Complexity Digest 2002.50
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- Artificial Life (A-Life 8), Video/Audio
- Thinking Machines, Reverse-Engineering The Brain, Discover
- Human Or Computer? Take This Test,, NYTimes
- Immune Computer Systems,, Computerworld,
- The World According to Google, MSNBC/Newsweek
- Searching For Your Inner Chimp, Natural History
- Helping Children Learn, but Not Forgetting the Fun, NYTimes
- Ohio Strengthens Teaching of Evolution,, NYTimes
- Empathy Leads To Fairness,, Bulletin of Math. Biol.
- Stable Risk-Sharing, J. Math. Economics
- Scientists Find Earliest "New World" Writings In Mexico, ScienceDaily
- Olmec Origins of Mesoamerican Writing, Science
- Self-Organized Lane Formation And Optimized Traffic Flow In Army Ants, Royal Soc. Proc. Biological Sc.
- Tree-Hole Frogs Exploit Resonance Effects, Nature
- Organization Of Work In The Honeybee: Labour And Behavioural Flexibility, Royal Soc. Proc. Biological Sc
- A Unique Design For Self-Organizing Robots Controlled By "Hormonal" Software, ScienceDaily
- Hydrodynamics: Bend And Survive, Nature
- Biology Aiding Nanotech Researchers,, UPI Science News
- Slaving: Solvent Fluctuations Dominate Protein Dynamics And Functions, PNAS
- Air Pollution Induces Heritable DNA Mutations, PNAS
- Humpty Dumpty and All That ...,, Science
- Guiding Neuronal Growth With Light, PNAS
- Immunology: Education And Promiscuity, Nature
- T Cells Take Aim At Cancer, PNAS
- Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Networks
- Bush authorsizes CIA To Kill Some Terrorists
- US Terror War Targeting Muslims: Malaysian PM, 19.02
- Links & Snippets
- Other Publications
- Coming and Ongoing Webcasts
- Public Conference Calls
- Call for Papers
- ComDig Announcement: New ComDig Archive in Beta Test
Artificial Life (A-Life 8), Video/Audio
Contributing Editors' Note: The
Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems
is took place at the University of New South Wales in Sydney,
Australia, from the 9th to the 13th of
December, 2002. We are publishing online short video summaries of
talks and posters related to Complexity and full audio of plenary
talks, with links to further material. The proceedings of the
conference will be available online in 2003.
Thinking Machines, Reverse-Engineering The Brain, Discover
Excerpts: McCormick estimates it will take at least two decades to combine self-switching chips with detailed neuronal maps to create even a very crude copy of the human brain. Ray Kurzweil, an artificial-intelligence researcher, is more optimistic. "I think that within 30 years, probably much sooner, we'll have completely reverse-engineered the human brain and be able to re-create competing systems that emulate it," he says. "The more you learn about biology, the more humble you become. It engineers things so much better than we do."
Human Or Computer? Take This Test,, NYTimes
Excerpts: Indeed, the abilities that require much of what is usually described as intelligence, like medical diagnosis or playing chess, have proved far easier for computers than seemingly simpler abilities: those requiring vision, hearing, language or motor control. "Abilities like vision are the result of billions of years of evolution and difficult for us to understand by introspection, whereas abilities like multiplying two numbers are things we were explicitly taught and can readily express in a computer program," (...) Try the tests online at The Captcha Project
Excerpts: Our bodies can detect and defend themselves against foreign invaders such as bacteria and parasites, even if the invaders haven't been seen before. Forrest's prototypes do the same thing. Her host-based intrusion-detection system builds a model of what is normal by looking at short sequences of calls by the operating system kernel over time. The system learns to spot deviations from the norm, such as those that might be caused by a Trojan horse program (...). When suspicious behavior is spotted, the system can take evasive action or issue alerts.
The World According to Google, MSNBC/Newsweek
Excerpts: Their big idea was something they called PageRank (...), which took into account not just the title or text on a Web site but the other sites linked to it. "Our intention of doing the ranking properly was that you should get the site you meant to get," says Page. Basically, the system exploited the dizzyingly complex linking network of the Web itself-and the collective intelligence of the millions who surfed the Web-so that when you searched, you could follow in the pathways of others (...).
