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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Neural Remodeling

So here's the dream I was just having.

I was is a bathtub. Something dropped in the water (a bottle of shampoo or something) and I fished it out. But there was still an identical bottle of shampoo of shampoo in the tub. So I got it out too. This blip in physics intrigued me, of course. And then human greed instinct took over and I took off my wedding ring and dropped it in. Two rings. I dropped both back in and took out four rings. I paused to think and plan. Somehow I instinctually understood that there were rules (as oftened happens in dreams, the surreal seems "obvious"). 1) this would only work while the water was warm, 2) I couldn't add more hot water, 3)I had to be in the bathtub and the new matter couldn't cause the water to overflow 4) at some point the "magic" time would end and unless I was clever all my gains would disappear. I hollered to <1/2 to grab something valuable. My explanation only illicited boredom with a mild disdain for my childish greed; time would be better spent out of the bathtub doing real work around the house. So I am alone again making handfuls of rings trying to think of a way to keep them in the real world once the time is up. It seems I may have come up with a way to keep about 4 or 5 rings around, but compared to the potential value of gold piled up outside the tub it didn't seem impressive. Certainly not worth getting into a panic so I worked at a fairly leisurely pace dropping and harvesting rings. 1,2,4,8,16 *yawn* better start finding them all....

And upon waking I knew that this was Thai's fault. Not because of the recent bat porn link, but because of the ongoing quest to get me to see that the laws of conservation apply to human perception. I may not be all the way there, but it makes sense that an idea that challenges the mind's current and long-term concept of "The Way Things Are" would take some time to build.

I think the warm water was "focus" or "attention" or "awareness". Which we can only sustain for limited amounts of time (the NPR Virginia Wolf thing...). While we have our awareness focused we can imagine and "play" quite a bit, but we have to have a secondary awareness observing the imagination play to act as "scribe" or what-have-you so that when the magic time is over you have some recollection of the event stored in memory that you can access again. And perhaps act upon to bring into the "real world" (example: an artist imaging a new painting has to remember their "play" to later actually put on a physical canvas).

Honesty, I don't see why people feel the need to take drugs when the natural mind is capable of such weirdness on its own.


Debra said...

Golden rings... golden eggs ? A goose with golden eggs ?
My husband and I had a discussion about our... differences last night.
It turns out that I am particularly good at spontaneously finding something "good" to say to someone who is grieving, and I.. say it.
My husband, rather.. needs time to reflect and he prefers... writing condolence letters.
I, on the other hand, have a tendency to spend lots of time and angst on such letters, and worry that I may say the wrong thing.
Two very different ways of approaching the same problem...
I see our thought processes as being on a spectrum with at one end... the hysterical approach to thought which priviledges impulse, spontaneity, and at the other end, the.. obsessive approach, with calculation (careful this is not a negative judgment...), carefully constructed reasoning.

Thai said...

Great post Dink. I do hope it is a good fault and not a bad one.

"at some point the "magic" time would end and unless"... Maybe the heat of the water was the energy for the new material? Who knows, it was a ream after all.

Deb, I would add to your observation of a hysterical vs. obsessive spectrum a kind of fractal modifier where all observed behavioral spectrum are further splint into "modularized" building blocks each with their own spectrums.

"Honesty, I don't see why people feel the need to take drugs when the natural mind is capable of such weirdness on its own."


Dink said...

"I do hope it is a good fault and not a bad one"

Subjective, I suppose, since it could lead to insanity. But I consider boredom worse than insanity so its a good fault in my opinion.

Was it a dream about dreaming? As if to teach me that there were at least three separate "programs" running 1) random imagination iterations, 2) monitor of imagination to judge if anything worthwhile is created, and 3) memory activation if the judges give the go ahead.

""modularized" building blocks"

Stress modules. Would each modules have the same stress energy so the only way to increase the stress would be to increase the number of modules? Or could some modules be bigger/more intense/potent? Hmmm. With fractals I always imagine each unit being identical, but I suppose that doesn't have to be the case...

Sunday rambling.

Thai said...

Re: "With fractals I always imagine each unit being identical, but I suppose that doesn't have to be the case..."

Remember the Cantor set (the simplest fractal I know, there may be others I just don't know).

The middle third is different- e.g there is a phase transition

There can be in infinite number of phase transitions.

Dink said...

This was a nice link from your link .

So with non-identical units going fractal I was thinking atoms. Oxygen is a more bigger unit than a hydrogen atom, etc. But then really each atom's protons, neutrons, and electrons are identical to each other's.

So sometimes protons keep aggregating into bigger atoms and sometimes they stop and stay at that size. Boundaries where energy input ceases. Phase transition where aggregation into a larger unit x stops and becomes unit z...

Debra said...

Yeah, dink, I agree with you that boredom is worse than insanity.
Today I'm too lazy myself to stick up a new post so..
Thai, it was fun wandering through your SuddenDebt link from last April and connecting with who we were and what we thought then.
I checked out the Warrior clip.
Was it an ... AD for the Marine Corps ?
(It could have been, but I think not...)
This clip is an ILLUSTRATION of what I mean when I say the word... "phallic".
How's that for a mathematical formula ?
Do you understand me ?
Pretty soon I'll be able to do a picture graph like Hell, right ? Or at least, to follow one...
Actually, the Marine Corps ad is pretty identical to what is could have been...2000 years ago.
Only the... machinery is new.

Street Dog said...

