Henry Flower became director of the British Museum of Natural History in 1884, and promptly set about rearranging exhibits. He set a display of human skulls to show their diversity of shape across the globe. A century later, the skulls had gone, and in their place was a large photograph of soccer fans standing in their terraces bearing the legend: "We are all members of a single species, Homo sapiens. But we are not identical."
HEAD CASES: The physical phenotypic differences between this Sudanese skull (right) and this European skull (left) are apparent. (From J.L.A. de Quatrefages, E.T. Hamy, Crania ethnica: les Cranes des races humaines, Baillere et fils: Paris, 1882.)
Excerpts: In a federal courtroom last week in Harrisburg, Pa., site of the ongoing trial to decide whether ninth-grade biology students in Dover should be required to hear about Intelligent Design, Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, took the stand. Behe is the originator and main proponent of the term ''irreducible complexity," a pillar of Intelligent Design, which refers to the notion that certain organic structures are too intricate to have evolved on their own.
Relating Musical Structure And Content To Aesthetic Response, J. Royal Musical Asso.
Excerpts: A model is presented which aims to show how, for listeners familiar with a given style, aesthetic response to music may be related to its 'structure' (as defined in relation to 'zygonic' theory) and 'content' (the particular perceived qualities of sound that pertain to a given musical event). The model combines recent empirical findings from music psychology with other approaches adapted from music theory and philosophy. Intramusical considerations, which form the core of the model, are positioned within a broader socio-cultural, cognitive and physical context. The new framework is used to inform an analysis of Beethoven's Piano Sonata op. 110, (...).
Modular Interdependency in Complex Dynamical Systems, Artificial Life
Excerpts: Herbert A. Simon's characterization of modularity in dynamical systems describes subsystems as having dynamics that are approximately independent of those of other subsystems (in the short term). This fits with the general intuition that modules must, by definition, be approximately independent. In the evolution of complex systems, such modularity may enable subsystems to be modified and adapted independently of other subsystems, whereas in a nonmodular system, modifications to one part of the system may result in deleterious side effects elsewhere in the system. (...) we seek to unify notions of modularity in dynamical systems with notions of how modularity affects evolvability. This leads to a quantifiable measure of modularity and a different understanding of its effect on evolvability
State Aggregation and Population Dynamics in Linear Systems, Artificial Life
Abstract: We consider complex systems that are composed of many interacting elements, evolving under some dynamics. We are interested in characterizing the ways in which these elements may be grouped into higher-level, macroscopic states in a way that is compatible with those dynamics. Such groupings may then be thought of as naturally emergent properties of the system. We formalize this idea and, in the case that the dynamics are linear, prove necessary and sufficient conditions for this to happen. In cases where there is an underlying symmetry among the components of the system, group theory may be used to provide a strong sufficient condition. These observations are illustrated with some artificial life examples.
UCSD Study Shows 'Junk' DNA Has Evolutionary Importance, UCSD News
Genetic material derisively called ¡§junk¡¨ DNA because it does not contain the instructions for protein-coding genes and appears to have little or no function is actually critically important to an organism's evolutionary survival, according to a study conducted by a biologist at UCSD.
Fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster Credit: UCSD
In the October 20 issue of Nature, Peter Andolfatto, an assistant professor of biology at UCSD, shows that these non-coding regions play an important role in maintaining an organism's genetic integrity.
Human Genome: Patchwork People, Nature
Excerpts: For years it was assumed that tiny differences in our genetic make-up gave us our individual traits. Now it seems that those characteristics are caused by rearrangements of large chunks of our DNA ¡X variations that could be the key to understanding disease. (...)
Exactly one year ago this week, scientists announced that they had finished the 'Book of Life'. The complete sequence of the human genome had been painstakingly reduced to an ordered list of letters representing the four bases of DNA.
