Archive: http://www.comdig.org, European Mirror: http://www.comdig.de
Asian Mirror: http://www.phil.pku.edu.cn/resguide/comdig/ (Chinese GB-Code)
"I think the next century will be the century of complexity." Stephen Hawking, 2000
1. "New Frontiers of Neuroscience" Symposium, Conference Webcast
Full Audio Recordings of Presentations
- Shaping the Developing Circuits by Electrical Activity, Mu-Ming Poo, Dept. of Molecular & Cell Biology, UC Berkeley
- How Synapses Predict The Future, Terrence Sejnowski, Howard Hughes Medical Inst., the Salk Inst., USA
- The Systems Neurophysiology Of Learning, Martin Ingvar, Karolinska Hospital/Inst.
- Developmental Dyslexia: Debugging A Defective System Of Cognitive Operation, Ovid J.L. Tseng, Vice President, Academia Sinica
- The Molecular Mechanism Of Amyloid Peptide Induced Cerebral Endothelial Apoptosis, Chung Y. Hsu, President of TMU
Short Video Statement
- Is the Brain as a Computer?, Terrence Sejnowski, Howard Hughes Medical Inst., the Salk Inst., USA
Note: Audio files are in downloadable mp3 format for portable mp3 players or any mp3 software players. Video files are in asf format and can be played e.g. with windows media player. For the sound codec a (free) plugin might be required, but the download should be automatic.)
2. Cell Polarity: From Embryo To Axon, Nature
Excerpts: Many cell types in our body, ranging from neurons to the epithelial cells that line the lungs and skin, must be polarized to function properly. The same mechanism may establish the polarity of many of these cells.
How are we to make sense of the complexity of our brains? Filled with billions of nerve cells, each making hundreds or thousands of precise connections to other neurons, this organ develops anew in each of us. (…) But there is a theme that emerges from studying these shapes.
- Cell Polarity: From Embryo To Axon, Melissa M. Rolls, Chris Q. Doe, Nature 421, 905 - 906 (2003); doi:10.1038/421905a
Excerpts: As the embryonic brain wires itself up, nascent neural projections are pulled to make connections with other neurons by structures called growth cones. Researchers know a lot about the chemical signals that lure growth cones. Now a team has uncovered the growth cones' steering mechanism.
Growth cones send out dozens of thin, threadlike feelers to help sense the world around them. Each feeler is supported by fibers called actin filaments; other fibers, called microtubules, run on a treadmill of actin filaments that reel them back toward the cell body (…).
- Behind the Wheel of an Expanding Axon, Science 2003 299: 1307
Excerpts: Asians with the adult i syndrome have cataracts; Europeans do not. What can be the explanation?
Different cells have different metabolic needs; sometimes an enzyme that functions admirably in one cell type might perform optimally in another cell type if its properties were altered. In such instances evolution has often avoided the "one size fits all" approach but has instead tailor-made an enzyme for each tissue. Sometimes entirely different genes are turned on in different tissues.
- i to I And The Eye, Ernest Beutler, Blood 2003 March 15; 101(6): p. 2077
3. DNA's Double Helix Isn't So Golden Now, The Wall Street Journal
Excerpts: If only more geneticists were Sherlock Holmes fans. (…) As Holmes realized in "The Adventure of Silver Blaze," it was the failure of a watchdog to bark on the night of the murder that provided a solution to the mystery. Geneticists face a similar puzzle. Sure, they can study people who both carry a disease gene and have the disease (breast cancer, ...). But it might be a lot more illuminating to look at people who carry the gene but never get the disease -- a gene that doesn't bark.
Excerpts: In 1953, Enrico Fermi and two of his colleagues at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, John Pasta and Stanislaw Ulam, invented the concept of a "computer experiment." Suddenly the computer became a telescope for the mind, a way of exploring inaccessible processes like the collision of black holes or the frenzied dance of subatomic particles - phenomena that are too large or too fast to be visualized by traditional experiments, and too complex to be handled by pencil-and-paper mathematics. The computer experiment offered a third way of doing science.
- Opinion: The Real Scientific Hero Of 1953, Steven Strogatz, NYTimes, 03/03/04
Excerpts: Different genetic mutations give black coats to different species of cats.(...) A research team at the National Cancer Institute and the University of Maryland found that a gene called MC1R makes jaguars black when mutated. Humans also have an MC1R gene that, when mutated, gives some people red hair. It is in a family of genes called 7-transmembrane receptors.(...) "HIV enters cells through a 7-transmembrane receptor called CCR5," Dr O'Brien said. "So perhaps the selective pressure that allowed these mutations to survive in cats may not be to camouflage".
4. On The Specification And Estimation Of The Production Function For Cognitive Achievement, The Econ. J.
Abstract: This paper considers methods for modelling the production function for cognitive achievement in a way that captures theoretical notions that child development is a cumulative process depending on the history of family and school inputs and on innate ability. It develops a general modelling framework that accommodates many of the estimating equations used in the literatures. It considers different ways of addressing data limitations, and it makes precise the identifying assumptions needed to justify alternative approaches. Commonly used specifications are shown to place restrictive assumptions on the production technology.
