Monday, August 14, 2017

The role of women in the techworld



Google employee, James Damore wrote a memo that discusses the role of women in the tech world. He was fired. The firestorm that followed might give an opportunity to take stock about the changing role of women and men in society. The memo evaluated the biological differences between the sexes. Males have bigger brain size in proportion to their body, yet no sex difference can be found in working memory capacity and female subjects regularly perform better on verbal abilities. Males do better on tests that measure visual-spatial abilities, such as spatial perception and mental rotation. Looking for the origin of this sex difference it is good to go back to biology. Predators can catch their prey, because larger brains helps them to better maneuver in space. However, the enlargement of male brain probably has more to do to reproduction and sex, than catching dinner. The early history of romance probably was not a Cinderella story, but the ability to prevail in fist fight against other suitors, raiding and kidnapping, which favored men with superior orientation in space. Does spatial orientation matter that much in the tech world? Not likely.

Do superior orientation in space give men greater success in the board room? Sensation-seeking, which is the willingness to engage in novel or intense activities, is more characteristic of men, which might be an advantage in the intense competition for leadership. In the past especially, cutthroat competition required ruthless, aggressive and daring attitude. Women could rarely not set foot in the mail dominated, intimidating environment. Even in orchestras women were not welcomed until a legal case had forced US orchestras to change into the current system of blind auditions in the 1970s and 1980s. In this, the identity of potential candidates is concealed from the jury by a screen. The instituted change have increased the probability that a woman would advance from preliminary rounds by 50 percent. The percent of female musicians in the five highest-ranked orchestras in the nation increased from 6 percent in 1970 to 21 percent in 1993 and 35 percent overall.  Similar 'Blind' hiring probably would advance more women's opportunities in the workplace, than any quota system.

However, these changes have only been possible because of social transformations in the twentieth century. For example, the nearly full participation of women in society (women entering the workplace and the sexual revolution) have created a more cooperative social climate for both men and women. Old-boy networks, bullying are becoming old fashioned methods in business, because new laws against discrimination, fraud, and instituting special protection for whistleblowers. These reformulated social dynamics mutes conflicts and ushers in more democratic and flexible social environment. A more accepting society nurtures trust, which is conducive to social and technological progress. Emotional intelligence in personal and professional situations is increasingly valued. This feminization is better for men as well, because it leads to openness, trust, opportunities and wider professional participation. 

James Damore should not have been fired. His memo might be simplistic in some of its analysis and certainly in its conclusions, but it reflects an honest attempt to start a discussion. His departure weakened Google, mostly because it generated a climate for self-censorship, which might lead to a work environment, in which people are hesitant to express their views freely.

Quotas rarely create change, people do. In twenty years or so the number of female programmers might equal or surpass of that of males.


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Shopaholic: a silent addiction of our time




A hundred year ago or so the middle class in most parts of the world has lived in dire circumstances. Conveniences, which we take for granted, such as electricity, running water and indoor toilet were lacking, appliances, such as refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, lawn mower were non-existent. If you are reading my blog, then your life is very different from the above description. In our modern world we rely on our increasingly sophisticated environment for support. We gaze into the screen of our cell phones, like Aladdin into the treasure cave. This gadget is constant companion for communication with friends, family, weather forecast, news, appointment reminder, and for self-adulation. Cars are ubiquitous signs of material success, but in certain parts of the world such as in the US, cars are almost obligatory part of adult life. The home is the great cultural indicator of personal, professional status, which holds utilitarian objects, personal mementos and decorations that personalize the dwelling. Our reliance on our belongings, from the bed that provide comfortable night rest, to the nourishing morning meal, ensures a stable, reliable lifestyle.

Thus, a highly organized structure of objects provide the backbone of modern life. However, modern existence makes us more and more reliant on the store not only for big ticket items, such as housing and car, but for midday meal or for coffee at Star Bucks. Advertisements and credit make it easy and almost unavoidable to roll out the bucks for new kitchen counter gizmo to the jersey of your favorite player, the latest phone, or a goofy Halloween display.