Less Is More in Modeling Large Genetic Networks, Science
Excerpts: As the biology of information processing in the living cell shifts from the study of single signal transduction pathways to increasingly complex regulatory networks, mathematical models become indispensable tools. Detailed predictive models of large genetic networks could revolutionize how researchers study complex diseases, yet such models are not yet within reach. One reason is that experimental data for large genetic systems are incomplete; another is that large genetic systems are difficult to model. Extrapolating the standard differential equations model of a single gene (with its several kinetic parameters) to large systems would render the model prohibitively complicated.
Molecular Biology: DNA Twists And Flips, Nature
Excerpts: DNA can shape itself into many forms to achieve its purposes in life. The crystal structure of the junction between two of its forms provides insight into how DNA might accomplish some of these acrobatics.
Crick and Watson's famous structure of DNA has become an icon of our age, somewhat eclipsing DNA's other structural forms. Imagine unravelling the familiar helix (termed B-DNA) and then twisting it up the other way around. The result ¡X Z-DNA ¡X is not so visually appealing, and not so stable, but it has some intriguing biology.
Interlinked Fast and Slow Positive Feedback Loops Drive Reliable Cell Decisions, Science
Excerpts: Positive feedback is a ubiquitous signal transduction motif that allows systems to convert graded inputs into decisive, all-or-none outputs. Here we investigate why the positive feedback switches that regulate polarization of budding yeast, calcium signaling, Xenopus oocyte maturation, and various other processes use multiple interlinked loops rather than single positive feedback loops. Mathematical simulations revealed that linking fast and slow positive feedback loops creates a "dual-time" switch that is both rapidly inducible and resistant to noise in the upstream signaling system.
Korea Launches Network To Share Cloning Information, Nature
Excerpts: Government sets up international hub for stem-cell technology.
The World Stem Cell Hub, an international network for exchanging embryonic stem-cell lines and cloning technology, has been launched by the South Korean government.
(...), the hub will be headed by Woo Suk Hwang, who shot to international fame last year for successfully deriving human embryonic stem-cell lines by therapeutic cloning. The hub's headquarters will be at Seoul National University Hospital, but it will have branches around the world that will train researchers in the technique, provide a bank of cell lines (...).
Astrobiology: Life At The Cutting Edge, Nature
Excerpts: A team of mission scientists is pretending that this drill, and the precious core it carries, is located on Mars. The drill is equipped with scientific instruments to search for signs of life in the dirt. So, for the team, extracting this chunk of red earth could be a step towards finding out whether life lurks beneath the sterile surface of Mars.
The drilling technologies being tested here, or others like it, may one day travel to the red planet aboard European Space Agency or NASA missions (...).
Glycine-Rich Antifreeze Proteins from Snow Fleas, Science
Excerpts: We purified antifreeze proteins from winter-active snow fleas, Hypogastrura harveyi. These 6.5- and 15.7-kilodalton thermolabile proteins are glycine-rich (45% of the residues), and the short isoform is composed of the tripeptide repeat Gly-X-X. This makes them very different from other antifreeze proteins, including two from insects, suggesting independent adaptation to freezing environments.
Evolution: Along Came A Sea Spider, Nature
Excerpts: The composition of the arthropod head is one of the bitterest and longest-running problems in animal evolution. Unresolved after more than a century of debate, this sorry tale is (in)famously known as the "endless dispute".(...)
But the real meat of the endless dispute has always concerned the nature of the appendage-less front-most part of the brain (...). Is it some sort of non-segmental leftover inherited from the very earliest animal ancestors of the arthropods6 (a mystical structure called the acron in the literature), (...)?
Avian Influenza: Are Wild Birds To Blame?, Science
Excerpts: Almost as soon as H5N1 avian influenza began its deadly sweep across Asia, people fingered migratory birds as likely culprits in its spread. Migrating birds offer an obvious way to connect the dots of H5N1 outbreaks along the east coast of Asia and, in just the past few months, its unexpected cross-continent jump to Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. Moreover, researchers have long known that these birds commonly harbor less virulent flu viruses, and many wild birds mingle with Asia's free-ranging domestic poultry, which have been decimated by H5N1.
