“There is no such thing as “purely analytic” or “purely continental” philosophy. There is just good philosophy and bad philosophy. Unfortunately, most of the bad philosophy is continental.”—History of Philosophy professor (via philosophyprofessorquotes)
Simulation studies on emotion have shown that facial actions can initiate and modulate particular emotions. However, the neural mechanisms of these initiating and modulating functions are unclear. In this study, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and task-based fMRI to explore these processes by examining spontaneous cerebral activities and brain activations under two conditions: holding a pen using only the teeth (HPT: facilitating the muscles typically associated with smiling) and holding a pen using only the lips (HPL: inhibiting the muscles typically associated with smiling). The resting-state fMRI results showed that compared with the HPL condition, signiﬁcant increases in the amplitudes of low-frequency ﬂuctuations were found in the right posterior cingulate gyrus [PCG; Brodmann area 31 (BA31)] and in the left middle frontal gyrus (MFG; BA9) in the HPT condition. These findings might be related to the initiation of positive emotions (PCG) and to the control and allocation of attention (MFG). The task-based fMRI results showed that the inferior parietal lobule, left supplementary motor area, superior parietal lobule, precuneus, and bilateral middle cingulum were active when facial manipulation influenced the recognition of emotional facial expressions. These results demonstrate that facial actions might not only initiate a particular emotion and draw attention, but also influence face-based emotion recognition.
Locals call it the “Switzerland of Maine” for its breathtaking mountains and picturesque waters, yet Dedham is just one of a cadre of communities in The Pine Tree State where tap water may not be as safe as it appears. Like the majority of the state, many of Dedham’s denizens rely on private wells for the water they drink, bathe in and perhaps use to make infant milk formula. But the water trickling from the tap—unlike water from its public water sources—goes untested and is not subject to any state or federal guidelines. And although homeowners are encouraged to get their water regularly tested to ensure that worrisome levels of bacteria or naturally occurring minerals have not crept in, many residents do not follow that advice. Yet newly available data, released in recent months, indicates that in some 10 communities in the state wells harbor dangerously high levels of fluoride. In some cases, the wells contain more than double the level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed the acceptable maximum exposure level. In small quantities fluoride is known for helping to tamp down the blight of tooth decay; most municipalities in the U.S. add it to their water supplies as a public health measure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes water fluoridation as one of the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. But at higher levels, fluoride can lead to pitted teeth and discoloration. It also makes bones brittle and more prone to fractures. And recent studies have also linked high levels of fluoride exposure with IQ deficits. A 2012 review article examined some two dozen relevant studies performed outside the U.S.—mostly in China but also a couple in Iran—and found that high fluoride exposures reduce children’s IQs by an average of about seven points. (The studies did not all account for exposures to other potentially harmful substances such as lead, but the sheer volume of them does raise concerns about this association.) Mainers may be sipping similar amounts of fluoride. “The sort of levels we’re talking about that are high in China are the sort of levels we see in some private wells,” says Andrew Smith, Maine state toxicologist.
Bjorklund and Kipp (1996) provide an evolutionary framework predicting that there is a female advantage in inhibition and self-regulation due to differing selection pressures placed on males and females. The majority of the present review will summarize sex differences in self-regulation at the behavioral level. The neural and hormonal underpinnings of this potential sexual dimorphism will also be investigated and the results of the experiments summarized will be related to the hypothesis advanced by Bjorklund and Kipp (1996). Paradoxically, sex differences in self-regulation are more consistently reported in children prior to the onset of puberty. In adult cohorts, the results of studies examining sex differences in self-regulation are mixed. A few recent experiments suggesting that females are less impulsive than males only during fertile stages of the menstrual cycle will be reviewed. A brief discussion of an evolutionary framework proposing that it is adaptive for females to employ a self-regulatory behavioral strategy when fertile will follow.
North Carolina State University researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals that moths use to control those muscles. The goal: remotely-controlled moths, or “biobots,” for use in emergency response, such as search and rescue operations.
“The idea would be to attach sensors to moths … to create a flexible, aerial sensor network that can identify survivors or public health hazards in the wake of a disaster,” said Alper Bozkurt, PhD, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of a JOVE paper on the work.
Bozkurt, with Amit Lal, PhD, of Cornell University, previously developed a method for attaching electrodes to a moth during its pupal stage, when the caterpillar is in a cocoon undergoing metamorphosis. Now, Bozkurt’s research team wants to find out precisely how a moth coordinates its muscles during flight.
