Complexity Digest 2008.14    01-Apr-2008

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letter from Gottfried Mayer to our readers and friends is at http://www.comdig.de/GMLetter.html
  Archive: http://comdig.unam.mx
  "I think the next century will be the century of complexity." Stephen Hawking, 2000.

  1. Economics: When a Commodity Is Not Exactly a Commodity, Science
    1. Market Manipulation, or Just Business as Usual?, Knowledge@Wharton
    2. Addressing Consumer Concerns About Climate Change, The McKinsey Quarterly
  2. Blind to Change, Even as It Stares Us in the Face, NY Times
  3. European Roots: Human Ancestors Go Back In Time In Spanish Cave, Science News
  4. What's Cookin' - Science Is In The Kitchen, And The Results Are Good For Our Taste Buds, Science News
    1. Brain's 'Sixth Sense' For Calories Discovered, ScienceDaily
  5. Neuroscience: Strength In Numbers, Nature
  6. Freedom of Expression, Science
    1. Genetics Of Gene Expression And Its Effect On Disease, Nature
    2. MicroRNAs Make Big Impression in Disease After Disease, Science
    3. Gene Regulation in the Third Dimension, Science
    4. Complex Riboswitches, Science
  7. Bugs Provoke The Immune System Into Fighting Cancer, New Scientitst
    1. UCLA Researchers Design Nanomachine That Kills Cancer Cells, PhysOrg.com
    2. Anticancer siRNA Therapy Advances, Thanks To Nanoparticles, Nanowerk News
    3. A New Way To Fight Cancer: The Silver Shield, PhysOrg.com
  8. The Complexities Of Genetic Susceptibility To Tuberculosis Revealed, Innovations-report
    1. Mouse, Heal Thyself: Therapeutic Cloning From A Mouse's Own Cells, Science News
  9. The Art Of Self-Defence, Nature
  10. 'Artificial Cell' Can Make Its Own Genes, New Scientist
  11. Pleiotropic Scaling Of Gene Effects And The 'Cost Of Complexity', Nature
    1. Reason For Almost Two Billion Year Delay In Animal Evolution On Earth Discovered, ScienceDaily
  12. Climate Change: Study Fingers Soot as a Major Player in Global Warming, Science
  13. Major Evolutionary Transitions In Ant Agriculture, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA
  14. Who's Bad? Chimps Figure It Out By Observation, ScienceDaily
    1. Foraging In HoneybeesóWhen Does It Pay To Dance?, Behav. Ecol.
    2. Behavioral Ecology: Smart Birds Lend a Beak for Food, Science
    3. Rule Learning by Rats, Science
  15. Live Another Day: African Insect Survives Drought In Glassy State, Science News
  16. Evolution Of Learning In Fluctuating Environments, Evolution
    1. Virtual Pets Can Learn Just Like Babies, New Scientist
    2. Robotic Minds Think Alike?, Innovations-report
  17. Chemistry: The Photon Trap, Nature
    1. Catalysis: Triumph Of A Chemical Underdog, Nature
    2. Nanoelectronics: Spin Surprise In Carbon, Nature
  18. Hypercubes Could Be Building Blocks of Nanocomputers, PhysOrg.com
    1. Quantum Effects Could Shed Light On Hazy Images, New Scientist
    2. Dimensions Of Space-Time Used To Order Potential Universes., Nature
  19. Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Networks
    1. Jihadi Studies - The Obstacles To Understanding Radical Islam And The Opportunities To Know It Better, Times Online
    2. Memo Sheds New Light on Torture Issue, NY Times
  20. Links & Snippets
    1. Other Publications
    2. Webcast Announcements
    3. Conference Announcements
    4. Other Announcements

  1. Economics: When a Commodity Is Not Exactly a Commodity, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: The metabolism of our global economy relies on trillions of daily transactions, many of which involve goods and services termed commodities. In the idealized competitive markets of conventional economic theory, specific commodities are homogeneous and their quality is easily assessed. Because all pork bellies are alike, your choices among them can be based on price alone. But market transactions are not always so straightforward. Researchers have recently begun to explore the ways in which the process of exchange itself may modify the exchangers--altering product quality in unanticipated ways.

    1. Market Manipulation, or Just Business as Usual?, Knowledge@Wharton Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: The recent turmoil in the financial markets is scary because it was triggered by something new and poorly understood -- the collapse of subprime mortgages. But it's not surprising for moods to turn sour when the good times end, Siegel notes. A few years ago, the trigger was the collapse of the tech-stock boom. This time, it's the end of the easy-money era and housing bubble. "Swings of sentiment," Siegel adds, "have happened forever."

    2. Addressing Consumer Concerns About Climate Change, The McKinsey Quarterly Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: In a global survey, consumers say that a corporation's performance in addressing the problems of the environment and climate change affects not only how much they trust the company but also whether they would buy its products.

      Consumers also want companies to promote the public good by providing healthier and safer products, retirement and health care benefits for its employees, and much else besides. Their expectations vary by industry and geography.



