Monday, September 06, 2004

Links from the past week

The beach as a miracle of self-organised and emergent behavior (Prospect Magazine) - and guess where the whole idea of going to the beach originated? Not in some sunny clime, as you might expect! Although avid readers of Enid Blyton might be able to hazard a guess!

Miracle on Probability Street (Scientific American) - on the laws of large numbers: "miracles" happen much more frequently than you think - a one-in-a-million event occurs 295 times per day in America, and in the course of a normal person's life, miracles should happen at a rate of one per month. This is actually a review of Georges Charpak and Henri Broch's Debunked! (I have the French edition, Devenez sorciers, devenez savants and highly recommend it).

An informative piece on Language Log about how computer-assisted transcription is done - this is used for closed-captioning and other purposes.

Hearing colours, eating sounds: two half-hour programmes about synaesthesia from BBC Radio 4 . As I was listening to these programmes, it struck me that the links between, for example, the senses of sight and of sound in some random homo sapiens could have given rise to the first proto-language and given them the idea. And of course, someone has already come up with this idea - it's mentioned towards the last bit of the second programme. I wonder if any other animals experience synaesthetic effects?

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