Are you being looked at? Let ME tell you!

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Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

In science, the “Mona Lisa Effect” refers to the impression that the eyes of the person portrayed in an image seem to follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture. Two researchers from the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University demonstrate that this effect does not occur with Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous painting “Mona Lisa” – debunking a scientific legend.

People can feel like they’re being looked at from both photographs and paintings — if the person portrayed looks straight ahead out of the image, that is, at a gaze angle of 0 degrees,” explains Horstmann. “With a slightly sideward glance, you may still feel as if you were being looked at.” Researchers explain. “Curiously enough, we don’t have to stand right in front of the image in order to have the impression of being looked at.”

In order to test this observation, Horstmann and Loth had 24 study participants look at the Mona Lisa on a computer screen and assess the direction of her gaze. The participants sat in front of the monitor. A simple folding ruler was positioned between them and the screen at several distances. The participants indicated where Mona Lisa’s gaze met the ruler. In order to test whether individual features of Mona Lisa’s face influenced the viewers’ perception of her gaze, the researchers used 15 different sections from the portrait. Each image was shown three times in random order while also changing the distance of the ruler from the monitor. Almost every single measurement indicated that the Mona gaze is not straight on but to the viewer’s right-hand side. “Thus, it is clear that the term “Mona Lisa Effect” is nothing but a misnomer. It illustrates the strong desire to be looked at and to be someone else’s centre of attention – to be relevant to someone, even if you don’t know the person at all.” (1)

What a totally misguided result.

Concluding that something is not there even though… it is!

Concluding that they are not seen even though they feel it!

Trying to determine whether you are being looked at.

Not based on what you sense.

But on what others say about what you should sense.

That is the problem of science: Trying to make sense of the cosmos without being able to sense the cosmos. Trying to find out about which result best fits the conclusions you want to make, while being based on axioms which dictate those results. Trying to determine what the cosmos looks like without being ready to just accept it as it is…

Look at the most detailed research.

And ask the researchers…

Do you ever stand in the cold?

Do you ever sing in the rain?

And in their silence or their laughter, you will listen…

Of a kid crying…

Harmonia Philosophica papers

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This page contains scientific papers published by Spyridon Kakos, in the context or outside the context of the Harmonia Philosophica program.

Through-hole plating with Polypyrrole in Printed Circuit Boards

Abstract:  The goal of this paper is to investigate the use of polypyrrole (PPy) in the through-hole plating (PTH) stage of the Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) manufacturing process. The method includes: etching of FR4, in situ deposition of a thin film of PPy, resulting in a FR4/ PPy electrode.Copper plated holes of FR4 multilayer PCB specimens were analyzed with the help of optical microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and EDS analysis. Tests on polypyrrole coated and copper plated holes also included conductivity and peel strength tests. Findings show that polypyrrole can be an equally good substitute for standard methods of hole-plating methods, like the ones based on palladium, carbon or graphite. Optical microscopy results indicate that a coherent copper layer is formed on the polypyrrole modified surface of the holes. The results of the SEM analysis help understand the mechanism of copper plating and show that copper nucleation is progressing with dendrite structures on the polypyrrole surface, following high conductivity paths. Improvements of the process of the specimens’ pre-treatment, like holes desmearing and stirring of the polymer solution, were also analyzed.

Published at: International Review of Chemical Engineering (I.RE.CH.E.), Vol. 4, n. 2 March 2012.

From Galileo to Hubble: Copernican principle as a philosophical dogma defining modern astronomy

Abstract: For centuries the case of Galileo Galilei has been the cornerstone of every major argument against the church and its supposedly unscientific dogmatism. The church seems to have condemned Galileo for his heresies, just because it couldn’t and wouldn’t handle the truth. Galileo was a hero of science wrongfully accused and now – at last – everyone knows that. But is that true? This paper tries to examine the case from the point of modern physics and the conclusions drawn are startling. It seems that contemporary church was too haste into condemning itself. The evidence provided by Galileo to support the heliocentric system do not even pass simple scrutiny, while modern physics has ruled for a long time now against both heliocentric and geocentric models as depictions of the “truth”. As Einstein eloquently said, the debate about which system is chosen is void of any meaning from a physics’ point of view. At the end, the selection of the center is more a matter of choice rather than a matter of ‘truth’ of any kind. And this choice is driven by specific philosophical axioms penetrating astronomy for hundreds of years now. From Galileo to Hubble, the Copernican principle has been slowly transformed to a dogma followed by all mainstream astronomers. It is time to challenge our dogmatic adherence to the anti-humanism idea that we are insignificant in the cosmos and start making true honest science again, as Copernicus once postulated.

