Computer Science

(I’m real excited about cellular automata and memristors and slime mold computing! Also, I hope that if anybody makes an artificial general intelligence, the Friendly AI folks get there first. More info coming soon!)

AI vs. Cybernetics

ai vs cybernetics


In modern times, the term became widespread because Norbert Wiener wrote a book called “Cybernetics” in 1948. His sub-title was “control and communication in the animal and machine”. This was important because it connects control (a.k.a., actions taken in hope of achieving goals) with communication (a.k.a., connection and information flow between the actor and the environment). So, Wiener is pointing out that effective action requires communication.

…where objectivity derives from shared agreement about meaning, and where information (or intelligence for that matter) is an attribute of an interaction rather than a commodity stored in a computer.


A new project to create a life-like simulation of Caenohabditis elegans (pictured above), a roundworm. OpenWorm isn’t like these other initiatives; it’s a scrappy, open-source project that began with a tweet and that’s coordinated on Google Hangouts by scientists spread from San Diego to Russia. If it succeeds, it will have created a first in executable biology: a simulated animal using the principles of life to exist on a computer.

Protein Homology Network, data visualization by Alex Adai, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology – University of Texas, 2002

“The network summarizes the results of aprox. 92 billion pairwise amino acid sequence alignments between 289,069 proteins from 90 genomes. The final network is composed of 27,325 connected sets summing to 7,940,873 edges. An edge is colored blue if it connectes 2 proteins from the same species, and red if it connects 2 proteins from 2 different species. If that information is not available the edges are colored based on layout hierarchy.”

via Visual Complexity


Today’s Smile by qubibi

<meta property=“og:description” content=
This is a website I created after being affected by the 3.11 Earthquake in Japan,
and the nuclear power plant incidents that followed.”


UPDATE 2012-02-05
Shortly after I’ve posted this The Daily Dot wrote more about
qubibi (Kazumasa Teshigawara), the process and emotions behind this work.

Moravec bush robots! A design for fractal branching ultra dextrous robots, proposed by Hans Moravec:

Image 1: Woefully unsourced! Clipped from a scanned PDF, more than likely… possibly from Mind Children by Hans Moravec?

Image 2Moravec, Hans; Easudes, Jesse; Dellaert, Frank (1999). “Fractal branching ultra-dexterous robots (Bush robots)”. NASA Advanced Concepts Research Project. PR-Number 10-86888.

(Wikipedia on Bush robots)

Adrift in Space Time, by Jason Padgett

Jason D. Padgett is a number theorist with Acquired Savant Syndrome from Anchorage Alaska, currently living in Tacoma Washinton. The beauty of numbers and their connection to the pure geometry of space time and the universe is shown in his fractal diagrams. 

All are HAND DRAWN using only a pencil, ruler and compass.”

After being kicked in the head repeatedly during a mugging:

A scan of Padgett’s brain showed damage that was forcing his brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people don’t have access to, Brogaard explained. The result was Padgett was now an acquired savant, meaning brilliant in a specific area.”


Following a head injury, Jason Padget developed extraordinary mathematical skills and a weird form of synesthesia that allows him to see the fractal reality.

According to the artist’s profile, 

“All are HAND DRAWN using only a pencil, ruler and compass.”

After being kicked in the head repeatedly during a mugging:

A scan of Padgett’s brain showed damage that was forcing his brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people don’t have access to, Brogaard explained. The result was Padgett was now an acquired savant, meaning brilliant in a specific area.”


by Barbara Doser and Hofstetter Kurt, 2006

medien.KUNSTLABORKunsthaus Graz


A screening of ecstatic moments created with the Video Feedback technique at the event horizon of perceptible worlds of image and sound while generating a moving picture. Moments distilled from experimental videos and compiled into a new unit.

Video Feedback is mapping (imaging) any visual event (image) to itself through parallelism and circulation. A minimum change of its instrument positions (video camera | screen) generate a maximum of stimuli at the time-based event horizon of perception. A flood of rapidly changing abstract images on the move will be experienced as a world of spatial complexity and of dynamic states.”


Background info on optical feedback

Ethan Turpin, Video Feedback: Pixel Behaviors, 2010,

Sight-specific installation, Kala Studio, Berkeley, CA 2010

“Pointing a live video camera at its own projection gives what is known as a “video feedback loop”. The camera reads the screen and then projects the image, in a repeating vortex. By carefully adjusting the angles and standard controls on a mid-1990′s-era video camera, Ethan Turpin isolates the self-sustaining patterns. The real-time animation can move from patterns resembling pantheistic design to microorganisms expanded to a human scale, evoking the uncanny feeling that life has emerged from within the system. Participants can move in the space between the camera and projection screen surface, integrating into the abstracted image.” 

“Kaleidoscope feedback,” Peter from Xinaesthetic, 2009

Caption: “I’ve been playing around a bit with doing video feedback through a kaleidoscope shader.

In these images, the ‘seed’ that is fed into the feedback is simply the plain black or white background of the window. There is a single rectangle rendered with the output of the previous frame as a texture, which is fed through a GLSL shader which inverts colour and applies a kaleidoscope effect, resulting in rich chaotic imagery.”

order and chaos, grayscale, edge of chaos, feedback, generative art, algorithmic, fractal, square, dendritic

An example of Optical feedback

Image source:

Examples of dynamic optical feedback image on television monitor

Image source:

More information:

Spirosketch necklace and bracelet set from Polymath Design Lab!

