoms, pulling them to the seafloor. The oceans were eventually purged of iron.

The tremendous volume of iron formations, the source of all the steel ever forged, attests to the great abundance of iron in the Proterozoic oceans.

If not tears or sweat, seawater could perhaps instead be considered earth’s blood, its composition a proxy for the health of the planet.
ocean  salt  science  mineral  theory  research  chemistry  geology  concept  question  aristote  climate  change 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
作为“屠龙术”的宏观经济学,还能够改变世界吗?
凯恩斯在20世纪30年代的大萧条之后,以一部《通论》开创出宏观经济学这门学问。宏观经济学有别于马歇尔的微观经济学,几乎是从天而降,直接改变了人们对于经济学的理解。今天人们嘴边的GDP、需求不足、金融泡沫、货币政策等概念,全都属于宏观经济学范畴。

但是宏观经济学有天然缺陷:“缺乏微观基础”。微观经济学是从最基本的理性经济人假设出发,一点一点推衍出来,已经圆融贯通,毫无破绽。但凯恩斯的宏观经济学并非从基本逻辑推出,而是直接就搞出总供给、总需求,用它来指导经济政策。正因为凯恩斯主义获得奇效,也就获得了合法性。可等到六七十年代,凯恩斯主义在美国经济实践中碰壁,不再灵验,这时怨声四起,指责它“不够科学”。

新凯恩斯主义虽然在某些领域也有创新模型,但终究缺乏微观基础,以至于各种碎片无法串成一体。那么新凯恩斯主义何以还能屹立不倒,与新古典宏观经济学相抗衡?原因在于他们守住了最后一块阵地,即劳动力市场。劳动力市场上流动的要素是劳动力,也就是人。人的流动远比货币、商品的流动困难,市场失灵之处比比皆是,于是这里成了新古典宏观经济学的滑铁卢。

搜寻-匹配是劳动力市场常见的情形,信息不对称之故,在其他市场上并不多见。

新凯恩斯主义认定自由市场本身不可能完全解决失业。劳动力市场极为复杂,导致失业的原因千奇百怪,怎能单纯地用“搜寻-匹配”这样“摩擦性失业”的借口囊括一切?

宏观经济学诞生于1936年。就在那一年,凯恩斯出版了《通论》,提出了宏观看待经济问题的方法。凯恩斯的观点是,总需求往往不足,所以需要国家干预,刺激经济,保持经济平稳发展。罗斯福采纳了凯恩斯的观点,帮助美国经济从大萧条中恢复。从此,宏观经济学也取得了独立的地位。

诺奖得主西姆斯发明的向量自回归模型(VAR)就试图回答这个问题。这是一种非结构化的多方程模型,描述在同一样本期间内的许多个内生变量,都作为它们过去值的函数。也就是说,在我们无法用经济学搞清楚变量之间因果关系的时候,借助统计学的方法来搞清楚,这时候我们甚至不怎么需要预先的模型假设了。
economy  theory  economist  research  model  comparison  book 
10 weeks ago by aries1988
Social Media Is Warping Democracy - The Atlantic

For example, in “Federalist No. 10,” James Madison wrote about his fear of the power of “faction,” by which he meant strong partisanship or group interest that “inflamed [men] with mutual animosity” and made them forget about the common good. He thought that the vastness of the United States might offer some protection from the ravages of factionalism, because it would be hard for anyone to spread outrage over such a large distance. Madison presumed that factious or divisive leaders “may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.” The Constitution included mechanisms to slow things down, let passions cool, and encourage reflection and deliberation.

Social media pushes people of all ages toward a focus on the scandal, joke, or conflict of the day, but the effect may be particularly profound for younger generations, who have had less opportunity to acquire older ideas and information before plugging themselves into the social-media stream.

citizens are now more connected to one another, in ways that increase public performance and foster moral grandstanding, on platforms that have been designed to make outrage contagious, all while focusing people’s minds on immediate conflicts and untested ideas, untethered from traditions, knowledge, and values that previously exerted a stabilizing effect. This, we believe, is why many Americans—and citizens of many other countries, too—experience democracy as a place where everything is going haywire.
social-network  psychology  history  constitution  usa  research  policy  society  instability 
11 weeks ago by aries1988
Centraliens de l’étranger : de Centrale Lyon à l'Université de Penn State
Dès la première semaine à Penn State, j'ai réalisé que l'enseignement était radicalement différent par rapport à la France. Pour résumer : en France on fait de la théorie et on travaille le sens de l'analyse, alors qu’aux États-Unis Unis on fait de la pratique et on développe le sens physique. Indépendamment, les deux approches ont leurs avantages et leurs limites. En exagérant le trait : en France, on apprend plein de choses sans toujours savoir à quoi ça sert, alors qu'aux États Unis, on fait beaucoup d'applications sans toujours savoir d'où ça vient. 

S’il tu devais désigner une chose qui pourrait éventuellement te ferait revenir...
Je dirais les avantages sociaux, tels que la sécurité sociale, mais aussi la situation politique générale des US ou de la France/Europe. 
français  usa  phd  research  education  comparison 
september 2019 by aries1988
The Most Pervasive Myth About Free Will
Bereitschaftspotential

total determinism—the idea that all events are set in place by previous ones, including our own mental functions

In 2010, Aaron Schurger had an epiphany. As a researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, Schurger studied fluctuations in neuronal activity, the churning hum in the brain that emerges from the spontaneous flickering of hundreds of thousands of interconnected neurons. This ongoing electrophysiological noise rises and falls in slow tides, like the surface of the ocean—or, for that matter, like anything that results from many moving parts. “Just about every natural phenomenon that I can think of behaves this way. For example, the stock market’s financial time series or the weather,” Schurger says.

