On ne sait pas ce que peut le corps


The new “eyes wide shut” illusion uses a standard enlarging (shaving or makeup) mirror. Close one eye and look at the closed eye in the mirror; the eye should take up most of the mirror. Switch eyes to see the other closed eye. Switch back-and-forth a few times, then open both eyes. You see an open eye. Which eye is it? To find out, close one eye. Whichever you close, that’s the eye you see. How can this be possible? The brain is fusing two images of the two eyes.

{ Perception | Continue reading | Thanks Brad! }

However, no one has hitherto laid down the limits to the powers of the body, that is, no one has as yet been taught by experience what the body can accomplish solely by the laws of nature, in so far as she is regarded as extension. No one hitherto has gained such an accurate knowledge of the bodily mechanism, that he can explain all its functions; nor need I call attention to the fact that many actions are observed in the lower animals, which far transcend human sagacity, and that somnambulists do many things in their sleep, which they would not venture to do when awake: these instances are enough to show, that the body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at.

Again, no one knows how or by what means the mind moves the body, nor how many various degrees of motion it can impart to the body, nor how quickly it can move it.

{ Spinoza, Ethics, III, Proposition II, Scholium | Continue reading }

unrelated { eye colour may not be a priority when choosing a partner }

I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books


The familiarity of the phrase ‘much ado about nothing’ belies its complexity. In Shakespeare’s day ‘nothing’ was pronounced the same as ‘noting’, and the play contains numerous punning references to ‘noting’, both in the sense of observation and in the sense of ‘notes’ or messages. […]

‘Nothing’ was Elizabethan slang for the vagina (a vacancy, ‘no-thing’ or ‘O thing’). Virginity — a state of potentiality rather than actuality — is also much discussed in the play, and it is these twin absences — the vagina and virginity — that lead, in plot terms, to the ‘much ado’ of the title.

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

photo { Olivia Rocher, I Fought the Law (Idaho), 2016 }

‘Time is a waste of money.’ –Oscar Wilde


What happens when we unexpectedly see an attractive potential partner? Previous studies in laboratorial settings suggest that the visualization of attractive and unattractive photographs influences time. The major aim of this research is to study time perception and attraction in a realistic social scenario, by investigating if changes in subjective time measured during a speed dating are associated with attraction. […]

When there is a perception of the partner as being physically more attractive, women tend to overestimate the duration of that meeting, whereas men tend to underestimate its duration.

{ University of Minho | Continue reading }

On his wise shoulders through the checkerwork of leaves the sun flung spangles, dancing coins


Two theoretical frameworks have been proposed to account for the representation of truth and falsity in human memory: the Cartesian model and the Spinozan model. Both models presume that during information processing a mental representation of the information is stored along with a tag indicating its truth value. However, the two models disagree on the nature of these tags. According to the Cartesian model, true information receives a “true” tag and false information receives a “false” tag. In contrast, the Spinozan model claims that only false information receives a “false” tag, whereas untagged information is automatically accepted as true. […]

The results of both experiments clearly contradict the Spinozan model but can be explained in terms of the Cartesian model.

{ Memory & Cognition | PDF }

art { Richard Long, Dusty Boots Line, The Sahara, 1988 }

‘It depends on what the meaning of the word is is.’ –Bill Clinton

How do we navigate a deeply structured world? Why are you reading this sentence first - and did you actually look at the fifth word?

{ Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews | Continue reading }

‘The trouble with comparing yourself to others is that there are too many others.’ –Sarah Manguso


The Game is a mental game where the objective is to avoid thinking about The Game itself. Thinking about The Game constitutes a loss. 

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

art { Taryn Simon, Finance package for the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Baku, Azerbaijan, February 3, 2004, Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015 | Ralph Gibson, Beautiful Parlor, 1968 }

To remind me of. Lff!