The combination of nanojuice and photoacoustic tomography illuminates the intestine of a mouse (credit: Jonathan Lovell) University at Buffalo researchers
University at Buffalo researchers are developing a new imaging technique using nanoparticles suspended in liquid to form “nanojuice” that patients would drink to help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal illnesses.
Doctors would strike the nanoparticles, once they reach the small intestine, with a harmless laser light, providing an unparalleled, non-invasive, real-time view of the organ.
Described July 6 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the advancement could help doctors better identify, understand, and treat gastrointestinal ailments.
We are biased towards usefulness. ‘Pataphysics resists this bias. It bombards us with samples of the inutilious. Rennes schoolboys invented the world ‘pataphysics’ in 1888. Alfred Jarry was the leader of that particular gang. Absurdism, Dada, Futurism, Surrealism, Situationism et al find roots in its soil. Hugill notes that the name works like the self-defeater lying at the heart of Groucho Marx’s joke that he wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would accept him. We seek out solutions to problems. ‘Pataphysicians seek out solutions to non-problems. They deny that if something isn’t lost it can’t be found and find ingenious laughter in the insinuating joke question, ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ Hughill says that ‘Pataphysics wasn’t a movement but more a collection of ideas. Marcel Duchamp thought it was meta-ironic. They all knew that it didn’t have to exist to exist.
“I’ve noticed that in your papers some of you don’t seem to know the difference between ‘causal’ and ‘casual’. Well, there’s no such thing as ‘causal’ Friday because determinism doesn’t care what day of the week it is.”—Metaphysics professor (via philosophyprofessorquotes)
Although there’s presently no cure for cluster headaches, a new neurostimulator is claimed to help control them. While they may not be quite as well-known as migraines, cluster headaches are even more painful, and can occur several times a day. There’s presently no cure, although a new “neurostimulator” is claimed to help control them. A US clinical trial of the device has just begun, with a test subject recently having had one implanted beneath his cheekbone.
Developed by San Francisco-based Autonomic Technologies Inc (ATI), the “almond-sized” device was inserted through a 2-cm (0.8-in) incision in the recipient’s gum, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Anchored to the skull under the cheekbone, on the side of the face affected by the headaches, the implant works by stimulating the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG). This is a nerve bundle located behind the nose, and it’s associated with the transmission of the headache pain. Past approaches have included permanently cutting or chemically burning the SPG.
When a patient feels a cluster headache coming on, they place a separate handheld controller against their cheek. It wirelessly activates the neurostimulator, which in turn blocks the pain signals sent via the SPG. The controller is preprogrammed by the patient’s physician, to provide a length and level of stimulation that’s appropriate to their particular condition.
An émigré from Nazi Germany, Hans Bethe joined Cornell’s physics department back in 1935. There, he built a remarkable career for himself. A nuclear physicist, Bethe made key contributions to the Manhattan Project during World War II. After the war, he brought stellar young physicists like Richard Feynman from Los Alamos to Ithaca and turned Cornell’s physics department into a top-notch program. In 1967, he won the Nobel Prize for “his groundbreaking work on the theory of energy production in stars.” As a tribute to Bethe, Cornell now hosts a web site called Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple, where you can watch three lectures presented by Bethe in 1999. They’re a little different from the usual lectures you encounter online. In these videos, Bethe is 93 years old, older than your average prof. And he presents the lectures not in a Cornell classroom, but at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community, which gives them a certain charm. You can watch them here: Lecture 1: Here Bethe “introduces quantum theory as ‘the most important discovery of the twentieth century’ and shows that quantum theory gave us ‘understanding and technology.’ He cites computers as a dramatic realization of applied quantum physics.” Lecture 2: “By the 1920s, physicists were driving to synthesize early quantum ideas into a consistent theory. In Lecture 2, Professor Bethe relates the exciting theoretical and experimental breakthroughs that led to modern quantum mechanics.”
