Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reversing Memory Loss?

This is a fascinating article from The Independent about doctors electrically stimulating a 50-year-old man's brain caused old memories to flood back in vivid detail.

The accidental breakthrough came during an experiment originally intended to suppress the obese man's appetite, using the increasingly successful technique of deep-brain stimulation. Electrodes were pushed into the man's brain and stimulated with an electric current. Instead of losing appetite, the patient instead had an intense experience of déjà vu. He recalled, in intricate detail, a scene from 30 years earlier. More tests showed his ability to learn was dramatically improved when the current was switched on and his brain stimulated.


Professor Lozano said: "This is the first time that anyone has had electrodes implanted in the brain which have been shown to improve memory. We are driving the activity of the brain by increasing its sensitivity – turning up the volume of the memory circuits. Any event that involves the memory circuits is more likely to be stored and retained."
What they don't say in the article is that, as the electrical current was increased, the man forgot the alphabet and asked the scientists, “Can you tell me what kind of cow I am?” At higher currents he simply began yelling “Turn it off! Turn it off!”

Hoary Pogonotrophy

I'm engaged in hoary pogonotrophy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What Have You Changed Your Mind About? Why?

This is a fascinating question that was discussed in these articles.

Those sites are in increasing order of origin, I believe.

The gist I got is that asking a person this question leads to interesting and important insight at least about the “scientific” aspects of their background. Note that this means scientific in a general sense of thinking and learning, more so than as, say, a professional scientist.

Now I just need to answer the question myself. I'm not sure I have an answer yet. I'll see what I can come up with and report back here.

Two Shared Items Pages from Google Reader

Arg. Okay, I'm now reading, and thus posting, from two different Google Reader accounts. This means I now have two Shared Items pages. Both links are to the right: Shared Google Reader and More Shared Reader. It may be worth looking at both of them.

Maybe someday I'll reorganize my Google life to allow reading and posting from one of them. I might be close to that now.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Build a Computer from the Ground Up

This looks like a really neat book! It teaches you how a computer works while building one (using emulators) starting with logic gates and ending with software. Recommendations are high.

The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles
by Noam Nisan and Shimon Schocken, The MIT Press, 2005.

At Amazon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Laser HDTV

Laser TVs are something we've imagined and anticipated for some time. Now, here's an HDTV version. Maybe there were standard laser TVs in the past that I've just missed.

If this is what I think it is, a TV raster image created with scanned lasers, then I think it has important implications for applications. I was going to suggest what some of those implications were but the more I thought about it just now, the more I realized maybe it's not as straightforward as I thought. More thinking required. 8-/

Monday, January 07, 2008

Human Tetris!

From the It Doesn't Take Much to Entertain Me department: Human Tetris on Youtube.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Python Videos by Jeff Rush

I've only watched this first video, but I found it to be an outstanding first look and code walk through of a simple Python script. It's from a series of videos by Jeff Rush which seem to be quite well done. Check it out and note how powerful a simple Python program can be. The presentation is very well done.

He does use a couple of advanced features:
  • Compiled regular expressions
  • A list comprehension
I'm curious to know if you found they made the example more difficult to follow, or if they were easy to understand.