by cloudier

Gilbert Lewis – the guy who thought up Lewis dot structures – was also the guy behind Lewis acids and bases, and he was nominated for the Nobel Prize. Thirty-five times. This is more nominations than anyone else ever in history and the number of times he won is roughly the same number of times as everyone else in the world has won, which is zero. Lewis disliked this a great deal – it’s kind of like a baseball player having more hits than any player in history, and no home runs.

Color Wheels are wrong?

So there are R, G, and B cones. The signals from these cones don’t go straight to the brain; they first pass through a pre-processing filter, and it’s this filter that explains all the mysteries. Actually there are three filters.

Filter #1 works like this:


Explanation: The more R there is, the more positive the signal; the more G, the more negative the signal. If there’s relatively equal amounts of R and G — whether neither of both, a little of both, or a lot of both — the signal is zero.

This explains why there’s no “greenish-red.” Because:

Let’s say R and G can go between 0 and 100 units of intensity. Consider the case of “full red with a little green,” where R=100 (full intensity) and G=25 (one-quarter intensity). Then separately consider the case of “strong red with no green,” where R=75 and G=0.

In both cases, Filter #1 computes the same output signal: 75. But remember the brain doesn’t get the raw R and G signals — it only gets the filter’s output — so the brain cannot tell the difference between these two scenarios.

So there’s no such thing as “red with a little green” — there’s just a less intense red. The brain physically cannot see “greenish-red” because the filter removes that information.

Knowing that blue/yellow is the other opposite pair, you can probably guess what Filter #2 is:


Here blue (B) is opposed with a combination of both the R and G channels. The R and G cones are stimulated either when there’s literally both red and green light (like when a CSS coder turns on both red and green as #FFFF00 to create yellow), or when 570nm light (yellow, on the visible spectrum) stimulates both R and G cones.

Filter #3 is simple:


In short, it measures the quantity of light without regard to what hue it is. This is “how bright,” or “luminance” in color-theory parlance.

And magenta? It comes from full R and B with no G, activating Filter #1 full-positive, Filter #2 at zero. It’s not a physical wavelength of color, it’s just a combination of outputs from two filters.

I’d take the colour wheel criticism at the beginning of the article with a bit of salt, since they are useful for mixing paint or light rather than explaining how brains process light. Also the ‘correct’ colour wheel is a bit silly since it suggests that using 2 different values (red-green and blue-yellow) is the most practical way of describing colour (excluding luminance, or how dark/light the colour is).

The wavelengths covered by all of the cones overlap to some extent (see above), so a large number of the possible combinations of values will be ‘imaginary‘ and basically impossible to see in real life. For example light at wavelengths which stimulate green cones must stimulate at least one of the other cones – it’s impossible to stimulate just the green cone unless the other cones are fatigued. (The imaginary colours are represented by the white parts of the picture below. The triangle represents the colours covered by a colour space used for printing photographs. The square/graph represents CIE 1931 color space. It shows saturation and hue but not luminance.) A triangle is a lot better at covering real-world colours and is much better for most real-world applications, although using a square may be useful in more technical applications.

Also, purple/magenta is not a spectral colour.

Entoptic phenomenon

Entoptic phenomena (from Greek ἐντός “within” and ὀπτικός “visual”) are visual effects whose source is within the eye itself. (Occasionally, these are called entopic phenomena, which is probably a typographical mistake.)

In Helmholtz‘s words:

Under suitable conditions light falling on the eye may render visible certain objects within the eye itself. These perceptions are called entoptical.

Entoptic images have a physical basis in the image cast upon the retina. Hence, they are different from optical illusions, which are perceptual effects that arise from interpretations of the image by the brain. Because entoptic images are caused by phenomena within the observer’s own eye, they share one feature with optical illusions and hallucinations: the observer cannot share a direct and specific view of the phenomenon with others.

Re: 1080: “Visual Field”

Back before flatscreens we had to go outdoors in the early morning or late evening, stare straight up into the clear blue sky, then spin around until dizzy. Haidinger’s Brushes would appear at the center of vision since there’s a band of strong polarization in sky light positioned 90deg from the Sun’s location.

The Amateur Scientist

The Amateur Scientist was a column in the Scientific American, and was the definitive “how-to” resource for citizen-scientists for over 72 years (1928–2001), making it the longest running column in Scientific American’s history.[1][2][3] The column was highly regarded for revealing the brass-tacks secrets of research and showing home-based experimenters how to make original discoveries using only inexpensive materials. Since its début in 1928, “The Amateur Scientist” was a primary resource for science fair projects. It also inspired innumerable amateur experimenters, launched careers in science, and enjoyed a place of honor in classrooms and school libraries all over the world.