Published at: International Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Science, Vol 2, No 3, 2018

Consciousness and the End of Materialism: Seeking identity and harmony in a dark era

Abstract: “I am me”, but what does this mean? For centuries humans identified themselves as conscious beings with free will, beings that are important in the cosmos they live in. However, modern science has been trying to reduce us into unimportant pawns in a cold universe and diminish our sense of consciousness into a mere illusion generated by lifeless matter. Our identity in the cosmos is nothing more than a deception and all the scientific evidence seem to support this idea. Or is it not? The goal of this paper is to discard current underlying dogmatism (axioms taken for granted as “self-evident”) of modern mind research and to show that consciousness seems to be the ultimate frontier that will cause a major change in the way exact sciences think. If we want to re-discover our identity as luminous beings in the cosmos, we must first try to pinpoint our prejudices and discard them. Materialism is an obsolete philosophical dogma and modern scientists should try to also use other premises as the foundation of their theories to approach the mysteries of the self. Exact sciences need to examine the world with a more open mind, accepting potentially different interpretations of existing experimental data in the fields of brain research, which are currently not considered simply on the basis of a strong anti-spiritual dogmatism. Such interpretations can be compatible with the notion of an immaterial spirit proposed by religion for thousands of years. Mind seems that is not the by-product of matter, but the opposite: its master. No current materialistic theory can explain how matter may give rise to what we call “self” and only a drastic paradigm shift towards more idealistic theories will help us avoid rejecting our own nature.

Published at: International Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Science, Vol 2, No 2 (2018)

The fallacy of Education as a Source of Ethics

Abstract: For centuries, the major story of enlightenment was that education is and should be the cornerstone of our society. We try to educate people to make them respectable members of society, something which we inherently relate to being “better persons”, firmly believing that education makes humans less prone to evil. Today, modern research seems to validate that premise: statistics verify that more education results to less crime. But is this picture accurate and does this mean anything regarding morality per se? This paper tries to examine the facts with a more critical eye and determine whether education is indeed a source of ethics or not. The results of the analysis show that what we understand as education is not only unrelated to ethics but can also be a factor resulting in the degradation of morality in humans. Rousseau’s arguments against science and arts are re-enforced with arguments stemming from other great philosophers and from modern experience itself. Using modern statistical analysis regarding the correlation of crime and education and through the examination of the modern regression in ethical issues, it becomes evident that education cannot and should not be a source of ethics. Knowing what is ethical is not as important as living an ethical life. Pharisees were the first to be denied the entrance to the kingdom of God. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught”.

Published at: MCDSARE 3 33-41. 2019

Against the realistic interpretation of the Theory of Relativity

Abstract: The Theory of Relativity has been portrayed as a theory that redefined the way we look at the cosmos, enabling us to unlock the reality we live in. Its proponents are constantly reminding us of how Einstein managed to reveal the true nature of the universe with his groundbreaking theory, which has been proved multiple times until now. Yet, philosophy of science teaches us that no theory has any privileged connection with what we call reality per se. The role of science is to formulate models of the cosmos we see and not to try to interpret or reveal reality. This paper tries to show how this holds true even for the famous relativity theory, by showing specific objections to the connection of the theory with the Holy Grail of philosophers. By analyzing various subjects related to the theory, from the twins’ paradox to the GPS satellites, this paper illustrates that relativity is much less connected to reality than what we would like to think. At the end, what Einstein’s theory provides is nothing more than a way to formalize the interactions of the world but without being able to make any claims whatsoever regarding the ‘reality’ of its conclusions.

On the untrustworthiness of axiomatic-founded science

Abstract: The idea of science being the best – or the only – way to reach the truth about our cosmos has been a major belief of modern civilization. Yet, science has grown tall on fragile legs of clay. Every scientific theory uses axioms and assumptions that by definition cannot be proved. This poses a serious limitation to the use of science as a tool to find the truth. The only way to search for the latter is to redefine the former to its original glory. In the days well before Galileo and Newton, science and religion were not separated. They worked together to discover the truth and while the latter had God as its final destination, the former had God as its starting point. Science is based on the irrational (unproven) belief that the world is intelligible along many other assumptions. This poses a serious limitation to science that can only be overcome if we accept the irrationality of the cosmos. The motto “Credo quia absurdum” holds more truth than one can ever realize at first glance. There is nothing logical in logic, whereas there is deep wisdom in the irrational. For while the former tries to build castles on moving sand, the latter digs deep inside the depths of existence itself in order to build on the most concrete foundations that there can be: the cosmos itself. The only way forward is backwards. Backwards to a time when religion led the quest for knowledge by accepting what we cannot know, rather than trying to comprehend what we do not. Science was anyway based on that in the first place.

