Showing posts from April, 2008

Sistemas Auto-organizantes

I recently did a short article on self-organizing systems (in Spanish) for a general audience , which was recently published by La Jornada (Mexican newspaper)... Parvadas, cardúmenes, manadas y colonias de insectos funcionan por medio de mecanismos similares. No hay un animal líder dictando ordenes a otros. Sin embargo, tomas de decisiones muy complejas pueden realizarse por el grupo. Esto se debe a que los animales, aunque sigan reglas simples en su comportamiento, interactúan localmente de forma tal que en su conjunto pueden lograr tareas que los individuos por sí mismos no podrían realizar. Este fenómeno, donde los elementos de un sistema interactúan para producir un comportamiento, patrón o función globales, se conoce como auto-organización . Read more...

Carbon Taxing?

In this TED Talk , Al Gore argues for global action to face global crisis. The proposed solution: tax carbon. In theory, it sounds like a good option. However, how to bring it to reality? How many changes in economies would this produce? Certainly, companies would be tempted to use renewable energy sources, and these would become a great market. However, oil companies hold much of the power behind curtains. Could a social movement achieve this change? Could this be effectively implemented in most countries? What to do with countries who would not tax their carbon emissions? This huge change wouldn't be the end of the world, certainly, but such a drastic transformation seems almost impossible. Well, let's fight for this almost impossibility, otherwise we'll be sitting on our fat behinds waiting for catastrophes to force the transformation.

Brain doping? Is it ethical?

Nature published the results of a poll where they asked researchers about drug use to boost their brains. It turns out that from their respondents, "one in five respondents said they had used drugs for non-medical reasons to stimulate their focus, concentration or memory", even when half of drug users reported unpleasant side-effects. Now, here I have only questions: Should drug use in science be restricted, just like in sports? If so, the main reason for doing it would be the health of users, "fairness" in "competition", or simply ethics? A problem here is to draw a boundary line, just like with sports. Many people have coffee, tea, or chocolate, and it boosts their performance. The thing is that it is legal and socially acceptable, plus the side effects are minor... Would there be any sense in anti-doping tests for scientists? If so, and a test comes positive, how could this affect their research? OK, I don't have answers, but I do have opinions...

Oil Privatization Attempts in Mexico

Yesterday, an energetic reform was presented by Felipe Calderón (aka FeCal ) to the Mexican senate. It attempts to modify several laws, although these changes violate the constitution. Using fallacies of prosperity for Mexico, the right wing government is attempting to privatize the extraction, transport, and refining of oil and gas. Many arguments and passions and interests can be put forward, but let us simply note the following fact: Oil is the first source of income for Mexico (followed by money sent by more than ten million immigrants in the U.S. to their families, and tourism in third place). The cost of a Mexican oil barrel is around $85 these days, but its production is less than ten. The difference is used to pay for public education, health services, social security, etc. (as deficient as they may be). I fail to see how transmitting this profit to private foreign companies (such as Repsol, Exxon, Texaco, who have already shown obscure and questionable ties to FeCal's tea

Vida Artificial

I recently did a short article on Artificial Life (in Spanish) for a general audience , which was recently published by La Jornada (Mexican newspaper)... La Vida Artificial es el estudio científico de las propiedades de sistemas vivos por medio de simulación y/o síntesis. Dado que la vida es un fenómeno muy complejo, observarla no es suficiente para comprenderla. Hay que simularla y construirla. En otras palabras, hay que desarrollar sistemas que modelen las propiedades biológicas, para así analizar y estudiar la vida por medio de nuestros sistemas artificiales. Read more...

Epistemological Perspectives on Simulation

Call for papers III Edition of Epistemological Perspectives on Simulation - A Cross-Disciplinary Workshop October 2-3, 2008 Lisbon University Institute - ISCTE, Portugal The methodological role and epistemological status of simulation merits more attention from researchers across the social, natural, and computational sciences, as well as from philosophers of science. While the epistemological status of simulation has received considerable interest from the natural sciences since the 1990s, it seems to have emerged in the social sciences only in the last five years due to the increasing use of simulation in concrete problems and public policy, across a variety of fields, and its crucial role for theorizing, modelling, and understanding social complexity. The interest in the methodological role of simulation, from the social to the natural sciences, shows that simulation is becoming a discipline spanning a number of fields, with its own dile