Anthropology

Why do we make irrational decisions so predictably? Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.

Clay Shirky looks at "cognitive surplus" -- the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we're busy editing Wikipedia, posting to Ushahidi (and yes, making LOLcats), we're building a better, more cooperative world.

Part of a television series 'Strangers Abroad', shown on television in the 1990s. The film centres on the work of E.E.Evans-Pritchard, particularly his work on Azande Witchcraft. For interviews with other anthropologists and further materials, please see www.alanmacfarlane.com

Google Tech Talks November 21, 2008

Personal Growth Series: Cracking the Neural Code: Speaking the Language of the Brain with Optics

The technological seeds of a Manhattan project-style scientific enterprise, the optical reverse-engineering of brain circuits to crack the neural code, have recently been planted at Stanford.

Thomas M. Jessel, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, explores the human brain, the sophisticated product of 500 million years of vertebrate evolution, assembled during just nine months of embryonic development. The functions encoded by its trillion nerve cells direct all human behavior. Yet the brain is a biological organ made from the same building blocks as skin, liver and lung. How does the brain acquire its remarkable computational power?

Eric R. Kandel, HHMI Investigator, examines whether the brain's two major memory systems, implicit and explicit, have any common features. Implicit and explicit memory both have a short-term component lasting minutes, such as remembering the telephone number you just looked up, and a long-term component that lasts days, weeks, or a lifetime, such as remembering your mother's birthday. Short-term memory is mediated by modifications of existing proteins, leading to temporary changes in the strength of communication between nerve cells.

his film is by far the most interesting presentation of Islam.
Through an examination of the Koran, other Islamic texts and the example of the prophet Muhammad, this movie argues, that violence against non-Muslims is and has always been an integral aspect of Islam.

42,000 Years ago, the only humans in Europe made clothes, educated their young, made tools. But they weren’t the same as us.
Now the very latest technology can reveal exactly how they lived, the dangers they faced and the communities they made in the Neander valley in Germany.
We all know the word “Neanderthal” to be an unflattering qualifier for some of our more uncultured and dim-witted fellow humans.
But was the real Neanderthal man truly such an intellectual dunce? The Real Neanderthal Man looks at modern scientific findings that reveal quite the opposite.

Artificial intelligence, singularity, robots and much more. Dive in :)

Thomas M. Jessell, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, examines the neural circuits that control our movements. Neural circuits give us a glimpse of how brain wiring and circuit activity control specific behaviors, including the movement of our limbs. Consider baseball player Lou Gehrig's remarkable hand-eye coordination, or the purity of cellist Jacqueline du Pré's tone. Yet, both examples also remind us of the fragility of the motor system: Gehrig succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and du Pré to multiple sclerosis.

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