- On The Specification And Estimation Of The Production Function For Cognitive Achievement, Todd P.E., Wolpin K.I., The Econ. J., Vol. 113, No. 485, pp:3-33(31), Feb. 2003
- Contributed by Pritha Das
Abstract: We present the first assessment of motion sensitivity for persons with autism and normal intelligence using motion patterns that require neural processing mechanisms of varying complexity. Compared to matched controls, our results demonstrate that the motion sensitivity of observers with autism is similar to that of nonautistic observers for different types of first-order (luminance-defined) motion stimuli, but significantly decreased for the same types of second-order (texture-defined) stimuli. The latter class of motion stimuli has been demonstrated to require additional neural computation to be processed adequately. This finding may reflect less efficient integrative functioning of the neural mechanisms that mediate visuoperceptual processing in autism. The contribution of this finding with regards to abnormal perceptual integration in autism, its effect on cognitive operations, and possible behavioral implications are discussed.
- Motion Perception in Autism: A "Complex" Issue, Armando Bertone, Laurent Mottron, Patricia Jelenic, Jocelyn, Faubert, J. Cogn. Neurosci. 2003 February 1; 15(2): p. 218-225
5. A Neural Basis For Auditory Feedback Control Of Vocal Pitch, The J. Neurosc.
Abstract: Hearing one's own voice is essential for the production of correct vocalization patterns in many birds and mammals, including humans. Bats, for instance, adjust temporal, spectral, and intensity parameters of their echolocation calls by precisely monitoring the characteristics of the returning echo signals. We used echolocating horseshoe bats to investigate the role of the midbrain and hindbrain tegmentum for the control of call frequencies in response to changing auditory feedback. Such an audio-vocal feedback mechanism might share basic aspects with audio-vocal feedback controlling the pitch of vocalizations in other mammals, including the involuntary response to "pitch-shifted feedback" in humans.
- A Neural Basis For Auditory Feedback Control Of Vocal Pitch, M. Smotherman, S. Zhang, W. Metzner, The J. Neurosc., 23(4):1464, 2003/02/15
- Contributed by Atin Das
6. Tissue Engineering: The Beat Goes On, Nature
Excerpts: Faced with this daunting complexity, several research groups are instead working on the interim goal of growing some of the heart's component parts - patches of cardiac muscle, valves, coronary blood vessels and so on. One of the largest projects is the BioEngineered Autologous Tissue (BEAT) initiative. Led by Buddy Ratner of the University of Washington in Seattle, BEAT received a $10-million, five-year grant in 2000 from the US National Institutes of Health to create patches of cardiac muscle to repair the damage caused by coronary heart attacks.
- Tissue Engineering: The Beat Goes On, Catherine Zandonella, Nature 421, 884 - 886 (2003); doi:10.1038/421884a
Excerpts: Indeed, hepatitis viruses don't even infect human liver cells in a petri dish. So Griffith and her team are putting their tissue-engineering expertise to work building what's essentially a miniature human liver on a silicon chip. It won't serve as a replacement part but rather as an amazingly realistic model of the natural organ. "What we're trying to do is replicate the structure, as well as the mechanical forces, so that we can hopefully replicate the function," she explains. Mass produced, such a chip could be a boon not only to companies developing drugs for hepatitis and other diseases, but also for scientists investigating liver cancer and gene therapy, and even chemical firms testing the toxicity of new materials. Griffith and graduate student Albert Hwa showed Technology Review senior editor Rebecca Zacks how to build a little liver.
- The Liver Chip, Rebecca Zacks, Technology Review, 03/03
7. Research on Aging: The End of the Beginning, Science
Excerpts: We have focused on physiological mechanisms underlying processes of aging, rather than on the large array of debilitating and costly disorders that so commonly emerge during the latter half of the life-spans of human beings. (…) The "one disorder at a time" approach has limited power to delay death; rather, it is through deciphering the biological underpinnings of processes of aging that scientists will likely discover ways to extend the human life-span. This problem is being attacked from several angles, and we are seeing some emerging themes.
- Research on Aging: The End of the Beginning, George M. Martin, Kelly LaMarco, Evelyn Strauss, Katrina L. Kelner, Science 2003 299: 1339-1341. (in Introduction to special issue)
Excerpts: New data indicate that some of the mental declines that accompany aging aren't as bad as researchers once thought. And in many cognitive domains, the old have a lot to teach the young
(…) people retain or even improve their performance in domains they practice regularly --that is, in the skills they care about most.
Older people outperform the whippersnappers in some spheres. For instance, elders have better social wisdom: They can evaluate a stranger's personality more accurately. They also have better verbal abilities.