From a bird’s-eye view, all these cases of noisy data look like any other noise, devoid of pattern. But it occurred to Schurger that if someone lined them up by their peaks (thunderstorms, market records) and reverse-averaged them in the manner of Kornhuber and Deecke’s innovative approach, the results’ visual representations would look like climbing trends (intensifying weather, rising stocks). There would be no purpose behind these apparent trends—no prior plan to cause a storm or bolster the market. Really, the pattern would simply reflect how various factors had happened to coincide.
brain  neuroscience  freedom  determinism  research  from instapaper
september 2019 by aries1988
十二世纪的中国和西欧的书信文化:一个比较
拉丁欧洲(Latin Europe)指的是西欧和北欧那些使用拉丁文作宗教和学术语言的地区。这并不包括拜占庭帝国,因为它使用的是希腊文,文化也有异于拉丁欧洲。【4】当时西班牙的一些地区处于伊斯兰统治之下,所以属于阿拉伯-伊斯兰世界,而非拉丁欧洲。拉丁欧洲统属于教皇,不过在政治上分属许多小政权。而文人的社会网络遍布整个拉丁欧洲,不为政治疆域所限。这段时期的社会、政治和军事都相当混乱,【5】但这大多是地区性的,没有发生能跟金人入侵宋朝相比的引起过极大范围影响的事件。

十二世纪的书信比那之前的书信数量多得多,留存下来的比例也有上升。知识精英在西欧起到的凝聚力,比其他政治和宗教结构所产生的都要多。这就是为什么中世纪史家索瑟恩爵士(Richard Southern)的重要著作以《学术人文主义和欧洲的统一》为题,表明了知识精英的影响力。【8】

十一世纪末,宋代参加解试的士子就有大约79,000人,这些人肯定起码具备进行通信的技能。【34】而欧洲方面,学校里老师和学生的总数不超过几千人。虽然这只是一种很概括的比较,但已能说明中欧书信文化规模大有差别。

欧洲和中国的书信文化对文人文化的重要性颇为不同。写信和编书信集子是欧洲文人从事的最重要的文化事业之一,宋代的著名文人却极少有自编书信集子的——也只有极少数文人的书信得到其他人单独编集,书札一般只作为文集的其中一部分内容。从宋人对他们作品的看法而言,书信以外的一些文体重要性高得多,例如散文、骈文、各类诗歌和奏议等。写信不属于科举的考核内容,也反映它在中国文化中的重要性没那么大。由于西欧文化里的表达体裁相对有限,因此欧洲对书写优美书简的技能给予更多重视。

欧洲对文体没有正式的区分,完全没有像“书”、“启”那样的分类。何况在各种书信文体以外,中国当时的其他文体也更加丰富,如奏议、赠序、碑志等,不一而足。

十二世纪拉丁欧洲的现存书信大约在几千之数。
现存的宋人手迹中不少是书札,从南宋流传至今的大约在一百通上下。
research  literature  intelligentsia  europe  song  comparison  letter  numbers  from instapaper
august 2019 by aries1988
颠覆认知:着凉到底会不会导致感冒? | 商周专栏
从1914年德国 Kruse 教授首次发现感冒能传染到现在,一百多年的时间过去了。在过去的一个世纪里,科学界对着凉与感冒的关系已经基本清楚:普通感冒是由感冒病毒导致的急性上呼吸道感染,冷的环境能促进感冒的发生(通过增强病毒在体外的生存时长、增加病毒感染的机会、降低呼吸道细胞对病毒的免疫力等),但着凉和普通感冒无关。
explained  research  medical  body  biology  daily  maladie 
july 2019 by aries1988
《木兰诗》种种
(原载《文史知识》1998年11月号,中华书局出版。现略加修改定稿) 《木兰诗》种种 ·方舟子·…
classic  poem  analysis  history  tang  chinese  female  warrior  war  ethnic  research  from instapaper
july 2019 by aries1988
Language Log » Chinese characters and eyesight

Yet China and many other East Asian countries do not prize time outdoors. At the age of six, children in China and Australia have similar rates of myopia. Once they start school, Chinese children spend about an hour a day outside, compared with three or four hours for Australian ones.

The incidence of myopia is high across East Asia, afflicting 80-90% of urban 18-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The problem is social rather than genetic.

Commenting on the photographs accompanying these two posts, I remarked how Chinese children reading and writing often have a strained look on their face.  This may due to a variety of factors, including density of strokes, dim lighting, poor printing, and so forth.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that would seem to indicate a connection between myopia and Chinese characters

Commenting on the photographs accompanying these two posts, I remarked how Chinese children reading and writing often have a strained look on their face. This may due to a variety of factors, including density of strokes, dim lighting, poor printing, and so forth.

The questions is, though, why don't Chinese school children spend more time outdoors? Perhaps it's because they want to master those high maintenance characters, and to do so requires writing each one of them hundreds and hundreds of time so that one can recognize them accurately and reproduce them correctly when called upon to do so in tīngxiě 听写 ("dictation" [lit., "hear-write"]) quizzes.
opinion  chinese  writing  kid  eye  health  harm  research  reading  comparison  theory  from instapaper
july 2019 by aries1988
李肇祐:在香港,認同「中華民族」的人,心裏是怎樣的「中華」?
在最近一项研究中,我提出香港人的中国人身分认同,或取决于一些关于人类社群的基本信念。具体一点来说,他们到底倾向相信社群的特征会受外在环境影响,抑或是难以改变的?

根据 Molden 和 Dweck (2006)的观点,人们对社群的信念大致可分为两类:可塑(malleable)和固定(fixed)。前者假设社群的属性以至当中成员的行为皆是由环境决定,会因领袖变化等外部因素而改变;后者则相信社群的特征是(近乎)固定的,甚至与生俱来。我们经常听到的“民族性”、“族群基因”论(如“古巴人有快乐的基因”),隐含的正是此类信念。

社群的可塑性为他们在中港矛盾中维持中国人身分认同提供了一个基础。

首先,两个实验组别的参加者对社群的可塑性的看法有显著差异,表明“科普文章”成功刺激他们对有关议题产生特定看法。其次,那些收到强调族群可塑性文章的参加者普遍比另一实验组别的参加者有更高的中国人身分认同。由于参加者所阅读的文章乃随机选出,我们有较大的信心推断参加者关于社群可塑性的想法与中国人身分认同存在一定因果关系。

今天全球环绕身分认同的冲突此起彼落,我们有必要找出,是甚么导致很多文化上有共通点、表面上能够和平共存的群体(如香港人和内地人)隔阂越来越深?