  2. Blind to Change, Even as It Stares Us in the Face, NY Times Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts:
    Tomasz Walenta Good Eye In deciding what to focus on, we scan and sweep until something sticks out and brings our bouncing cones to a halt, as shown above.
    Visual attentiveness is born of limited resources. "The basic problem is that far more information lands on your eyes than you can possibly analyze and still end up with a reasonable sized brain", Dr. Wolfe said. Hence, the brain has evolved mechanisms for combating data overload, allowing large rivers of data to pass along optical and cortical corridors almost entirely unassimilated, and peeling off selected data for a close, careful view. In deciding what to focus on, the brain essentially shines a spotlight from place to place, a rapid, sweeping search that takes in maybe 30 or 40 objects per second,(...).

  3. European Roots: Human Ancestors Go Back In Time In Spanish Cave, Science News Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts:
    CAVE SAVE. Researchers who retrieved this fossil jaw from a Spanish cave conclude that human ancestors reached Western Europe more than 1 million years ago. EIA/Jordi Mestre
    Fossil finds in Spain have yielded the earliest known skeletal evidence of human ancestors in Europe, according to a new report. A fossil jaw and tooth from the same individual, found during excavations of a cave (...),

    The investigators assign the new discoveries to the species Homo antecessor. A decade ago, they identified 800,000-year-old fossils from another Atapuerca site as H. antecessor. In the Spanish scientists' view, H. antecessor was an evolutionary precursor of European Neandertals and modern humans.


  4. What's Cookin' - Science Is In The Kitchen, And The Results Are Good For Our Taste Buds, Science News Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts:
    Sphere Of Flavor. Calcium bonds with sodium alginate to form a jelly shell around a spoonful of mojito. Darko Zagar
    The relationship between scientists and chefs, or lack thereof, troubled the late physicist Nicholas Kurti. At a presentation for the Royal Society of London in 1969 he lamented, "I think it is a sad reflection on our civilization that while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus, we do not know what goes on inside our souffl?s." (...)

    "What is important is in your mouth," (...). More important are structural changes that result from heating or cooling to body temperature, the action of saliva (an adult secretes 0.5 to 1.5 liters per day), and the shearing between the palate and the tongue. "There's no tongue like the human tongue," van Aken says.


    1. Brain's 'Sixth Sense' For Calories Discovered, ScienceDaily Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: The brain can sense the calories in food, independent of the taste mechanism, researchers have found in studies with mice. Their finding that the brain's reward system is switched on by this "sixth sense" machinery could have implications for understanding the causes of obesity. For example, the findings suggest why high-fructose corn syrup, widely used as a sweetener in foods, might contribute to obesity. (...) In their experiments, the researchers genetically altered mice to make them "sweet-blind," lacking a key component of taste receptor cells that enabled them to detect the sweet taste. (...)

  5. Neuroscience: Strength In Numbers, Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: To store information, the brain modulates synapses, which mediate communication between neurons. A closer look hints that subcellular changes in response to groups of synapses facilitate this process. (...)

    (...) when clusters of synapses on a dendritic branch are stimulated simultaneously, under conditions thought to mirror brain states during learning, repeated activation leads to gradual changes in the response of the branch.


  6. Freedom of Expression, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: As in civil society, where there must necessarily be checks and balances on freedom of expression, cells have evolved a range of mechanisms to regulate the expression of their constituent genes. By far the best-understood medium for gene regulation is the protein transcription factor. The broad set of rules by which these regulators operate is outlined by Hobert (p. 1785). However, new and unexpected gene regulatory systems have been discovered in the past decade, perhaps the most important of which involve microRNAs (miRNAs).
    • Source: Freedom of Expression, Guy Riddihough, Beverly A. Purnell, John Travis, DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5871.1781, Science Vol. 319. no. 5871, p. 1781, 08/03/28

    1. Genetics Of Gene Expression And Its Effect On Disease, Nature Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Common human diseases result from the interplay of many genes and environmental factors. Therefore, a more integrative biology approach is needed to unravel the complexity and causes of such diseases. To elucidate the complexity of common human diseases such as obesity, we have analysed the expression of 23,720 transcripts in large population-based blood and adipose [fat, Ed.] tissue cohorts comprehensively assessed for various phenotypes, including traits related to clinical obesity. In contrast to the blood expression profiles, we observed a marked correlation between gene expression in adipose tissue and obesity-related traits. (...)
      • Source: Genetics Of Gene Expression And Its Effect On Disease, Valur Emilsson, Gudmar Thorleifsson, Bin Zhang, Amy S. Leonardson, Florian Zink, Jun Zhu, Sonia Carlson, Agnar Helgason, G. Bragi Walters, Steinunn Gunnarsdottir, Magali Mouy, Valgerdur Steinthorsdottir, Gudrun H. Eiriksdottir, Gyda Bjornsdottir, Inga Reynisdottir, Daniel Gudbjartsson, Anna Helgadottir Aslaug Jonasdottir, Adalbjorg Jonasdottir, Unnur Styrkarsdottir, Solveig Gretarsdottir, Kristinn P. Magnusson, Hreinn Stefansson, Ragnheidur Fossdal, Kristleifur Kristjansson, Hjortur G. Gislason, Tryggvi Stefansson, Bjorn G. Leifsson, Unnur Thorsteinsdottir, John R. Lamb, Jeffrey R. Gulcher, Marc L. Reitman, Augustine Kong, Eric E. Schadt, Kari Stefansson,, DOI: 10.1038/nature06758, Nature 452, 423-428, 08/03/27