Searching For Your Inner Chimp, Natural History
Excerpts: Our DNA is astonishingly similar. You can see for yourself by visiting the "Silver Project" Web site of Japan's National Institute of Genetics, which is home to a growing database of chimpanzee DNA. (...) The loss [of one gene, Ed] may have entailed some kind of disadvantage, but it enabled the evolution of the brain to proceed in unique ways. A second gene that seems to have taken on a unique form in humans is a gene that may have been crucial for the evolution of language.
Helping Children Learn, but Not Forgetting the Fun, NYTimes
Excerpts: Generally, the best educational programs for home use integrate fun with learning so smoothly that children will hardly realize that they are learning. But that is the best case; with many other programs, the integration is not so smooth. That does not mean the programs are worthless, but you need to keep your expectations in check. Stay away from educational titles that focus more on the drill than the skill. Conversely, some software that is not expressly "educational'' may offer plenty of opportunities for learning; (...).
Ohio Strengthens Teaching of Evolution,, NYTimes
Excerpts: The board has worked since January on the guidelines, which teachers will be encouraged, but not required, to follow. They will be the basis of new tests that students have to pass to graduate. Evolution will be the sole origin-of-life theory on the tests, meaning that schools that avoid teaching Darwinian theory may put their students at a disadvantage. Local districts may decide to teach intelligent design, the idea that life must have been designed by a nonspecified higher power because it is so complex, or other theories.
Abstract: In the Ultimatum Game, two players are asked to split a prize. The first player, the proposer, makes an offer of how to split the prize. The rational strategy (...) is for the proposer to offer the smallest possible positive share and for the responder to accept. Humans do not play this way, however, and instead tend to offer 50% of the prize and to reject offers below 20%. Here we study the Ultimatum Game in an evolutionary context and show that empathy can lead to the evolution of fairness. Empathy means that individuals make offers which they (...) accept.
- Source: Empathy Leads To Fairness,, K. M. Pagea & M. A. Nowakb,, DOI: 10.1006/bulm.2002.0321, Bulletin of Math. Biol., Vol. 64, Issue 6, pp: 1101-1116,, Nov. 2002,
Abstract: We analyze the evolution of contract participation and evaluate the selection of risk-sharing contracts in the presence of moral hazard. Organizations specify rules for sharing output among producers, and so affect the extent of private investment in production. Organizations are rigid, as some details of the contract are fixed, but people are free to move around. In the presence of rigidity, equilibrium displays coordination failure (...). Methods of evolutionary stability are used to select equilibria when organizations compete for members. We identify stable contracts which survive competition against any other.
- Source: Stable Risk-Sharing, J. Dutta - mailto:j.duttabham.ac.uk, K. Prasad, DOI: 10.1016/S0304-4068(02)00076-9, J. Math. Economics, Vol. 38, Issue 4, pp: 411-439, Dec. 2002
Scientists Find Earliest "New World" Writings In Mexico, ScienceDaily
Excerpts: Scientists have uncovered evidence of what is believed to be the earliest form of writing ever found in the New World. The discovery was based on glyphs carved on a cylindrical seal used to make imprints, and on greenstone plaque fragments found near La Venta in Tabasco, Mexico in the Gulf Coast region. The artifacts, which are about 350 years older than the earliest specimens until now challenge previously held notions about the earliest of Mesoamerican peoples who developed the first system of written communication.
Olmec Origins of Mesoamerican Writing, Science
Abstract: A cylinder seal and carved greenstone plaque bearing glyphs dating to ~650 B.C. have been uncovered near the Olmec center of La Venta in Tabasco, Mexico. These artifacts, which predate others containing writing, reveal that the key aspects of the Mesoamerican scripts were present in Olmec writing: the combination of pictographic and glyphic elements to represent speech; the use of the sacred 260-day calendar; and the connection between writing, the calendar, and kingship. They imply that Mesoamerican writing originated in the La Venta polity.
Self-Organized Lane Formation And Optimized Traffic Flow In Army Ants, Royal Soc. Proc. Biological Sc.