- The Wisdom of the Wizened, Laura Helmuth, Science 2003 299: 1300-1302
Excerpts: Age-related neurodegenerative and neurochemical changes are thought to underlie decline in motor and cognitive functions, but compensatory processes in cortical and subcortical function may allow maintenance of performance level in some people. Our objective was to investigate age-related changes in the motor system of the human brain using functional MRI. (…) We have demonstrated a clear age-related effect in the neural correlates of motor performance, and furthermore suggest that these changes are non-linear. These results support the notion that an adaptable and plastic motor network is able to respond to age-related degenerative changes in order to maintain performance levels.
- Age-Related Changes In The Neural Correlates Of Motor Performance, N. S. Ward and R. S. J. Frackowiak, Brain 2003 April 1; 126(4): p. 873-888
8. The Expanding Network Of Redox Signaling, J. Clin. Invest.
Excerpt: Because oxidative metabolism is central to the biology and health of all humans, how we respond to conditions of low and high oxygen stress has become a critical consideration in biology and medicine. Humans live in a world where we continually balance the use of oxygen as a source of energy, and as a source of cellular injury. (...) We have therefore evolved a marvelously complex system of both defense mechanisms and sensing mechanisms for changes in cellular redox tone.
- The Expanding Network Of Redox Signaling: New Observations, Complexities, And Perspectives, Roy J. Soberman, J. Clin. Invest. 2003 March 1; 111(5): p. 571-574
9. Superbug Strain Hits The Healthy, New Scientist
Excerpts: A drug-resistant superbug that spreads by skin contact is infecting thousands of people across the US and may now have reached Europe.
The MRSA bacterium, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can be resistant to many antibiotics. It has long been a serious problem in hospitals and nursing homes, where it infects the wounds of patients weakened by disease or injury. But it now appears that a new strain is emerging that spreads through skin contact and can even infect healthy people.
- Superbug Strain Hits The Healthy, Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 03/03/05
10. The Complexity Of Deformed Amphibians, Front. Ecol. Environ.
Abstract: Many amphibian populations have disappeared or are in decline throughout the world. In addition, more than 60 different species of amphibians with severe abnormalities have been found in the US and several other countries. These complex, perhaps interrelated phenomena are associated with important current challenges in conservation biology. Although intense research, beginning in the early 1990s, has led to a better understanding of why amphibian populations are declining, there is still a basic lack of knowledge about the causes and implications of amphibian deformities.
11. Ecology: The How And Why Of Biodiversity, Nature
Excerpts: A study of reef fish in the Indian and Pacific oceans reveals that the structures of local communities and their regional context are intricately entwined. New species spread far from an oceanic 'hotspot' of diversity.
In the field of biodiversity, Rudyard Kipling's "six honest serving men"1 have progressed at very different speeds. What, Who, Where and When have established much about the basic distribution patterns of life across the Earth. But How and Why have been struggling, and their difficulties have been well aired.
- Ecology: The How And Why Of Biodiversity, Kevin J. Gaston, Nature 421, 900 - 901 (2003); doi:10.1038/421900a
Excerpts: Ecological theory suggests that complex food webs should not persist because of their inherent instability. "Real" ecosystems often support a large number of interacting species. A mathematical model shows that fluctuating short-term selection on trophic links, arising from a consumer's adaptive food choice, is a key to the long-term stability of complex communities. Without adaptive foragers, food-web complexity destabilizes community composition; whereas in their presence, complexity may enhance community persistence through facilitation of dynamical food-web reconstruction that buffers environmental fluctuations.
- Relationship Between Food-Web Complexity and Stability, Michio Kondoh, Science 2003 February 28; 299(5611): p. 1388-1391
Summary: Although recent research has identified complex interactions among many species in large food webs, ecological theory predicts that these food webs are unstable and cannot persist. Kondoh (p. 1388) resolves this paradox by incorporating adaptative evolution into food-web models. Foraging adaptation provides a food web with "flexibility," which creates a strong positive relationship between food-web complexity and community stability. The model suggests how biodiversity is maintained in complex food webs and points to the central roles of genetic diversity, local adaptation, and a community's evolutionary history in maintaining local biodiversity.
- Flexibility Favors Diversity, Science 2003 February 28; 299(5611): p. 1277j
Excerpts: A single federal agency should be put in charge of monitoring marine noise and should fund research into how human-generated sounds may affect marine mammals and other sea life, says a new report from the National Academies' Ocean Studies Board. This agency's priorities should include investigating possible links between the use of high-energy midrange sonars and mass beachings of marine mammals and studying whether human-generated sound induces stress or subtle behavioral changes in these animals.
Excerpts: The environmental effects of oil and gas exploration and production on Alaska's North Slope have been accumulating for more than three decades, despite efforts by the oil industry and regulatory agencies to reduce the impact, says a new National Research Council report. The social and economic effects of North Slope oil development have been large, both positive and negative.