The problem becomes that the gadget, appliance or technical gizmo is only interesting for a short while; it might be delegated to the closet corner, collecting dust and occupying valuable space before all its capabilities are figured out. So you paid good money to artificially reduce the size of your house. Goods, which supposed to support your lifestyle, now dangerously encroach on it as the things you enthusiastically bought a few months or years ago take up closet space. You even forget that these gadgets exist, which allows you to keep buying stuff, cluttering our home further. Goods that supposed to support your life, now begin to handicap it. And it is not possible to forget about the dark, unknown secrets lurking in the closet. The stuff might be out of conscious perception, but it causes an uncertainty, because you never know for sure what is lurking in the closet, attic or basement. Instead of support, these objects hinder your life. Like quick sand, they pull you down, hurting you when we least expects it: when you are in a hurry or managing an emergency. Just like any other addiction, it takes long disciplined work to get your shopping addiction under control. 

It can be shown that advertisements work by interfering with already existing intentions, desires. So buying goods in excess is a sign of your own mental hesitation. Goals serve as motivation toward the future. The inability to focus on a goal, without guidance, you tend to invest hope in every sweet promise, which is brilliantly supplied by advertisers. A shopaholic might feel an arousal of a treasure hunter, which grows into a strong urge to shop and buy the item. But buying gives only a temporary feelings of relief. Because all addictions stem from seeking power at the wrong places, remorse, feeling of guilt, which is necessarily followed, only aggravates the problem.

The lack of inner progress against the relentless progression of time translates into a loss of control and insecurity. Addictions serve the immediate, although painfully transient, gain of control, in order to catch up to others, to society, to time itself. To produce accomplishments quickly, without investing time and work, is only possible by cutting corners, by getting a good deal or feeling high. However, the problem only gets bigger at each repeated offence, after each shopping spree, because the aftereffect of these shortcuts is always the realization of loss and failure, which actually exacerbates the addiction. Is there hope for a change? 

Two ways to change: (1) Start a motivating activity that reins in your wayward attention. When you take part in an activity than produces positive change, you spur an inner movement toward the future. (2) Give away your excess belongings. When you share with others, you make world a better place and liberates you from guilt. The price of industrial products are coming down and probably will in the future. When you practice a thoughtfulness about your buying habits, you force yourself to focus on the future, which will turn into a habit. Focusing on the future is a goal oriented living, whether you are saving money for a new house, car or retirement. Be patient! Success does not happen overnight. When you take your first step toward the future, toward a better life, it will generate a sense of movement. When you are moving forward, your restlessness and uncertainty will subside. Your better life is the greatest reward.

More detailed explanation for some of these and other questions about the mind can be found in the book, The Science of Consciousness.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Escape behavior depends on the size of danger: case study in the fruit fly

Image result for fruit fly images free
Fruit fly, Drosophila Melanogaster 

The fruit fly can produce two escape behaviors: a long, careful take off and a short, quick escape flight, which requires in flight maneuvering to achieve proper flight position. In the long take off, the flight first extends it wings, and jumps off the ground, while starting to fly. The whole maneuver lasts about 22ms. In the short take off, the fly just jumps with folded wings into the air. While in the air, it must take time to righting itself and its wings to achieve proper flight position, a process that takes only 6 ms. If the predator is slow, the fly chooses the long take off, because it provides more stability. However, if the predator is fast, the fly is more likely to choose short take off, in order to quickly escape.

In the fly's brain neurons code parallel for both looming velocity and for looming size. The proper response can emerge automatically, because of the parallel processing of the two signals. For example slow looming velocity and small looming size will always produce long take off, whereas fast looming velocity and large looming size always produces short take off. However, sensory experience that contain mixed signals  will produce a probability response between being either short or long take off. Parallel sensory processing and linear regulation occurs very often in the living world and often leads to complex behavior. In emotional animals, mammals and birds, complexity is greatly enhanced due to memories, which allows learning, and engenders nonlinear regulation of behavior.  Surprisingly, emotional behavior can be mathematically best described by the  equations of quantum mechanics. Coincidence? 