Abstract: We show how the movement rules of individual ants on trails can lead to a collective choice of direction and the formation of distinct traffic lanes that minimize congestion. We develop (...) a new model with a quantitative study of the behaviour of the army ant Eciton burchelli. It is an ideal species in which to test the predictions of our model because it forms pheromone trails that are densely populated with very swift ants. The model explores the influences of turning rates and local perception on traffic flow. The behaviour of real army ants is such that they occupy the specific region of parameter space in which lanes form and traffic flow is maximized.
Tree-Hole Frogs Exploit Resonance Effects, Nature
Excerpts: Animal mating calls that exert a comparatively high sound pressure propagate over greater distances and generally have greater attractive power. Here we show that calling male Bornean tree-hole frogs (Metaphrynella sundana) actively exploit the acoustic properties of cavities in tree trunks that are partially filled with water and which are primarily used as egg-deposition sites. By tuning their vocalizations to the resonant frequency of the hole, which varies with the amount of water that it contains, these frogs enhance their chances of attracting females.
Organization Of Work In The Honeybee: Labour And Behavioural Flexibility, Royal Soc. Proc. Biological Sc
Abstract: This study addresses (...) presenting and testing a revision of the temporal caste concept that recognizes two categories of tasks: those that require a physiological specialization for their efficient performance, and those that all workers are equally able to perform. Only those tasks requiring a physiological specialization are relevant to the temporal caste concept. This work suggests that the organization of work in social insect colonies reflects a compromise between selection for the benefits of division of labour and opposing selection for flexibility in task allocation
A Unique Design For Self-Organizing Robots Controlled By "Hormonal" Software, ScienceDaily
Excerpts: (...) presented an overview of an audacious project to have pieces of the proposed half-mile-long Space Solar Power System satellite put themselves together--self-assemble--without the help of astronauts. They propose a self-assembling space station consisting of two species of robotic devices, both controlled by the same software. One species will be the parts that will actually make up the station, (...) the second species of robot, the "free-flying intelligent fiber rope matchmaker units," or whips. Whips will consist of two modular robot units connected by a long connector line that can shorten or lengthen at the direction of the software.
Hydrodynamics: Bend And Survive, Nature
Excerpts: Everyone has seen trees, particularly young ones, bend in a strong wind. But fewer people realize that this is a clever way of reducing the drag force of the wind on the tree. Thus trees combine a functional necessity to grow tall and carry out photosynthesis with the ability to survive strong winds (Fig. 1). But just how much can a flexible object reduce drag by changing its shape? (...) A more ingenious way to reduce drag, as seen in nature - from trees to jellyfish to (...).
Biology Aiding Nanotech Researchers,, UPI Science News
Excerpts: The project is working with viruses that can be engineered to stick to various elements, Belcher said. Experiments already have proven the process will work with germanium, cobalt, an iron-platinum compound and other materials, she said, (...). The viruses can grow in sheets, creating a flexible surface holding nanoparticles of various materials, Belcher said. This could lead to flexible computer displays, while removing the viruses after a nanostructure is formed could expand its usage into conditions where biological materials fail.
Slaving: Solvent Fluctuations Dominate Protein Dynamics And Functions, PNAS
Excerpts: Protein motions are essential for function. Comparing protein processes with the dielectric fluctuations of the surrounding solvent shows that they fall into two classes: nonslaved and slaved. Nonslaved processes are independent of the solvent motions; their rates are determined by the protein conformation and vibrational dynamics. (...) Bond formation is the prototype of nonslaved processes; opening and closing of channels are quintessential slaved motions. The prevalence of slaved motions highlights the importance of the environment in cells and membranes for the function of proteins
Air Pollution Induces Heritable DNA Mutations, PNAS
Excerpts: Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide live or work in close proximity to steel mills. Integrated steel production generates chemical pollution containing compounds that can induce genetic damage. (...) To address these issues experimentally, we exposed laboratory mice in situ to ambient air in a polluted industrial area near steel mills. (...) Our results indicate that human and wildlife populations in proximity to integrated steel mills may be at risk of developing germline mutations more frequently because of the inhalation of airborne chemical mutagens.
Humpty Dumpty and All That ...,, Science
Excerpts: The study of polarity in biological systems has a long and illustrious past. The bilateral symmetry of most organisms contrasts with the major differences between the upper and lower halves of the organisms, be they animals or plants. Even the apparent symmetry across the body can be deceptive: The internal organs have a well-defined, predictable, left-right asymmetry in their organization, which again is widely preserved within vertebrates. It should then come as no surprise that even single-celled organisms such as bacteria possess and propagate intrinsically polar characteristics.