Abstract: Spatially synchronous dynamics are widespread in ecology, but attributing them to environmental correlation, (…) is complicated by the synchronizing influences of dispersal and trophic interactions. I investigated the potential for population synchronization by large-scale climate in an analysis of long-term (i.e., 50-yr) dynamics of the timing of flowering by three species of plants in 26 populations spanning several hundred kilometers in Norway. Temporal fluctuations in the timing of flowering were highly correlated across populations, both within and among species. Moreover, large-scale climatic fluctuation (the Arctic Oscillation) synchronized the timing of flowering across all three species over distances up to 500 km. Large-Scale
- Climate Synchronizes The Timing Of Flowering By Multiple Species, E. Posta, Ecology, Vol. 84, No. 2, pp. 277–281, Feb. 2003
- Contributed by Pritha Das
12. Mathematical Models Reveal 'Molten' And 'Glassy' States Of RNA, ScienceDaily
Excerpts: Mathematical models have given physicists a new look at DNA's chemical counterpart, RNA.
The models - showing that RNA behaves differently depending on the temperature of its environment - may help biologists better understand how life evolved on Earth. The models suggest that high temperatures give twisted strands of RNA the flexibility to fold into many different shapes, while low temperatures cause it to collapse into a single shape. RNA plays many different roles in a cell, such as the production of proteins that perform necessary functions, Bundschuh explained. The results hold implications for the study of the related "protein folding problem."
- Mathematical Models Reveal 'Molten' And 'Glassy' States Of RNA, ScienceDaily, 2003/03/05
- Contributed by Atin Das
13. Botany: Leaf Development Takes Shape, Science
Excerpts: Developmental biologists have long strived to understand how organisms acquire shape and form. They have learned much about how gene expression controls the specification of cell type and about how cells interact with one another to coordinate such specification decisions. Far less is known about how genes regulate an organism's shape. Indeed, it has even been proposed that the development of shape is not under genetic control but rather is determined by physical forces. (…) link between genetic regulation of growth and the control of leaf shape.
- Botany: Leaf Development Takes Shape, J. R. McConnell, M. K. Barton, Science 2003 299: 1328
Excerpts: Although curvature of biological surfaces has been considered from mathematical and biophysical perspectives, its molecular and developmental basis is unclear. We have studied the cin mutant of Antirrhinum, which has crinkly rather than flat leaves. Leaves of cin display excess growth in marginal regions, resulting in a gradual introduction of negative curvature during development. This reflects a change in the shape and the progression of a cell-cycle arrest front (…) CIN promotes zero curvature (flatness) by making cells more sensitive to an arrest signal, particularly in marginal regions.
- Genetic Control of Surface Curvature, Utpal Nath, Brian C. W. Crawford, Rosemary Carpenter, and Enrico Coen, Science 2003 299: 1404
14. Swimming in Spacetime: Motion by Cyclic Changes in Body Shape, Science Express
Abstract: Cyclic changes in the shape of a quasi-rigid body on a curved manifold can lead to net translation and/or rotation of the body. The amount of translation depends on the intrinsic curvature of the manifold. Presuming space-time is a curved manifold as portrayed by general relativity, translation in space can be accomplished simply by cyclic changes in the shape of a body, without any external forces.
- Swimming in Spacetime: Motion by Cyclic Changes in Body Shape. Jack Wisdom, Science Express,10.1126/science.1081406, 03/03/04
Excerpts: "In general relativity, you are accustomed to the idea that spacetime has a dynamical existence, that it's a medium, not just nothingness," says Wilczek. "Space is not homogeneous, and you can push against the bumps, so to speak.
(…) work raises questions about what it would mean to be "moving" against the pure fabric of spacetime if there were no stars and galaxies to help you judge your motion --an issue philosophers of science have been debating ever since physicist Ernst Mach raised it in 1893.
- Spacetime: Recipe for Rocket-Free Space Travel: Dive In and Paddle, Patiently, Science 2003 299: 1295
15. Making Robots More Like Us, NYTimes
Excerpts: It has been an elusive goal: machines that can move and work like humans. The solution may lie in getting robots and humans to interact better.
- Making Robots More Like Us, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, NYTimes, 03/03/06
Abstract: This paper explores self-assembling artefacts using distributed control. General design methods for distributed self-assembling artefacts are described and a simulator is developed to simulate an existing robot unit (M-TRAN) in a self-organizing context. Two multi-agent behaviors are implemented in the simulation to test the performance of the distributed system. The behaviors are compared favorable against existing motion planning methods (e.g. cluster flow) for these self-assembling modular robots.
See Also: Hydra Project
Excerpts: The eye is an obvious target for enhancement: Vision is our dominant sense, and the structure and function of the eye are relatively well-understood. From eyeglasses to contact lenses to cataract removal to laser surgery, there is a long history of tinkering with vision. And because so many people suffer from vision ailments (blindness, colorblindness, etc.), eye research is lavishly funded. Some of that research on damaged eyes may end up improving normal vision.
There are three ways this is likely to happen.