自2000年代以来,香港政府不断努力提高市民对中华民族的认同。通过社会组织,课程改革和交流活动,香港人,特别是学生,被灌输香港“自古以来”就是中华民族的一分子,有共同的历史及文化,中华民族各成员的关系“血浓于水”,彼此“同根同心”。与此同时,中国内不同族群之间的矛盾及差异则被有系统的掩盖。在中港两地人心愈走愈远的今天,或许我们该问,这些看似政治正确的宣传,会否同时令人对社群产生僵化的印象,或如赵永佳教授(2016)所说,令香港人缺乏面对一个复杂多元的中国的“抗体”,导致他们在面对中港间种种冲突时,对“中华民族”更加抗拒呢?
research  community  identity  nation  origin  poll  experiment  hongkong  chinese  from instapaper
may 2019 by aries1988
Twitter
一个开放课程的搜索引擎,可以搜索几乎任何主题的课程,目前包含1.2万门课程,里面也有中文课程。
mooc  learn  research  resource  moi  from twitter_favs
may 2019 by aries1988
Why It’s So Hard to Learn French in Middle Age
I knew I’d never sound like a native. But shouldn’t I be much better than this?
middle-life  learn  français  vocabulary  language  brain  research  from instapaper
april 2019 by aries1988
Dinos neither warm nor cold blooded
"It's basically a spectrum," observed Dr Barrett. "I don't think it's bad to have a new word that describes animals that are in the middle of that spectrum."
dinosaur  research  question 
february 2019 by aries1988
We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s – and how to stop it

Multiple teams have been researching Porphyromonas gingivalis, the main bacterium involved in gum disease, which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. So far, teams have found that P. gingivalis invades and inflames brain regions affected by Alzheimer’s; that gum infections can worsen symptoms in mice genetically engineered to have Alzheimer’s; and that it can cause Alzheimer’s-like brain inflammation, neural damage and amyloid plaques in healthy mice.
teeth  inflammation  brain  alzheimer  research  medicine  pharma  future  health  science  senior  bacteria  from instapaper
february 2019 by aries1988
Why language might be the optimal self-regulating system – Lane Greene | Aeon Essays

Now we don’t often need a word for destroying exactly a 10th of something – this is the ‘etymological fallacy’, the idea that a word must mean exactly what its component roots indicate. But it is useful to have a word that means to destroy a sizeable proportion of something. Yet many people have extended the meaning of decimate until now it means something approaching ‘to wipe out utterly’.
language  research  english  pronunciation  evolution  from instapaper
december 2018 by aries1988
How Do You Take a Picture of a Black Hole? With a Telescope as Big as the Earth - The New York Times
near the core, that fog forms a great glowing Frisbee that rotates around a vast dark sphere. This is the supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way, the still point of our slowly rotating galaxy. We call it Sagittarius A*, that last bit pronounced “A-star.” The black hole itself is invisible, but it leaves a violent imprint on its environment, pulling surrounding objects into unlikely orbits and annihilating stars and clouds of gas that stray too close.

the inaugural run of the Event Horizon Telescope (E.H.T.), a virtual Earth-size observatory designed to take the first picture of a black hole. The E.H.T. uses a technique known as very long baseline interferometry (V.L.B.I.), in which astronomers at observatories on different continents simultaneously observe the same object, then combine the collected data on a supercomputer. The E.H.T.’s director, Shep Doeleman, a radio astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, likes to call the E.H.T. “the biggest telescope in the history of humanity.” It has the highest resolution of any astronomical instrument ever assembled. It’s sharp enough to read the date on a nickel in Los Angeles from New York, to spot a doughnut on the moon and, more to the point, to take a picture of the black hole at the center of our galaxy — or, at least, its shadow.

The effort to get that picture speaks well of our species: a bunch of people around the world defying international discord and general ascendant stupidity in unified pursuit of a gloriously esoteric goal. And in these dark days, it’s only fitting that the object of this pursuit is the darkest thing imaginable.

The physicist Werner Israel put it better when he described a black hole as “an elemental, self-sustaining gravitational field which has severed all causal connection with the material source that created it, and settled, like a soap bubble, into the simplest configuration consistent with the external constraints.”

what a black hole would look like if illuminated by the glow from the superheated matter swirling around it. He did his calculations by feeding punch cards into a primitive computer. He drew the results by hand. His black-and-white images looked like twisted depictions of a black Saturn, with a ringlike accretion disk warped like taffy.

That this shadow might be visible from Earth depended on an astonishing set of circumstances. Earth’s atmosphere happens to be transparent to the electromagnetic radiation — in this case, certain microwaves — shining from the edge of the black hole, even though it blocks radiation of slightly longer and shorter wavelengths. The interstellar gunk lying between Earth and the galactic center also becomes transparent at those frequencies, as do the clouds of superheated matter just outside the black hole, blocking a view of the event horizon. Later in life, Fulvio Melia compared this alignment to the cosmic accidents that give us total solar eclipses. The moon is just the right size, in just the right orbit, at just the right distance from Earth that now and then it blocks the sun entirely. Fulvio wasn’t religious, but these coincidences were so unlikely that he couldn’t help but feel that the black-hole shadow was meant to be seen. The universe had arranged for humans to see to the nearest exit.

it’s hard to reconcile two conflicting theories if you can’t find something wrong with either one, and quantum theory, like general relativity, has passed every test. As a result, scientists have been looking for ever-more-extreme situations in which to test these theories. That led them to black holes.