New Migration Route Could Lead to New Species of Bird, Science
Excerpts: The clich? "birds of a feather flock together" doesn't hold for European blackcaps that breed in southern Germany and Austria. At one time, these birds migrated back and forth together, spending summers in northern Europe and winters in Portugal, Spain, and North Africa. But in the past 50 years, there's been a split in the avian ranks, with more and more heading northwest for the winter, not south.
On page 502, Stuart Bearhop, an animal ecologist at Queen's University Belfast, U.K., and his colleagues report that even though all the blackcaps gather each year at the same mating sites,(...)
Cool Birds - How Can Emperor Penguins Live Like That?, Science News
DOWN UNDER. Emperor penguins, the deepest avian divers known, take advantage of cracks in the ice to go fishing (left). They can keep swimming even when their bodies' oxygen stores have been depleted beyond levels that would knock out a human diver. After feeding, the penguins speed to the surface (right) and can shoot out onto the ice. Kooyman/Scripps Inst. of Oceanography
"Hydrodynamically, penguins are better designed than most marine mammals," Kooyman says. Seals, for example, flex their bodies dramatically as they swim, and that flexing increases drag. In contrast, emperor penguins motor along with their bodies almost rigid.
(...) how deep-diving penguins manage their oxygen. First, he says, they load up on it by taking advantage of "the major adaptation" in some animals for epic dives, an abundance of the compound myoglobin in their tissues.
Myoglobin has an even stronger affinity for oxygen than does its close relative hemoglobin.
Editor's Note: This case of evolutionary adaptation to extreme environments might have applications in extreme sports and the design of hydro-dynamically effective skins.
Trained Wasps May Be Used To Detect Bombs, Bugs, Bodies And More, Innovations-report
Excerpts: An unusual device that uses trained wasps, rather than trained dogs, to detect specific chemical odors could one day be used to find hidden explosives, plant diseases, illegal drugs, cancer and even buried bodies, (...). The trained wasps are contained in a cup-sized device, called a "Wasp Hound," that is capable of sounding an alarm or triggering a visual signal, such as a flashing light, when the insects encounter a target odor. The sensor is cheaper to use than trained dogs and more sensitive than some sophisticated chemical detection methods, including electronic noses, (...).
Machines Are Catching Up To Human Intelligence, San Jose Mercury News
Excerpts: The machines are gaining on us. Their electronic brains are getting quicker and more capable and are displaying more signs of humanlike "intelligence." A race earlier this month by five driverless vehicles across 132 miles of twisting desert road without a living soul aboard is evidence of the remarkable progress being made in the arcane field of artificial intelligence - AI for short. Artificial intelligence is what happens when a computer or machine does something that would be considered intelligent if a human did it, such as drive a car, play soccer, reserve a hotel room or pilot a plane.
Self-Organizing Hierarchies in Sensor and Communication Networks, Artificial Life
Excerpt: We consider a hierarchical multicellular sensing and communication network, embedded in an ageless aerospace vehicle that is expected to detect and react to multiple impacts and damage over a wide range of impact energies. In particular, we investigate self-organization of impact boundaries enclosing critically damaged areas, and impact networks connecting remote cells that have detected noncritical impacts. Each level of the hierarchy is shown to have distinct higher-order emergent properties, desirable in self-monitoring and self-repairing vehicles. (...)
See Also: Video Summary @ ECAL2005 webcast and ComDig 2005.40
Meteorology: Rise Of The Forecasting Machines, Science
Excerpts: For almost half a century, human and computer have been vying to predict the weather better. The computer long ago won the race to forecast out to a week and beyond, and human forecasters began giving ground at shorter ranges. Now comes evidence that computer simulations--aided by automatic statistical analysis--can consistently best humans at forecasts longer than 24 hours. The finding heralds an age of prognostication untouched by humans.
