geon and on and on and on

July 29, 2010

In Pinker's "How The Mind Works" he touches on "Geons" -- a theory that the brain uses a smallish set of basic visual/structural elements (akin to atoms, but on a larger level) to remember what things look like, and identify them later, even if the image we're looking at is at a funny angle, in different colors, etc. Here's an example, showing 5 Geons and some common objects that could be described with them:
I am very bummed that I can't find a "complete" list with all 24 Geons anywhere online. It's an intriguing idea though, complete with some nice testable implications. (It's not 100% complete in terms of describing how we identify things in theworld, but -- as Pinker argues at length -- the brain may also have a set of additional task-specific subsystems, for example, a different way of identifying and "reading" faces, and that would not destroy the basic theory.
"Sith. What kind of a word is that? Sith. It sounds to me like the noise that emerges when you block one nostril and blow through the other, but to George Lucas it is a name that trumpets evil."
--Anthony Lane, "Space Case"
"Evolutionary speaking, there is seldom any mystery in why we seek the goals we seek--why, for example, people would rather make love with an attractive partner then get a slap on the belly with a wet fish."
-- Steven Pinker, "How the Mind Works"
"There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted."
--Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour
"If men could only know each other, they would neither idolize nor hate."
--Elbert Hubbard
Panasonic RP-HJE 130: Cleverest earbud packaging ever?

The "Golden Record" on the Voyager probes has an hour of Carl Sagan's wife's brainwaves, including a bit on what it's like to be in love.
Weird iOS 4 bug- when music is playing, but you get the music controls on the lock screen, the play triangle never becomes a pause icon? Odd
"The only thing for which they should have used wood-grained plastic was the coffin of the man who invented wood-grained plastic."
--James Lileks
Daniel Shore died? Nuts!