Available at their Etsy store

Bucky Ball Pendant by Shannon Henry (image source)

More info on buckminsterfullerene

Pendant from Polymath Design Lab, and similar ones are available at their Etsy store, although I don’t see this particular wooden version (or is it leather?).

They have other cool designs too!

“Birth of a Photon,” a (notional?) art installation by Marco Casagrande:

“The Birth of a Photon is connected to Albert Einstein’s initial discovery of the lichtquant, or photon – the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. […] 

The public artwork Birth of a Photon is a three dimensional artistic rendering describing the birth of the lichtquant, homage Albert Einstein. The sculpture is 14, 5 meters long and 2,2 meters high and wide and made out of shiny chrome steel.”

(See also my previous post on photons and boostrapping!)


An electromagnetic wave bootstraps itself through the void

Image 1: Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation” (image source; cc-by-sa)

Caption: “Electromagnetic waves can be imagined as a self-propagating transverse oscillating wave of electric and magnetic fields. This 3D diagram shows a plane linearly polarized wave propagating from left to right.”


Image 2: Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation” (image source; cc-by-sa)

Caption: “This 3D diagram shows a plane linearly polarized wave propagating from left to right. Note that the electric and magnetic fields in such a wave are in-phase with each other, reaching minima and maxima together.”


Image 3: Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation” (image source; cc-by-sa)

Caption: “The electromagnetic waves that compose electromagnetic radiation can be imagined as a self-propagating transverse oscillating wave of electric and magnetic fields. This diagram shows a plane linearly polarized EMR wave propagating from left to right. The electric field is in a vertical plane and the magnetic field in a horizontal plane. The two types of fields in EMR waves are always in phase with each other with a fixed ratio of electric to magnetic field intensity.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If compression waves, like sound, need to travel through a carrier medium, then how can electromagnetic waves propagate themselves through empty space?

A photon acts a little like the Glider in Conway’s Game of Life: at each step, it creates the conditions for the next step. Now, this is just one way of viewing an electromagnetic wave, and far from complete. But it’s interesting to think about!

More quotes from Wikipedia:

“Similar to the way that a changing magnetic field generates an electric field, a changing electric field generates a magnetic field. This fact is known as Maxwell’s correction to Ampère’s law. Maxwell’s correction to Ampère’s Law bootstrap together with Faraday’s law of induction to form electromagnetic waves, such as light. Thus, a changing electric field generates a changing magnetic field, which generates a changing electric field again.”

(Source: Wikipedia article on “Magnetic field”)

“A common misconception is that the E and B fields in electromagnetic radiation are out of phase because a change in one produces the other, and this would produce a phase difference between them as sinusoidal functions (as indeed happens in electromagnetic induction, and in the near-field close to antennas). However, in the far-field EM radiation which is described by the two source-free Maxwell curl operator equations, a more correct description is that a time-change in one type of field is proportional to a space-change in the other. These derivatives require that the E and B fields in EMR are in-phase (see math section below).”

(Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation”)

And it gets weirder: 

According to the special theory of relativity, the partition of the electromagnetic force into separate electric and magnetic components is not fundamental, but varies with the observational frame of reference: An electric force perceived by one observer may be perceived by another (in a different frame of reference) as a magnetic force, or a mixture of electric and magnetic forces.

Formally, special relativity combines the electric and magnetic fields into a rank-2 tensor, called the electromagnetic tensor. Changing reference frames mixes these components. This is analogous to the way that special relativity mixes space and time into spacetime, and mass, momentum and energy into four-momentum.”

(Source: Wikipedia article on “Magnetic field”)


Sketches of Science – Nobel Pictures

Three years ago I met the photographer Volker Steger for the first time. He prepared one of the ‘secret’ rooms in the Inselhalle in Lindau. Huge white sheets of paper and wax crayons lay around. You would not have guessed, that what happend there, was high art with simple means.

It was the 60ths Nobel Laureate Meeting which due to the 50th anniversary and interdisciplinarity of the meeting was attended by 59 Nobel Laureates. Volker Steger invited plenty of them to a photo shooting. Not telling them, what he was going to do. Once they were in the room he lifted his secret: They should sketch their Nobel findings. Afterwards he will make a picture of them with their works of art.

“All the laureates I met for a photo shoot were quite surprised by my exceptional request, because I did not inform them beforehand. The idea was to get something spontaneous, not a scientific “paper” intended for publication in a journal“, Volker Steger discribes in the artbook that gives more insights about the series. And he succeeded with his intuition using the moment of surprise as Sir Timothy Hunt, Nobel Laureate in physiology or medicine 2001, reports: „One of the many engagements in Lindau was a mysterious photo session, to which I gave little or no thought before-hand. After all, lots of people take photographs of Nobel Laureates – it comes with the territory. This one proved to be rather different, however, and much more professional than usual….”

You might scroll through the artbook “Sketches of Science“, which is available as pdf. But if you prefer seeing the pictures in high resolution and original you may now plan a trip to the Mainau Castle at Lake Constance, the home of the Bernadotte family in Germany, which is fairly close to Lindau. The exhibition presents 50 of the images of Nobel Laureates in chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine presenting their paintings” (read more).

(Source: Lindau Nobel Online Community)