The latest from the forecasting wars comes in a paper soon to be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Meteorologists Jeffrey Baars and Clifford Mass of the University of Washington, Seattle, examined machine-generated forecasts of weather at 29 locations throughout the United States during a recent year and compared them with the routine predictions made by forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS).
Geographic Control of Titan's Mid-Latitude Clouds, Science
Excerpts: Observations of Titan's mid-latitude clouds from the W. M. Keck and Gemini Observatories show that they cluster near 350¢XW longitude, 40¢XS latitude. These clouds cannot be explained by a seasonal shift in global circulation and thus presumably reflect a mechanism on Titan such as geysering or cryovolcanism in this region. The rate of volatile release necessary to trigger cloud formation could easily supply enough methane to balance the loss to photolysis in the upper atmosphere.
Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Network
Zarqawi's Terror Network Rivals Bin Laden's, US Intelligence Says, The Australian
Excerpts: The Jordanian extremist has been so successful in his expansion that he now allegedly funds the al-Qa'ida leadership
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has created a terror network to rival Osama bin Laden's by expanding his terrorism campaign in Iraq to extremists in two dozen terror groups scattered across almost 40 countries, US intelligence officials say.
US government officials have said the threat to US interests from Zarqawi compared with that from bin Laden, to whom Zarqawi pledged his loyalty last year.
Hunter Asks For Probe Of Pentagon Actions Against Whistle-Blower, The Hill
Excerpts: House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has asked the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate why the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) revoked the top security clearance of a whistle-blower involved in a classified intelligence cell that may have identified the Sept. 11 terrorists a year before the attacks.
Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who has said that a military unit called Able Danger identified four Sept. 11 hijackers before the 2001 attacks, is facing Pentagon accusations that he broke military rules.
"Able Danger" & 9/11 Foreknowledge, The New American
Excerpts: According to Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), in September 2000 the Able Danger team initiated at least three separate efforts to get its information on the hijackers to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists." That was one year before 9/11. Army Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Schaffer, one of the principal members of Able Danger, has stated in interviews given this past August that Able Danger had identified five al-Qaeda cells, including two of the three cells that ultimately would be used to pull off the 9/11 terror attacks.
Links & Snippets
- The Biochemical Architecture of an Ancient Adaptive Landscape, Mark Lunzer, Stephen P. Miller, Roderick Felsheim, Antony M. Dean, 05/10/21, Science : 499-501
- The Renaissance of Natural Products as Drug Candidates, Ian Paterson, Edward A. Anderson, 05/10/21, Science: 451-453
- U.S. ECONOMY: Panel Calls for More Science Funding to Preserve U.S. Prestige, Eli Kintisch, 05/10/21, Science: 423
- Tiny Bubbles A Storehouse Of Knowledge, 2005/10/17, ScienceDaily & Virginia Tech
- Dynamic Coordinated Control Laws in Multiple Agent Models, David S. Morgan, Ira B. Schwartz, 2005/10/18, arXiv, DOI: nlin.PS/0510041
- Apis Mellifera Bees Acquire Long-Term Olfactory Memories Within The Colony, M. Gil, R. J. D. Marco, 2005/10/18, Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0361
- Stimulating The Brain Makes The Fingers More Sensitive, 2005/10/19, ScienceDaily & Public Library of Science