Although always accessible to an amateur’s budget, projects from “The Amateur Scientist” were often elegant and quite sophisticated. Some designs were so innovative that they set new standards in a field. Indeed, professionals continue to borrow from “The Amateur Scientist” to find low-cost solutions to real-world research problems.

Laser Pointers

Q: Am I allowed to own a battery operated, hand held, laser pointer?

A: You are allowed to own such a laser pointer. However recent amendments to the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 require a permit be issued (or the person be eligible for an exemption) where the laser pointer exceeds one milliwatt. Regardless of the milliwatts, no laser pointer can be carried or used in a public place without a reasonable excuse.

City’s worst laser attacks on aircraft (2008)

In January, Sydney police arrested a man who had a powerful 125milliwatt laser pointer in his possession after two planes flying over Merrylands were attacked by laser beams.

In September, a helicopter carrying a critically ill brain-surgery patient had to delay landing when the pilot was distracted by a laser beam.

What You Can’t Say

Have you ever seen an old photo of yourself and been embarrassed at the way you looked? Did we actually dress like that? We did. And we had no idea how silly we looked. It’s the nature of fashion to be invisible, in the same way the movement of the earth is invisible to all of us riding on it. What scares me is that there are moral fashions too. They’re just as arbitrary, and just as invisible to most people. But they’re much more dangerous. Fashion is mistaken for good design; moral fashion is mistaken for good. Dressing oddly gets you laughed at. Violating moral fashions can get you fired, ostracized, imprisoned, or even killed. If you could travel back in a time machine, one thing would be true no matter where you went: you’d have to watch what you said. Opinions we consider harmless could have gotten you in big trouble. I’ve already said at least one thing that would have gotten me in big trouble in most of Europe in the seventeenth century, and did get Galileo in big trouble when he said it— that the earth moves. It seems to be a constant throughout history: In every period, people believed things that were just ridiculous, and believed them so strongly that you would have gotten in terrible trouble for saying otherwise. Is our time any different? To anyone who has read any amount of history, the answer is almost certainly no. It would be a remarkable coincidence if ours were the first era to get everything just right.

Re: What You Can’t Say

Finland is sometimes given as an example of a prosperous socialist country, but apparently the combined top tax rate is 55%, only 5% higher than in California. So if they seem that much more socialist than the US, it is probably simply because they don’t spend so much on their military.

How Vegas Security Drives Surveillance Tech Everywhere

Paying close attention to customers is as much a security concern as it is a marketing opportunity for casinos. From the moment you place your first bet with your players card, the casino starts paying attention. “That financial transaction feeds into a data-warehousing platform,” says David Norton, chief marketing officer of Harrah’s Entertainment. The most direct interface with the system is a modern slot machine. These days most slots are run by computers, and until recently, all of these computers have been self-contained machines. To make adjustments on standard slots, attendants have to stop play, open the housing and swap out chips, a time-consuming process that reduces profits for the casino. The Mirage’s soon-to-open sister property, Aria Resort & Casino, however, will be the first casino in Las Vegas outfitted with server-based slot machines. That means Aria’s one-armed bandits will run off a single computer, allowing supervisors to alter machines simply by pushing backroom buttons that can change games, odds and limits to suit the player or the situation. If a player is in town for the National Finals Rodeo, the slot machine could load up a game with a rodeo theme, and alert the player when certain comps kick in or provide the showtimes of events he might be interested in. It’ll even wish him happy birthday.

All the personal attention may seem flattering so long as the casino values your business. But what about those people who are viewed as undesirable? At the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, special software allows security workers to enter a suspected bad guy’s characteristics (a mustache, say, along with a forearm tattoo and a habit of lurking around roulette tables). If there is a visual match from the casino’s database, it pops up on the screen, along with identification data. “We have a lot of coverage, a lot of cameras, a lot of information,” says Dan Eitnier, head of surveillance at the Venetian. “A couple of years ago we had a collusion situation, and by finding the suspected dealer’s car-loan application in our file on him”—the lender had asked the Venetian to confirm his employment there—“I saw that he gave one of his frequent players as a reference.” The scheme unraveled from there, and both men were busted. New algorithms have elevated this type of on-the-spot background check to a Vegas art form.

Non-obvious relationship awareness (NORA) software allows casinos to determine quickly if a potentially colluding player and dealer have ever shared a phone number or a room at the casino hotel, or lived at the same address. “We created the software for the gaming industry,” says Jeff Jonas, founder of Systems Research & Development, which originally designed NORA. The technology proved so effective that Homeland Security adapted it to sniff out connections between suspected terrorists. “Now it’s used as business intelligence for banks, insurance companies and retailers,” Jonas says.

