Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Clever octopus builds a mobile home - LiveScience- msnbc.com

LiveScience- msnbc.com: "Clever octopus builds a mobile home Finding marks first reported instance of an invertebrate acquiring tools
The veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) uses coconut shell halves to build a shelter.

An octopus that uses coconut shells as portable armor is the latest addition to a growing list of animals that use tools.

The veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) apparently can stack discarded coconut shell halves just as one might pile bowls, sits atop them, makes its eight arms rigid like stilts, and then moves the entire heap across the seafloor. These soft-bodied creatures perform this ungainly 'stilt walking' to use the hard shells for shelter later when needed."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How Facebook Can Ruin Your Friendships - WSJ.com

Elizabeth Bernstein writes an article about Facebook. She and Matt Brown, Gwen Jewett, Alex Gilbert, James Hills, Kimberly Kaye, Heather White and a number of other people I'm not particularly interested in, share some concerns about communication standards on the web. Social communication standards, that is, not TCP/IP, HTTP and the like. They find they get to know just a little bit too much detail about their 'friends' lives, and point out how people can 'miss behave' on facebook. I wasn't aware that that is very particular to social websites. Apparently they rather have their friends hide much of their personal lives, interests and likes, and are not so keen on knowing what their friends think of things. They languish for the rules of social engagement of the past century. Well, in the new rules they are welcome to. Everybody has their own tastes, and if you don't like knowing about me, good for you! It's called Social 2.0, and there's plenty of room, also for you guys!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The new version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, Windows 7, has the same problem that Vista, XP, and all previous versions have had -- it's proprietary software. Users are not permitted to share or modify the Windows software, or examine how it works inside.

Windows 7 Sins

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Lately I've gained some interest in cartographic projections. This one is the odd one out: It's the world projected according to population.


Holland looks oddly large, doesn't it!?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Baboons have platonic relationships

(automaticly translated for later editing) Kenyan Baboons females around their giving birth develop platonic friendships with men, often not even the father of their child. A baboon. Photo NRC Handelsblad this way they ensure that their children grow up in a quiet environment. The children cry less and be less harassed by peers and evolve faster. U.S. researchers describe the friendships this week in Behavioral Ecology and Socio Biology. Joint education is especially for a non-monogamous species. First author of the article, Nga Nguyen, during the investigation became intrigued by the appropriate males. platonic friendship among baboons (original Dutch article)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The end of the line

Imagine the world without life in the oceans. Or just wait as little as 50 years?
here's my pledge (already kept it!)

Friday, May 08, 2009


I've been following Stephen Fry (and others) for a while now on Twitter (@stephenfry), and I must say it's all quite amusing. Still not really getting twitter, but I'll just try to hang in there for a while, hoping I will have the epiphany someday. Meanwhile, this rather funny video resonates my, and presumably everyone's, twitter doubts:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Animals do have rythm

It seems to be that animals do have rhythm, at least some of them as the following video illustrates. Read the story in the LA Times.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Amsterdam in StreetView

Finally, StreetView is now available for Amsterdam. Here's our department building; unfortunately Albert Heijn had parked a van in front of the door...

View Larger Map

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The bicycle illusion: Sidewalk science informs the integration of motion and shape perception.

Masson, Michael E. J.; Dodd, Michael D.; Enns, James T.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. Vol 35(1), Feb 2009, 133-145.

The authors describe a new visual illusion first discovered in a natural setting. A cyclist riding beside a pair of sagging chains that connect fence posts appears to move up and down with the chains. In this illusion, a static shape (the chains) affects the perception of a moving shape (the bicycle), and this influence involves assimilation (averaging) rather than opposition (differentiation). These features distinguish the illusion from illusions of motion capture and induced motion. The authors take this bicycle illusion into the laboratory and report 4 findings: Naïve viewers experience the illusion when discriminating horizontal from sinusoidal motion of a disc in the context of stationary curved lines; the illusion shifts from motion assimilation to motion opposition as the visual size of the display is increased; the assimilation and opposition illusions are dissociated by variations in luminance contrast of the stationary lines and the moving disc; and the illusion does not occur when simply comparing two stationary objects at different locations along the curved lines. The bicycle illusion provides a unique opportunity for studying the interactions between shape and motion perception.


Thursday, January 29, 2009


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama on Al Arabiya

It sounds like a promising new wind blowing through the US's foreign policies