- I Spy With My Eagle Eye, The Quest For Supervision, David Plotz, Slate, 03/03/05
Excerpts: George Johnson's "Shortcut Through Time" addresses one of the most excruciatingly complex, mysterious and deeply fascinating topics in modern science, namely quantum computing: the manipulation of quantum states to perform computations far faster than is possible on any conventional computer. (…) makes this deeply arcane topic accessible and understandable - even, I think, for the reader unsophisticated in physics or computing. (…)
Yet in 1994 Peter Shor, a mathematician, showed how Q.C. could do this same operation much faster - in a few minutes. Q.C. could provide a shortcut through time.
- Harnessing Atoms to Create Superfast Computers, Ian Foster, NYTimes, 03/03/07
Excerpts: Now Dennett is advancing on free will. In ''Freedom Evolves,'' he wants to show how evolution can get us ''all the way from senseless atoms to freely chosen actions.'' And he succeeds in his aim, given what he means by freedom. But he doesn't establish the kind of absolute free will and moral responsibility that most people want to believe in and do believe in. That can't be done, and he knows it.
- 'Freedom Evolves': Evolution Explains It All for You, Galen Strawson, NYTimes, 03/03/02, Daniel C. Dennett argues that determinism and freedom are perfectly compatible.
16. It's Just a Fantasy, but Real Life Is Always in Play, NYTimes
Excerpts: It all started with The Beast, (…) an online game promoting the 2001 movie "Artificial Intelligence: A.I." People who noticed clues in posters and trailers for the movie followed them into a vast network of Web sites revolving around the mysterious murder of Evan Chan in 2142. Throughout the game, Web sites would change or disappear as the story progressed in real time. The game was full of remarkably difficult puzzles, and players soon joined together on the Internet to form a discussion group called Cloudmakers (cloudmakers.org) to pool information.
- It's Just a Fantasy, but Real Life Is Always in Play, Charles Herold, NYTimes, 03/03/06
17. The Puzzle Of Human Cooperation, Nature
Excerpts: Humans often defy rational-choice theory by cooperating in simple dilemma games, a paradox that has been explained by theories of kin selection, reciprocal altruism and indirect reciprocity (reputation). Fehr and Gächter claim that human cooperation remains an evolutionary puzzle because people will cooperate with genetically unrelated strangers, often in large groups, with people whom they may not meet again, and without any gain in reputation ('strong reciprocity') - that is, when existing theories do not seem to apply. (…) whether punishment is crucial to promoting cooperation.
- The Puzzle Of Human Cooperation, Dominic D. P. Johnson, Pavel Stopka, Stephen Knights, Nature 421, 911 - 912 (2003); doi:10.1038/421911b
Excerpts: Insect societies are a prime example of extreme cooperation, but their social life also entails the pursuit of selfish interests by society members. Here we show that workers of the ant Formica fusca favour their own close kin when rearing eggs and larvae in colonies that are derived from several queens. This nepotistic behaviour indicates that ant workers are able not only to detect kin relationships, but also to pursue their selfish genetic interests if the costs to their colony are not prohibitive.
- Worker Nepotism Among Polygynous Ants, Nature 421, 910 (2003); doi:10.1038/421910a
Abstract: The study assesses the forms and frequencies of slave-making in two closely related species of honey ants. One of these species has been known for its highly stereotyped tournaments that sometimes culminate in extensive brood raids. It is now shown that raided individuals indeed hatch within the foster colony. Surprisingly, it was found that the second species under study also incorporates raided individuals in its worker force. However, in this case, slaves can belong to either species, which means that slavery occurs even between the two species.
- Genetic Evidence For Intra- And Interspecific Slavery In Honey Ants (Genus Myrmecocystus), D. J. C. Kronauer, J. Gadau, B. Hölldobler, Proc. Biol. Sc & Alphagalileo, 2003 /03/03
- Contributed by Atin Das
Abstract: Male bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay have one of the most complex male societies outside humans. Two broad mating strategies have been identified in males. In the first strategy, there are two types of alliances: stable 'first-order' pairs (…) and 'second-order' teams of two first-order alliances (five or six individuals) that join forces against rivals in contests for females. Here, we show that males in stable first-order alliances and the derived second-order alliances are often strongly related, so that they may gain inclusive fitness benefits from alliance membership. (…) may be simultaneous operation of more than one mode of group formation.
- Contrasting Relatedness Patterns In Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops Sp.) With Different Alliance Strategies, M. Krtzen, W. B. Sherwin, R. C. Connor, L. M. Barr, T. Van de Casteele, J. Mann, R. Brooks, Proc. Biol. Sc., Vol. 270 No 1514, pp: 497-502, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2229, 2003/03/07
- Contributed by Atin Das
Abstract: Many animals use tools but only humans are generally considered to have the cognitive sophistication required for cumulative technological evolution. In an intensive field survey we found that New Caledonian crows manufacture three distinct types of pandanus tools: wide tools, narrow tools, and stepped tools. Similarities in the manufacture method of each of the three tool designs, and their different but overlapping geographic distributions, suggest that pandanus tools have gone through a process of cumulative change from a common historical origin. These findings suggest that New Caledonian crows may also have the cognitive requirements for rudimentary cumulative technological evolution.