Let’s begin with a simple fact: time passes faster in the mountains than it does at sea level. The difference is small but can be measured with precision timepieces that can be bought today for a few thousand pounds. This slowing down can be detected between levels just a few centimetres apart: a clock placed on the floor runs a little more slowly than one on a table.

It is not just the clocks that slow down: lower down, all processes are slower. Two friends separate, with one of them living in the plains and the other going to live in the mountains. They meet up again years later: the one who has stayed down has lived less, aged less, the mechanism of his cuckoo clock has oscillated fewer times. He has had less time to do things, his plants have grown less, his thoughts have had less time to unfold … Lower down, there is simply less time than at altitude. […]

Times are legion: a different one for every point in space. The single quantity “time” melts into a spiderweb of times.

{ Guardian | Continue reading }

photo { Julie Blackmon }

‘Goethe’s theory of the constitution of colours of the spectrum has not proved to be an unsatisfactory theory, rather it really isn’t a theory at all.’ –Wittgenstein


With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term— in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi.

Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

art { Josef Albers, Interaction of Color, 1963 }

‘You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.’ ―Dita Von Teese


Here, we analysed 200 million online conversations to investigate transmission between individuals. We find that the frequency of word usage is inherited over conversations, rather than only the binary presence or absence of a word in a person’s lexicon. We propose a mechanism for transmission whereby for each word someone encounters there is a chance they will use it more often. Using this mechanism, we measure that, for one word in around every hundred a person encounters, they will use that word more frequently. As more commonly used words are encountered more often, this means that it is the frequencies of words which are copied.

{ Journal of the Royal Society Interface | Continue reading }

‘A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu’ –Arthur Rimbaud


Grapheme-color synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which viewing a grapheme elicits an additional, automatic, and consistent sensation of color.

Color-to-letter associations in synesthesia are interesting in their own right, but also offer an opportunity to examine relationships between visual, acoustic, and semantic aspects of language. […]

Numerous studies have reported that for English-speaking synesthetes, “A” tends to be colored red more often than predicted by chance, and several explanatory factors have been proposed that could explain this association.

Using a five-language dataset (native English, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean speakers), we compare the predictions made by each explanatory factor, and show that only an ordinal explanation makes consistent predictions across all five languages, suggesting that the English “A” is red because the first grapheme of a synesthete’s alphabet or syllabary tends to be associated with red.

We propose that the relationship between the first grapheme and the color red is an association between an unusually-distinct ordinal position (”first”) and an unusually-distinct color (red).

{ Cortex | Continue reading }

A Black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels,
Someday I shall tell of your mysterious births

{ Arthur Rimbaud | Continue reading }

art { Roland Cat, The pupils of their eyes, 1985 }

‘Never will this prevail, that the things that are not are.’ –Parmenides


If you write clearly, then your readers may understand your mathematics and conclude that it isn’t profound. Worse, a referee may find your errors. Here are some tips for avoiding these awful possibilities.

1. Never explain why you need all those weird conditions, or what they mean. For example, simply begin your paper with two pages of notations and conditions without explaining that they mean that the varieties you are considering have zero-dimensional boundary. In fact, never explain what you are doing, or why you are doing it. The best-written paper is one in which the reader will not discover what you have proved until he has read the whole paper, if then

2. Refer to another obscure paper for all the basic (nonstandard) definitions you use, or never explain them at all. This almost guarantees that no one will understand what you are talking about


11. If all else fails, write in German.

{ J.S. Milne | Continue reading }

photos { Left: William Henry Jackson, Pike’s Peak from the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Midland Series, ca.1880 | Right: Ye Rin Mok }

What’s going on in that precious vessel called you?


I argue that the state of boredom (i.e., the transitory and non-pathological experience of boredom) should be understood to be a regulatory psychological state that has the capacity to promote our well-being by contributing to personal growth and to the construction (or reconstruction) of a meaningful life.

{ Philosophical Psychology }

oil on canvas { Piet Mondrian, Composition in Black and White, with Double Lines, 1934 }