    2. MicroRNAs Make Big Impression in Disease After Disease, Science Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: (...) the protein produced by the oncogene myc, which is frequently active in cancer cells, downregulates dozens of microRNAs. But that's far from the whole story, for the microRNA-gene network is unimaginably complex. Although some proteins made by oncogenes home in on microRNAs, as Mendell describes, the reverse is also true, with other microRNAs controlling the activity of oncogenes. "The result is a series of interactions that can have a very potent effect" on cancer, says Mendell.

    3. Gene Regulation in the Third Dimension, Science Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Analysis of the spatial organization of chromosomes reveals complex three-dimensional networks of chromosomal interactions. These interactions affect gene expression at multiple levels, including long-range control by distant enhancers and repressors, coordinated expression of genes, and modification of epigenetic states. Major challenges now include deciphering the mechanisms by which loci come together and understanding the functional consequences of these often transient associations.

    4. Complex Riboswitches, Science Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Using simple biochemical tricks, metabolite-binding riboswitches take on gene control functions that have long been thought to be the work of protein factors. Although modern riboswitches might be the last holdouts of primitive genetic elements, some are capable of sensory and regulatory feats that are competitive with their protein counterparts.

      Riboswitches are found in mRNAs, where they bind small molecules and control gene expression. Most carry a single binding site, or aptamer, that recognizes a target ligand.


  7. Bugs Provoke The Immune System Into Fighting Cancer, New Scientitst Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Disease-causing bugs could play a valuable role in the treatment of cancer. Deliberately infecting people with the bacteria that cause listeriosis could increase their ability to destroy tumours. The goal is to kick-start the body's immune system by "provoking" it with the bacteria, which are modified to trigger an attack on the cancer.

    US vaccine company Advaxis chose Listeria monocytogenes because of its ability to stow away in immune cells called antigen-presenting cells (APCs).


    1. UCLA Researchers Design Nanomachine That Kills Cancer Cells, PhysOrg.com Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Researchers from the Nano Machine Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have developed a novel type of nanomachine that can capture and store anticancer drugs inside tiny pores and release them into cancer cells in response to light. Known as a "nanoimpeller," the device is the first light-powered nanomachine that operates inside a living cell, a development that has strong implications for cancer treatment.

    2. Anticancer siRNA Therapy Advances, Thanks To Nanoparticles, Nanowerk News Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: In the first report, Mark E. Davis, Ph.D., an investigator in the Nanosystems Biology Cancer Center at the California Institute of Technology, and former graduate student Derek Bartlett, Ph.D., now at the City of Hope, used mathematical modeling and results from dosing experiments in a mouse model of human cancer to explain therapeutic response with various dosing regimes for both targeted and untargeted siRNA-containing nanoparticles. The results of this work, published in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, provide guidelines for optimizing the design of siRNA-based anticancer therapies.

    3. A New Way To Fight Cancer: The Silver Shield, PhysOrg.com Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Fasting for two days protects healthy cells against chemotherapy, according to a study appearing online the week of Mar. 31 in PNAS Early Edition. Mice given a high dose of chemotherapy after fasting continued to thrive. The same dose killed half the normally fed mice and caused lasting weight and energy loss in the survivors.

      The chemotherapy worked as intended on cancer, extending the lifespan of mice injected with aggressive human tumors, reported a group led by Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.



  8. The Complexities Of Genetic Susceptibility To Tuberculosis Revealed, Innovations-report Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Researchers working in Vietnam have identified a genetic variant that predisposes people to developing a lethal form of tuberculosis (TB), tuberculous meningitis, if they are infected with a strain of TB known as the Beijing strain. The work, (...) underlines the importance of studying both sides of the complex host-pathogen interaction and its role in susceptibility to disease. TB, which is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, kills over 2 million people each year. It is estimated that well over 2 million people are infected with M. tuberculosis, though the majority will never show symptoms. (...)

    1. Mouse, Heal Thyself: Therapeutic Cloning From A Mouse's Own Cells, Science News Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: The work demonstrates the potential of therapeutic cloning for replacing damaged neurons in people who have Parkinson's.

      The individual steps of the process have each been done before in mice: cloning skin cells to make early embryos, extracting stem cells from the embryos, converting these embryonic stem cells into the right kind of nerve cells, and implanting the nerve cells into the mouse brains.


  9. The Art Of Self-Defence, Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: A sudden surge in progress during the past decade has created what many people are calling a renaissance in vaccine development. Technological advances have transformed immunology, virology, structural biology and genomics. Global health is high on the world's agenda. And vaccine development has the backing of an extremely wealthy patron, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which spent US$287 million on AIDS-vaccine research alone in 2006. Researchers in different diseases, once isolated from each other, are increasingly coordinating their efforts and sharing ideas on more strategic vaccine design.

