Sign language. Spoken language limitations.

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Sign languages are considered by linguists as full-fledged and grammatically very sophisticated languages. But they also have unique insights to offer on how meaning works in language in general.

Sign languages can help reveal hidden aspects of the logical structure of spoken language, but they also highlight its limitations because speech lacks the rich iconic resources that sign language uses on top of its sophisticated grammar.

For instance, the logical structure of the English sentence Sarkozy told Obama that he would be elected is conveyed more transparently in sign language. The English sentence is ambiguous, Schlenker explains, as he can refer to Sarkozy or to Obama. Linguists have postulated that this is because the sentence contains some unpronounced – but cognitively real – logical variables like x and y.

If the sentence is understood as Sarkozy (x) told Obama (y) that he (x) would be elected, with the same variable x on Sarkozy and on he, the pronoun refers to Sarkozy; if instead he carries the variable y, it refers to Obama. Remarkably, in sign language the variables x and y can be visibly realized by positions in space, e.g. by signing Sarkozy on the left and Obama on the right. (1)

See.

Now you know that it was about Sarkozy.

Listen.

Now you know what the other guy meant.

Feel.

Now you understand why the other one is even speaking to you.

Reach out with your senses.

It is all the same at the end.

Ideas may sometimes be conveyed better with images.

But blind people cannot see.

Ideas may sometimes be conveyed better with words.

But deaf people cannot hear.

At the end, you will need to reach out to understand what is said.

But not to the person talking to you.

But to the person inside you.

Listen carefully.

Do you listen anything?

See.

Listen.

Feel.

Why are you even listening?

Quantum memories…

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Quantum cryptography today uses optical fiber over several hundred kilometers and is marked by its high degree of security: it is impossible to copy or intercept information without making it disappear.

However, the fact that it is impossible to copy the signal also prevents scientists from amplifying it to diffuse it over long distances, as is the case with the Wi-Fi network.

Since the signal cannot be copied or amplified without it disappearing, scientists are currently working on how to make quantum memories capable of repeating it by capturing the photons and synchronizing them, so they can be diffused further and further. All that remains is to find the right material for making these quantum memories. “The difficulty is finding a material capable of isolating the quantum information conveyed by the photons from environmental disturbances so that we can hold on to them for a second or so and synchronize them”.

Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, in partnership with CNRS, France, have discovered a new material in which an element, ytterbium, can store and protect the fragile quantum information even while operating at high frequencies. (1)

Conveying messages.

Message that will be lost.

Inside the whirling wind…

The great mountain is looking.

Listening to all the messages.

Passing through the forest trees.

It knows that it will be here tomorrow.

But it will not convey the message.

Because that was never the goal.

The message was not to be conveyed.

Only the silence was.

Before and after the message…

Can you listen to the wind?

Being hyper-social. Watching your mobile phone. Crossing the river. [Interactions in an unmovable world]

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A new study of dysfunctional use of smart technology finds that the most addictive smartphone functions all share a common theme: they tap into the human desire to connect with other people. The findings, published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggest that smartphone addiction could be hyper-social, not anti-social.

We all know people who, seemingly incapable of living without the bright screen of their phone for more than a few minutes, are constantly texting and checking out what friends are up to on social media. These are examples of what many consider to be the antisocial behavior brought on by smartphone addiction. But what if we were looking at things the wrong way? Could smartphone addiction be hyper-social, not anti-social?

Professor Veissière, a cognitive anthropologist who studies the evolution of cognition and culture, explains that the desire to watch and monitor others – but also to be seen and monitored by others – runs deep in our evolutionary past. Humans evolved to be a uniquely social species and require constant input from others to seek a guide for culturally appropriate behavior. This is also a way for them to find meaning, goals, and a sense of identity. (1)

We like connecting with our friends. We like interaction. We are part of a cosmos full of interactions, full of change. The cosmos is influencing us and we are also influencing the cosmos back.

We have chosen to be passive and be… active. To accept the way the world seems to work and follow the river as it flows by. But the most active path is to be… passive. To do nothing in a cosmos which seems to constantly move. To move and make the cosmos halt to a stop.

We do not acquire our identity from the cosmos. We are the identity of the cosmos. Look at your cell phone. It contains the world. But you can never interact with it. Unless you leave it down and start breathing.

Walking in a bright forest.

There is no river flowing.

Look at your feet. They are still dry.

You are just sitting alone. With all your friends…

Dyslexia. Understanding speech.

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Neuroscientists have discovered that a basic mechanism underlying sensory perception is deficient in individuals with dyslexia, according to new study. The brain typically adapts rapidly to sensory input, such as the sound of a person’s voice or images of faces and objects, as a way to make processing more efficient. But for individuals with dyslexia, the researchers found that adaptation was on average about half that of those without the disorder.

If a single, consistent voice speaks a stream of words, brains get used to the voice right away and adapt. But if every word spoken is in a different voice, the brain does not adapt. The difference in adaptation is large. Essentially, brains are working hard to process different voices, and much less hard to process a single voice. However, those with dyslexia adapt much less. In this cases, the amount of adaptation is small in general. Dyslexic brains are working hard to process speech no matter what. (1)

We speak because we listen.

We act because we are acted upon.

We live because other people lived.

Trapped inside a mirror.

Trying to break the glass…

Do not be sad about dyslexia. It might be your way out…