Monday 4 December 2006

Encephalon n°12: demandez le menu!

For its twelfth edition, Encephalon is moving to France, chez AlphaPsy; relax, take a seat - this is Olivier, the garçon, speaking - I will give you a tour of the menu our blogging chefs prepared. Yes, that's the Tour Eiffel over there; yes, monsieur, it may look like a reversed pyramidal neuron, from a certain angle. Bon Appétit!


Saturday 2 December 2006

Encephalon Blog Carnival: last call for submissions!

Dear Brains,

The next issue of Encephalon, the cognitive science blogs carnival, will be hosted here on Monday! Don't forget to submit, and thanks to those who already did. I am already having a very good time reading your contributions. See you monday!


Friday 1 December 2006

The Ghost of the Machines

Some historians of technology have surmised that in some areas (like Far East and the West), industrial advance had much deeper roots than its mere hundred years of existence would suggest. This view is enjoying rare and well-deserved attention this week, as Nature discloses a CT Scan reconstitution of the famous Antikythera mechanism, a computerized calendar from roman times. This same day, I discover an article from NBER, published in last october, that states that significant differences in nowadays levels of development, for example that between Europe and Africa, are predicted by their technological level 2.5 millenia ago!

"In addition to being significant, the effect of technology history on current development is large. An increase in the overall technological level from 0 to 1 in 1000 B.C. or in 0 A.D. is associated with an increase in income per capita in 2002 by a factor of 4. A similar increase in the overall adoption level in 1500 A.D. is associated with an increase in per capita income in 2002 by a factor of 18. This is half of the current difference in income per capita between the top and bottom 5 percent of the countries in the world."

I am so enthusiastic about this study that I try to forget about my sheer incompetence in economy and statistics, and say Hurrah, that's exciting!.

Is our modern world that modern? Left: the Faros Beacon of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; right: the Empire State Building.


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