Archive for February, 2015

Spacetime theories

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An understanding of the beginning of the universe requires an integration of general relativity and quantum theory or in other words a theory of quantum gravity. String theory has been the best known attempt at this with quanta described as the vibrations of one dimensional strings. However, alternative theories have emerged in recent years.

Avian navigation

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A wealth of evidence suggests that magnetic compass of migratory birds is light dependent, with the eye involved in the sensing of the compass direction. Experiments with oscillating magnetic fields show that these can disrupt the behaviour of migratory birds. Studies showed that the ratio between singlet and triplet products in cryptochrome protein can be modulated by the Earth’s magnetic field.

Recurrent neural processing

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Towards a neural stance on consciousness :: Victor Lamme, University of Amsterdam :: Trends in Cognitive Science, Vol. 10, No. 11, 25 September 2006 :: www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences/home Summary and review of the above article Lamme says that he wishes to approach the question of consciousness from the direction of neuroscience. He asks why it is that some neural processes produce conscious experience, but others do not. Certain distinctions between conscious and unconscious processing Read more […]

Noise and unreliability of synapses

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Detecting and estimating signals over noisy and unreliable synapses  ::  Amit Manwani & Christof Koch, California Institute of Technology  ::  Neural Computation 13, pp. 1-33, (2000) http://www.mitpressjournals.org/loi/neco Summary and review of the above paper This paper discusses the relationship between noise and information transfer in the brain. Synaptic transmission is known to be unreliable and probabilistic. Single cortical synapses cannot transfer information reliably. Therefore, Read more […]

Ex Machina and consciousness

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The recent science fiction film, Ex Machina, about the invention of a conscious android takes us straight to the heart of the nature of consciousness. The android, named Ava, has a clear choice, preference and desire to be free from the underground chamber in which she is confined, and also to be free from the direction of her inventor. The inventor, Nathan, asks the other main character, Caleb, to go beyond the Turing test. This is good advice as the Turing test was an annoying distraction Read more […]