Published at: Harmonia Philosophica [link], Academia [link], PhilPapers [link]

Philosophical dogmatism inhibiting the anti-Copernican interpretation of the Michelson Morley experiment

Abstract: From the beginning of time, humans believed they were the center of the universe. Such important beings could be nowhere else than at the very epicenter of existence, with all the other things revolving around them. Was this an arrogant position? Only time will tell. What is certain is that as some people were so certain of their significance, aeons later some other people became too confident in their unimportance. In such a context, the Earth quickly lost its privileged position at the center of the universe and along with this, the ideas of absolute motion and time became unbearable for the modern intellect, which saw nothing but relativeness in everything. After years of accepting the ideas of relativity at face value without doubting them, scientists are now mature enough to start questioning everything as any true scientist would do, including their own basic assumptions. And one would be surprised to see that the basic assumptions of today’s science in physics (and cosmology alike) are based on philosophically dogmatic beliefs that humans are nothing more than insignificant specks of dust. These specks cannot be in any privileged position in the cosmos, nor can their frames of reference. These specks cannot be living on a planet that is not moving while everything else is. There can be no hint of our importance whatsoever. Hence, the Copernican principle that has poisoned scientific thinking for aeons now. When one analyzes the evidence provided by science to support the idea of relativity though, he would see that the same evidence can more easily and simply fit into a model where the Earth stands still. Yet, scientists preferred to revamp all physics by introducing the totally unintuitive ides of relativity – including the absolute limit of the speed of light – than even admitting the possibility of humans having any notion of central position in the cosmos. True scientists though should examine all possible explanations, including those that do not fit their beliefs. To the dismay of so many modern scientists who blindly believe the validity of the theory of relativity at face value, the movement towards a true and honest post-modern science where all assumptions are questioned, necessarily passes through a place where the Earth we live in stands still. Non-relativistic explanations of the Michelson Morley experiment, related to a motionless Earth or to ether, are viable alternatives that deserve their place in modern scientific thought.

Published at: Harmonia Philosophica (here), Academia (here), PhilPapers (here), ResearchGate (here)

Religion as the single foundation of Science

Abstract: For centuries, science was considered as something radically different from religion. Yet, the foundations of true science are deeply religious in nature. This paper seeks to show how religion is the only foundation needed for the formulation of scientific theories, since it provides the core principles on which the building of exact sciences is based upon. Our need to understand the cosmos and our faith in us being able to do so, are the main prerequisites for conducting science; prerequisites that are derived from our belief in us being the sons of God and, thus, being able to read His mind. From its birth on 7 March 1277 up to today, science seems to be the only logical attitude of religious people towards the unknown cosmos.

Published at: Academia (here), PhilPapers (here)

Implanting information directly in the brain… So?

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Two neuroscientists at the University of Rochester say they have managed to introduce information directly into the premotor cortex of monkeys. The researchers published the results of the experiment in the journal Neuron. Although the research is preliminary, carried out in just two monkeys, the researchers speculated that further research might lead to brain implants for people with strokes.

“You could potentially bypass the damaged areas and deliver stimulation to the premotor cortex”, said Kevin A. Mazurek, a co-author of the study. “That could be a way to bridge parts of the brain that can no longer communicate”.

Dr. Mazurek and his co-author, Dr. Marc H. Schieber, trained two rhesus monkeys to play a game. The monkeys sat in front of a panel equipped with a button, a sphere-shaped knob, a cylindrical knob, and a T-shaped handle. Each object was ringed by LED lights. If the lights around an object switched on, the monkeys had to reach out their hand to it to get a reward. (a refreshing squirt of water)

Each object required a particular action. If the button glowed, the monkeys had to push it. If the sphere glowed, they had to turn it. If the T-shaped handle or cylinder lit up, they had to pull it.