- Diversification And Cumulative Evolution In New Caledonian Crow Tool Manufacture, G. R. Hunt, R. D. Gray, , Proc.iol. Sc. & Alphagalileo, 2003 /03/04
- Contributed by Atin Das
18. Disaster Planning: Avalanche!, Nature
Excerpts: High in the Swiss Alps, a multidisciplinary group of researchers is developing a feeling for snow. Quirin Schiermeier meets the avalanche forecasters.
Many of those who lost their lives in Galtür on 23 February 1999 never knew what hit them. Until that afternoon, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of snow lay banked on the high ridges that flank the small ski resort in the Austrian Alps. Then the banks suddenly collapsed, unleashing an avalanche that swept away buildings and killed more than 30 people.
- Disaster Planning: Avalanche!, Quirin Schiermeier, Nature 421, 887 - 888 (2003); doi:10.1038/421887a
Excerpts: (…) distinction between weather and climate. As Edward Lorenz put it, "climate is what you expect, weather is what you get". In the twenty-first century, climate is what you affect, weather is what gets you. (…) The 'attribution problem' for externally driven changes in climate (…) boils down to questions such as: "what would the climate have been like had we not increased greenhouse-gas levels?" (…)
Any compensation settlement would have to define what fraction of a given loss was due to human influence on climate (…).
- Liability For Climate Change, Myles Allen, Nature 421, 891 - 892 (2003); doi:10.1038/421891a
Excerpts: Forest fires are growing in size and frequency across the tropics. Continually eroding fragmented forest edges, they are unintended ecological disturbances that transcend deforestation to degrade vast regions of standing forest, diminishing ecosystem services and the economic potential of these natural resources. Affecting the health of millions, net forest fire emissions may have released carbon equivalent to 41% of worldwide fossil fuel use in 1997-98. Episodically more severe during El Niño events, pan-tropical forest fires will increase as more damaged, less fire-resistant, forests cover the landscape.
- Fire Science For Rainforests, Mark A. Cochrane, Nature 421, 913 - 919 (2003); doi:10.1038/nature01437
19. Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Networks
Excerpts: The job of homeland defense and security rests not only with government agencies responsible for meeting a country's security needs, but also with the scientific, engineering, and medical communities that develop new technologies. Recent events dictate new counterterrorism strategies, such as creating the new Department of Homeland Security in the United States and mustering these communities.
Scientific and technical professional societies have responded by sponsoring workshops and conferences on research challenges and opportunities in homeland security.
- Counterterrorism: Making the World a Safer Place, Richard J. Colton and John N. Russell Jr, Science 2003 299: 1324
Excerpts: As the U.S. military is poised to go to war against Iraq, journalists are getting sneak previews at how military technology has improved since the last time Americans prepared to fight in the Middle East. From wireless gadgets and high-tech rations to uber-wired tanks and handheld computers for tracking battle plans, warfighters today have access to tools that were still on the drawing board a decade ago.
If a land war is launched against Iraq, military commanders will have access to an unprecedented amount of information about the actual battlefield.
- The Military's Silicon Revolution, Cynthia L. Webb, washingtonpost.com, 03/03/06
Excerpts: They are already in Iraq, even before Bush has begun his military campaign against Saddam Hussein: the "Special Operations Group," the CIA's paramilitary organization. However, this elite group based in Langley, praised for its successful deployment in Afghanistan, must contend with the shadow of the past - the spy agency's wartime efforts have frequently turned into foreign policy disasters.
They sneak across the border at night. They carry lightweight assault weapons. They have enough equipment and provisions to easily survive a few days under inhospitable conditions.
- America's Shadow Warriors, Rudiger Falksohn, Hans Hoyng, Siegesmund Von Ilsemann, Gerhard SPORL, NYTimes, Der Spiegel, 03/03/03
Excerpts: In a world of growing security threats, ever cheaper technology and general unease, it is a truism that surveillance has become more widespread. From street corners to department stores, not to mention banks, airports and casinos, there is often - perhaps even usually - a video camera watching and recording. And soon, if you leave a bag unattended in an airport or pull into a no-standing zone, a video surveillance camera might not only take note but react as well.