  10. 'Artificial Cell' Can Make Its Own Genes, New Scientist Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts:
    Microscope images show fluorescent protein created in the tiny channels of a machine able to synthesise and express its own genes (Image: David Kong/MIT)
    An "artificial cell" capable of synthesising genes and making them into proteins has been developed by researchers in the US.

    Cells are governed by genes which provide instructions for making proteins that carry out the cell's functions.

    The postage stamp-sized machine able to make and express its own genes offers a fast and cheap new way of making "designer" proteins not found in nature. It could ultimately help scientists test how individual patients will react to specific drugs.


  11. Pleiotropic Scaling Of Gene Effects And The 'Cost Of Complexity', Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: As perceived by Darwin, evolutionary adaptation by the processes of mutation and selection is difficult to understand for complex features that are the product of numerous traits acting in concert, for example the eye or the apparatus of flight. Typically, mutations simultaneously affect multiple phenotypic characters. This phenomenon is known as pleiotropy. (...) Some authors have suggested that pleiotropy can impede evolutionary progress (a so-called 'cost of complexity'). (...) This suggests that evolution of higher organisms does not suffer a 'cost of complexity' because most mutations affect few traits and the size of the effects does not decrease with pleiotropy.

    1. Reason For Almost Two Billion Year Delay In Animal Evolution On Earth Discovered, ScienceDaily Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Scientists from around the world have reconstructed changes in Earth's ancient ocean chemistry during a broad sweep of geological time, from about 2.5 to 0.5 billion years ago. They have discovered that a deficiency of oxygen and the heavy metal molybdenum in the ancient deep ocean may have delayed the evolution of animal life on Earth for nearly 2 billion years. The researchers arrived at their result by tracking molybdenum in black shales, which are a kind of sedimentary rock (...). Molybdenum is a key micronutrient for life and serves as a proxy for oceanic and atmospheric oxygen amounts. (...)

  12. Climate Change: Study Fingers Soot as a Major Player in Global Warming, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: According to a new analysis reported online this week in Nature Geoscience, climate scientists may have seriously underestimated the role that tiny particles of black carbon, or soot, play in global warming.

    The good news is that--unlike reductions in greenhouse gas emissions--reducing the release of large amounts of black carbon worldwide would have immediate effects.

    Although the error bars on the new measurement are large, "the effects of black carbon are definitely stronger than what the IPCC estimates,"(...).


  13. Major Evolutionary Transitions In Ant Agriculture, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Agriculture is a specialized form of symbiosis that is known to have evolved in only four animal groups: humans, bark beetles, termites, and ants. Here, we reconstruct the major evolutionary transitions that produced the five distinct agricultural systems of the fungus-growing ants, the most well studied of the nonhuman agriculturalists. (...) Our analyses indicate that the original form of ant agriculture, the cultivation of a diverse subset of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae, evolved 50 million years ago (...).

  14. Who's Bad? Chimps Figure It Out By Observation, ScienceDaily Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Chimpanzees make judgments about the actions and dispositions of strangers by observing others' behavior and interactions in different situations. Specifically, chimpanzees show an ability to recognize certain behavioral traits and make assumptions about the presence or absence of these traits in strangers in similar situations thereafter. (...) Character judgments are an essential feature of cooperative exchanges between humans, and we use them to predict future behavioral interactions. A system for attributing reputation is therefore expected in any species which needs to assess the behavior of others and to predict the outcomes of future interactions. (...)

    1. Foraging In Honeybees-When Does It Pay To Dance?, Behav. Ecol. Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Honeybees are unique in that they are the only social insects that are known to recruit nest mates using the waggle dance. This waggle dance is used by successful foragers to convey information about both the direction and distance to food sources. Nest mates can use this spatial information, increasing their chances of locating the food source. But how effective is the bees' dance communication? Previous work has shown that dancing does not benefit a honeybee colony under all foraging conditions and that the benefits of dancing are small. We used an individual-based simulation model (...) dancing allows the colony to rapidly exploit high-quality patches, (...).

    2. Behavioral Ecology: Smart Birds Lend a Beak for Food, Science Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Scientists report this week that rooks, like chimpanzees, can cooperate in food-getting tasks. (...)

      The researchers exposed eight pairings of eight rooks to the challenge. In 60 trials per pair, all were able to pull in the eggs and worms. But as with chimps, the pairs who were most "tolerant"--that is, got along with each other the best as evidenced by behaviors such as feeding from the same dish--picked up the trick the fastest. The most tolerant pair reeled in the food platform in 63% of the tries, whereas the least tolerant had a score of 20%,(...).


    3. Rule Learning by Rats, Science Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Rats can learn the rules governing simple sequences of stimuli and then unexpectedly can generalize these rules to new situations.

      Using rules extracted from experience to solve problems in novel situations involves cognitions such as analogical reasoning and language learning and is considered a keystone of humans' unique abilities. Nonprimates, it has been argued, lack such rule transfer. We report that Rattus norvegicus can learn simple rules and apply them to new situations. Rats learned that sequences of stimuli consistent with a rule (such as XYX) were different from other sequences (such as XXY or YXX).

