Philosophy Unplugged: The Harmonia Philosophica notes

There is a constant need for new articles.

And the greatest problem a writer can have, is what is known as writer’s block.

The state where you have no inspiration whatsoever, regarding what to write.

Well, not me.

I have the exact opposite problem.

Too much to write.

So little space and time to publish.

Yesterday I sent to myself an email with various articles on which I could start writing something. By the time I got back home, I had written sketches of ideas for all of the articles I had. There is no time to organize them into full-blown articles. However I don’t want the ideas to be lost into permanent oblivion either.

So here they are…


Who knows?

I might be famous someday and these notes will be part of the few insight people will have on how the great philosopher – moi – was thinking. 😛

As married couples age, humor replaces bickering

Posted: 03 Dec 2018 03:53 PM PST

Honeymoon long over? Hang in there. A new study shows those prickly disagreements that can mark the early and middle years of marriage mellow with age as conflicts give way to humor and acceptance.

In the beginning everything is fine.

Then we start seeing the little details.

Until we stop seeing each other.


I will kill you!


Not if I look you first!


To detect new odors, fruit fly brains improve on a well-known computer algorithm

Posted: 03 Dec 2018 03:53 PM PST

It might seem like fruit flies would have nothing in common with computers, but new research reveals that the two identify novel information in similar ways. The work not only sheds light on an important neurobiological problem — how organisms detect new odors — but could also improve algorithms for novelty detection in computer science.

“When a fly smells an odor, the fly needs to quickly figure out if it has smelled the odor before, to determine if the odor is new and something it should pay attention to,” says Saket Navlakha, an assistant professor in Salk’s Integrative Biology Laboratory. “In computer science, this is an important task called novelty detection. Understanding how novelty detection strategies compare in both domains could give us valuable insights into both brain algorithms and computing.” The researchers suggest that their new framework could be useful in detecting duplicates or anomalies in large, streaming data sets, such as patient databases or news stories.

When a search engine such as Google crawls the Web, it needs to know whether a website it comes across has previously been indexed, so that it doesn’t waste time indexing the same site again. The problem is there are trillions of websites on the Web, and storing all of them in memory is computationally expensive. In the 1970s, Howard Bloom at MIT devised a data structure that can store a large database of items compactly. Instead of storing each item in the database in its entirety, a Bloom filter stores a small “fingerprint” of each item using only a few bits of space per item. By checking whether the same fingerprint appears twice in the database, a system can quickly determine whether the item is a duplicate or something novel.

Fruit flies are well known to change their behavior in response to novel odors. A region in the fly brain, called the mushroom body, contains a collection of neurons that processes olfactory information. When a new odor is experienced, these neurons broadcasta “novelty alert” signal so the fly knows this odor is new and worth investigating. If the odor, however, does not have a strong impact, the next time the odor is experienced, the strength of the alert signal is reduced and the fly doesn’t waste time investigating the odor. This is an important computation because the fly wants to pay attention to something only if it’s worth it. The fly’s mushroom-body novelty signal is generated using a fingerprint for odors akin to the Bloom filter’s “data fingerprint.”

Detect new things.

By using an algorithm.

But where did that algorithm come from?

Shifting problems.

Until the edge of the cosmos.

The simplest and most effective way of doing science…

Life has a new ingredient

Posted: 03 Dec 2018 12:04 PM PST

Our prehistoric Earth, bombarded with asteroids and lightening, rife with bubbling geothermal pools, may not seem hospitable today. But somewhere in the chemical chaos of our early planet, life did form. How? For decades, scientists have created miniature replicas of infant Earth in the lab in order to hunt for life’s essential ingredients. Now, one of those replicas points to a possible new ingredient in the world’s first RNA.

Keep on searching for the ingredients of life.

READ ALSO:  Why people suffer? – Call for philosophical essays

Until you realize there are none…

Scientists use EEG to decode how people navigate complex sequences

Posted: 03 Dec 2018 10:11 AM PST

To perform a song, a dance or write computer code, people need to call upon the basic elements of their craft and then order and recombine them in creative ways. How the brain builds such complex sequences have been captured with the use of EEG.

Complex moves.

Made simple.

Because they are simple.

Made complex only by our belief that they are simple…

Learning to read comes at a cost

Posted: 03 Dec 2018 07:14 AM PST

Learning how to read may have some disadvantages for learning grammar. Children who cannot read yet often treat multiword phrases as wholes (‘how-are-you’). After learning to read, children notice individual words more, as these are separated by spaces in written language (‘how are you’).

Watch out for the forest.

Oh, look a tree!

Where did the forest go?

Mountain splendor? Scientists know where your eyes will look

Posted: 04 Dec 2018 06:03 AM PST

Using precise brain measurements, researchers predicted how people’s eyes move when viewing natural scenes, an advance in understanding the human visual system that can improve a host of artificial intelligence efforts, such as the development of driverless cars.

Standing in the midst of beauty.

Veering on the edge of the abyss.

Does it matter where you look at?

So cute you could crush it?

Posted: 04 Dec 2018 11:38 AM PST

Until now, research exploring how and why cute aggression occurs has been the domain of behavioral psychology. But recently, a licensed clinical psychologist with a background in neuroscience has taken formal study of the phenomenon a few steps further. To her knowledge, the results of her latest study are the first to confirm a neural basis for cute aggression.

In her research, Stavropoulos uses electrophysiology to evaluate surface-level electrical activity that arises from neurons firing in people’s brains. By studying that activity, she gauges neural responses to a range of external stimuli.

Stavropoulos said she first heard the term “cute aggression” after a team of Yale University psychologists released research related to the phenomenon in 2015. 

“The Yale researchers initially found that people reported feeling cute aggression more in response to baby animals versus adult animals,” Stavropoulos said. “But even beyond that, people reported feeling cute aggression more in response to picture of human babies that had been digitally enhanced to appear more infantile, and therefore ‘more cute,’ by enlarging features like their eyes, cheeks, and foreheads.”

After poring over the Yale research, Stavropoulos wondered whether there was a neural component to cute aggression. If people reported experiencing urges to squeeze, crush, or even bite creatures they found cute, would their brains also reflect patterns of activity that could be tied to those urges?

Based on the neural activity she observed in participants who experienced cute aggression, Stavropoulos’s findings offer direct evidence of both the brain’s reward system and emotion system being involved in the phenomenon.

“There was an especially strong correlation between ratings of cute aggression experienced toward cute animals and the reward response in the brain toward cute animals,” Stavropoulos said. “This is an exciting finding, as it confirms our original hypothesis that the reward system is involved in people’s experiences of cute aggression.” 

Loving. Crushing.

Different terms and yet so similar.

You have to let go to truly love.

Solving 21st-century problems requires skills that few are trained in, scientists find

From companies trying to resolve data security risks to coastal communities preparing for rising sea levels, solving modern problems requires teamwork that draws on a range of expertise and life experiences. Yet individuals receive little training to develop the skills that are vital to these collaborations. A new scientific report identifies the essential components of collaborative problem solving and shows how integrating knowledge from diverse fields will be essential for training these abilities.

In the beginning we knew everything.

And then we decided that we know nothing.

The world is now split into pieces.

How can we put those pieces together?

If not by learning about all these pieces together?

Look closely and you will see.

There is no need to put them together.

You just have to stop tearing them apart…

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