Wednesday Round Up #4

Wednesday Round Up #4

Ten Years of the Sun in One Hour – a beautiful and eerie watch of the centerpiece of our solar system

Why Birds Can Fly Over Mount Everest

Wonderful story about the evolution of life and gravity and wood and oxygen and lungs…
Once the secret of how to oxidize lignin was understood, fungal spores and bacteria began to break down all the dead wood that was not already fossilized, using up oxygen in the process, and so the level of oxygen in the atmosphere began to decline rapidly. It went from a high of above 30 percent during the Carboniferous Period (300 million years ago) to around 12 percent at the end of the Permian Period (250 million years ago). This was bad news for most of the life on Earth, because it had gotten addicted to this abnormally high oxygen level. Ninety-five percent of all life on Earth died—strangled by an atmosphere so low in oxygen. It was the largest extinction event in the history of life on Earth.

Some of the 5 percent of life forms that did manage to survive went to Mr. R&D and, using what breath they had left, said, “We need help to survive on this small amount of oxygen.”

My Family Saw a Police Car Hit a Kid on Halloween. Then I Learned How NYPD Impunity Works.

ProPublica Deputy Managing Editor Eric Umansky’s family saw an unmarked NYPD cruiser hit a Black teenager. He tried to find out how it happened, and instead found all of the ways the NYPD is shielded from accountability.

“Bayesian Statistics and Hierarchical Bayesian Modeling for Psychological Science”
An entire class on Bayesian approaches now on YouTube – “This semester’s teaching on Bayesian stats and cognitive modeling is over! Thanks to COVID (ironically!), I recorded all my teaching sessions.”

“Reality” is constructed by your brain. Here’s what that means, and why it matters.

“It’s really important to understand we’re not seeing reality,” says neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College in Canada. “We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.”

Most of the time, the story our brains generate matches the real, physical world — but not always. Our brains also unconsciously bend our perception of reality to meet our desires or expectations. And they fill in gaps using our past experiences.

All of this can bias us. Visual illusions present clear and interesting challenges for how we live: How do we know what’s real? And once we know the extent of our brain’s limits, how do we live with more humility — and think with greater care about our perceptions?

Rather than showing us how our brains are broken, illusions give us the chance to reveal how they work. And how do they work? Well, as the owner of a human brain, I have to say it’s making me a little uneasy.

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