      • Source: Rule Learning by Rats, Robin A. Murphy, Esther Mondrag?n, Victoria A. Murphy, Science: 1849-1851., 08/03/828

  15. Live Another Day: African Insect Survives Drought In Glassy State, Science News Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts:
    READY FOR SPACE. Curled up into a 4 millimeter-long mummy, this fly larva can suspend its life for years, withstanding severe drought and extreme temperatures. D. Tanaka/National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Japan
    The larvae of an African fly survive severe droughts by essentially turning into candy drops, biologists have shown. The research might lead to new ways of preserving blood for transfusions or even entire organs for transplants. (...)

    Biologists have known for years that a sugar called trehalose plays a crucial role in the survival tactics of several of these species. During desiccation, trehalose replaces water in the cellular fluids and is presumed to turn into a glassy state, much like melted sugar will solidify into candy drops. The glassy sugar would keep cellular structures from falling apart.


  16. Evolution Of Learning In Fluctuating Environments, Evolution Bookmark and Share

    Excerpt: Cumulative cultural change requires organisms that are capable of both exploratory individual learning and faithful social learning. In our model, an organism's phenotype is initially determined innately (by its genotypic value) or by social learning (copying a phenotype from the parental generation), and then may or may not be modified by individual learning (...). The environment alternates periodically between two states, each defined as a certain range of phenotypes that can survive. These states may overlap, in which case the same phenotype can survive in both states, or they may not. We find that a joint social and exploratory individual learning strategy (...).

    1. Virtual Pets Can Learn Just Like Babies, New Scientist Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts:
      (Image: Novamente)
      (...) synthetic pets like Novamente's dog will be a far cry from today's virtual pets, such as Neopets and Nintendogs, which can only perform pre-programmed moves, such as catching a disc. "The problem with current virtual pets is they are rigidly programmed and lack emotions, responsiveness, individual personality or the ability to learn," says Ben Goertzel of Novamente. "They are pretty much all morons."

      In contrast, Goertzel claims that synthetic characters like his dog can be taught almost anything, even things that their programmers never imagined.


    2. Robotic Minds Think Alike?, Innovations-report Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Most schoolchildren struggle to learn geometry, but they are still able to catch a ball without first calculating its parabola. Why should robots be any different? A team of European researchers have developed an artificial cognitive system that learns from experience and observation rather than relying on predefined rules and models. (...) adopted an innovative approach to making robots recognise, indentify and interact with objects, particularly in random, unforeseen situations. Traditional robotics relies on having the robots carry out complex calculations, such as measuring the geometry of an object and its expected trajectory if moved. (...)

  17. Chemistry: The Photon Trap, Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Chemists have long wanted to recreate photosynthesis in the lab - and to improve on its efficiency at converting sunlight into fuel. (...)

    To start the fuel-making process, sunlight hits a photo-active material. In plants this is chlorophyll, but in the lab it can be a silicon semiconductor, which has its electrons whacked out of position by the incoming photons. The dislodged electrons start to flow in one direction, creating a current. Left behind are positive charges, known as holes, and they drift in the opposite direction. This is a basic solar cell, which requires silicon of high purity, otherwise material defects cause the electrons and holes to recombine, reducing its performance.


    1. Catalysis: Triumph Of A Chemical Underdog, Nature Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: In the fable of the tortoise and the hare, the reptilian slowcoach beats its fleet-footed rival in a race. A zinc catalyst recreates this story by giving a less reactive chemical group a turn of speed over a rival group.(...)

      Furthermore, in organic synthesis, it isn't always desirable to work with the most reactive chemical groups first, so catalysts that allow reactions to occur selectively at less reactive sites are highly desirable.

      Enzymes are the acknowledged masters at reversing the reactivity of chemical groups in molecules, but non-enzymatic catalysts may on occasion compete for the accolade.


    2. Nanoelectronics: Spin Surprise In Carbon, Nature Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Spintronics is an emerging branch of electronics that exploits electrons' spin, rather than charge. In carbon nanotubes, the coupling of this spin with electron motion could offer a desirable way to control quantum information.

      (...) in carbon nanotubes, spin and orbital motion are more strongly coupled than previously thought. Far from being a bad thing, this opens up new possibilities for manipulating electron spin.


  18. Hypercubes Could Be Building Blocks of Nanocomputers, PhysOrg.com Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts:
    Hypercubes in two, three, four, and five dimensions. (Images from Wikipedia)
    Multi-dimensional structures called hypercubes may act as the building blocks for tomorrow's nanocomputers - machines made of such tiny elements that they are dominated not by forces that we're familiar with every day, but by quantum properties. (...)

    "The unique structure of hypercubes, including M-hypercubes, has been shown to be effective in parallel computing and communication networks and provides a unique ideal intrinsic structure which fulfills many of the needs of future nanocomputing systems," Lee said. "These needs include massively parallel and distributed processing architecture with simple and robust communication linkages."


    1. Quantum Effects Could Shed Light On Hazy Images, New Scientist Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: The special relationship between entangled photons of light could help us gain a clearer picture of things like microscopic structures.

      High-quality optical imaging involves measuring individual photons reflected off an object. The trouble is that the photons can be deflected en route, and extra photons created by thermal noise can obscure this weakened signal.

