Google Tango means 3D maps On The Go

Google Tango means 3D maps On The Go

Imagine this: Your phone (or tablet) comes with two cameras, depth sensors, gyroscopes and a 3D vision system that can create 3D maps of the local environment in real time.
Good enough for a mini drone to fly about.
And good enough for an app that can tell you what’s changed in the room since you were last there.
What else might you do with that kind of technology in your hand?


Fiction as Life, Beliefs Tied to Self

A long time ago (decades) I watched a NOVA science documentary on the Mind. The program covered leading edge research in this area and a number of aspects and discoveries were visited.

Once of the researchers covered was Dr. Michael Gazzaniga. His research involved a very unique group of humans and it allowed for experiments and observations not possible with just you and me. And what he and his group of researchers found points to us as being far stranger beings than we think we are. Oh, and that we are all psychotic. All of us, all the time.

How could he make this observation? (and note I use the term observation and not prediction or opinion or judgement)

His patients’ special circumstances allowed him to go ‘inside a human mind’ in ways that showed we are all living unaware of the reality within all of us. Those patients had all undergone a radical surgical procedure in which the bundle of nerve tissue that ties the left and right lobes of the brain together, the Corpus Callosum, had been cut. It wasn’t something he did to them – the surgery was a last resort in the treatment of Grand Mal Seizure (severe epilepsy) patients whose ailment had not responded to other treatments. (it is called Split-Brain or more officially commissurotomy)

As a result of this surgery the brains in these people no longer had a hard wired communications channel between the two halves of the brain. And that meant they were uniquely suited to research into how the mind / brain works. Research that asks questions like: What part of our mind resides in which part of our brain? Is there really a difference between the two halves in how thoughts occur and sensory stimuli are processed?

Experiments conducted included ones where different images were shown to each eye and then the patient was asked to explain what they’d seen. Both verbally and using coloured pens. From these and other experiments a number observations showed some verifications of theory and some new discoveries.

Yes the two sides of the brain are responsible for sense and action of the other side of the body. Your left brain processes what your right eye sees. And it controls your right arm and hand. Similarly the brain’s right side is concerned with the body’s left side.

Yes speech appears to be sourced in the left side of the brain.

But what was somewhat unexpected was what else they found …

Show the patient two different images with each one only visible to one eye. That means the left brain is given an image of something through the right eye but that is not what the right brain sees through the left eye. Then ask them to draw what they saw but using the hand from the side of the body (left) that is NOT controlled by the same side as the speech comes from (left). Then ask them to tell you what it is they drew … what do you think happened?

The patients exhibited some confusion but worked real hard at trying to reconcile what they saw drawn before them with what they had seen with the right eye. Given the option of ‘fixing’ the picture with the other hand they end up with a graphic mutation combining elements of both pictures. And then they are better at deciphering what they have drawn. The important part is this: During the exercise the patient cannot divorce themselves from the notion that there must be something slightly off in their recollecting because this is something that they did. When in reality it is something that another did … that ‘other‘ resides in a completely different physical space (right brain) from the ‘me‘ that is trying to explain this behaviour to itself (left brain).

This and other experiments yielded enough observations that Gazzaniga was able to state that we, all of us, are collections of ‘agents’ of various capabilities and not individuals. The persistent, unshakable, belief that there is a single ‘me’ or ‘I’ inside in the face of evidence to the contrary is psychotic by definition (psychosis: A severe mental disorder, sometimes with physical damage to the brain, marked by a deranged personality and a distorted view of reality). ‘Self’ is much more complicated than ‘I’.

Now “I’m” not a researcher with labs, education, funding by any stretch of the imagination. Or am I?

Stretch that imagination for a second. Granted “I’m” not in the proper environment and lack a lot of the resources and background BUT I live in a brain, or rather there is a brain in my head, and I observe a lot of other peoples’ behaviours. So I began to think about it and, like any good armchair scientist, developed my own extensions to the theory. Eventually I came up with my own version of a Theory Of Mind. It’s a work in progress but I like it, or rather that should be ‘we’ like it.

This TOM explains a lot and sort of makes predictions.

Can it generate falsifiable, testable predictions? As in Scientific Experiments?
That’s not something I’ve fleshed out enough to say yes to. But I/we suspect it can.