Guiding Neuronal Growth With Light, PNAS
Excerpts: Control over neuronal growth is a fundamental objective in neuroscience, (...) and is particularly important for the formation of neural circuits in vitro, as well as nerve regeneration in vivo (...). We have shown experimentally that we can use weak optical forces to guide the direction taken by the leading edge, or growth cone, of a nerve cell. (...) We are therefore using light to control a natural biological process, in sharp contrast to the established technique of optical tweezers (...), which uses large optical forces to manipulate entire structures.
Immunology: Education And Promiscuity, Nature
Excerpts: Immune cells must be taught to distinguish between invading microbes and the body's own proteins. A new study re-emphasizes the importance of a thorough education in the thymus, and identifies an essential instructor.
T Cells Take Aim At Cancer, PNAS
Excerpts: Ever since Paul Ehrlich introduced the term "magic bullet," the exquisite capacity for specificity afforded by the immune system has always underpinned its appeal as a therapeutic weapon against cancer. The first clinical validation of this principle came in the form of mAb administration, which, after a decade of skepticism, produced therapeutic successes in breast cancer and B cell lymphomas. T cell-based immunotherapy offers an even broader therapeutic potential, owing to the ability of T cells to recognize peptides derived from proteins in any cellular compartment.
Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Networks
Bush authorsizes CIA To Kill Some Terrorists
In absence of specific complexity related web-publications on this topic we do a Google search and link to the most relevant stories. We try our best to be politically unbiased. Excerpt: THE TIMES, citing senior military and intelligence officials, said about two dozen terrorist leaders had recently been on the previously undisclosed list of approved targets, among them bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other principal figures from al-Qaida and related groups. The officials said the CIA would be allowed to kill them if their capture was impractical and civilian casualties could be minimized. Spokesmen for the White House and the CIA would not comment about what some officials called the "high-value target list," the Times said.
US Terror War Targeting Muslims: Malaysian PM, 19.02
Excerpts: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad on Friday said the US-led global anti-terror campaign was targeting Muslims and warned such action would only breed more violence. "Sanctions have been applied against more Muslim countries than others," Mahathir, who arrived in Tokyo on Thursday, said in a speech delivered at the United Nations University in Tokyo. "While Iraq, Iran and North Korea are labelled as the axis of evil, action is concentrated only on Iraq and Iran, Muslim countries," he said.
Links & Snippets
- Source: The Ghost Hunters, Scientists And Novelists Share Insights Into The Enduring Mystery Of Human Consciousness, Jay Tolson, USNews.com, 02/12/16
- Source: Ulcer-Causing Bacteria Uses Hydrogen for Energy, A microbiologist has discovered that the bacteria associated with almost all human ulcers uses hydrogen as an energy source, providing a whole new target for antibiotics for this bacteria.
- Source: The Role Of Chromosomal Instability In Tumor Initiation,, Martin A. Nowak, Natalia L. Komarova, Anirvan Sengupta, Prasad V. Jallepalli, Ie-Ming Shih, Bert Vogelstein, and Christoph Lengauer,, PNAS 2002;99 16226-16231
- Source: Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms: Tackling Complexity, Joseph H. Nadeau, DOI: 10.1038/420517a, Nature 420, 517 (2002), Many traits, including susceptibilities to some diseases, are under complex genetic control. A new way of analysing the mouse genome will be a great help in understanding the interactions involved
- Source: Conservation Biology: Lone Wolf To The Rescue, Par K. Ingvarsson, Nature 420, 472 (2002), Genetic analysis has revealed how a small and isolated population of grey wolves found salvation in the form of the genetic variation offered by a single, immigrant male.
- Source: The Brownian Web, L. R. G. Fontes, M. Isopi, C. M. Newman, and K. Ravishankar, PNAS 2002;99 15888-15893
- Source: What Businesses Can Learn From Animals, B. Hott - mailto:barbara.hottadmin.ox.ac.uk, Alphagalileo, 2002/12/09
Coming and Ongoing Webcasts
- Source: 20.3 Conference Announcements
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