      Seth Lloyd of Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that entangled photons could sharpen up such images by providing a way to discard the noise. (...) The imaging device could then ignore any unmatched photons.


    2. Dimensions Of Space-Time Used To Order Potential Universes., Nature Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Dimensions of space-time used to order potential universes.

      Physicists' search for a theory of everything is entering territory more familiar to biologists: taxonomy. A small team of theorists is meeting in Tucson, Arizona, in April to discuss how to classify the billions upon billions of different possible universes created by string theory, which describes fundamental particles and forces as vibrating strings.


  19. Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Networks Bookmark and Share


    1. Jihadi Studies - The Obstacles To Understanding Radical Islam And The Opportunities To Know It Better, Times Online Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: But as Osama bin Laden slipped out of Tora Bora one foggy morning in early December 2001, al-Qaeda left the realm of tactical intelligence and became the complex organization-cum-movement which, six years later, we are still struggling to understand. For a few years, the commanders of the so-called War on Terror enjoyed the benefit of the doubt. After all, we did not know what they knew. However, it has become increasingly clear how little was known about al-Qaeda back in 2001, and how long it will take for us thoroughly to understand the dynamics of global jihadism.

    2. Memo Sheds New Light on Torture Issue, NY Times Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: The opinion was written by John C. Yoo of the Office of Legal Counsel, the executive branch's highest authority on the interpretation of the law. It told the Pentagon's senior leadership that inflicting pain would not be considered torture unless it caused "death, organ failure or permanent damage," and it is the most fully developed legal justification that has yet come to light for inflicting physical and mental pressure on suspects.

  20. Links & Snippets Bookmark and Share


    1. Other Publications Bookmark and Share

      1. Salmonella Bacteria Turned Into Cancer Fighting Robots, 08/02/29, University of Massachusetts Amherst News Release, Salmonella bacteria can be turned into tiny terminator robots that venture deep into cancerous tumors where conventional chemotherapy can't reach. Once in place, the bacteria manufacture drugs that destroy cancer cells.
      2. Materials Science: Multitasking in Tissues and Materials, Phillip B. Messersmith, 08/03/28, Science: 1767-1768. Insights into the role played by a modified amino acid residue in structural biological tissues are helping to develop biomimetic materials.
      3. Physics: A Milestone in Time Keeping, Daniel Kleppner, 08/03/28, Science: 1768-1769. Researchers have made atomic clocks so precise that effects of general relativity are on the verge of complicating the concept of keeping time.
      4. Dynamics of Saturn's South Polar Vortex, Ulyana A. Dyudina, Andrew P. Ingersoll, Shawn P. Ewald, Ashwin R. Vasavada, Robert A. West, Anthony D. Del Genio, John M. Barbara, Carolyn C. Porco, Richard K. Achterberg, F. Michael Flasar, Amy A. Simon-Miller, Leigh N. Fletcher, 08/03/28, Science : 1801. Observations from Cassini show that the cloud vortex at Saturn's south pole shares some features with hurricanes (such as an eye wall), but forms by a different mechanism.
      5. The Transition from Stiff to Compliant Materials in Squid Beaks, Ali Miserez, Todd Schneberk, Chengjun Sun, Frank W. Zok, J. Herbert Waite, 08/03/28, Science: 1816-1819. The squid beak, sharp and hard only at the tip, exhibits a chemical gradient that tailors its mechanical properties to prevent damage to the attached soft muscle tissue.
      6. Insect Odorant Receptors Are Molecular Targets of the Insect Repellent DEET, Mathias Ditzen, Maurizio Pellegrino, Leslie B. Vosshall, 08/03/28, Science : 1838-1842. The widely used insect repellent DEET acts by inhibiting olfactory neurons that respond, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153121
      7. Aversive Learning Enhances Perceptual and Cortical Discrimination of Indiscriminable Odor Cues, Wen Li, James D. Howard, Todd B. Parrish, Jay A. Gottfried, 08/03/28, Science : 1842-1845. After association of negative stimuli to one of a pair of initially indistinguishable odors, human participants learn to tell the two odors apart and show altered brain representations.
      8. Electric Fields Due to Synaptic Currents Sharpen Excitatory Transmission, Sergiy Sylantyev, Leonid P. Savtchenko, Yin-Ping Niu, Anton I. Ivanov, Thomas P. Jensen, Dimitri M. Kullmann, Min-Yi Xiao, Dmitri A. Rusakov, 08/03/28, Science: 1845-1849. The electrical field set up by currents within the synaptic cleft can influence diffusion of negatively charged neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, and prolong excitatory events.
      9. Learn to Be Kind, 08/03/28, Scientific American, New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds that we can acquire a greater capacity for compassion through meditation training, in much the same way as athletes or musicians train to improve their skill.
      10. Dad's Hidden Influence, Tina Hesman Saey, 08/03/29, Science News, Fathers share more than genes with their children. Where a man works, the chemicals he is exposed to, and even his age can leave a medical legacy for future children.
      11. Fingerprinting Fugitive Microbes, Patrick Barry, 08/03/29, Science News, A new computational tool can identify engineered bacteria by finding the genetic "fingerprints" that distinguish altered bacteria from natural ones.
      12. A Hip Stance By An Ancient Ancestor, Bruce Bower, 08/03/29, Science News, By 6 million years ago, upright human ancestors had evolved a hip design that remained stable for perhaps the next 4 million years, until the appearance of hip modifications in Homo erectus.
      13. The Effect Of Geometry On Three-Dimensional Tissue Growth, M. Rumpler, A. Woesz, J. W.C. Dunlop, J. T. van Dongen, P. Fratzl, 2008/03/18, Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2008.0064
      14. A Fruit In The Hand Or Two In The Bush? Divergent Risk Preferences In Chimpanzees And Bonobos, S. R. Heilbronner, A. G. Rosati, J. R. Stevens, B. Hare, M. D. Hauser, 2008/03/25, Biological Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0081
      15. The Predictability Of Extinction: Biological And External Correlates Of Decline In Mammals, M. Cardillo, G. M. Mace, J. L. Gittleman, K. E. Jones, J. Bielby, A. Purvis, 2008/03/26, Proceedings B: Biological Sciences, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0179
      16. O Fly, Where Art Thou?, D. Grover, J. Tower, S. Tavarť, 2008/03/26, Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2007.1333
      17. Key Factor In Brain Development Revealed, Offers Insight Into Disorder, 2008/03/27, ScienceDaily & University of California - San Francisco
      18. Neurons Hard Wired To Tell Left From Right, 2008/03/28, Innovations-report
      19. Evolution Of New Species Slows Down As Number Of Competitors Increases, 2008/03/28, ScienceDaily & PLoS Biology
      20. Review: Fitness Consequences Of Personality: A Meta-Analysis, B. R. Smith - smithbraucla.edu, D. T. Blumstein, Mar.-Apr. 2008, online 2008/01/22, Behavioral Ecology, DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arm144
      21. Better To Be Bimodal: The Interaction Of Color And Odor On Learning And Memory, E. C. Siddall - siddalecatcd.ie, N. M. Marples, Mar.-Apr. 2008, online 2008/01/22, Behavioral Ecology, DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arm155