What has attracted me to it is that, using it as a model, things we learn about human psychology on an individual and societal level can be explained.

While I’d love to get into it more (I will at some date) I’ll address the reason for this blog entry now.

The idea of ‘Belief in Self is Psychotic’ came up once again while I was reading a NewYorker article on “I Don’t Want To Be Right“. In that article I read this line and kept coming back to it again and again until I understood why.

“persistently false beliefs stem from issues closely tied to our conception of self”

As mentioned above, research in neuroscience (Gazzaniga et al.) tends to show that ‘self’ and belief in singular self identity is a falsehood that is built into the system and results in all of us living a psychotic existence all the time.
It is ‘psychotic’ because we cannot see through our incorrect beliefs to the underlying reality within us.

So we are living a lie, that there is only a singular ‘self’ inside us, and whenever something threatens that lie (or supporting world view) that something is resisted at a level we are unconcious of and therefore unaware of (the resistance).
I believe that the mechanisms at work here are some of the same ones that allow us to have a sense of self in the first place. Part of the structure of brain/mind that is US.






Exploding Head Syndrome

… but then I thought:
Maybe it’s <reverb>Exploding Head Syndrome</reverb> … or maybe not.
(I’m learning all kinds of interesting things thanks to being able to filter the news 🙂

Yes – Exploding Head Syndrome (I always turn on the big reverb in my head when I think those words) is apparently a Real Thing.

Just as Real as all those other Things In Your Head are. Real. Really, I’m not making this up.

When I say or think Exploding Head Syndrome I remember the glee Samuel L. Jackson expressed by being able to shout ‘Snakes On A Plane!’.
I feel his fun and that’s no pun.

Say (or think) it with me: <echo>Exploding Head Syndrome!!</echo>
There – I feel better now. Don’t You?


Protein GDF11 shows Beneficial changes to heart muscle and brains of Older Mice

Protein GDF11 shows Beneficial changes to heart muscle and brains of Older Mice

My previous post was to an article showing that the blood plasma from younger mice can give health benefits to older mice. This is to another article where a different team has identified a specific protein called GDF11 which exhibits similar benefits! “…GDF11 is naturally found in much higher concentration in young mice than in older mice, and raising its levels in the older mice has improved the function of every organ system thus far studied” They are projecting human trials in 3 to 5 years.
It also talks about parabiotic mice – the only other time I encountered that term was in the previous article. If you want to know what that means you will have to read the article.


Old Brains Benefit From Young Blood

Old Brains Benefit From Young Blood

Results from recent studies show that Older Mice apparently show cogntive function improvement when they are given injections of blood plasma from younger mice. Something in the blood has a positive effect. Conversely something happens to our blood system as we age and that helps promote senility.

social commentary

The cost of mailing a letter went up so I started delivering.

A short while ago Canada Post raised the cost to mail a letter. If you’re buying a single stamp it now costs a dollar! In bulk they are 85 cents. How much did they jump? The price went from 63 cents to 85 cents in one jump … about a 33% increase. Yikes!

So what you say? You use email right?

Well what if you have a small business? That means when you send out the monthly statements (bills) to your customers you’re now paying 33% more each month! Think about that – the costs of operating a business are borne by the owners and the customers. And we keep getting told that small businesses are the backbone of this country’s economy … that back gets awfully compressed when charges beyond their control jump by a third.

And it’s not like you have any choice for delivering your mail …or do you?

Here’s something you might want to consider: If your business is in a small town (or a lot of your customers are close by) and you have a friend of family member with time on their hands then you might ask them for help. My friend has a small business and we live in a small town. A lot of the businesses that she has to send monthly mailings to are within the downtown area and it’s easy to walk of cycle to all of them. So that’s what I’ve done for two months now. And I’ve made a statement about it each time … below you will see them.

NOTE: I’m not setting myself up in business. I’m not delivering for anyone but my friend and I’m not charging her anything to do this. The only money involved is the money that Canada Post loses because we’re not buying as many stamps. This reaction may or may not have been what they thought would happen when they increased their rates. They said they had to do this because the costs had risen so they were losing money. Well they’re losing money alright …