After the monkeys learned how to play the game, Dr. Mazurek and Dr. Schieber had them play a wired version. The scientists placed 16 electrodes in each monkey’s brain, in the premotor cortex. Each time a ring of lights switched on, the electrodes transmitted a short, faint burst of electricity. The patterns varied according to which object the researchers wanted the monkeys to manipulate. As the monkeys played more rounds of the game, the rings of light dimmed. At first, the dimming caused the monkeys to make mistakes. But then their performance improved.

Eventually the lights went out completely, yet the monkeys were able to use only the signals from the electrodes in their brains to pick the right object and manipulate it for the reward. And they did just as well as with the lights.

This hints that the sensory regions of the brain, which process information from the environment, can be bypassed altogether. The brain can devise a response by receiving information directly, via electrodes. (1)

Another example which shows the main problem with all brain-related research: All experimental results will always be dependent of specific out-of-the-brain circumstances which will dictate how we interpret what happens inside the brain. Our analysis or our ways of affecting the brain will always be related to things the subjects do. We will never examine of affect the brain per se, independently of the environment or outside of the context of a “story” in which the subjects think of something and then do something.

The scientists did not inject any information directly into the brains of the monkeys. They created an experiment with the monkeys, they trained the monkeys, they gradually changed the experiment parameters and they at some point made the experiment work without the initial parameters present.

Sometimes you have to say things as they are. With no simplifications.

The devil lies hidden in the shadows of the details.

And science does an excellent work in playing in the dark…

While not believing in the devil, but in an imaginary enlightened man…

Yes, everything can be done. Everything can be affected.

But in the context of a cosmos in sync.

In the context of a universe in harmony.

You are not God.

Accept that.

And you will become one…

Chemistry Nobel 2018: A sad reminder…

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Techniques that put natural evolution on fast-forward to build new proteins in the lab have earned three scientists this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Frances Arnold of Caltech won for her method of creating customized enzymes for biofuels, environmentally friendly detergents and other products. She becomes the fifth woman to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry since it was first awarded in 1901. Gregory Winter of the University of Cambridge and George Smith of the University of Missouri in Columbia were recognized for their development and use of a technique called phage display. This molecule-manufacturing process can generate biomolecules for new drugs.

The trio will share the 9-million-Swedish-kronor prize (about $1 million), with Arnold getting half and Winter and Smith splitting the other half. (1)

Analyzing data. Finding new molecules.

Analyzing more data. Finding more molecules.

This is what science is today.

Additions to an existing structure.

Nothing exceptional.

Nothing truly magnificent.

Scientists today are builders, not architects.

They may add their own brick to the cathedral.

But they will never have the courage to question its design.

What we need today though are not builders.

What we seek is not a way to make the cathedral taller.

But someone who can judge its foundations.

And tear it down…

 

Mapping the brain. But not your brain…

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To map neurons, researchers currently use an electron microscope to take pictures — with one image usually containing a small number of neurons. The researchers then study each neuron’s shape and size as well as its thousands of connections with other nearby neurons to learn about its role in behavior or biology.

“We don’t know much about how brains work”, said Ji.

In 2013, MIT organized a competition that called on researchers to develop automated computer algorithms that could speed up image analysis, decode and understand images of brain circuitry. As part of the competition, the algorithms are compared to work that was done by a real team of neuroscientists. If computers can become as accurate as humans, they will be able to do the computations much faster and cheaper than humans, said Ji.

WSU’s research team developed the first computational model that was able to reach a human level of performance in accuracy. (1)

Computers mapping the brain. But not their brain. The brain of their makers. In a way dictated by their… makers. Who – by the way – don’t know much about how the brain works. It would be funny if you read it in the Onion. But no. This is science.

And sure, the point of searching how something works is to find out what we do not know. But the problem is that whatever you try to search for, you only do because you already know that it is there. Science is not about looking into an unknown place and just be startled by what you find there. This kind of acceptance is religion. Science is about searching into an unknown place with a telescope which has been configured and calibrated to look for one specific thing and always within the context of a theory which claims specific things and which makes people think in a certain way. (I would also add always in the context of a specific funding agency as well, but well, that is another story)

There was no way for people researching Euclidian geometry to reach to a conclusion that… Euclidian geometry is wrong. The only way of doing that was to just think outside of Euclidian geometry – something which meant that in the context of Euclidian geometry they were irrational and scientifically wrong.

Wittgenstein has said it a long time ago.

Man has to awaken to wonder – and so perhaps do peoples.

Science is a way of sending him to sleep again.

Sleep tight.

Your brain is being mapped…