The Reality of Markets

Understanding the emergent phenomena economists call a market is the essence of the economic way of thinking. In contrast, the human brain seems more accustomed to what might be called the engineering way of thinking where human action and human design work together. If I’m dissatisfied with the size of my kitchen, I make a plan and by following the plan, if it’s a good plan, the result is a bigger kitchen. A person who sits around hoping for a new kitchen without design or action is going to be disappointed. Or if I notice the leaves falling from the trees, I don’t hope that they’re going to clean themselves up. I have to plan to rake them and then do the actual raking. Changing my thermostat to alter the temperature inside my house is another such example.

But the engineering way of thinking doesn’t work with emergent phenomena. Trying to change emergent results is inherently more complex than building a bridge or expanding your kitchen or even putting a man on the moon. Understanding the challenge involved is to begin to answer the old question that asks why we can put a man on the moon but we can’t eliminate poverty. Putting a man on the moon is an engineering problem. It yields to a sufficient application of reason and resources. Eliminating poverty is an economic problem (and by the word “economic” I do not mean financial or related to money), a challenge that involves emergent results. In such a setting, money alone—in the amounts that a non-economic approach might suggest, one that ignores the impact of incentives and markets—is unlikely to be successful.

Thomas Sowell likes to say that reality is not optional. But we oh so want it to be. We want to change outcomes without consequences with the ease of adjusting the thermostat on the wall of our house. We want to dial incomes upward and gasoline prices downward. We want to blame Wal-Mart for the fact that its employees earn below the national average. We want to blame China (or Mexico or Japan or India) for our trade deficit. We want to blame or honor the occupant of the White House for whether new jobs are high-paying or low-paying. This worldview that flies in the face of reality and that ignores the inherent complexity of the real world is the bread-and-butter of journalism and the breeding ground for unintended consequences.

Why are mattresses so expensive?

  • Product – Mattresses are basically a commodity disguised as a unique product.  This is mostly true of Simmons, Sealy and Serta. Their products are not that different (firmness and gauge), but they sell it based on brand.  Tempur-pedic and Sleep Number are completely different products from the traditional mattress.
  • Price Matching – The reason why mattress retailers will “match any price” is because mattress manufacturers name their products differently for each major retailer.  Sleep Train has one called Ashbury and Mattress King has one called Bradbury.  They are the same though the cover fabric and UPC are different.  That way you cannot comparison shop.  But if you look a the specs, you can basically figure out which is which.  Look at the coil, gauge, and other specs.
  • Features – No flip mattresses are highlighted as a feature, but it really means they are cutting cost.  They cut their manufacturing cost and your bed lasts half as long.  There is great Fresh Air interview where an author who investigates this industry details how this works. [1]  Pillow tops are also an expensive add on, but you are better off buying a pillow top that is removable since those are also washable.
  • Margins – The margins are through the roof.  We were negotiating with a guy at the mattress store, and he went to his computer.  I saw that he was looking up the wholesale price of the king sized mattress set we wanted.  It was listed at something like $1700, and on “sale” for $1000.  And in the computer, his cost was listed at $475.   A few minutes later another couple comes in, and they half-heartedly negotiated wth him for no sales tax and bought it for $1000.
  • Negotiating – If you negotiate, you will get a much better deal.  We found the same mattress at a major discount retailer, and we called up three of the mattress places we visited since they could deliver within 48 hours.  We asked them to match the price, and we would immediately buy over the phone.  One of the three agreed, and he was having a free delivery and free frame special so we convinced him to throw it in. He figured, better to make something rather than nothing at all.  We ended up paying something like $650 or so, I believe. We bought it a few years ago, so I am not sure what the prices are now.

A brief overview of adult attachment theory and research

Individual Differences in Infant Attachment Patterns

Although Bowlby believed that the basic dynamics described above captured the normative dynamics of the attachment behavioral system, he recognized that there are individual differences in the way children appraise the accessibility of the attachment figure and how they regulate their attachment behavior in response to threats. However, it wasn’t until his colleague, Mary Ainsworth (1913 � 1999), began to systematically study infant-parent separations that a formal understanding of these individual differences was articulated. Ainsworth and her students developed a technique called the strange situation–a laboratory paradigm for studying infant-parent attachment. In the strange situation, 12-month-old infants and their parents are brought to the laboratory and, systematically, separated from and reunited with one another. In the strange situation, most children (i.e., about 60%) behave in the way implied by Bowlby’s “normative” theory. They become upset when the parent leaves the room, but, when he or she returns, they actively seek the parent and are easily comforted by him or her. Children who exhibit this pattern of behavior are often called secure. Other children (about 20% or less) are ill-at-ease initially, and, upon separation, become extremely distressed. Importantly, when reunited with their parents, these children have a difficult time being soothed, and often exhibit conflicting behaviors that suggest they want to be comforted, but that they also want to “punish” the parent for leaving. These children are often called anxious-resistant. The third pattern of attachment that Ainsworth and her colleagues documented is called avoidant. Avoidant children (about 20%) don’t appear too distressed by the separation, and, upon reunion, actively avoid seeking contact with their parent, sometimes turning their attention to play objects on the laboratory floor.