- Security Cameras Now Learn to React, Seth Schiesel, NYTimes, 03/03/06
20. Links & Snippets
20.1 Other Publications
- Audiovisual Perception: Implicit Estimation Of Sound-Arrival Time, Yoichi Sugita, Yoiti Suzuki, Nature 421, 911 (2003); doi:10.1038/421911a
- Discrete Two-Terminal Single Nanocluster Quantum Optoelectronic Logic Operations At Room Temperature, Tae-Hee Lee and Robert M. Dickson, PNAS published 5 March 2003,10.1073/pnas.0635474100
- Human Specific Loss Of Olfactory Receptor Genes, Yoav Gilad, Orna Man, Svante Paabo, and Doron Lancet, PNAS published 28 February 2003, 10.1073/pnas.0535697100
- Link Between Immune Response And Parasite Synchronization In Malaria, Igor M. Rouzine and F. Ellis McKenzie, PNAS published 5 March 2003, 10.1073/pnas.262796299
- DNA Molecules Form Nanodevice Scaffolding, R. Colin Johnson, EE Times, 03/02/28
- Toshiba Boffins Prep Laptop Fuel Cell, Tony Smith, The Register, 03/03/05
- Continuous-Time Symmetric Hopfield Nets Are Computationally Universal, Jiri Sima, Pekka Orponen, Neural Comp. 2003 March 1; 15(3): p. 693-733
- Spike-Driven Synaptic Dynamics Generating Working Memory States, Daniel J. Amit, Gianluigi Mongillo, Neural Comp. 2003 March 1; 15(3): p. 565-596
- Dimensions of Religiosity and Their Relationship to Lifetime Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders, Kenneth S. Kendler, Xiao-Qing Liu, Charles O. Gardner, Michael E., McCullough, David Larson, Carol A. Prescott, Am. J. Psychiatry 2003 March 1; 160(3): p. 496-503
- Synaptic Modulation of the Interspike Interval Signatures of Bursting Pyloric Neurons, Attila Szucs, Reynaldo D. Pinto, Michail I. Rabinovich, Henry D. I., Abarbanel, and Allen I. Selverston, J. Neurophysiol. 2003 March 1; 89(3): p. 1363-1377
- Control Strategies Correcting Inaccurately Programmed Fingertip Forces: Model Predictions Derived From Human Behavior, Anders Fagergren, Orjan Ekeberg, and Hans Forssberg, J. Neurophysiol. published 12 February 2003, 10.1152/jn.00939.2002, We believe that this technique of estimating the motor commands behind the fingertip forces during a precision-grip lift can provide a powerful tool for the investigation of the central control of the motor system.
- 'Deep' Quotes on Complexity, Contributed by Jaap de Jonge
- Natural Selection On Molar Size In A Wild Population Of Howler Monkeys (Alouatta Palliata), DeGusta, Everett & Milton, Proc. Biol. Sc., DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2276, 2003/02/21
- How The Global Structure Of Protein Interaction Networks Evolves, A. Wagner, Proc. Biol. Sc., Vol. 270, No 1514, pp:457-466, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2269, 2003/03/07
- Proximate And Ultimate Control Of Sex Ratios In Myrmica Brevispinosa Colonies, J. M. Bono, J. M. Herbers, Proc. Biol. Sc. & Alphagalileo, 2003 /03/03
- Genes Regulated By Learning In The Hippocampus, T. A. Leil, A. Ossadtchi, T. E. Nichols, R. M. Leahy & D. J. Smith , J. Neurosc. Res., Vol. 71, Issue 6, pp:763-768, 2003/03/15
- Variations In Spare Electron Transport Chain Capacity: The Answer To An Old Riddle?, R. Fern, J. Neurosc. Res., Vol. 71, Issue 6, pp:763-768, 2003/03/15, 10.1002/jnr.10553
- Topic Identification In Dynamical Text By Complexity Pursuit, E. Bingham, A. Kaban & M. Girolami, Neural Processing Lett., To appear, 2003
- Natural Anti-inflammatory Agent May Shield Brain From Stroke Damage, ScienceDaily, 2003/02/27
- WWII Discovery May Counter Bioterrorists, ScienceDaily, 2003/02/28
- A New Way To Compare Human And Other Primate Genomes, ScienceDaily, 2003/02/28
- New System Recovers And Reuses Electronic Wastes, ScienceDaily, 2003/03/04
- Cross–Country Inequality Trends, Acemoglu D., The Econ. J., Vol. 113, No. 485, pp:121-149(29), Feb. 2003
- Songbird Populations In Fluctuating Environments: Predator Responses To Pulsed Resources, K. A. Schmidt & R. S. Ostfeld, Ecology, Vol. 84, No. 2, pp:406–415, Feb. 2003
- What Determines The Frequency Of Fast Network Oscillations With Irregular Neural Discharges? I. Synaptic Dynamics And Excitation-Inhibition Balance, N. Brune & X. J. Wang, J Neurophysiol., 10.1152/jn.01095.2002, 2003/02/26
20.2 Coming and Ongoing Webcasts
- "New Frontiers of Neuroscience" Symposium, Taipei, Taiwan, 03/03/07
- Television & Children's Media Policy: Where Do We Go From Here?, Washinghton, DC, 03/02/28, c-span, (clip12657), 1:35
- INSC 2003, International Nonlinear Sciences Conference, Vienna, Austria, 03/02/07-09
- World Economic Forum Meeting "Building Trust", Davos, Switzerland, 03/01/23-28
- 2002 Financial Management Conference, 02/10/16-19
