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TheVat last won the day on January 17

TheVat had the most liked content!


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  • Location
    Western U.S.
  • Interests
    Biology, AI, Cognitive Sciences, philosophy, and ego-deflating attempts to understand current physics
  • College Major/Degree
    Biology, Information Science
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Life Sciences

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Molecule (6/13)



  1. I think they redid the Miller-Urey xp recently and one issue raised was about the original flask material, which was a borosilicate glass. IIRC other flask materials didn't work nearly as well, not having silica. The pH of the original xp was high enough (despite Pyrex's reputation for inertness) to dissolve out some of the silica(!). Will see if I can find the article... Here it is, in SciAm.... https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/redo-of-a-famous-experiment-on-the-origins-of-life-reveals-critical-detail-missed-for-decades/
  2. My pic said "Tonga Geological Services" on the right margin, which I figured was fairly self-explanatory. However, your reasonable comment did remind me that if someone looked at this in a few years and didn't see the margin credit, they might wonder what event they were seeing. The figure I heard for the force of the explosion was ten megatons, btw. As for PhD dissertations, I wouldn't be surprised if a grad student somewhere will write one using data collected from this eruption.
  3. At least give a CONDENSED version, so this thread doesn't EVAPORATE. Sorry.
  4. I have two grandparents born in Scandinavia, but am not sufficiently fond of cold (live in South Dakota, so it's nothing new to me, either), 20 hour nights, or those countries. In a civil war here, I would probably just hunker down. (what's a bit ironic is that one of my relatives was a polar explorer)
  5. You mean like, say, 90 posts on Jesus clogging up a science website? I think I would value such a block, too. 😀
  6. I get occasional visits from the black dog. From personal experience, and observation, I would say vitamin D is a help (winters can be quite intense here, so the need is there). B complex helps some - had a relative who found them very stabilizing of mood. (He had had alcohol issues, so I think B12 was particularly helpful in his case) I also am impressed by the therapeutic value of humor (UK and Upside-down people feel free to add a "u"). I was recently listing funny moments from film/tv with an online group which was assembling a sort of antidepressant viewing regimen, everything from Buster Keaton and the Marx brothers, to Seinfeld and the Coen brothers. What was interesting was how we all found that simple recollection, alone, was quite a mood elevator. And it's often material that is quite silly (M Python, e.g.) and/or quite transgressive, that sticks in the mind and produces belly laughs. One should not shy away from the low brow (Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello, e.g.) just because it lacks sophistication. The monumental idiocy of Otto in "A Fish Called Wanda," or the campfire flatulence scene in "Blazing Saddles," often have powerful antidepressant qualities that witty repartee may lack. I remember laughing insanely at Eric Idle's famous reply in MPatHG, when someone asks how he could tell Arthur was a king. "He hasn't got s-t all over him."
  7. You would think a tennis player could grasp the social contract concept of "your freedom to swing your arms stops at my nose." Then again, my country produced John McEnroe so I'm aware of the ease with which tennis stars turn into brats.
  8. I loved "Longitude"! Sobel made more sense out of navigation, timekeeping and related topics than anything else I've read. I second BC's recommendation.
  9. I think signal transmission does, yes, have a digital aspect, but the neuron itself is analogue. While it is true that a neuron generates an action potential or it doesn't, which is the digital aspect, there are subthreshold voltages that seem to play a role... https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aaj1497 Here is a less technical article on that... https://neurofantastic.com/brain/2017/4/13/brain-computation-is-a-lot-more-analog-than-we-thought I agree that AI is achieving better digital models of a brain, but just saying we should not rush to any conclusions that analog function is not significant in conscious brain activity. This is a good thread. I will try to get back to this with a little more preparation, as I'm a little rusty.
  10. What is Real, by Adam Becker. Fascinating history of quantum foundations, with particular attention to those who pushed back against the long dominance of Copenhagen.
  11. What do you think of universal grammar theories, which hold that aspects of our language, like syntax and certain concepts of relation and space, are innate in humans? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_grammar To me, "abstract" is a better term than digital to describe human language. We compress things, reduce them to an abstraction, a symbol set, which can convey quite a bit of continuous experience. We say "I went hiking in the Spring," and that stands for quite a complex and rich experience. We hear "the postman rang," and we immediately grasp that the postman did not turn herself into a bell-like device, but rather that she was making her rounds and stopped at the house, and rang the doorbell, in order to make a special delivery which required a signature. Abstraction and compression seems to be at the heart of our language. And the brain that does language is a composite of both analog and digital operations, so it gets confusing if we describe large-scale cognitive activities as being one or the other. https://news.yale.edu/2006/04/12/brain-communicates-analog-and-digital-modes-simultaneously
  12. Three guys walk into a bar. A witness on the sidewalk says, "ouch, that must have hurt!"
  13. Heh. I don't think that's what Chomsky meant by Universal Grammar. Seems to conflate laws of nature with concepts that are hardwired in some biological entities. (that old Kantian a priori stuff) Langan, a former bar bouncer with little formal education, seems to do this kind of projection a lot. Seems to me that people have semantics, but the universe has only syntax. Like entropic arrow of time. https://ctmucommunity.org/wiki/Cognitive-Theoretic_Model_of_the_Universe
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