- A Unification in the Theory of Linearization of Second Order Nonlinear Ordinary Differential Equations, V. K. Chandrasekar, M. Senthilvelan, M. Lakshmanan, 2005/10/20, arXiv, DOI: nlin.SI/0510045
- Virtual Versus Real Water Transfers Within China, J. Ma, A. Y. Hoekstra, H. Wang, A. K. Chapagain, D. Wang, 2005/10/20, Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2005.1644
- Stronger Than Steel, Harder Than Diamonds: FSU Researcher Developing Numerous Uses For Extraordinary 'Buckypaper', 2005/10/21, Innovations-report & Florida State University
- CIA Invests In Skybuilt Green Power: Skybuilt's Mobile Power Station Provides 'Drop And Operate' Power In A Standard Freight Container, K. Young, 2005/10/21, vnunet.com
- Nanoscale Study Gives New Insight Into Heat Transfer In Biological Systems, 2005/10/21, ScienceDaily & Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Evolvability Suppression to Stabilize Far-Sighted Adaptations, Lee Altenberg, 2005/Fall, Artificial Life 11(4)
- Levels of Description: A Novel Approach to Dynamical Hierarchies, Simon McGregor, Chrisantha Fernando, 2005/Fall, Artificial Life 11(4)
- Hierarchical Organization in Smooth Dynamical Systems, Martin N. Jacobi, 2005/Fall, Artificial Life 11(4)
- Hegemonic Order, September 11, And The Consequences Of The Bush Revolution, L. Telesca - ltelescaimaa.cnr.it, M. Lovallo, 5:2, 2005, online 2005/08/19, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, DOI: 10.1093/irap/lci124
- Beyond The '3/4-Power Law': Variation In The Intra- And Interspecific Scaling Of Metabolic Rate In Animals, D. S. Glazier - glazierjuniata.edu, 80:2005, Online 2005/08/26, Biological Reviews, DOI: 10.1017/S1464793105006834
- Power And Luck, S. Lukes - steven.lukesnyu.edu, L. Haglund - ladawn.haglundnyu.edu, Apr. 2005, Online 2005/09/19, European Journal of Sociology, DOI: 10.1017/S0003975605000020
- Sport-Related Peripheral Nerve Injuries: Part 1, G. Cavaletti, P. Marmiroli, G. Alberti, G. Michielon, G. Tredici, Jul. 2005, Sport Sciences for Health, DOI: 10.1007/s11332-004-0011-6
- ''Just Forget It.'' Memory Distortions As Bounded Rationality, B. S. Frey, Jun. 2005, Mind & Society, DOI: 10.1007/s11299-005-0004-9
- Cooperation And Trust In Group Context, R. Tuomela, M. Tuomela, Jun. 2005, Mind & Society, DOI: 10.1007/s11299-005-0008-5
- Linked Ecologies: States And Universities As Environments For Professions, A. Abbott, Sep. 2005, online 2005/08/17, Sociological Theory, DOI: 10.1111/j.0735-2751.2005.00253.x
- Demystifying Biology: Did Life Begin As A Complex System?, P. C. Lauterbur - pcluiuc.edu, Sep.-Oct. 2005, Online 2005/10/18, Complexity, DOI: 10.1002/cplx.20097
- Noise In A Small Genetic Circuit That Undergoes Bifurcation, T. Toulouse, P. Ao, I. Shmulevich, S. Kauffman - skauffmanucalgary.ca, Sep.-Oct. 2005, Online 2005/10/18, Complexity, DOI: 10.1002/cplx.20099
Illuminating the Shadow of the Future, Ann Arbor, Mi 05/09/23-25
Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems - Brainstorming Meeting, Paris, France 05/09/19-23
Complexity, Science & Society Conference 2005, U. Liverpool, UK 2005/09/11-14
ECAL 2005 - VIIIth European Conference on Artificial Life,
Canterbury, Kent, UK 2005/09/5-9
T. Irene Sanders, Executive Director and Founder, The Washington Center for Complexity & Public Policy, 05/08/27, QuickTime video (10:38 min), Podcast
- North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity 2005 Conference, Virtual Conference Network, St. Pete's Beach, Florida, 05/06/09-11
- Understanding Complex Systems - Computational Complexity and Bioinformatics, Virtual Conference Network, Urbana-Champaign, Il, UIUC, 05/05/16-19
- Nonlinearity, Fluctuations, and Complexity, with a celebration of the 65th birthday of Gregoire Nicolis. , Complexity Session, Universite' Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, 05/03/16
- World Economic Forum , Davos, Switzerland, 05/01/26-30
1st European Conference on Complex Systems, Torino, Italy, 04/12/5-7