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

New hope for brain diseases, such as Parkinson's





The best current treatment for Parkinson's disease is deep brain stimulation, achieved by implanted electrodes within brain tissue. Brain stimulation was summarized in my earlier blog. The complex medical procedure, carries operational risks and does help everyone, because the target site is so difficult to find. Scientists from MIT and Harvard applied two, slightly different high frequency stimulation in animal brain, none of which had noticeable effect individually. However, at the place of their overlap, the two frequencies interfered to produce a much lower net frequency that is equal to their difference. This new method poses almost no risk factors, because the stimulation can be easily applied without operation. Furthermore, site of the stimulation can be also easily modified in order to achieve optimal effect.

Drawback? You cannot ask your doctor for the procedure yet, because so far it has only been applied in animals. Furthermore, the treatment is not available as a small device either. As of now, you cannot take your 'treatment cap' on the road just yet. Read the whole article.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why do we need a new physical world view


Fresco of young woman

Our world is defined by technological progress and fast paced social change, increasing the complexity of our everyday life. The scientific achievements of the twentieth century have been spectacular in technology, physics, and medicine and led to the sense that we can master nature and understand existence. The increasing amount of detail and the pace of change necessitated greater specialization that elevated the social appreciation of the sciences and made formal education increasingly important. Yet, existing theories in physics fail to explain a long list of unsolved problems, such as the arrow of time, the cosmological constant problem, the interpretation of quantum mechanics and its unification with general relativity, the nature of gravity, dark energy and dark matter, the microwave background horizon problem, problems with the big bang, Mach’s principle, negative mass, physical information or the theory of everything. The unintuitive and even illogical nature of some areas in physics strains education, making it difficult to attract a new cadre of bright and original thinkers into research. However, problems on the above long list might be related and can be solved by reconsidering our understanding of the most basic questions in physics. A new physical world view, which includes consciousness, was introduced in my book, 'The Science of Consciousness.' If the book's premise is right, then it will cause a revolution in the sciences, similar to the change forced by Copernicus heliocentric idea or the introduction of general relativity. 

Investigating entropic changes based on the energy/information exchange during interaction takes physics back to its basic understanding, but it leads to an encompassing, and coherent, sorely needed clear world view, which might instigate a giant leap in physics. This new physical world view might make quantum mechanics an intuitive science, explain the origin of mass, show operational principle of gravity, throw light on the nature black holes, and the large scale structure of space. The new physical world view would turn physics into an intuitive, comprehensible science, which, by attracting a new generation of scientists into academic research would revitalize technological progress. Demystifying physics would be good for all areas of the sciences, because it would boost morale, inspire ideas, and increase public engagement and enthusiasm for funding of scientific and technological research. This new physical world view also includes consciousness, which would prompt innovative tools for the cure of neural and mental diseases. The hypothesis shows that the mind is the inextricable part of the universe, which is an organic extension of the self. The knowledge of being inalienable part of something bigger will give a sense of ownership, belonging and responsibility: Atman and Brahman are one. 


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Sunday, May 28, 2017

The structure of the Cosmos


 


The above video introduces a new physical world view, which points a way toward the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Dividing the universe by an information blocking horizon is congruent with the holographic principle, proposed by Leonard Susskind (1995). Rethinking the basic structure of space might solve not only above mentioned contradictions in physics, but it obeys Mach's principle, explains gravity, and turns quantum mechanics into comprehensible and intuitive science. It also exposes the vacuum energy problem, which is one of the greatest unsolved problems in quantum mechanics. The long list of unsolved problems in physics indicates that the Standard Model might need mending or outright replaced. The above video highlights two problems with Einstein's relativity: 1, space in vacuum is flat and 2, objects curve spacetime. 

