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Sometimes science must give way to religion : Nature News & Comment
"Science advocates have been keen to claim that the Higgs discovery is important for everyone. Yet in practical terms, the Higgs is an incomprehensible abstraction, a partial solution to an extraordinarily rarified and perhaps always-incomplete intellectual puzzle. By contrast, the Angkor temples demonstrate how religion can offer an authentic personal encounter with the unknown. At Angkor, the genius of a long-vanished civilization, expressed across the centuries through its monuments, allows visitors to connect with things that lie beyond their knowing in a way that no journalistic or popular scientific account of the Higgs boson can. Put another way, if, in a thousand years, someone visited the ruins of the Large Hadron Collider, where the Higgs experiment was conducted, it is doubtful that they would get from the relics of the detectors and super­conducting magnets a sense of the subatomic world that its scientists say it revealed."
opinion  Angkor  physics  particle-physics  religion  philosophy  NatureJournal 
august 2012 by pierredv
Human cycles: History as science : Nature News & Comment
"To Peter Turchin, who studies population dynamics at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the appearance of three peaks of political instability at roughly 50-year intervals is not a coincidence. For the past 15 years, Turchin has been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator–prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and applying them to human history. He has analysed historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence in the United States, and has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way" "In their analysis of long-term social trends, advocates of cliodynamics focus on four main variables: population numbers, social structure, state strength and political instability."
**  modeling  history  NatureJournal 
august 2012 by pierredv
Noakes & Spedding - Olympics: Run for your life : Nature
"exercise is not just important for general health — it is essential to the molecular memory of who we are"
health  exercise  NatureJournal 
july 2012 by pierredv
The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks : Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group
"Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare."
climate  science  culture  NewScientist  NatureJournal 
june 2012 by pierredv
Out-of-body experience: Master of illusion : Nature Dec 2011
"Henrik Ehrsson, a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who uses [body] illusions to probe, stretch and displace people's sense of self" Research: "quest to understand how people come to experience a sense of self, located within their own bodies", "surprising malleability suggests that the brain continuously constructs its feeling of body ownership using information from the senses" "typically, the illusions work for around four out of five people"
psychology  perception  illusions  self  sense-of-self  **  NatureJournal 
december 2011 by pierredv
How do you feel? Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body : Abstract : Nature Reviews Neuroscience = Bud Craig 2002
Abstract: As humans, we perceive feelings from our bodies that relate our state of well-being, our energy and stress levels, our mood and disposition. How do we have these feelings? What neural processes do they represent? Recent functional anatomical work has detailed an afferent neural system in primates and in humans that represents all aspects of the physiological condition of the physical body. This system constitutes a representation of 'the material me', and might provide a foundation for subjective feelings, emotion and self-awareness.
interoception  review-article  neuroscience  NatureJournal 
november 2011 by pierredv
The evolution of overconfidence : Nature Sep 2011
Paper at, description at "we present an evolutionary model showing that, counterintuitively, overconfidence maximizes individual fitness and populations tend to become overconfident, as long as benefits from contested resources are sufficiently large compared with the cost of competition"
research  modeling  evolution  psychology  overconfidence  NatureJournal 
september 2011 by pierredv
Sociology: Political evolution : Nature
Commentary by Jared Diamond on article by Currie et al Abstract "Phylogenetic methods of evolutionary biology can be used to study socio-political variation mapped onto linguistic trees. The range of political complexities in Austronesian societies offers a good test case"
politics  evolution  genetics  phylogenetics  NatureJournal 
october 2010 by pierredv
Rise and fall of political complexity in island South-East Asia and the Pacific : Nature
Abstract:"There is disagreement about whether human political evolution has proceeded through a sequence of incremental increases in complexity, or whether larger, non-sequential increases have occurred. The extent to which societies have decreased in complexity is also unclear. . . . We evaluated six competing models of political evolution in Austronesian-speaking societies using phylogenetic methods. Here we show that in the best-fitting model political complexity rises and falls in a sequence of small steps. This is closely followed by another model in which increases are sequential but decreases can be either sequential or in bigger drops. The results indicate that large, non-sequential jumps in political complexity have not occurred during the evolutionary history of these societies. This suggests that, despite the numerous contingent pathways of human history, there are regularities in cultural evolution that can be detected using computational phylogenetic methods."
evolution  statistics  politics  genetic  phylogenetics  NatureJournal 
october 2010 by pierredv
Common ecology quantifies human insurgency : Nature
From abstract: the sizes and timing of violent events within different insurgent conflicts exhibit remarkable similarities. We propose a unified model of human insurgency that reproduces these commonalities, and explains conflict-specific variations quantitatively in terms of underlying rules of engagement. Our model treats each insurgent population as an ecology of dynamically evolving, self-organized groups following common decision-making processes
ecology  power-law  war  conflict  NatureJournal 
december 2009 by pierredv
Birds on the Wires - music
"Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating."
music  video  fun  vimeo  via  digg  **  NatureJournal 
september 2009 by pierredv
new strategy in the fight against cancer - Robert Gatenby - Nature podcast 28 May 2009
see interview with Robert Gatenby on new approach to cancer: metaphor of suppressing pests rather than completely curing a bacterial infection. The idea is that if you try to cure a cancer by completely removing it, you kill all but the drug-resistant cells, which then come back and kill the patient. If, on the other hand, you merely try to contain the size of the cancer, the majority of cells will keep the really bad drug-resistant ones in check. It’s counter-intuitive for cancer treatment – I wonder if the same conceptual struggle occurs in the security community as well
security  cancer  health  medicine  NatureJournal 
august 2009 by pierredv
A smarter way to combat hunger : Nature opinion piece
"Traditional approaches to supplying food are an inefficient 'band aid', says Pedro A. Sanchez. New evidence shows that helping farmers to help themselves is more effective and would be six times cheaper. After decades of progress in the fight to vanquish world hunger, the number of undernourished people is growing again. Estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggest that 963 million people1 in poor countries are chronically or acutely hungry — up 109 million from 2004 estimates2." For more, see podcast transcript
africa  food  hunger  NatureJournal 
may 2009 by pierredv

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