Sunday, April 16, 2006

Links, Easter Edition

I've been busy, busy, busy; too busy for lengthy posts, but not too busy to link to some of the cool stuff out there in the blogosphere and beyond. And since it's Easter, I feel duty bound to start with this website in which ground-breaking Peeps research is described. I was particularly impressed with the findings of the "Reaction to heat" experiment, which led the researchers to conclude:

Furthermore, observations of Peep biochemistry indicate a molecular structure unlike any other terrestrial organisms yet encountered, leading to the obvious conclusion that Peeps are not of this world (Mulder & Scully, et. al. 1996). In addition, while early evolutionary biologists have suggested that the lack of variation in the peep population was due to an ancient bottleneck event, we suggest the more likely scenario of the founder effect phenomenon during terrestrial colonization.

Fascinating work.

Then, to continue with the Easter theme (while avoiding any religious content whatsoever, and throwing in a gratuitous link to Heo Cwaeth), Heo gives us Yeats' "Easter 1916," a poem about the characters of the 1916 Easter rebellion in Ireland, about which most of us probably know very little (I do know that the Germans provided the Irish with guns and ammo, and that it was bloody, though ultimately affective). But you don't need to know much about the historical event to grasp the message of ordinary people, bound by little more than a common homeland, can come together to do profound things. The attitudes of the poem present quite a contrast with contemporary American apathy. And besides, as Settembrini says in The Magic Mountain, literature is about beautiful words, and Yeats is a master of beautiful words.

OK, that's all the Easter I can stomach. Next up are two posts from John Hawks, the first of which links to a 1947 article on chimpanzee economics. The second is a link to this post at Afarensis on new world origins.

Then there's this post at Neurofuture, which links to a whole bunch of interesting science podcats, including one of V.S. Ramachandran discussing his work on aesthetics (which I blogged about long ago here, here, and here), and an interview with Michael Gazzaniga on "Ethics in the Age of Neuroscience."

And finally, I got an email the other day asking me about representation and memory retrieval. The email was from someone who works with two prominent cognitive scientists, who both work on representation and memory retrieval, so I suspect the emailer knows a little about the topic, and can learn about it from people who know a whole hell of a lot more about knowledge representation and memory than I do (or than just about everyone else, for that matter, since their work defines one way of modeling retrieval). Still, I think it might make for an interesting post, because how you theorize information is represented in memory, to a large extent, how you theorize information gets retrieved from memory, and that means it defines how you think about memory period. It would take several posts to lay out all of the issues, but I thought I might also approach it a different way. I'd been thinking about linking to classic or otherwise important papers in cognitive science, and seeing if people wanted to discuss them (perhaps over at the Yahoo group). So the first paper I'll try is John R. Anderson's "A spreading activation theory of memory." Anderson was the 2004 winner of the Rumelhart Prize, largely for his work on ACT cognitive architecture, and its later variants, and this paper presents the ACT theory of memory. If you want to read it and talk about it, then head on over to Yahoo.


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