- Artificial Life Conference (A-Life 8), Sydney, Australia, 02/12/09-13
- Dean LeBaron's Archive of Daily Video Commentary, Ongoing Since February 1998
20.3 Conference Announcements
- Complexity Science In Practice: Understanding & Acting To Improve Health and Health Care, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota USA, 03/03/21-22
- Fourth International Conference on Intelligent Data Engineering and Automated Learning (IDEAL'03), Hong Kong, 03/03/21-23
- 2003 AAAI Spring Symposium Series, Computational Synthesis: From Basic Building Blocks To High Level Functionality, Stanford, 03/03/24-27
- Jahrestagung 2003 des AKSOE (Physics of Socio-Economical Systems), Dresden, Germany, 03/03/24-28
- Design and Product Complexity Meeting, Open Univ, Milton Keynes, UK, 03/04/07
- Explorations of Complexity - A Science of Qualities: A Conversation with Brian Goodwin, Open Univ, Milton Keynes, UK, 03/04/07
- Uncertainty and Surprise: Questions on Working with the Unexpected, U. of Texas at Austin, Texas, 03/04/10-12
- 7th Annual Swarm Researchers and Users Meeting (SwarmFest2003), Notre Dame, IN, 03/04/13-14
- Agent-Based Simulation 4, Montpellier, France, 03/04/28-30
- 2003 O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, Santa Clara, CA, 03/04/22-25
- NAS Sackler Colloquium on Mapping Knowledge Domains, The Beckman Center, Irvine, CA, 03/05/09-11
- The Opening of Systems Theory, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, DK, 02/05/23-25
- SPIE's 1st Intl Symp on Fluctuations and Noise, Santa Fe, NM, 03/06/01-04
- 21st ICDE World Conf on Open Learning and Distance Education, Hong Kong, 03/06/01-05
- 17th Workshop on Parallel and Distributed Simulation (PADS 2003), San Diego, California, 03/06/10-13
- 2003 Summer Computer Simulation Conference (SCSC '03), Montreal, Canada, 03/06/20-24
- 5th Intl Conf "Symmetry in Nonlinear Mathematical Physics", Kiev, Ukraine, 03/06/23-29, Mirror
- 47th Meeting of the Intl Soc for the System Sciences: Conscious Evolution Of Humanity: Using Systems Thinking To Construct Agoras Of The Global Village, Iraklion, Crete, Greec, 03/07/07-11
- 9th International Conference on Auditory Display, Boston, MA, 03/07/07-09, Wkshp on Assistive Technologies for the Blind, 03/07/06
- 2003 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO-2003), Chicago, IL,03/07/12-16
- 2nd Intl Joint Conf on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS-2003), Melbourne, Australia, 03/07/14-18
- 7th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (SCI 2003), Orlando, Florida, 03/07/27-30
- Intl Conf on Socio Political Informatics and Cybernetics: SPIC '03, Orlando, Fl, USA, 03/07/31-08/02
- 13th Annual International Conference, Soc f Chaos Theory in Psych & Life Sciences,Boston, MA, USA, 03/08/08-10
- 1st German Conference on Multiagent System Technologies (MATES'03), Erfurt, Germany, 03/09/22-25
- 7th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL-2003), Dortmund, Germany, 03/09/14-17
- 2003 IEEE/WIC Intl Joint Conf. Web Intelligence and Intelligent Agent Technology, Beijing, China, 03/10/13-17
- ICDM '03: The Third IEEE International Conference on Data Mining, Melbourne, Florida, USA, 03/11/19-22
- 3rd International Workshop on Meta-Synthesis and Complex System, Guangzhou, China, 03/11/29-30
- 2nd International Workshop on the Mathematics and Algorithms of Social Insects, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; 03/12/15-17
20.3.1 Public Conference Calls
- Complexity And Medical Practice, Pat Rush & Bob Lindberg, PlexusCalls, 03/01/10, Audio File Available Now, mp3
- John Holland in Conversation, PlexusCalls, - Audio File Available Now, mp3
- Are Disease and Aging Information/Complexity Loss Syndromes?, PlexusCalls, 02/11/08, 1 - 2 pm EST (To learn more about Ary Goldberger’s work and HeartSongs, Music of the Heart.) Audio File Available Now, mp3
- Brenda Zimmerman in Conversation, PlexusCalls, Audio File Available Now, mp3
- The Complexity of Entrepreneurship: A Launchcyte Story, Tom Petzinger, PlexusCalls, 02/11/22, Audio File Available Now, mp3
- A Practical and Appreciative Approach to Complex and Chronic Challenges, Keith McCandless, PlexusCalls, Jan 2003, Audio File Available Now, mp3
20.4 ComDig Announcement: New ComDig Archive in Beta Test
We are in the process of upgrading the Complexity Digest archives to a format with improved search capabilities. Also, we will finally be able to adequately publish the valuable feedback and comments from our knowledgable readers. You are cordially invited to become a beta tester of our new ComDig2 archive.