Ainsworth’s work was important for at least three reasons. First, she provided one of the first empirical demonstrations of how attachment behavior is patterned in both safe and frightening contexts. Second, she provided the first empirical taxonomy of individual differences in infant attachment patterns. According to her research, at least three types of children exist: those who are secure in their relationship with their parents, those who are anxious-resistant, and those who are anxious-avoidant. Finally, she demonstrated that these individual differences were correlated with infant-parent interactions in the home during the first year of life. Children who appear secure in the strange situation, for example, tend to have parents who are responsive to their needs. Children who appear insecure in the strange situation (i.e., anxious-resistant or avoidant) often have parents who are insensitive to their needs, or inconsistent or rejecting in the care they provide. In the years that have followed, a number of researchers have demonstrated links between early parental sensitivity and responsiveness and attachment security.

Adult Romantic Relationships

Although Bowlby was primarily focused on understanding the nature of the infant-caregiver relationship, he believed that attachment characterized human experience from “the cradle to the grave.” It was not until the mid-1980’s, however, that researchers began to take seriously the possibility that attachment processes may play out in adulthood. Hazan and Shaver (1987) were two of the first researchers to explore Bowlby’s ideas in the context of romantic relationships. According to Hazan and Shaver, the emotional bond that develops between adult romantic partners is partly a function of the same motivational system–the attachment behavioral system–that gives rise to the emotional bond between infants and their caregivers. Hazan and Shaver noted that the relationship between infants and caregivers and the relationship between adult romantic partners share the following features:

  • both feel safe when the other is nearby and responsive
  • both engage in close, intimate, bodily contact
  • both feel insecure when the other is inaccessible
  • both share discoveries with one another
  • both play with one another’s facial features and exhibit a mutual fascination and preoccupation with one another
  • both engage in “baby talk”

On the basis of these parallels, Hazan and Shaver argued that adult romantic relationships, like infant-caregiver relationships, are attachments, and that romantic love is a property of the attachment behavioral system, as well as the motivational systems that give rise to caregiving and sexuality.

Bittorrent manipulation by ISPs worldwide

Education funding: more dollars than sense

For 50 years education reforms adopted in Australia have been copied from (failed) projects in the USA or England.

These countries are well below Australia on OECD rankings.

Time for change: a new role for religion in education

Australia’s government schools have been described by experts such as Cathy Byrne as “lagging behind” other nations with respect to their treatment of religion.

For example, the United Kingdom includes diverse religious education in their government schools and in Canada there are religions and ethics programs.

The National Curriculum provides an opportunity to address this in Australia. The “need to nurture an appreciation of and respect for social, cultural and religious diversity” has been given prominence within the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians and The Shape of the Australian Curriculum documents.

Noam Chomsky on Post-modernism

It’s entirely possible that I’m simply missing something, or that I just lack the intellectual capacity to understand the profundities that have been unearthed in the past 20 years or so by Paris intellectuals and their followers. I’m perfectly open-minded about it, and have been for years, when similar charges have been made — but without any answer to my questions. Again, they are simple and should be easy to answer, if there is an answer: if I’m missing something, then show me what it is, in terms I can understand. Of course, if it’s all beyond my comprehension, which is possible, then I’m just a lost cause, and will be compelled to keep to things I do seem to be able to understand, and keep to association with the kinds of people who also seem to be interested in them and seem to understand them (which I’m perfectly happy to do, having no interest, now or ever, in the sectors of the intellectual culture that engage in these things, but apparently little else).

Since no one has succeeded in showing me what I’m missing, we’re left with the second option: I’m just incapable of understanding. I’m certainly willing to grant that it may be true, though I’m afraid I’ll have to remain suspicious, for what seem good reasons. There are lots of things I don’t understand — say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat’s last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I’m interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. — even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest — write things that I also don’t understand, but (1) and (2) don’t hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven’t a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of “theory” that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) … I won’t spell it out.