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Thursday, September 20 2012

Music Eco-Devo

Music evolve to fits its environnment is a theory by David Byrne who wrote about his love affair with sound

From Percussive music which carry well outdoor with its complex rythms, to jazz music that had to face the chatters and dancers ''problem'' and hip-hop meant to be shared in cars, Byrne explain how the environnement shape the music. Byrne also speack about how performers adapted to technology, like Sinatra or Crosby that adjsted there vocal dynamics to microphones, and how modern composers are expected to writes and arrange songs in order to be place in a live venue as well as on private listening device. 

This vision is indeed at the opposite of the romantic view of the creation process where ''the rock-and-roll singer is driven by desire and demons, and out bursts this amazing, perfectly shaped song''. Of course the creation process implicate passion, creative thinking, mystery and romantism, but after reading this eco-devo essay I am convince that music evolution in not only driven by composer, musician, but also by there environment, a unconscious factor for the artists.  

Monday, January 9 2012

17 no less

Continue reading...

Happy new year

HAPPY NEW YEAR readers!!!

Wednesday, August 31 2011

Toujours là (Still here)

Juste un petit billet (en français pour changer et me reposer un peu) pour dire que le blog est toujours actif. Certe la fréquence des articles est très faible mais I'll be back... soon

Tuesday, January 11 2011

The World Through My Eyes

Moriyama The World Through My Eyes is the latest book from Daido Moriyama. I received it yesterday (along with Anders Petersen "French Kiss", that I may talk about later), and I have to admit, this book is just great! Ok, I am a Moriyama fan.
The book present a sequence of more than 250 images spanning form the 60's through today. All the classics from Moriyama are here; and unless you are a Moriyama obsessive, some of the images will be new to you.
It is very well printed, without margin, not blank pages between the image that are full of details, or grain i should say! Some will argue that most of the images are printed on double pages, the pictures are cut in the middle... I don't think it is an issue as it is not the first Moriyama's book printed like that ("farewell photography" at least).
In my opinion Moriyama's work can not be seen in a single blurry grainy image, it will therefore made a great introduction to Moriyama's work. In addition a very illuminating (but short) interview by Filippo Maggia and a introductory assay from Akira Hasegawa will help you understand the artist work. The book present the artist frenetic universe made of contrasted, grainy, blurry pictures, still not as raw as the epic Farewell Photography, but an impression of roughness emerge from the book. Like a slap. This  book reflect a restless life spend shooting in the narrow streets of Japan. Finally, the constant and frenetic flow of images tells a story, the story of a "photographer on the road" that is trying to show one reality amongst countless other, the way Jack Kerouac write about his vagabondage.

Wednesday, June 16 2010

The goalkeeper really thought he has wider hands!

The world cup! Everywhere you look, there is something about football. Here as well, but science related! How is that?

You surely noticed the mistake made by England's goalkeeper Robert Green during the USA-England match last week, leading to an embarrassing 1-1 for English team. I found the reason of this mistake! Robert Green perceive his hands bigger than they actually are, as a study published this week in PNAS shows.

Researchers from the institut of Cognitive Neuroscience in University College London published yesterday a story in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences about the way we represent our own body and more specifically our hands size and shape. Dr. Longo and Dr. Haggard developed a technique allowing them to produce an implicit maps of the mental representation of hand size and shape. The participants were simply asked to place their hand palm down under a board, and judged the location of the knuckles and tips of each finger. The researchers then showed that the mental representation of hands is massively distorted. The volunteers perceive there hand one third shorter than they actually are, and two third wider than there real width. We think that our hands are broader and shorter than they actually are.

Now, was David Green's misinterpretation really a mistake? Anyway... Thank you England to demonstrate so brilliantly a scientific fact! It is so nice to be so dedicated to science!

Tuesday, December 1 2009

On what god think

Wondering what would jesus do? A recent psychological study revealed that is the same as "What would I do?", according to Nicholas Epley from Chicago University.  He showed that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.

To make a long story short, by using a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, the study not only showed that people use their own beliefs as a starting point to infer God's mind; but also that they use the same part of the brain when considering God's will and their own opinions.

For some, religion provide a moral compass, and what Epley say here is that inferring the will of God sets the moral compass to whatever direction we ourselves are facing. He says, "Intuiting God's beliefs on important issues may not produce an independent guide, but may instead serve as an echo chamber to validate and justify one's own beliefs."

The main conclusion is that that using God to make decisions and judgments is little more than spiritual sockpuppetry : the loser whose opinions are indefensible, so he invents an army of aliases to agree with him. So what better sockpuppet than God himself?

A quote from Epley himself "People may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions and making decisions based on what they presume God as the ultimate moral authority would believe or want. The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing."