To avoid poisoning one another’s minds — so that no one could accidentally nudge another group into seeing a black-hole shadow that wasn’t really there — these groups worked in isolation, making images using different algorithms and techniques, trying hard to discredit anything that looked too sharp, too clean, too likely to be the product of wishful thinking.
telescope  astronomy  scientist  world  project  Physics  law  research  relativity  quantum 
october 2018 by aries1988
Hidden Stories of Chinese Migration and Culture Found in Giant Genetic Study
Comb through the DNA of Chinese people and you’ll find a trace of this culinary story, according to the largest-scale genetic study of Chinese people to date, published Thursday in Cell. The authors reported that a mutation of FADS2, a gene involved in metabolizing fatty acids, is more common in northern than southern populations, indicating a diet richer in animal content. It is one of an assortment of findings resulting from a sweeping analysis of genetic information from 141,431 participants.

Minority ethnic groups showed more genetic divergence than the Han, particularly Uyghurs and Kazakhs in Xinjiang and Mongols in Inner Mongolia.
gene  genetics  chinese  region  comparison  research  from instapaper
october 2018 by aries1988
访谈|彭慕然:中国为什么这么大?

《东方历史评论》:在您的著作中,我注意到您很强调两个因素,一个是环境因素,另一个是制度因素,您怎样看待环境与制度之间的关系呢?对于以道格拉斯·诺斯为代表的制度经济学派的观点(当然也包括赵鼎新教授对您的批判)您怎么看呢?

彭慕然:诺斯提出的“制度经济学”概念非常的重要,但是它过于狭隘,甚至于有些过于僵化。我认为,这种僵化(包括你提及过的赵的观点)在于毫无道理地认为,在各种情况下,相同类型的制度都是最理想的。从可以在现实世界抽象出理论模型的经济学角度看 ,你当然可以认为,一系列的制度运作可以应对各种情况,但是现实情况并不是这样。《大分流》尤其想要说明的是,在一定情况下,一系列的制度运作可以发挥作用,但是在其他情况下,这样的制度则不行。

中国在长期的统治中意识到,要比较充分地维持北方边境的成本非常高,仅凭华北的财力物力,根本无力承担。维持边境所需的军队规模、首都的规模都远远超出了华北所能产出的农业剩余(agricultural surplus)

如果你在18世纪初或18世纪50年代问那些汉人士大夫,新疆、蒙古、东北甚至像云南的部分山区,都能说是你所处世界的一部分吗?他们会说:当然不是

我认为新清史的缺点在于,他们能够解释为何清朝可以在1683年至1759年将版图扩大了两倍,但却无法解释那些区域在清朝走向衰落以后,为何依然是中国的一部分。要理解这个问题,你需要了解汉人精英阶层为何会认为,那些地方是国家的一部分。这种观点并不是自然而然就出现的。
qing  book  nation  mentality  china  comparison  economy  england  debate  research  theory 
september 2018 by aries1988
The evidence is in: there is no language instinct – Vyvyan Evans | Aeon Essays
Our brains really are ‘language-ready’ in the following limited sense: they have the right sort of working memory to process sentence-level syntax, and an unusually large prefrontal cortex that gives us the associative learning capacity to use symbols in the first place. Then again, our bodies are language-ready too: our larynx is set low relative to that of other hominid species, letting us expel and control the passage of air. And the position of the tiny hyoid bone in our jaws gives us fine muscular control over our mouths and tongues, enabling us to make as many as the 144 distinct speech sounds heard in some languages.
brain  language  baby  biology  research  linguist  debate  theory  gene  from instapaper
september 2018 by aries1988
National Institute of Aerospace/ Computational Fluid Dynamics Seminar
A place to share ideas and problems for barrier-breaking developments
cfd  seminar  resource  research 
september 2018 by aries1988
刘瑜:纵向的文明比较更有意义
所有文化都是流变的,尤其是在经济快速发展的全球化时代。西方的过去和现在有巨大差异,中国的过去和现在也有很大差异。当我们谈论“中西差异”的时候,我们是在谈论什么时候的西方?什么时候的中国?抱着一种固化的观点看待地区性文明,很可能妨碍我们理解这个世界的走向。
comparison  metier  research  politologue  china  west 
august 2018 by aries1988
一席 | 演讲 李乾朗 穿墙透壁
#建筑 /广州/2017.03.19
这么伟大的古建筑,我总觉得不能独享,不如画给你们看。
圆和方
architecture  chinese  history  research  drawing  idea  book  taiwan 
july 2018 by aries1988
由劍橋生化博士到初創企業家,她要用AI推翻科學知識的高牆 |端傳媒 Initium Media
「我希望人工智能和網絡可以協助更多人發現和學習到最新的科學知識,正如你可以去YouTube找尋怎樣修理你的咖啡機一樣。」
entrepreneurial  ai  research  academia 
july 2018 by aries1988
Cancer’s Invasion Equation | The New Yorker
Rather than viewing invasiveness as a quality intrinsic to a cancer, researchers needed to consider invasiveness as a pathological relationship between an organism and an environment. “Together, cancer cells and host cells form an ecosystem,” Pienta reminded the audience. “Initially, the cancer cells are an invasive species to a new niche or environment. Eventually, the cancer-cell-host-cell interactions create a new environment.” Ask not just what the cancer is doing to you, Pienta was saying. Ask what you are doing to the cancer.

There are important consequences of taking soil as well as seed into account. Among the most successful recent innovations in cancer therapeutics is immunotherapy, in which a patient’s own immune system is activated to target cancer cells.

This is medicine’s “denominator problem.” The numerator is you—the person who gets ill. The denominator is everyone at risk, including all the other passengers who were exposed. Numerators are easy to study. Denominators are hard. Numerators come to the doctor’s office, congested and miserable. They get blood tests and prescriptions. Denominators go home from the subway station, heat up dinner, and watch “The Strain.” The numerator persists. The denominator vanishes.

We err toward risk aversion, even at the cost of bodily damage; we don’t learn what would happen if we did nothing. It was a classic “denominator” problem, but my response seemed supremely unsatisfactory.

