November 14, 2008

links for 2008-11-14

Filed under: 15 — Bricoleur @ 8:03 pm
  • If one wishes to change the world, one must first change oneself. This was one of Heinz von Foerster’s profound teachings and one that has great applicability today as it seems that many aspects of our lives threaten to spiral out of control. Here in Ontario, which is one of the more tranquil areas on earth, we have had continuing security fall-out from the World Trade Center attack, the Walkerton water system’s e-coli contamination, SARS, a computer leasing scandal in city government and the electricity black-out in August. All appeared to be catastrophes or anomalies but, upon examination, all have been found to be events that we could have, and should have, been better prepared to meet. All the subsequent examinations exposed failures to see the whole picture and to respond with requisite variety when the first sign of trouble appeared.
  • A mathematical analysis of the experiments showed that the proteins themselves acted to correct any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations and restored the chain to working order.
  • Prediction: self-promoting hype meets interdisciplinary ignorance

    Category: Evolution
    Posted on: November 12, 2008 8:54 AM, by PZ Myers

    There is a maddeningly vague press release floating around, and I think everybody has sent me a link to it now. It contains a claim by some chemists that they have discovered a new organizing principle in evolution.

  • A team of Princeton University scientists has discovered that chains of proteins found in most living organisms act like adaptive machines, possessing the ability to control their own evolution, which appears to offer evidence of a hidden mechanism guiding the way biological organisms respond to the forces of natural selection, provides a new perspective on evolution.
  • There are two basic problems to be solved — "What has caused these problems and how can they be solved?" and, "If solutions do exist, are they compatible with humankind's happiness?"
    Both of these problems must be analyzed based upon the careful analysis of human nature. This paper first discusses the problem of what aspect of human nature is relevant to the ceaseless increase of energy use and how such aspects can be utilized to evade the problem. The analysis of the human feeling of happiness will then be presented to examine if the life of decreased use of energy is compatible with the human nature.
  • One of UNESCO's major missions is to promote closer linkages between scientific knowledge and policy-making.

    The work of Mihajlo D. Mesarovic, David L. McGinnis and Dalton A. West … an important contribution to the effort … of "bridging the gap between science and decision-makers". The authors propose a new paradigm, applied in this case to the area of global change, but which can be adapted for application in other important fields, such as population, migrations, employment, etc.: It aims at replacing the input/ output paradigm, generally used in research and policy analysis, by a paradigm the authors refer to as cybernetic and reflexive. In their words, what is proposed is an "integrated assessment, as a process of reasoning about the global future, based on decision support methodologies in which an ensemble of models are used and the human factor is "put inside the models", to represent goal-seeking (adaptive) behaviour and account for non-measurable aspects".

  • For the first time EVER, galaxy researchers have taken pictures of planets orbiting a sun-star, much like our own. The first, taken by the much beloved Hubble Telescope, shows a planet orbiting the bright southern star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Australis. The second picture, snapped by upstaging Hawaiian observatories Gemini and Keck, shows two young planets orbiting a completely different star located 130 light-years from us! Take that Hubble! But I warn you—like the ultrasounds your friends show you of their three-month old fetus—these pictures wow mostly because of what they are, not because of what they look like
    (tags: astronomy)

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