Reference: PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.0908374106 and 

Friday, October 2 2009

Beer bottle, panda poop, tequila and cow

 Creative CommonsYes, here we are, the IgNobel prize 2009 were award yesterday! This prizes award research " that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK. I love this prize and this year they are as funny as last year, let's take a look at the funniest ones :

  • BIOLOGY PRIZE: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas. REFERENCE: "Microbial Treatment of Kitchen Refuse With Enzyme-Producing Thermophilic Bacteria From Giant Panda Feces," Fumiaki Taguchia, Song Guofua, and Zhang Guanglei, Seibutsu-kogaku Kaishi, vol. 79, no 12, 2001, pp. 463-9. [and abstracted in Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, vol. 92, no. 6, 2001, p. 602.] REFERENCE: "Microbial Treatment of Food-Production Waste with Thermopile Enzyme-Producing Bacterial Flora from a Giant Panda" [in Japanese], Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, Yasunori Sugai, Hiroyasu Kudo and Akira Koikeda, Journal of the Japan Society of Waste Management Experts, vol. 14, no. 2, 2003, pp. , 76-82.

  • VETERINARY MEDICINE PRIZE: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless. REFERENCE: "Exploring Stock Managers' Perceptions of the Human-Animal Relationship on Dairy Farms and an Association with Milk Production," Catherine Bertenshaw [Douglas] and Peter Rowlinson, Anthrozoos, vol. 22, no. 1, March 2009, pp. 59-69. DOI: 10.2752/175303708X390473.

  • PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle. REFERENCE: "Are Full or Empty Beer Bottles Sturdier and Does Their Fracture-Threshold Suffice to Break the Human Skull?" Stephan A. Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael J. Thali and Beat P. Kneubuehl, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, vol. 16, no. 3, April 2009, pp. 138-42. DOI:10.1016/j.jflm.2008.07.013.

  • CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila. REFERENCE: "Growth of Diamond Films from Tequila," Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga and Victor M. Castano, 2008, arXiv:0806.1485.

I have to admit that I like the peace prize! Then you'll know if it's better to be involved in a pub fight at the begging of the night, or at the end!

I am looking forward for the Nobel prize!

Thursday, October 1 2009

UK Horrifying nationality test

Photo by: Ghutchis, Flickr, Creative Commons The “Human Provenance pilot project” sound like sci-fi? Be afraid! it is not! It's the new project launched in mid September very quietly without fanfare by the UK border agency to use DNA and isotope analysis of tissue from asylum seekers to evaluate their nationality and help decide who can enter the United Kingdom... The project was revealed by the Daily Mail and The Observer, sparking protests from refugee advocates.

The plan it to use mouth swabs for mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome testing, as well as analyses of subtle genetic variations called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and therfore determining if the asylum seeker claiming to be from Somalia and fleeing persecution are actually from another African country such as Kenya... 

Does the Border Agency have even looked at the scientific literature to know whether it's possible or not? surely not! To my knowledge, the research needed to determine the structure of Africa population at the DNA level has not been done (correct me if I'm wrong).
Furthermore, according to Mark Thomas, a geneticist of University College London “Dense genomic SNP data does have some resolution … but not at a very local scale, and with considerable errors.” Alec jeffers, a pionnier in human DNA fingerprinting from Leicester University also say that "assigning a person to a population does not establish nationality - people move! The whole proposal is naive and scientifically flawed.” which I can not agree more.

I am wondering how the Border Agency came up with such idea?... is it by similarity to there own isolated country on an island, they might think all the other countries are also isolated from each other, that people don't move? and therefore the population structure is fix... simple minded idea! I am the proof that it's not the case, a French man in... UK...

To read more see Science
Image by ghutchis'

Wednesday, September 30 2009

Un-covering the research papers

Today, for the first post since a long long time, I will provide a very useful translator dictionary  of some sentences widely used by researchers in there papers and, I have to admit, by myself. This can also be very useful for researchers! Enjoy

Research Phrase Meaning
"It has long been known..." I didn't look up the original reference.
"A definite trend is evident..." These data are practically meaningless.
"Of great theoretical and practical importance..." Interesting to me.
"While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions..." This was an unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.
"Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study." The others made no sense.
"Typical results are shown." The best results are shown.
"The most reliable results are those obtained by Jones." He was my graduate assistant.
"It is believed that..." I think.
"It is generally believed that..." A couple of other guys think so, too.
"It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of the phenomenon is possible." I don't understand it.
"Correct within an order of magnitude." Wrong.
"It is hoped that this study will stimulate more work in this field." This is a lousy paper, but so are the others on this miserable topic.
"Thanks are due to Joe Blotz for assistance with the experimental work and to George Frink for valuable discussions." Blotz did the work, and Frink explained to me what it meant.
"A careful analysis of obtainable data..." Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer.
"A statistically oriented projection of the findings..." Wild guess.
"A highly significant area for exploratory study..." A totally useless topic suggested by my committee.

sources unknown

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