Perhaps we all gave up. Considering the limitations of our knowledge, methods, and resources, our field may have had no choice but to submit to the lacerations of Occam’s razor, at least for a while. It was only natural that many cancer biologists, confronting the sheer complexity of the whole organism, trained their attention exclusively on our “pathogen”: the cancer cell.

we physicians have been drawn to the toggle-switch model of disease and health: the biopsy was positive; the blood test was negative; the scans find “no evidence of disease.” Good germs, bad germs. Ecologists, meanwhile, talk about webs of nutrition, predation, climate, topography, all subject to complex feedback loops, all context-dependent. To them, invasion is an equation, even a set of simultaneous equations.

the true meaning of “holistic”: to take the body, the organism, its anatomy, its physiology—this infuriatingly intricate web—as a whole
cancer  medicine  health  research 
july 2018 by aries1988
The Neuroscience of Pain

For scientists, pain has long presented an intractable problem: it is a physiological process, just like breathing or digestion, and yet it is inherently, stubbornly subjective—only you feel your pain. It is also a notoriously hard experience to convey accurately to others. Virginia Woolf bemoaned the fact that “the merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.” Elaine Scarry, in the 1985 book “The Body in Pain,” wrote, “Physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it.”For scientists, pain has long presented an intractable problem: it is a physiological process, just like breathing or digestion, and yet it is inherently, stubbornly subjective—only you feel your pain. It is also a notoriously hard experience to convey accurately to others. Virginia Woolf bemoaned the fact that “the merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.” Elaine Scarry, in the 1985 book “The Body in Pain,” wrote, “Physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it.”

“Things which all men know infallibly by their own perceptive experience, cannot be made plainer by words. Therefore, let Pain be spoken of simply as Pain.”

Meanwhile, as the historian Joanna Bourke has shown, in her book “The Story of Pain,” attempts to translate the McGill Pain Questionnaire into other languages have revealed the extent to which cultural context shapes language, which, in turn, shapes perception.

The self-reported nature of pain scores leads, inevitably, to their accuracy being challenged. “To have great pain is to have certainty,” Elaine Scarry wrote. “To hear that another person has pain is to have doubt.”

Pain was declared “the fifth vital sign” (alongside blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, and temperature), and the numerical scoring of pain became a standard feature of U.S. medical records, billing codes, and best-practice guides.

“It was just one of those serendipitous conversations that you find yourself in, where this whole area is opened up to you,” she told me. “It was, like, ‘God, this is everything I’ve been looking for. It’s got clinical application, interesting philosophy, and we know absolutely nothing.’ I thought, Right, that’s it, pain is going to be my thing.”

as they figured out the rules of the game, the ominous light began triggering more and more blood flow to a couple of regions—the anterior insula and the prefrontal cortices. These areas, Tracey and Ploghaus concluded, must be responsible for the anticipation of pain.

a somewhat horrifying experiment conducted by Laure Mazzola, a neurologist at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, in France.

Chronic pain, Tracey said, is now understood as “something new, with a life of its own, with its own biology and its own mechanisms, most of which we really don’t understand at all.”
mri  research  medical  future  pain 
july 2018 by aries1988
Twitter
RT : 'Labor shortage and low productivity were threatening the future of the Kato farm, on the Japanese island of Hokkai…
ai  video  japan  farming  population  crisis  youth  workforce  research  reportage  fromage  milk  robot  children  family  from twitter
may 2018 by aries1988
A Brand-New Version of Our Origin Story - The New York Times
It turns out that those herders contributed about half the genes of Northern European and British skeletons beginning around 5,000 years ago. Evidently, the herders somehow outbred or exterminated most of Europe’s original farmers. How on earth could small numbers of herders have overwhelmed dense farmer populations?

Archaeological and linguistic evidence had already shown that Polynesians can be traced back to the island of Taiwan.
book  human  origin  research  today  gene 
april 2018 by aries1988
Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao? | by Ian Johnson | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Their most prominent spokesperson is Sun Jingxian, a mathematician at Shandong University and Jiangsu Normal University. He attributes changes in China’s population during this period as due to faulty statistics, changes in how households were registered, and a series of other obfuscatory factors. His conclusion: famine killed only 3.66 million people. This contradicts almost every other serious effort at accounting for the effects of Mao’s changes.

According to Chang, Mao was responsible for 70 million deaths in peacetime—more than any other twentieth-century leader.

The peacetime adjective is significant because it gets Hitler out of the picture. But is starting a war of aggression less of a crime than launching economic policies that cause a famine?

How, finally, does Mao’s record compare to those of Hitler or Stalin? Snyder estimates that Hitler was responsible for between 11 million and 12 million noncombatant deaths, while Stalin was responsible for at least 6 million, and as many as 9 million if foreseeable deaths caused by deportation, starvation, and incarceration in concentration camps are included.

If one includes the combatant deaths, and the deaths due to war-related famine and disease, the numbers shoot up astronomically. The Soviet Union suffered upward of 8 million combatant deaths and many more due to famine and disease—perhaps about 20 million.

As for Hitler, should his deaths include the hundreds of thousands who died in the aerial bombardments of Germans cities? After all, it was his decision to strip German cities of anti-aircraft batteries to replace lost artillery following the debacle at Stalingrad.

Mao didn’t order people to their deaths in the same way that Hitler did, so it’s fair to say that Mao’s famine deaths were not genocide—in contrast, arguably, to Stalin’s Holodomor in the Ukraine, the terror-famine described by journalist and historian Anne Applebaum in Red Famine (2017). One can argue that by closing down discussion in 1959, Mao sealed the fate of tens of millions, but almost every legal system in the world recognizes the difference between murder in the first degree and manslaughter or negligence. Shouldn’t the same standards apply to dictators?

By contrast, Mao himself and his successors have always realized that he was both China’s Lenin and its Stalin.

