Self-Organization: The Next Big Thing?, Response
"The article mentions work at the Santa Fe Institute in the
early 1990s. Although the Santa Fe Institute deserves credit for
promoting the idea and for extending it, particularly in the
direction of computer simulation, the earliest use of the term was
in the 1960s. See the books Self-Organizing
Systems, edited by Marshall Yovits and S. Cameron,
Pergamon, 1960, and Principles of
Self-Organization, edited by H. von Foerster and G.W.
Zopf, Jr. Pergamon, 1962."
This is a frequently-repeated claim, but is simply wrong.
Principles of the Self-Organizing Dynamic
System, Ashby, W. Ross, Journal of General
There may be even earlier uses, but I've not found 'em.
Melting Polar Icecaps And Some Consequences, Response
"By most accounts ice in the Kara Sea, just beyond the Yamal
Peninsula, is retreating. According to satellite photos, the
average coverage of sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk by 6 percent
since 1978. Furthermore to sonar measurements taken by U.S.
submarines report that ice is thinning from 10 feet in the 1950s
to 5.9 feet today.
But the peninsula, so to speak, is only the tip of the
iceberg. Until now, the giant Russian gas concern, Gazprom, has
been unable to prospect, much less exploit, the Arctic Ocean.
Currently, only icebreakers can navigate the Kara Sea 10 months of
the year. However, with the pack ice in retreat, the opportunity
arises for Gazprom and other Russian petroleum firms, to drill in
the relatively shallow - and increasingly ice-free - waters. If
the Russians succeed here, and in finishing a network of
pipelines, they can dominate European energy markets for decades.
The diminution of Arctic ice is being greeted in some
quarters as an environmental disaster. But Russia, victim of many
environmental disasters, ironically stands to benefit. With its
vast Arctic coast, Russia stands to add new fisheries and shorten
the time to ship goods between Asia and Europe."
Polynesian Origins: Insights From The Y Chromosome, PNAS
Abstract: The question surrounding the colonization of
Polynesia has remained controversial. Two hypotheses, one
postulating Taiwan as the putative homeland and the other
asserting a Melanesian origin of the Polynesian people, have
received considerable attention. In this work, we present
haplotype data based on the distribution of 19 biallelic
polymorphisms on the Y chromosome in a sample of 551 male
individuals from 36 populations living in Southeast Asia, Taiwan,
Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. Surprisingly, nearly none of
the Taiwanese Y haplotypes were found in Micronesia and Polynesia.
Likewise, a Melanesian-specific haplotype was not found among the
Polynesians. However, all of the Polynesian, Micronesian, and
Taiwanese haplotypes are present in the extant Southeast Asian
populations. Evidently, the Y-chromosome data do not lend support
to either of the prevailing hypotheses. Rather, we postulate that
Southeast Asia provided a genetic source for two independent
migrations, one toward Taiwan and the other toward Polynesia
through island Southeast Asia.
Origins: Insights From The Y
Chromosome, Bing Su, Li
Jin, Peter Underhill, Jeremy Martinson, Nilmani Saha,
Stephen T. McGarvey, Mark D. Shriver, Jiayou Chu,
Peter Oefner, Ranajit Chakraborty, and Ranjan Deka,
PNAS 2000;97 8225-8228
Interpreting The Universal Phylogenetic Tree, PNAS
Abstract: The universal phylogenetic tree not only spans all
extant life, but its root and earliest branchings represent stages
in the evolutionary process before modern cell types had come into
being. The evolution of the cell is an interplay between
vertically derived and horizontally acquired variation. Primitive
cellular entities were necessarily simpler and more modular in
design than are modern cells. Consequently, horizontal gene
transfer early on was pervasive, dominating the evolutionary
dynamic. The root of the universal phylogenetic tree represents
the first stage in cellular evolution when the evolving cell
became sufficiently integrated and stable to the erosive effects
of horizontal gene transfer that true organismal lineages could
EarthProbe TOMS Web Site from July 14 through July
19th, the latest date available at the time of this post, one can
follow the development of what appears to be a new development in
ozone depletion in the southern hemisphere.
Large areas of the stratosphere are currently showing
significant ozone depletion (…). This is the depth of winter
withkjust a few hours of weak sunlight outside permanent darkness
Such early ozone depletion is, I believe, unprecedented. Last year
there were small patches of ozone depletion outside the area
traditionally depleted within the Antarctic Circle.
- Mid Latitude Ozone Hole,
sci.environment, Contributed by Jim
Neural Representation And The Cortical Code, Annu. Rev. Neurosci.
Abstract: The principle function of the central nervous
system is to represent and transform information and thereby
mediate appropriate decisions and behaviors. The cerebral cortex
is one of the primary seats of the internal representations
maintained and used in perception, memory, decision making, motor
control, and subjective experience, but the basic coding scheme by
which this information is carried and transformed by neurons is
not yet fully understood. This article defines and reviews how
information is represented in the firing rates and temporal
patterns of populations of cortical neurons, with a particular
emphasis on how this information mediates behavior and experience.
Link Between Global Lightning Activity And Upper Tropospheric Water Vapour, Nature
Abstract: Tropospheric water vapour is a key element of
the Earth's climate, which has direct effects as a greenhouse gas,
as well as indirect effects through interaction with clouds,
aerosols and tropospheric chemistry. Small changes in
upper-tropospheric water vapour have a much larger impact on the
greenhouse effect than small changes in water vapour in the lower
atmosphere, but whether this impact is a positive or negative
feedback remains uncertain. (…)
Here I show that upper-tropospheric water-vapour variability
and global lightning activity are closely linked.