Archive for October, 2011

Mathematiques – un depaysement soudain

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

“fractal breakfast at Tiffany’s” , by Rodriguez de la Mär

There seems to be currently an interesting exhibition at Foundation Cartier in Paris called “Mathematiques – un depaysement soudain” (a sudden change of scenery). It is a collaboration between mathematicians and artists. The exhibitions english website says that:

Visitors may continue to experience this “sudden change of scenery” via the exhibition catalog, an iPad application, the Fondation Cartier website, as well as by attending a series of events, the Nights of Uncertainty.

I couldn’t yet figure out how one can “continue the experience via the Fondation Cartier website” that is apart from the above mentioned french exhibition announcement and its english translation there seems sofar not so much more online and the flash plugin crashes regularily. But who knows ? – eventually the plan ist that Fondation Cartier thinks of revamping existing websites related to math and art like e.g. the Voro Wiki?

about the anticipation casino

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Maggie Koerth-Baker was today blogging about an interesting popular science video in the field of neuroscience. In the video Stanfort professor Robert Sapolsky explains experiments with monkeys which investigate the role of anticipation and dopamine levels.

In the experiments monkeys got a signal upon which they had to perform some task which was then in the turn rewarded. Measurements showed that high levels of dopamine occurred not as some people may suspect after the reward, but before the task – right when the signal was sent out. The experimenters then lowered the rate of getting a reward. It turned out that the monkeys had even higher levels of dopamine when there was only a fifty percent chance of getting a reward. Sapolsky also mentioned that humans seem to take a unique role in this “social engineering” experiments. That is if I understand him right then humans may even keep on working entirely without reward, when tuned “correctly”.

Unfortunately the talk is very, very short and I couldnt find a longer version. There was also no information given on how important the “rewards” were to the monkeys. Likewise I would have liked to hear something about the rapidity of lowering the reward with respect to the levels. That is I had suspected in this blogpost that it may not only be the dopamine level per se which appears to be important but the rate of change (and eventually the form of the rate of change) of the dopamine level which may be important (as this may eventually even lead to inhibiting the activation of the nucleus acumbens). That is I could imagine that e.g. lowering the reward levels too much or too fast, or to change the levels too often may result in different results than the ones given in the video.

Some “real life social engineering occurences” may point into that direction.

laptop heals

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

My laptop had been healed again! To my surprise and thanks to Cupertino the logic board and the hard disk were replaced without extra cost, this was not only great for me, but also for the children, which used it right away for watching movies and such. Please press thumbs that the laptop and in particular the NVIDIA graphic chip doesn’t break again!

supplement 6. Okt. 2011: We are sad to hear that Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple had died. Our condolences to family, friends, and colleagues.