In Xi’s way of looking at China, the country had roughly thirty years of Maoism and thirty years of Deng Xiaoping’s economic liberalization and rapid growth. Xi has warned that neither era can negate the other; they are inseparable.
comparison  dictator  leader  china  soviet  nazi  history  today  death  disaster  famine  numbers  research  narrative  mao  debate  ethic  from instapaper
february 2018 by aries1988
We Know How You Feel
just as the increasing scarcity of oil has led to more exotic methods of recovery, the scarcity of attention, combined with a growing economy built around its exchange, has prompted R. & D. in the mining of consumer cognition. “What people in the industry are saying is ‘I need to get people’s attention in a shorter period of time,’ so they are trying to focus on capturing the intensity of it,” Teixeira explained. “People who are emotional are much more engaged. And because emotions are ‘memory markers’ they remember more. So the idea now is shifting to: how do we get people who are feeling these emotions?”
emotion  business  research  story  egypt  female  scientist  startup  robot  ai  future  from instapaper
february 2018 by aries1988
The red and green specialists: why human colour vision is so odd | Aeon Ideas
Most mammals rely on scent rather than sight. Look at a dog’s eyes, for example: they’re usually on the sides of its face, not close together and forward-facing like ours. Having eyes on the side is good for creating a broad field of vision, but b...
comparison  human  eye  color  perception  biology  insect  evolution  research  theory 
february 2018 by aries1988
改写数学历史的百万美元大奖
具体的,克雷研究所把这个百万美元大奖问题分为两个问题:

初值问题(柯西问题):如果给定初始的速度和压力的解是有限的,证明存在或者不存在有限的速度场和压力场(且整体的能量是有界的)符合NS方程;

周期问题:如果给定初始的速度和压力的解是周期的,证明存在或者不存在周期的速度场和压力场(且整体的能量是有界的)符合NS方程;

两个问题的解还要保证空间能量的有界。

最通俗的解释就是:对于一个没有任何障碍物、突然改变的能量等突发事件,是否存在一个光滑的解。

更通俗但不严谨的解释就是:数学家们无法求解这个方程。

2007年,陶哲轩写了一篇文章名为“Why global regularity for Navier-Stokes is hard”的博客。在这篇文章中,他认为求解类似NS方程这种的偏微分方程组就像寻找一个大尺度的定量的可以模化的特性,来对不可以预测的行为进行限定。

然而在NS方程描述的流体运动中,并不存在这样一个大尺度的变量。唯一存在的就是流体的全部动能,以及流体内由于摩擦消耗的少部分能量。虽然这些使我们明确知道的,但是这并不是我们理解NS方程的建设性方向。

如果NS方程真的要被求解,要么发现这样一种大尺度的变量来控制全局的能量防止blow-up,要么我们需要一种全新的数学方法来理解。
fluid  mechanics  explained  maths  research 
december 2017 by aries1988
How the Index Card Cataloged the World

Carl Linnaeus, the father of biological taxonomy, also had a hand in inventing this tool for categorizing anything. An Object Lesson.

The index card was a product of the Enlightenment, conceived by one of its towering figures: Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, physician, and the father of modern taxonomy.

The Swedish scientist is more often credited with another invention: binomial nomenclature, the latinized two-part name assigned to every species.

species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom.
enlightenment  tool  nature  knowledge  epistemic  botany  research  history 
december 2017 by aries1988
Medicine’s Burning Question
“Inflammation is the final common pathway for pretty much all chronic diseases,” he told me. His recommended solution is an “anti-inflammatory diet”—omitting sugar, caffeine, beans, dairy, gluten, and processed foods, as well as taking a variety of supplements, including probiotics, fish oil, Vitamins C and D, and curcumin, a key molecule in turmeric.
question  medicine  research  theory  body  cancer  from instapaper
december 2017 by aries1988
Why post-sex cuddles and pillowtalk count for more than orgasm | Aeon Essays
As Martin Portner, a neurologist living in Brazil, wrote in Scientific American Mind in 2008, people need more than arousal to experience an orgasm: ‘It requires a release of inhibitions and control in which the brain’s centre of vigilance shuts down in males; in females, various areas of the brain involved in controlling thoughts and emotions become silent.’
brain  sex  couple  love  research  scientist 
november 2017 by aries1988
专访王柯:极端的民族主义,一定是与世界为敌|深度|端传媒 Initium Media
实际上,本身中华文化是多重的,其最早就是由不同的异民族创造,并不是汉人自己创造的文化,而是来自于异民族向这个地方的移动。他们到达之后,为了说明自己建立政权的正当性,用神话来解释自己的历史,才导致了“权威的产生”。

夏商周三代,都是异民族开始的政权,他们到中原来建立政权的时候,就一定要对中原的人说他们建立政权的正当性。说明正当性的方法是什么呢?就是天命,我们应天命而来。

所以在清朝,北京叫顺天,南京叫应天,满洲就叫奉天。

所谓的天,日本说的“天无私照”,这就是日本的大神──“天照大神”的来源。所以实际上,向心力不是别的东西,其实就是一种对公平正义平等的向往。

最后,我对民族主义深恶痛绝。

也许从小的方面来看,对一个民族或有好处,但从整体来看,民族主义一定是需要敌人的。这个角度来看,我对中国过去通过民族主义来建国这条路,是深恶痛绝的。
opinion  research  politics  history  china  chinese  japan  nation  state  religion  ethnic  crisis  bio 
november 2017 by aries1988
Letter of Recommendation In-Flight Movies
Crying on planes is so common that it has prompted cheeky “weep warnings” on Virgin Atlantic flights and myriad articles trying to understand why we do it. The most accepted explanation is a simple confluence of altitude, loneliness and the heightened emotions that accompany the humiliating experience that is modern air travel.
fun  plane  travel  sadness  cry  research  moi  brain  shame  from instapaper
november 2017 by aries1988
Les bénéfices d’une alimentation bio pour la santé

Ils observent ainsi que la consommation fréquente ou exclusive de produits bio durant la grossesse et durant l’enfance est associée à une prévalence moindre d’allergies et d’eczéma chez les enfants. Elle entraîne aussi une baisse du risque de pré-éclampsie – une poussée brutale de la pression artérielle lors de la grossesse qui peut entraîner un accouchement prématuré, voire un décès de la mère.