The information stored in the DNA double helix of a whale or a human or any other beast or vegetable on Earth is written in a language of four letters—the four different kinds of nucleotides, the molecular components that make up DNA. How many bits of information are contained in the hereditary…
“A smile is a peculiar thing. The upper lip lifts to expose the teeth. The cheeks bunch upward. The skin around the eyes crinkles. The 19th-century neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne noticed that a cold, faked smile was often limited to the mouth, whereas a genuine, friendly one involved the eyes. That genuine smile is now called a Duchenne smile in his honour.”—The origin of laughter, smiles and tears – Michael Graziano – Aeon
“About four thousand years ago, somewhere in the Middle East — we don’t know where or when, exactly — a scribe drew a picture of an ox head. The picture was rather simple: just a face with two horns on top. It was used as part of an abjad, a set of characters that represent the consonants in a language. Over thousands of years, that ox-head icon gradually changed as it found its way into many different abjads and alphabets. It became more angular, then rotated to its side. Finally it turned upside down entirely, so that it was resting on its horns. Today it no longer represents an ox head or even a consonant. We know it as the capital letter A. The moral of this story is that symbols evolve.”—The origin of laughter, smiles and tears – Michael Graziano – Aeon
“To adapt to a changing world, we need new software for our cellphones; we also need new ideas. The same goes for literature, for architecture, languages and theology. Our world is enriched when coders and marketers dazzle us with smartphones and tablets, but, by themselves, they are just slabs. It is the music, essays, entertainment and provocations that they access, spawned by the humanities, that animate them — and us. So, yes, the humanities are still relevant in the 21st century — every bit as relevant as an iPhone.”—Don’t Dismiss the Humanities - NYTimes.com
“I wouldn’t want everybody to be an art or literature major, but the world would be poorer — figuratively, anyway — if we were all coding software or running companies. We also want musicians to awaken our souls, writers to lead us into fictional lands, and philosophers to help us exercise our minds and engage the world.”—Don’t Dismiss the Humanities - NYTimes.com
Given the number of children that starve each day, dwindling planetary resources and the coming transhumanist era, it might be time to consider restricting human breeding, argues futurist Zoltan Istvan in this guest post A few years ago, I was at a doctor party, the kind where tired residents drop by in their scrubs, everyone drinks red wine, and discussion centres around medical industry gripes. I wandered over to a group of obstetricians and listened in. One tall blonde woman said something that caught my attention: with 10,000 kids dying everyday around the world from starvation, you’d think we’d put birth control in the water. The controversial idea to restrict or control human breeding is not new. In 1980, Hugh LaFollette, Ethics professor at the University of South Florida, wrote a seminal essay on the topic titled Licensing Parents. Since then, philosophers and even some politicians have considered the idea, especially in light of China, the most populated country in the world, implementing a one-child policy that is in effect today. For most people in the 21st Century, however, the idea of restricting the right to have offspring for any reason whatsoever seems blatantly authoritarian. Telling a person when and how many children they can have violates just about every core value we possess in a free society. It’s a thorny issue made even more complicated by the coming transhumanist era, which is almost upon us.
besides this article, I highly suggest to read the following:
“Art is something that happens inside us. We look at things in the world, and we become excited by them. We understand our own possibilities of becoming. And that’s what art is.”—Jeff Koons to The New York Times (via whitneymuseum)
““One of the ways we started thinking about this was in a crime-novel perspective,” said Carlo C. Maley, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and a co-author of the new paper. “What are the means, motives and opportunity for the microbes to manipulate us? They have all three.” The idea that a simple organism could control a complex animal may sound like science fiction. In fact, there are many well-documented examples of parasites controlling their hosts.”—Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out for Itself - NYTimes.com
Your body is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes, collectively known as your microbiome. Naturalists first became aware of our invisible lodgers in the 1600s, but it wasn’t until the past few years that we’ve become really familiar with them. This recent research has given the microbiome a cuddly kind of fame. We’ve come to appreciate how beneficial our microbes are — breaking down our food, fighting off infections and nurturing our immune system. It’s a lovely, invisible garden we should be tending for our own well-being. But in the journal Bioessays, a team of scientists has raised a creepier possibility. Perhaps our menagerie of germs is also influencing our behavior in order to advance its own evolutionary success — giving us cravings for certain foods, for example. Maybe the microbiome is our puppet master.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage More Matter Columns
“First, some semantics. The old-fashioned, pre-multiverse ‘universe’ is defined as the volume of spacetime, about 90 billion light years across, that holds all the stars we can see (those whose light has had enough time to reach us since the Big Bang). This ‘universe’ contains about 500 sextillion stars — more than the grains of sand on all the beaches of Earth — organised into about 80 billion galaxies. It is, broadly speaking, what you look up at on a clear night. It is unimaginably vast, incomprehensibly old and, until recently, assumed to be all that there is. Yet recent discoveries from telescopes and particle colliders, coupled with new mathematical insights, mean we have to discard this ‘small’ universe in favour of a much grander reality. The old universe is as a gnat atop an elephant in comparison with the new one. Moreover, the new terrain is so strange that it might be beyond human understanding.”—Michael Hanlon – On multiverses