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By Akira The Don on Saturday, September 14th, 2013

#RIDDIM and #BASE

From Io9:

If you place 32 metronomes on a static object and set them rocking out of phase with one another, they will remain that way indefinitely. Place them on a moveable surface, however, and something very interesting (and very mesmerizing) happens.

The metronomes in this video fall into the latter camp. Energy from the motion of one ticking metronome can affect the motion of every metronome around it, while the motion of every other metronome affects the motion of our original metronome right back. All this inter-metranome “communication” is facilitated by the board, which serves as an energetic intermediary between all the metronomes that rest upon its surface. The metronomes in this video (which are really just pendulums, or, if you want to get really technical, oscillators) are said to be “coupled.”

The math and physics surrounding coupled oscillators are actually relevant to a variety of scientific phenomena, including the transfer of sound and thermal conductivity. For a much more detailed explanation of how this works, and how to try it for yourself, check out this excellent video by condensed matter physicist Adam Milcovich.

[ikeguchiLab]

 

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— By Akira The Don on Saturday, September 14th, 2013

By Akira The Don on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

This is some very serious, high budget, purest INTERNETS right here.

Wired have the answers to that questions here.

— By Akira The Don on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

By Akira The Don on Friday, September 6th, 2013

#BASE

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— By Akira The Don on Friday, September 6th, 2013

By Akira The Don on Friday, September 6th, 2013

This appears to be some sort of Lynchian shindig. Let us hunt down the full video! Amen!

OH HERE IT IS! WOO!

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— By Akira The Don on Friday, September 6th, 2013

By Akira The Don on Thursday, September 5th, 2013

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From bbc.co.uk

Some birds, it seems, hold funerals for their dead.

When western scrub jays encounter a dead bird, they call out to one another and stop foraging.

The jays then often fly down to the dead body and gather around it, scientists have discovered.

The behaviour may have evolved to warn other birds of nearby danger, report researchers in California, who have published the findings in the journal Animal Behaviour.

The revelation comes from a study by Teresa Iglesias and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, US.

They conducted experiments, placing a series of objects into residential back yards and observing how western scrub jays in the area reacted.

The objects included different coloured pieces of wood, dead jays, as well as mounted, stuffed jays and great horned owls, simulating the presence of live jays and predators.

Alarming reaction

The jays reacted indifferently to the wooden objects.

But when they spied a dead bird, they started making alarm calls, warning others long distances away.

The jays then gathered around the dead body, forming large cacophonous aggregations. The calls they made, known as “zeeps”, “scolds” and “zeep-scolds”, encouraged new jays to attend to the dead.

The jays also stopped foraging for food, a change in behaviour that lasted for over a day.

[...]

Read the full article at: bbc.co.uk

— By Akira The Don on Thursday, September 5th, 2013

By Robert Core on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

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By Cynthia Fox from Bioscience Technology

A new study finds psychopaths do not lack empathy. They just possess the ability to turn it on and off—perhaps making some curable.

Critics say psychopaths only lack a certain form of empathy. Their ability to understand it is part of what makes them so dangerous.

“The findings are fascinating,” says Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door. The UK and Germany apparently agree, recently making a book by the new study’s author a Der Spiegel bestseller.

Psychopaths can be alternately charming and brutal. There is something real in both their “faces.”

For the new Brain study, psychopathic criminals, lying in MRI’s, watched videos of a person being hurt by someone else. Only when asked to imagine the receiver’s pain did appropriate areas in psychopaths’ brains—involving pain response—ignite in a way mirroring controls’.

Without instruction, psychopaths displayed reduced activity in brain regions associated with both pain and pleasure. “The vicarious activation of motor, somatosensory, and emotional brain regions was much lower in the patients with psychopathy… The (standard) theory seemed right: their empathy was reduced, and this could explain why they committed such terrible crimes without feeling guilt,” wrote Groningen University neuroscientist Christian Keysers in a Psychology Today article about his new Brain study. (Keysers’ new book is The Empathic Brain.)

But when the team showed movies after mandating empathy, “this simple instruction sufficed to boost the empathic activation in their brain to a level that was hard to distinguish from that of the healthy controls. Suddenly, the psychopaths seemed as empathic as the next guy. Their empathy was switched on.”

The finding may bring hope, Keysers added by email. “There is a fundamental difference between the capacity for empathy, which psychopaths have, and the propensity to always be empathic by default. If we can turn capacity into propensity, we could really help them.”

Some supporters note many therapists try this with psychopathic children. They tell kids how “mirror neurons” light up in the same brain areas of people watching others—and those being watched. (Keysers’ team pioneered mirror neuron research.) Such therapists tell patients that brain synchrony indicates they can empathize.

Others are less sure.

“It’s very important people not misunderstand,” says Stout. “Sadly, I don’t think the results speak to a cure. “

Studies of “disorders of consciencelessness,” she says, show that “psychopaths/sociopaths are often exceedingly charming, can ‘read’ people when it suits their purposes, and can learn (with calculated effort) to recognize and imitate overt signs of emotion in others. I find it interesting but not surprising that functional mirror neurons are present. Psychopaths can read other people if they choose.”

But, says Stout, “They just don’t usually choose to, because the tragic deficit appears to be the maldevelopment of the paralimbic system (the brain’s emotional area). This more general deficit prevents psychopaths from forming bonds to others, prevents them from loving or caring. Where emotion is concerned, psychopaths can see it in others when they make a concerted conscious effort. They just don’t care to do so unless they can use it to their own advantage.”

[...]

Read the full article at: biosciencetechnology.com

— By Robert Core on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013