I mean a being absolutely infinite


A group of scientists who study Artificial Intelligence (AI) say they’ve come up with a process that can not only measure biological age, but tell you whether you will live longer or die younger than other people your age, and how to increase your odds that you will do the former.

They’ve called it the Aging Clock—an aging clock that is embedded in our body’s blood chemistry that forecasts when our cells and bodies are most likely to die and whether we’re getting old too quickly compared with other people our age.

It’s the result of a big-data, AI-driven analysis of blood tests from 130,000 people from South Korean, Canadian and Eastern European patient populations. The results netted a computer algorithm scientists at Insilico Medicine describe as the most precise measure of a person’s biological age. They say the algorithm and corresponding website,, can provide visitors real time information about their potential life span and hopefully help them lengthen it. […]

“Our biological age measures how quickly the cells in our body will deteriorate compared with the general population,” he said. “Depending on the genetics we inherit and the lifestyle choices we make regarding diet, exercise, weight, stress and habits like smoking or drinking, our biological age can vary as much as 30 years compared with our chronological age.”

{ Forbes | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Amy Sherald, A clear, unspoken, granted magic, 2017 }

My leaves have drifted from me


In a study published in Nature Neuroscience on Jan. 21, neuroscientists and systems biologists from Harvard Medical School reveal just how inexorably interwoven nature and nurture are.

Using novel technologies developed at HMS, the team looked at how a single sensory experience affects gene expression in the brain by analyzing more than 114,000 individual cells in the mouse visual cortex before and after exposure to light.

Their findings revealed a dramatic and diverse landscape of gene expression changes across all cell types, involving 611 different genes, many linked to neural connectivity and the brain’s ability to rewire itself to learn and adapt.

The results offer insights into how bursts of neuronal activity that last only milliseconds trigger lasting changes in the brain, and open new fields of exploration for efforts to understand how the brain works.

{ Harvard Medical School | Continue reading }

art { Josef Albers, Hotel Staircase, Geneva, 1929/1932 }

I couldn’t even change my new white shoes all ruined with the saltwater and the hat I had with that feather all blowy and tossed on me how annoying and provoking

Why Women Wear High Heels: Evolution, Lumbar Curvature, and Attractiveness

…high-heeled footwear increased women’s attractiveness only when wearing heels altered their lumbar curvature to be closer to an evolutionarily optimal angle.

{ Frontiers in Psychology | 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 }

Saas and taas and specis bizaas


Normal consciousness relies, at least in part, on the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN), according to neuroscientist Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research in the brain sciences division of the Imperial College of London medical school. The DMN is a network of interacting brain regions that acts as a cognitive transit hub, integrating and assimilating information. As the name implies, it’s the usual system of organization for your mind. Carhart-Harris says the DMN “gives coherence to cognition” by connecting different regions of the brain, and is considered the “orchestrator of the self.”

Carhart-Harris and his colleagues found what seems to be an important function of the DMN inadvertently. While studying brain networks, they got curious about what changes might occur when people are under the effects of hallucinogens. In studies analyzing the effects of psilocybin on brain wave oscillation and blood flow, they found that when the DMN was inactive, an alternate network of consciousness seemed to arise.

When some study subjects tested psilocybin, they reported a strong sense of interconnectedness, as well as spiritual, magical, and supernatural feelings.

In the alternate mode, brains produced a different world that offered other sensations and realizations than in everyday life. In this mode, the self wasn’t the protagonist of the narrative. Meanwhile, scans of blood flow and brain wave oscillations showed new, unusual—but orderly and synchronous—connections forming between cortical regions, as if the brain was reorganizing its network. This led Carhart-Harris to posit that the DMN generates the feeling we each have that we’re individuals, a feeling that manifests very strongly as reality. And that means we can temporarily switch off, or mute, this part of the brain.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

According to the famous work of Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, “split brain” patients seem to experience a split in consciousness: the left and the right side of their brain can independently become aware of, and respond, to stimuli. Split brain patients are those who underwent surgery to sever the corpus callosum, the nerve tract connecting the two hemispheres of the brain.

{ Neuroskeptic | Continue reading }

art { Leah Schrager }

The dinosaurs had sex… and look what happened to them #abstinence


We explored the effect of revealing or conservative attire on perceptions of women’s leadership competence. We also used eye-tracker technology to determine whether looking at sexualized body parts (i.e., breasts, hemline) was related to lower perceptions of leadership competence and electability.

