Spring Roundup

Spring is here and so I’ve done a spring roundup. Well they are vaguely tied to spring in my head. Emotional intensity, sensory experience, creativity, and of course SMBHs. (What don’t you think of Super Massive Black Holes when you think of spring?)

Reading YA and introverts and emotions

Jocelyn at 52 Letters has a great post about seeing yourself in characters, about emotional reactions, and about the way we expect our characters to be. I highly recommend it.

I’m not sure I have all my thoughts wrangled together on this yet so I may end up looping back to it.

Senses

Computer Generated Logos not entirely a creative AI but similar I think. (There is also an Atlas of Potential Nations, which generates country names and flags.)

Listen – Table Top Audio is a cool audio tool for listening to audio with a specific ambience. Designed for tabletop gaming, but works incredibly well for writing too. (I’ve actually been loving Thunderspace an app for the iphone for rainstorm sounds as well.)

Taste and Smell? – The future of gardening? I really try to keep myself aware of the range of the future. I know I have talked excitedly about the future of ponytail holders. (Because yes, I am the dullest person ever…shut up.) There seems to be a tendency to focus on some of the big things with technology, but it pervades everything, including gardening. I know there are the fancy indoor gardens (which I’m not convinced I could keep alive) but these little pods seem like another step along the path to the future in another way.

Creativity, the brain, and practice

Creativity and the 10,000 hours thing

So in reading this I’m not entirely sure I understand it. I want to say I disagree but I don’t feel like that’s the right phrase, if this is what the science shows then …who am I to disagree. But it sort of doesn’t seem like what he’s saying is entirely backed up.

the techniques of deliberate practice are most applicable to “highly developed fields” such as chess, sports, and musical performance

But is snowboarding a much more highly developed field than civil engineers? Are musicians not creative?

Supermassives

Supermassive Black Holes are spinning the same way

This was a cool story about the possible reasons that supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the center of the galaxies appear to all spin the same direction. Early fluctuations of the universe seem entirely reasonable for this, but hopefully this can also give us more insight in the long term into the early universe.

The Future Now

The world is a strange, wonderful, disturbing, and incredibly malleable place. Some random links I’ve run across about the future now. Some things that have a lot of potential, but potential can be for good or evil.

Bust Art Heist Bust

Cosmo Wenman, an artist who actually has done guerrilla 3D reproductions of classical art using high-quality digital photos, told Ars that he was immediately suspicious about the Nefertiti scan. Most likely, he said, the artists had been given a version of the Neues Museum’s own 3D scans, possibly by a museum worker or a third party who did the scans for the museum.

The ability to replicate incredible art, print it, interact with it, and have copies of it.

Self focusing glasses

The company initially hopes its technology can be useful for people with presbyopia, which is a very common inability to focus close up as people reach their 40s and older. Typically, this is solved by wearing glasses with progressive lenses, which have different degrees of focusing power in different areas.

We live in the future now.

Wolves and howls

Howling UK wolf
Howls from different parts of the world (a UK wolf from Wikipedia).

This is a story worth listening to. The howls are amazingly different. The Eastern European one they played didn’t sound anything like what I think of as a wolf howl. The Iberian was very different. They all are beautiful. I can absolutely see how you’d be able to identify them.

(I also love that Dr. Holly Root-Gutteridge was watching a horror movie when she went, hey, that’s an american wolf and it all went from there.)

Drugs and Morals

There seems to be a notion that our morals and ethics and what we believe is an innate part of who we are. Except it is incredibly changeable. From making the people more fair with lemons to using magnets to change your moral judgements. (These are both VERY simplistic explanations so please go read the details and remember nuance and further study is incredibly important.)

It can also be changed with (or by) drugs, and might be already altered by the ones you are already taking. There is so much potential for the future, but what do we do with it.

Oxytocin: Some new studies have seen sex-specific effects: oxytocin can promote self-interest in men but increase altruistic behavior in women.

Kate Rauner writes about robotics

Yup, sign me up for letting an AI drive me to a grocery store. (Well I can walk to mine, but yes, I would be absolutely on board with it.) I fully expect lots of flaws. But I think about people who can’t get around on their own now and giving them the freedom and ability to live on their own is a huge thing.

Scientists developing robots to lead people in high-rises to safety in case of a fire discovered people would follow the robot even when it made obviously dangerous and ridiculous errors. We seem all too ready to shift our brains into neutral and follow orders.

Memory Roundup

I’ve been thinking a lot about memory and the brain, again. I feel like I always loop back to stories about memory, the brain, and perception. They are the thing that interests me. That captures my imagination. I thought I would give a memory roundup of some of the things that have been rattling around in my brain the loudest and some of the very interesting stories I’ve re-dug up this week. (Many of them are older, but from what I can tell still relevant.)

Long Term

Long Term Memory Priorities

Because P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way…

Spaced Repetition

It isn’t just about remembering something or repeating it often. It needs to be repeated in the right kinds of ways, as well as retrieved which is a huge part of things, if I say something to you a thousand times you won’t be nearly as likely to remember it as if I made you say it.

or Spaced Retrieval (which personally makes it easier to remember what we are talking about because words mean things…)

This technique is also called spaced retrieval, because you are retrieving the information from your memory over spaced intervals.

Memory and Forgetting

Memory is such a tricky thing, but it isn’t just what we remember that is important, what we forget can change our view of the world.

So, there we have it; it’s not just about how much information we can cram into our memories at once, it also about how much we can keep out.

Next time you find yourself having a hard time remembering a phone number or image, just blame your distracted brain.

Myth of the Neurotic Creative

It is entirely reasonable to be creative and be not be neurotic. And creativity is so much more than just making art.

One can be creative in any field. There are a lot of uncreative artists and a lot of creative accountants.

Perception vs Reality

Perception is strange. I’ve had a couple things come up this week that make me doubt my memory and my perception of the world, which quite frankly hangs by the thinnest of threads anyway. It helps to remind myself that others have gap filled, confusing, incoherent memories too. Just some people might have a better ability to smooth those gaps and cobble together a cohesive story out of it.

Memory itself is not like a video-recording, with a moment-by-moment sensory image. In fact, it’s more like a puzzle: we piece together our memories, based on both what we actually remember and what seems most likely given our knowledge of the world. Just as we make educated guesses in perception, our minds’ best educated guesses help “fill in the gaps” of memory, reconstructing the most plausible picture of what happened in our past.

Heuristic bonus

Color and Climate Roundup

This isn’t actually about just color and climate, but I they both start with a C? I’m not entirely sure. I just read the whole climate change article and feel overwhelmed.

Colors and words!

Color Thesaurus More words for colors is always a good thing. Plus this is just beautiful.

Nameless colors And taking color in the exact opposite direction is paint that is unnamed.

Writing and AI

Robots Learn Values from Books

Would you want the future of AI to learn from your novels?

The Future of Medicine

Tech and the Future of Medicine

Oh those Canadians! (I love Quirks and Quarks and highly recommend.) Most of these were technologies I’d heard before but it was sort of nice to really have a lot of them in once place and hear some speculation about how it could be used. The future is an amazing place. I look forward to it.

Cli-Fi without the Fi

Millennia of Sea-Level Change

This is not the short version of this. It includes a ton of links and references and charts and all the things.  Which reminds me of the interactive map from NOAA. There are a bunch of other maps out there (I didn’t see any with the brand new data, but it is brand new, if someone did please let me know).