Chaitin, creativity, biology and mathematics

I was looking today, once again, at Gregory Chaitin’s most recent work which is described in his book Proving Darwin. I realized that much of what has been written about this work (even what I have written) doesn’t give adequate attention to the crucial shifts in perspective that metabiology proposes. Chaitin says concisely:

According to […]

Life’s music, movement, language and mathematics

Things happen in nature. Cells socialize and build structure, organisms grow, and move, and interact, and then more things grow – like music, language, and mathematics. Generally, talk about evolution is very pragmatic. Cell organization, the shaping of roots, leaves, nourishment mechanisms, reproductive drives, are all usually understood as fairly specific purposeful processes. Perhaps by […]

Ant arithmetic and prairie dog conversation

One of the points I wanted to make in last week’s post was that studies in animal cognition suggest the presence of mathematics in the behavior of non-human species – the ants, for example, who can be seen to pass on quantitative information to other ants. We don’t see the mathematics they may be doing […]

Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind, and mathematics

I listened last week to Diane Rehm’s interview with Ray Kurzweil, author of the book “How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed” A transcript of the interview can be found here.

Published in mid-November, it is already a New York Times bestseller, and some of the responses to it from prominent […]

Birds and the number 0

I’ve been working on an article that has me thinking about neuroscientifc studies on the cerebral representations of magnitude and it happened to be brought to my attention today that Irene Pepperberg spoke at the 2012 Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Animals.

Pepperberg is famous for having worked for many years with […]

Foraging for food, remembering, and mathematics

On April 16 reported on research that links hunting for words with foraging for food.

Our brains may have evolved to forage for some kinds of memories in the same way, shifting our attention from one cluster of stored information to another depending on what each patch has to offer. Recently, Thomas Hills of […]

Worms, promiscuous connections and autistic savants

If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ve probably figured out that this blog is motivated, to a large extent, by my fascination with what mathematics can help us see about the source, targets and bewildering range of human cognition. My expectations rest on the idea that what we have come to call the human mind […]

Cognition and Will

I see mathematics as associated with a searching, instinctual will, whose direction is shaped by our biology. I find some of its roots in the way our visual system constructs what we see, or in the way grid cells (neurons lit by location) tell a rat where it is, or the way ants can find […]

A Little Protein and a Big Bang

This blog is motivated in part by my conviction that life itself is far more mysterious than we are yet able to ponder. And it is mathematics that has often redirected my attention back to that mystery as its wealth of conceptual possibilities shows me more of what we don’t understand. David Deutsch very nicely […]

Nature’s Culture

In another blogging heads interview (and in a related blog), John Horgan explores with David Rothenberg the significance of beauty in scientific thinking. Rothenberg’s new book Survival of the Beautiful, is the subject of much of their discussion. While the conversation centers on questions of beauty (how biology does or does not take it into […]