A female candidate for a student senate presidency at a U.S. university wearing revealing clothing was perceived by 191 college students as less honest and trustworthy, electable, and competent than one wearing conservative clothing. Sexualized body parts were looked at longer when the candidate was wearing revealing clothing compared to conservative clothing. Furthermore, mediation analyses indicated that the revealing clothing led participants to gaze at sexualized body parts, which, in turn, led to perceiving the candidate as less honest/trustworthy, which lowered their evaluations of her competence and electability.

These findings suggest that viewing a woman in a sexy outfit can lead others to stare more at her body and make negative evaluations of her personal attributes.

{ Sex Roles | Continue reading }

art { Corinne Dodenhoff }

‘Diane Keaton comes in and said, “Hi kids, how are you?”…I’m going to tell her off once and for all, what a big phony-baloney she is.’ –Andy Warhol


We’d all like to be a little happier.

The problem is that much of what determines happiness is outside of our control. Some of us are genetically predisposed to see the world through rose-colored glasses, while others have a generally negative outlook. Bad things happen, to us and in the world. People can be unkind, and jobs can be tedious.

But we do have some control over how we spend our leisure time. That’s one reason why it’s worth asking which leisure time activities are linked to happiness, and which aren’t.

In a new analysis of 1 million U.S. teens, my co-authors and I looked at how teens were spending their free time and which activities correlated with happiness, and which didn’t.


Every year, teens are asked about their general happiness, in addition to how they spend their time. We found that teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services, reading or even doing homework were happier. However, teens who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, on social media, texting, using video chat or watching TV were less happy.

In other words, every activity that didn’t involve a screen was linked to more happiness, and every activity that involved a screen was linked to less happiness. The differences were considerable: Teens who spent more than five hours a day online were twice as likely to be unhappy as those who spent less than an hour a day.

Of course, it might be that unhappy people seek out screen activities. However, a growing number of studies show that most of the causation goes from screen use to unhappiness, not the other way around. […]

A similar trend might be occurring for adults: My co-authors and I previously found that adults over age 30 were less happy than they were 15 years ago, and that adults were having sex less frequently.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

Drawing on the past well-being literature, the authors propose that a person’s chronic happiness level is governed by 3 major factors: a genetically determined set point for happiness, happiness-relevant circumstantial factors, and happiness-relevant activities and practices.

{ Review of General Psychology | PDF }

‘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 }

Real-time imitation of piano chord sequences with unexpected harmony or manner


People’s capacity to generate creative ideas is central to technological and cultural progress. Despite advances in the neuroscience of creativity, the field lacks clarity on whether a specific neural architecture distinguishes the highly creative brain. […]

We identified a brain network associated with creative ability comprised of regions within default, salience, and executive systems—neural circuits that often work in opposition. Across four independent datasets, we show that a person’s capacity to generate original ideas can be reliably predicted from the strength of functional connectivity within this network, indicating that creative thinking ability is characterized by a distinct brain connectivity profile.

{ PNAS | Continue reading | Read more }

related { Neurobiological differences between classical and jazz musicians at high and low levels of action planning }

‘I shall not speak, I shall not think: But endless love will mount in my soul.’ –Rimbaud


To test the relationship between ambient temperature and personality, we conducted two large-scale studies in two geographically large yet culturally distinct countries: China and the United States. […] Our findings provide a perspective on how and why personalities vary across geographical regions beyond past theories (subsistence style theory, selective migration theory and pathogen prevalence theory). As climate change continues across the world, we may also observe concomitant changes in human personality.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

photo { Dana Lixenberg, J 50, 1993 }

Like in much of theoretical physics, the answer is effectively a non-answer


Strange-face illusions are produced when two individuals gaze at each other in the eyes in low illumination for more than a few minutes.

Usually, the members of the dyad perceive numinous apparitions, like the other’s face deformations and perception of a stranger or a monster in place of the other, and feel a short lasting dissociation. […]

Strange-face illusions can be considered as ‘projections’ of the subject’s unconscious into the other’s face. In conclusion, intersubjective gazing at low illumination can be a tool for conscious integration of unconscious ’shadows of the Self’ in order to reach completeness of the Self.

{ Explore | Continue reading }

photo { Richard Kern }

‘La sève des arbres vous entre au cœur par les longs regards stupides que l’on tient sur eux.’ –Flaubert


When making trust decisions in economic games, people have some accuracy in detecting trustworthiness from the facial features of unknown partners. […] We observed that trustworthiness detection remained better than chance for exposure times as short as 100 ms, although it disappeared with an exposure time of 33 ms.

{ Experimental Psychology | Continue reading }

photo { Miles Alridge }