En Europe, l’exposition aux pesticides organophosphorés entraînerait chaque année la perte de 13 millions de points de QI, représentant une valeur de 125 milliards d’euros, soit 1 % du produit intérieur brut européen.
bio  research  health 
november 2017 by aries1988
Why Is This Deer Licking This Fox? - The Atlantic
Then again, it might be misguided to say what all deer on an island do in the first place. “More and more, we’re recognizing that, just like us, animals have different personalities,” Roemer says. “Sometimes they do bizarre things.” While working on one of the Channel Islands, he befriended an exuberant island fox named Josie, who made a game of goading a nature conservancy’s surly hunting dog into chasing her up trees.

So maybe it was an especially bold buck and a uniquely lonely fox that met under that fading afternoon sun on Santa Catalina Island. They neared each other in the brush of the only land they’ve ever known. And when they were close enough to touch, they were both filled with enough wonder to decide: why not?
fun  animal  research  friend 
october 2017 by aries1988
Joe DiMaggio Babysat My Daughter at the Airport | Reader's Digest
She was very, very upset. She said, “I can’t believe you’ve let this family come apart. I can’t believe this child will grow up without a father.” (Which was never true and has never been true since.)
story  luck  destiny  airport  parents  children  career  research  university  couple  marriage 
october 2017 by aries1988
Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild.

As close as wolf and dog are — some scientists classify them as the same species — there are differences. Physically, wolves’ jaws are more powerful. They breed only once a year, not twice, as dogs do. And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever I-love-all-humans level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

Dog puppies will quickly attach to any human within reach. Even street dogs that have had some contact with people at the right time may still be friendly.

Some recent research has suggested that dog friendliness may be the result of something similar to Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder in humans that causes hyper-sociability, among other symptoms. People with the syndrome seem friendly to everyone, without the usual limits.

As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

whether a delay in social development in a dog’s early life could explain the difference between wolves and dogs

That’s very important, because both wolves and dogs go through a critical period as puppies when they explore the world and learn who their friends and family are.

With wolves, that time is thought to start at about two weeks, when the wolves are deaf and blind. Scent is everything.

In dogs, it starts at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear. Dr. Lord thinks this shift in development, allowing dogs to use all their senses, might be key to their greater ability to connect with human beings.

Perhaps with more senses in action, they are more able to generalize from tolerating individual humans with a specific scent to tolerating humans in general with a scent, sight and sound profile.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.
quebec  wolf  zoo  dog  biology  gene  animal  evolution  human  comparison  research  scientist  experiment  development  baby  from instapaper
october 2017 by aries1988
Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild. - The New York Times
No one will run to make one of these wolves chase him for fun. No one will pretend to chase the wolf. Every experienced wolf caretaker will stay alert. Because if there’s one thing all wolf and dog specialists I’ve talked to over the years agree on, it is this: No matter how you raise a wolf, you can’t turn it into a dog.

And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever “I-love-all-humans” level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.

Even with fur, teeth and claws, the pups were still hungry and helpless, and I couldn’t help but remember holding my own children when they took a bottle. I suspect that tiger kittens and the young of wolverines are equally irresistible. It’s a mammal thing.
wolf  story  reportage  zoo  animal  human  dog  comparison  research 
october 2017 by aries1988
BBC - Future - How flying seriously messes with your mind
There are some studies, however, that show even relatively mild levels of hypoxia (deficiency in oxygen) can alter our ability to think clearly.

Human night vision can deteriorate by 5-10% at altitudes of just 5,000ft (1.5km). This is because the photoreceptor cells in the retina needed to see in the dark are extremely oxygen-hungry and can struggle to get all they need at a high altitude, causing them to work less effectively.

as the change in air pressure can also lead to passengers breaking wind more often.
biology  travel  health  psychology  brain  plane  research  fun  body 
october 2017 by aries1988
Are We Ready for Intimacy with Robots?

Hiroshi Ishi­guro builds robots. Beautiful, realistic, uncannily convincing human replicas. His quest? Untangle the ineffable nature of human connection.

in Japan: the Advanced Telecommuni­cations Research Institute International in Nara and the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory on the campus of Osaka University.

Hiroshi Ishi­guro

the capacity to imbue such a machine with humanness—that ineffable presence the Japanese call sonzai-kan.

Ishi­guro believes that since we’re hardwired to interact with and place our faith in humans, the more humanlike we can make a robot appear, the more open we’ll be to sharing our lives with it.

He is convinced that human emotions, whether empathy or romantic love, are nothing more than responses to stimuli, subject to manipulation. Through the fluid interplay of its pneumatic joints, the arch of its mechanical brow, the tilt of its plastic skull, the many subtle movements achieved through years of research studying the human template, the android becomes more able to span that gap, to form a perfectly engineered bond with us. An elaborate metaphysical trick, perhaps—but what does that matter, if it fills a need? If it feels real?

Designed with the physical proportions that its human owner prefers, the preferred voice timbre and eye color and personality type, and the ability to recall and riff on its owner’s personal stories and little jokes, android will captivate human.

someone would be left alone in their advanced age to relive the joy of having a child through the cradling of a robot with stunted limbs.

The countless ways in which we judge someone based on their appearance all evaporate in the face of this neutral appearance, as Hiroshi calls the Telenoid’s blank, abstract body. And what is left in its place is that ineffable thing he has been trying to define: a distinctly human presence, free of the uncanny. It is an outsider, like its maker—but one who manages to trigger our affection. While holding the android, it hardly matters that this humanness is emitting from something that barely resembles a human at all.
human  body  android  idea  research  thinking  history  japan  japanese  reportage  interview  invention  story  emotion  office  journalism  from instapaper
october 2017 by aries1988
Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers
Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say
environment  entomology  crisis  science  research  numbers  earth  europe 
october 2017 by aries1988
Aerodynamics For Cognition | Edge.org
By studying how birds fly and the structure of their wings, you can learn something important about aerodynamics. And what you learn about aerodynamics is equally relevant to then being able to make jet engines.                                 