Heisenberg uncertainty principle: 
As remembered from the video, the particle wave function and the spatial curvature changes in parallel. Increasing speed correspond to greater frequencies and positive field curvature (space contrasts). This way location is more certain, but the speed is uncertain. In contrast, lower frequencies correspond to smaller speed, but the negative curvature of space leads to an uncertainty of location. This uncertainty reaches it climax in the poles.

Vacuum energy
Quantum mechanics tells us that vacuum if full of energy. In fact, vacuum energy is one of the great unsolved problems in physics. Watch the above video to learn why vacuum actually expands the universe by curving space into the fourth dimension.

General relativity  
Einstein's general relativity tells us that the fabric of spacetime is curved within and around large gravitational objects, but it is flat in vacuum (see image below). The Michelson–Morley experiment to find the presence and properties of ether in 1887 proved that there was no such substance, therefore no directional asymmetry in the universe. Because of this finding cosmos is considered isotropic. However, so conventional Michelson–Morley type experiments would never detect dimensional anisotropy. Instead, dimensional anisotropy would form exponentially increasing energy need of acceleration and the gravitational differences depending on the curvature of space.
Thus, the universe is infinite (due to the dimension increase of white holes), but it has finite boundaries (due to the dimension decrease of black holes). Moving with constant speed corresponds to a movement along constant latitude, therefore it would bring one back to the starting point.


Massive object (such as a planet) curves spacetime according to general relativity 


Mach's principle:
Dark energy (the universe expansion) is explained by the zero point energy (the ground state energy of the quantum system). However, the expansion is far smaller than the calculations would suggest. However, four dimensional white holes would expand the universe at a rate dependent on the field strength of the black holes. Dimensional anisotropy also satisfies Mach's principle. Read the whole article or view it on Academia  The above proposed structure also leads to a cosmological evolution via interaction that engenders consciousness. So we are organic, inalienable part of the universe.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Evaluation of Mach's Principle in four spatial dimensions







Recent cosmological data shows the Milky Way galaxy being pushed ahead of a void. Independently, laboratory research created matter with negative mass. A possible relationship between these seemingly unrelated results indicates the need to reexamine our understanding of gravity. According to Page and Wootter mechanism, time is globally static, but emergent for ‘internal’ observers. That is, interaction increases the energy-information differences among the constituents of the cosmos. Such temporal evolution engenders polar singularities, known as black and white holes, in accordance with general relativity. The second law of thermodynamics leads to Landauer’s principle, which shows that the emitted heat is proportional to the erased information of the system. Thus, information accumulates heat in black hole horizons, which have been found to be two dimensional; whereas information-free areas are energy rich and cold. The principle of static time dictates information and dimensional complementarity between antipodal areas of the universe. Two dimensional, positive curvature black holes must be balanced by negative curvature, four dimensional white holes, which expand space and lead to the experience of ‘dark energy.’ Positive curvature forms great field strength, which stabilizes the universe with a pressure experienced as excess gravity, called dark matter. Enhanced field strength leads to clumping, forming planets, stars, galaxies and galaxy clusters, which slows expansion. The dimensional anisotropy (two in the black holes and four in the white holes) straddle unstable three dimensional galactic environments between them. An object’s position in space corresponds to a freely hanging plumb. Deviations in angle of that plumb (position of the object) – thereby changes the equilibrium of the whole universe and leads to inertia, a force that is proportional to both the mass of the object and the field strength (i.e. radial topological distance from the center). Therefore inertia is greatest in the vicinity of the black holes. On the positively curved polar surfaces of space (such as a planet) a path that curves toward the pole forms the shortest distance. On positive curving temporal surfaces the shortest time is acceleration, which leads to the twin paradox. The hypothesis is congruent with the latest CMB data, satisfies Mach’s principle as well as Occam’s razor by uncovering a surprisingly simple, stable and unified alignment of the universe. This new physical world view is presented without equations, reflecting the futility of a universal calculation method. Read the whole article or view it on Academia 


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