From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology: A Tribute to Francisco Varela (1946-2001), Paris, France, 2004/06/18-20
Evolutionary Epistemology, Language, and Culture, Brussels, Belgium, 04/05/26-28
International Conference on Complex Systems 2004, Boston, 04/05/16-21
Nonlinear Dynamics And Chaos: Lab Demonstrations, Strogatz, Steven H., Internet-First University Press, 1994
- CERN Webcast Service, Streamed videos of Archived Lectures and Live Events
- Dean LeBaron's Archive of Daily Video Commentary, Ongoing Since February 1998
- Edge Videos
Online Course in Evolutionary Computation, U Hawaii Outreach College, 05/09/12-11/19
- Intl Congress of Nanotechnology 2005, San Francisco, USA, 05/10/31-11/04
Adaptive And Resilient Computing Security Workshop, Santa Fe, NM, 05/11/02-03
An Afternoon with Michael Crichton At The Smithsonian Institution In Collaboration with The Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy,
Washington, DC, 05/11/06
5th Intl Workshop on Meta-synthesis and Complex System,
(MCS'05 is also as a symposium of
the 1st World Congress of International Federation for Systems Research)
- European Conference on Complex Systems, Paris, France, 05/11/14-18
Econophysics Colloquium, Canberra (ANU), 05/11/14-18
3rd International Complexity Science and Educational Research Conference, Robert, Louisiana, 05/11/20-22, see also: Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, Inaugural issue - Free Online Access
Systems Thinking and Complexity Science: Insights for Action, , 11th Ann ANZSYS Conf/Managing the Complex V
Christchurch, New Zealand, 05/12/05-07
- 2005 International Conference on Computational Intelligence and Security (CIS'2005), Hong Kong, China, 05/12/15-19
3rd Biennial Seminar on the Philosophical, Methodological, and Epistemological Implications of Complexity Theory, Havana, Cuba, 06/01/09-12
The Second International Workshop on Biologically Inspired
Approaches to Advanced Information Technology , Senri Life Science Center, Osaka, Japan, 06/01/26-27
Intl Wkshp and Sem, Dynamics on Complex Networks and Applications, Dresden, Germany, 06/02/06-03/03
- FRACTAL 2006 Complexity and Fractals in Nature, 9th Intl Multidisciplinary Conf, Vienna, Austria, 06/02/12-15
2nd Intl Nonlinear Science Conf, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 06/03/10-12
- 18th European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research (EMCSR), Vienna, Austria, 06/04/18-21
5th Intl Joint Conf on Autonomous Agents And Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2006)
Future University, Hakodate, Japan, )6/05/08-12
- Alife X - The 10th Intl Conf on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems,Bloomington, Indiana, 06/06/03-07
Intl. Conference on Complex Systems Boston, MA, 06/06/25-30
NKS 2006: The Wolfram Science Conference, Washington, D.C., 06/06/15-18
Intl Conf on Complex Systems (ICCS)
Boston, Ma, 06/06/25-30
2006 Genetic And Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO-2006),
Seattle, Washington, USA, 06/07/08-12
50th Anniversary Summit of AI, Monte Verita, Switzerland, 06/07/09-14
World Conference on Social Simulation (WCSS-06) , Kyoto, Japan, 06/08/21-25
Call for Papers - Book Announcements
- The Editorial Board of
Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences
is pleased to announce the first of two special issues on nonlinear methodology. Part 1, Broad Issues, will appear in October, 2005
Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, © 2004 Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Ralph C. Merkle. All Rights Reserved. This book is now available for free on the Internet, 05/10
- Special Issue of
E:CO (Emergence, Complexity and Organization): Complexity and Narrative,
Submit an abstract (< 1000 words) to Ken Baskin (firstname.lastname@example.org), David Boje (email@example.com) and Kurt Richardson (firstname.lastname@example.org), 05/09/21