The kind of work that I do is focused on trying to identify the equivalent of aerodynamics for cognition. What are the real abstract mathematical principles that constrain intelligence? What can we learn about those principles by studying human beings? 

We already do this to some extent. If you’ve ever used the strategy of gamification, where you’re using an app or something that gives you points for completing tasks, or if you make a to-do list and you get satisfaction from checking things off, what you’re doing is essentially using this external device as a mechanism for changing the environment that you’re in.

What machine-learning algorithms do when they're solving this problem is recognize that the thing you should be doing is exploring more when you first arrive in the city and exploiting more the longer you are in the city. The value of that new information decreases over time. You're less likely to find a place that is better than the places you've seen so far, and the number of opportunities that you're going to have to exploit that knowledge is decreasing.

My colleague Alison Gopnik, who has been pursuing this, has a hypothesis about cognitive development. When we look at children, that variability and randomness that we see is exactly a rational response to the structure of the problems they're trying to solve. If they're trying to figure out what are the things in their environment that they will most enjoy, then putting everything in their mouth is a pretty good strategy in terms of maximizing their exploration.

In the first half of the 20th century, it was disreputable to try to study how the mind works because minds were things that you never saw or touched or intervened on. What you could see was behavior and the environment that induces that behavior, so the behaviorist psychologists said, "Let's get rid of the mind. Let's just focus on these mappings from environment to behavior." That's where a lot of behavioral data science is. If I show you this, then you click on this. If you've seen these webpages, then you're likely to go to this webpage. It's a very behaviorist conception of what underlies the way that people are acting.

In Australia, in the last year of high school, you have to make a decision about what you want to study at university. It was 1994, I was sixteen years old, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew that I liked math, but I certainly didn't want to make a commitment to doing that for the rest of my life. I said, "Okay, I'll study the things that we don't know anything about—philosophy, psychology, anthropology." That was what I went to university to do.

One of the ways in which human beings still outperform computers is in being able to solve problems of reasoning about why you did the thing you did, what you're going to do next, what the underlying reasons were behind things that you did.

We as human beings are used to being surrounded by intelligent systems whose thoughts are opaque to us. It's just that normally those intelligent systems are human beings.
ai  thinking  research  human  interaction  communication  motivation  consciousness  brain  maths 
october 2017 by aries1988
匈奴与匈牙利_战争史研究WHS_新浪博客
有一种十七世纪源自法国的观点认为,今日的匈牙利人是昔日侵袭欧洲的匈人的后代,而匈人就是从中国北方西迁的北匈奴人。但是在西方史学界,北匈奴后裔是否成为入侵欧洲的匈人尚无定论。这主要是因为缺乏DNA方面的证据。法国和匈牙利遗传学者利用在蒙古国出土的古匈奴贵族遗骸进行Y染色体、线粒体和常染色体DNA分析,结果证明古代中国北方的匈奴人和今日蒙古人为延续世系,但是和在欧洲出土的古匈人贵族遗骸却并没有明显的血缘对应关系。
hungary  hun  research  history 
october 2017 by aries1988
The unexpected benefits of getting lost in translation | Aeon Ideas
Applying the noisy-channel idea to understanding L2 speakers, we can think of the errors in non-native English as a noisier language model than a native-speaker model. Listeners expect more errors and are therefore more likely to think that L2 speakers mean something sensible when they say something implausible. But if a native speaker says something nonsensical, listeners are more likely to take them literally, because they know their language model has less noise. Kissinger was advising Huffington that, given her accent, listeners would likely give her the benefit of the doubt.
fun  research  language  gaijin  accent  moi  communication 
october 2017 by aries1988
To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it | Aeon Ideas

To open our minds, we need to go back to basics and consider the fundamental conditions that are necessary for life. First, it needs some form of energy, such as from volcanic hot springs or hydrothermal vents. That would seem to rule out any planets or moons lacking a strong source of internal heat. Life also needs protection from space radiation, such as an atmospheric ozone layer.

Finally, everything we know about life indicates that it requires some kind of liquid solvent in which chemical interactions can lead to self-replicating molecules. Water is exceptionally effective in that regard. It facilitates making and breaking chemical bonds, assembling proteins or other structural molecules, and – for an actual organism – feeding and getting rid of waste.

Meanwhile, another Saturn moon, Titan, could tell us whether life can arise without liquid water. Titan is dotted with lakes of methane and ethane, filled by a seasonal hydrocarbon rain.

If you think of the spectrum like a set of venetian blinds, there are only a few slats removed.
life  planet  research  astronomy  biology  from instapaper
september 2017 by aries1988
The Secret Economic Lives of Animals

Economists study human behavior. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog, Adam Smith sniffed in The Wealth of Nations.
economy  animal  research  debate  from instapaper
august 2017 by aries1988
为什么Duang字写不出来_新浪河北文化艺术_新浪河北
  如果注意观察的话,就可以发现duang远远不是汉语中仅有的不存在音节。拼得出来却根本不存在的音节多得简直不甚枚举,如báng、dén、kī、hō、puáng、tǖ、chēi等等。事实上,普通话有22个声母39个韵母4个声调(根据处理方式不同会有小的偏差),若用简单连乘可排列出3432种可能的音节,但实际中所使用的不过1300余个,尚且不到可能数值的一半。即类似duang这样声母韵母都存在但整个音节不存在的情况非但不罕见,甚至可被视为汉语语音系统的主流,真正存在的音节反倒是少数。

 在上古时代,汉语只允许-u-在g、k、h等舌根音后出现,其他声母后都不能跟-u-介音。
chinese  language  research 
august 2017 by aries1988
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