    2. Webcast Announcements Bookmark and Share

      1. 7th Intl Conf on Complex Systems (ICCS), Boston, MA, 07/10/28-11/02
      2. Reseau Nationale des Systemes Complexes , (in French), 2007
      3. World Economic Forum , Davos, Switzerland, 08/01/22-27
      4. TED Talks, TED Conferences LLC , since 2006
      5. Talking Robots: The PodCast on Robotics and AI, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland, 06/11/03
      6. Potentials of Complexity Science for Business, Governments, and the Media 2006, Budapest, Hungary, 06/08/03-05
      7. 6th Intl Conf on Complex Systems (ICCS), Boston, MA, 06/06/25-30
      8. Artificial Life X, 10th Intl Conf on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, Bloomington, IN, USA. 2006/06/03-07
      9. 6th Understanding Complex Systems Symposium, Urbana-Champaign, Il, 06/05/15-18
      10. Ralph Abraham on Complexity Digest, , Calcutta, India, 05/12/27
      11. An Afternoon with Michael Crichton, Washington, 05/11/06
      12. Illuminating the Shadow of the Future, Ann Arbor, Mi 05/09/23-25
      13. Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems - Brainstorming Meeting, Paris, France 05/09/19-23
      14. Complexity, Science & Society Conference 2005, U. Liverpool, UK 2005/09/11-14
      15. ECAL 2005 - VIIIth European Conference on Artificial Life, Canterbury, Kent, UK 2005/09/5-9
      16. T. Irene Sanders, Executive Director and Founder, The Washington Center for Complexity & Public Policy, 05/08/27, QuickTime video (10:38 min), Podcast
      17. 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
      18. Understanding Complex Systems - Computational Complexity and Bioinformatics, Virtual Conference Network, Urbana-Champaign, Il, UIUC, 05/05/16-19
      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
      20. 1st European Conference on Complex Systems, Torino, Italy, 04/12/5-7
      21. From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology: A Tribute to Francisco Varela (1946-2001), Paris, France, 2004/06/18-20
      22. Evolutionary Epistemology, Language, and Culture, Brussels, Belgium, 04/05/26-28
      23. International Conference on Complex Systems 2004, Boston, 04/05/16-21
      24. Nonlinear Dynamics And Chaos: Lab Demonstrations, Strogatz, Steven H., Internet-First University Press, 1994
      25. CERN Webcast Service, Streamed videos of Archived Lectures and Live Events
      26. Dean LeBaron's Archive of Daily Video Commentary, Ongoing Since February 1998
      27. Edge Videos


