Modernity in transition
The period of the Weimar Republic from 1918 to 1933 was a highly productive epoch in Germany for the emergence of new and groundbreaking ideas and concepts:
Moby-Dick's opening lines
"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago-never mind how long precisely-having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off-then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish, Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship."
November a year ago
The placebo effect
When a patient is prescribed a placebo by a doctor and assured that it works, his body will release endogenous opiates, dopamine, and other substances. So the consequences of the placebo are real.
People live in the world they believe in.
The Field of Evil
Day by day, the field is tended,
grain by grain,
and when the seed of evil sprouts,
grows and thrives,
eventually comes the time of harvest -
and it is WAR.
Dinosaurs vs. Humans
Dinosaurs lived on earth from about 245 million years ago to about 66 million years ago.
Homo sapiens lived about 315 thousand years ago until about ??? on earth.
The scientific study of dinosaurs began in England in the 19th century. The group name "Dinosauria" was coined in 1842 by the anatomist Richard Owen. Historical people who knew nothing about dinosaurs: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Immanuel Kant, Franz Schubert, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Albert Einstein is not only considered a genius who revolutionized physics through the theory of relativity, he may also have unintentionally made a decisive contribution to a better understanding of how our brain works.
When pathologist Thomas Harvey autopsied Einstein's body in Princeton Hospital on April 18, 1955, he secretly removed his brain and eyes without permission. After hiding Einstein's brain in his home for 27 years, Harvey allows other scientists to study it. Now it was possible to investigate why Albert Einstein was so intelligent.
During the examination it turned out that the number and size of the neurons were completely normal. However, neuroanatomist Marian C. Diamond discovered an unusually large number of so-called astrocytes in Einstein's associative cortex, the region responsible for higher thought processes - significantly more than would be expected in the brain of an average human.
Astrocytes are a subtype of glial cells and only in recent years have scientists realized that they play a much more complex role than previously thought. Astrocytes have many functions, they control synapses, blood flow to the brain, they provide nutrients to neurons and respond to injury. Through these tasks they are able to control the neurons.
Experiments have shown that astrocytes support memory and the ability to learn. They therefore play a key role in our intelligence.
Our mission in life
It is not meaningful to look for a purpose for your own life.
"Our most important and dignified work is to live properly." - Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592)
"You know, people think mathematics is complicated. Mathematics is the simple bit. It's the stuff we can understand. It's cats that are complicated." John Conway (1937 - 2020)
v.n.z.n - Topics and People
The Traveling Circus
One could still clearly see the circular shape of the circus ring in the depressed grass as Elias looked in disbelief at the now empty space on the edge of the village.
How was this possible? Where the deserted village green now stood, yesterday there was the blue and yellow circus tent surrounded by trailers for the artists, animal trainers, and clowns, as well as the vehicles and enclosures for the circus animals.
He ran breathlessly to the church hill. From there, you had the best view of the road leading out of the village towards the south. But all Elias could see was a group of cranes, which he watched longingly until they disappeared on the horizon.
Spinoza: God as a singular substance
The Dutch philosopher Baruch de Spinoza (1632 - 1677) on God as a singular substance:
"God is the infinite, substantively constant in its attributes, unified, and eternal substance. By substance, I mean that which is in itself and is conceived through itself, that is, that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing in order to be formed. A substance cannot be produced by another substance."
404 - Future not found
People have a great future behind them.
Farewell, and thanks for the bytes.
Thoughts about Complexity
v.n.z.n - New photo series
Thoughts about the Brain
- The eight stages of life
- Prime Number Maze
- Are Dreams Immortal?
- Is the brain obsolete?
- The limits of my world
- Blue pill or red pill?
- Cooperative decisions
- The hypothesis engine
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Free will
- Leibniz's mill argument
- Neural Möbius strip
- Language and abstraction
- Hanlon's razor
- Where do thoughts come from?
- Praise the hand
- Hurray, our child is lying!
- Dream Store
- Map and territory
- Thinking as simulation of mental models
- Why do we sleep
- Free Energy Principle
- The brain as a noise filter
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
"Judging my paintings by the scale of naturalistic accuracy is not correct, as they are not representations of specific things or beings, but independent organisms made of lines, shapes, and colors, containing natural forms only to the extent necessary as keys to understanding. My paintings are analogies, not representations."
The Battle for Data
Currently, many companies are attempting to get tighter control over access to their collected data, which could be of interest for training Large Language Models (LLMs). For instance, APIs are being shut down or equipped with paywalls. This trend has been observed in the past months with X/Twitter, Reddit, and StackOverflow. However, this trend also extends in the opposite direction. Companies aim to prevent their databases from being flooded with generated nonsense from LLMs, rendering them worthless.
Everywhere, efforts are being made to collect as much data as possible. Many might not realize the immense volume of data processed and stored in, for example, an electric vehicle. Not only is the entire environment of the car constantly scanned and evaluated using cameras and other sensors, but also all driver actions are captured and stored in data centers.
In the past, data was sold to the advertising industry, and today, it also serves as the foundation for LLMs' existence.
The eight stages of life
The psychosocial development model is a developmental psychological concept developed by the psychoanalyst Erik H. Erikson and his wife Joan Erikson.
It consists of different life stages, known as "psychosocial stages," each associated with specific developmental tasks. Each stage represents a challenge that must be successfully overcome to achieve a healthy psychosocial development. The way a person handles these challenges influences their later personality development and identity.
- Hope: trust vs. mistrust (oral-sensory, infancy, under 1 year) "Can I Trust the World?"
- Will: autonomy vs. shame/doubt (muscular-anal, toddlerhood, 1–2 years) "Is It Okay to Be Me?"
- Purpose: initiative vs. guilt (locomotor-genital, early childhood, 3–6 years) "Is it Okay for Me to Do, Move, and Act?"
- Competence: industry vs. inferiority (latency, late childhood, 7–10 years) "Can I Make it in the World of People and Things?"
- Fidelity: identity vs. role confusion (adolescence, 11-19 years) "Who Am I and What Can I Be?"
- Love: intimacy vs. isolation (early adulthood, 20–45 years) "Can I Love?"
- Care: generativity vs. stagnation (middle adulthood, 45–64 years) "Can I Make My Life Count?"
- Wisdom: ego integrity vs. despair (late adulthood, 65 years and above) "Is it Okay to Have Been Me?"