    3. Conference Announcements Bookmark and Share

      1. 2nd Applied Neuroscience Meeting, Monterrey, Mexico, 08/04/03-06
      2. Fumee 1 - 1St Futures Meeting - Understanding Anticipatory Systems, Rovereto (Italy), 08/04/10-12
      3. 1st Intl Conf on Social Entrepreneurship & Complexity, Garden City, NY, USA, 08/04/10-12
      4. Emergence In The Physical And Biological World: A Notion In Search Of Clarification, Erice (Italy), 08/04/12-16
      5. BIO_IT World Conf & Expo, Boston, MA, 08/04/28/30
      6. Chaos And Dynamics In Biological Networks, Cargese, Corsica, France, 08/05/05-09
      7. Brittle Fracture and Plastic Slip: from the Atomistic to the Engineering Scale, Udine, Italy, 08/05/26-30
      8. CHAOS2008 Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference, Chania, Crete, Greece, 08/06/03-06
      9. International Conference on Chaos, Complexity & Conflict, Omaha, NE, 08/06/05-07
      10. 4th Organization Studies Summer Workshop: "Embracing Complexity: Advancing Ecological Understanding in Organization Studies", Pissouri, Cyprus, 08/06/05-07
      11. Cambridge Healthtech Institute's Tenth Annual... Applying Systems Biology, San Francisco, CA, 08/06/09-11
      12. AUTOMATA 2008, EPSRC Workshop Cellular Automata Theory and Applications, Bristol, UK, 08/06/12-14
      13. 9th Intl Mathematica Symposium, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 08/06/20-24
      14. The 14th Intl Conf on Auditory Display (ICAD), Paris, France, 08/06/24-27
      15. The 3rd Intl Symp on Knowledge Communication and Peer Reviewing: KCPR 2008, Orlando, Florida, USA, 08/06/29-07/02
      16. The 3rd Intl Symp on Knowledge Communication and Conferences: KCC 2008, Orlando, Florida, USA, 08/06/29-07/02
      17. 7th Intl Summer School and Conf "Let's Face Chaos through Nonlinear Dynamics", Maribor, Slovenia, 08/06/29-07/13
      18. The 12th World Multi-Conf on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics: WMSCI 2008, Orlando, Florida, USA, 08/06/29-07/02
      19. From Animals To Animats 10 - The 10th Intl Conf on the Simulation Of Adaptive Behavior (SAB'08), Osaka, Japan, 08/07/07-12
      20. Complex Systems and Social Simulations, CEU Summer University, Budapest, Hungary, 08/07/07-18
      21. 2008 Gordon Research Conf on Oscillations & Dynamic Instabilities in Chemical Systems, Waterville, ME, 08/07/13-18
      22. Nonlinear Fracture Mechanics Models, Udine, Italy, 08/07/14-18
      23. 1st Intl Workshop on Nonlinear Dynamics and Synchronization (INDS'08), Klagenfurt, Austria, 08/07/18-19
      24. Scratch@MIT,Cambridge, MA, 08/07/24-26
      25. 8th Intl Conf on Epigenetic Robotics: Modeling Cognitive Development in Robotic Systems, Brighton, UK, 08/07/31-08/02
      26. On the Edge: Healthcare in the Age of Complexity, Kansas City, MO, 08/08/03-05
      27. Stochastic Resonance 2008, Perugia, Italy, 08/08/17-21
      28. Intl Conf DEscribing COmplex Systems (DECOS), Zadar, Croatia, 08/09/03-07
      29. EPOS 2008, III Edition of Epistemological Perspectives on Simulation, Lisbon, Portugal, 08/10/02-03


    4. Other Announcements Bookmark and Share

      1. A short notice from Dean LeBaron

        Dear ComDig Readers,

        Our editor, Dr. Gottfried Mayer, is affectionately esteemed by many of you -- as readers, you know he devotes himself unselfishly to widening our knowledge of complexity science. He was recently diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and given a timetable of a very few years. Knowing Gottfried, you can imagine that, in addition to the customary processes of chemotherapy, he would explore other frontier therapies, especially those arising out of interdisciplinary applications of complexity. These are expensive ... if he can find them.

        Many of you have sent your good wishes and indicated your desire to assist. With Gottfried's permission, I am posting this note with information, below, about how to send contributions to him. Please indicate the source since Gottfried will want to express his warm gratitude.

        I know that Gottfried, the good scientist that he is, will explain from time to time what he is doing and what the results are ... and we will follow his progress with great interest and hope.

        Dean LeBaron
        Publisher, Complexity Digest

        Bank Information:

        If your contribution is made by check:
        Please mail the check, payable to "Gottfried Mayer", to:
        Manufacturers & Traders Trust
        2080 Western Avenue
        20 Mall
        Guilderland, NY 12084 USA
        (on the back of the check, please write: "For Deposit Only: Account # 983 338 3814")

        If your contribution is made by wire:
        Manufacturers & Traders Trust
        2080 Western Avenue
        20 Mall

        Guilderland, NY 12084 USA
        SWIFT Code# MANTUS33
        UID: 209 791
        ABA routing # 022 00 00 46 [for US wire transfers]
        Account # 983 338 3814
        Ref. Gottfried Mayer




Complexity Digest is an independent publication available to organizations that may wish to repost ComDig to their own mailing lists. ComDig is published by the Computer Sciences Department, IIMAS and the C3, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and edited by Carlos Gershenson. To unsubscribe from this list, please go to Subscriptions.
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