SRCS irregulars,

Street Dog would like to reiterate that blog comments are an inferior form of communication. Street Dog is not one to back away from a challenge. Street Dog, simply, has become a gentler dog in his middle age. Street Dog dislikes making people he likes uncomfortable. In his youth, Street Dog experienced countless street fights. Street Dog has a long history of usurping authority. Street Dog was paddled by many teachers (nuns were harmless) for questioning their ideas and for generally disruptive behavior. Street Dog was a tenacious pup. However, Street Dog has since lost the taste for blood, biting, or even loud barking. Street Dog may slip up from time to time, but he prefers mutually satisfying conversation with polite withdrawal otherwise. Street Dog, however, does believe some things are worth fighting for in words and in action. In those instances, Beware of the Dog.

Street Dog's favorite fractal, Dog Bone.

Street Dog realizes that Debra might be a Tough Cookie(Street Dog is sorry for taking a few bites, he is a cookieholic).

Street Dog wonders about Debra's digit ratio.

Street Dog wonders about Thai's fractal fetish.

Street Dog wonders about Dink's limbic system.

Debra said...

(Background sound of slavish drooling...)
I thought I scared ya away...
Glad to learn that you don't scare that easily.
What's a digit ratio ?
Too bad you guys don't speak fluent French or I would put up on post my latest poem, written last night during a somewhat manic, insomniac episode. (That doesn't happen very often ; I sleep like a baby.) It is a very very... tough cookie poem.
Comment on the fractal blog :
It looks like a 2000 year later performance of the kind of stuff that sent Rabbi Akiba off the deep end way back when.
Gotta be careful with that kind of stuff.
It can send you into orbit, or off the deep end, whichever metaphor you prefer.
Debra is very very cautious with theories that claim to tie it ALL together...

Street Dog said...


Go ahead and post your poem en Français, s'il vous plaît. Street Dog finds poetry most beautiful in its original language. Something is lost in translation. Neruda in Spanish...more beautiful than Neruda in English. Street Dog's French has atrophied somewhat, but if he can read Le Monde, he might be able to understand la poète Debra.

Street Dog is dubious of Digit Ratio Theory. However, in jest, Street Dog was guessing that Debra has a longer ring finger than index finger.

Thai said...

Street Dog, a "welcome back" from me as well.

Thanks for the cool link!

re: why the obsession?

Number 1, I don't think I have these guys level of obsession but it is a fair question and I have wondered this myself, honest.

Most honest answer- I am not sure.

Possible explanations:

#1- I just see them everywhere (almost like a kind of synesthesia)

#2- I suspect it has something to do with the fact that it is the only "permanent part" of the chaotic system we exist in. And even if that permanence is transient, still it represents a kind of constant in the flux.

I once went looking for "truth" in a kind of quest to find safety. I had this crazy belief that if I was at honest", I would find safety. The basic motivation was safety.

In the end, as I am sure you can realize, I found nihilism as my only truth.

The fractal was the closest I could ever get to what I wanted and it has kind of remained as a symbol of constancy/permanence/safety/understanding even though I know I can't truly have any of these.

Does that help?

And Deb, it most certainly does not tie it all together. As you might have suspected, it just kicks the problem up another level. ;-)

Thai said...

And re:digit ratio theory

I have as much faith in digit ratio theory as I do in sleep position theory.

FWIW, I sleep on my stomach- e.g. freefall position. ;-)

Street Dog said...


"And even if that permanence is transient, still it represents a kind of constant in the flux."

The paradoxic language is fun.

Street Dog likes to think of fractals as mathematical models that simulate the natural consequences of symmetry breaking, a more fundamental concept (anti-reductionist arrows fly from Debra's bow; she misses). The oxygen and hydrogen atoms Dink was discussing provide a beautiful example of symmetry breaking in snowflakes. Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem and the incompleteness of quantum physics is a kick in the pants to any mathematically based ultimate "truth".

Yea, Street Dog thinks Digit Ratio Theory is predominantly junk science, modern palmistry if you will. Still, it can be useful for poking fun at Debra.

Street Dog's sleep position has been in a constant state of flux with only transient positions of any permanence. His current sleeping fractal is on his sides with a 34.5% chance of changing to on his back this evening.

Thai said...

Agreed it is fun.

re: "Street Dog likes to think of fractals as mathematical models that simulate the natural consequences of symmetry breaking"

This is how I understand Mandelbrot always saw thought of them as well.
Oddly, though I can see this perspective on fractals, it does not come as natural to me as the way I described and I don't know why- it seem to be just how my mind is wired.

Oh well.

Re: Godel's incompleteness theorem.

You will quickly loose me if you go too far into the philosophy of mathematics as I am a clear novice in this field- indeed Deb and everyone else will verify that I am a novice in philosophy in general.
All I have deduced on my own comes from a kind of "street smarts" (or "street stupidity") that my line of work has shown me.

Anyway, concerning Godel, from the little I have read, I don't see how this is not a simple restating of the conservation of energy where the perspective has changed from traditional notions of energy to information (which is really the same thing only viewed from a different perspective) and the methods we manipulate information (which is again same thing viewed from yet a different perspective) and the results we get from those manipulations (again same thing).

Would you agree?

Again, some approaches to problems just come more naturally to me than others.

PS- would you share what you at least do/did do/are passionate about? Why you are interested in them?

And re: "Street Dog, however, does believe some things are worth fighting for in words and in action. In those instances, Beware of the Dog."


It is our duty

Dink said...

" Street Dog has since lost the taste for blood, biting, or even loud barking"

And thats honorable. I'm normally pretty peaceful as well. But Deb won't stand for it so we all get hissed at and clawed at on occasion. Don't fret about upsetting an equilibrium (especially one that doesn't actually exist);)

"The fractal was the closest I could ever get to what I wanted and it has kind of remained as a symbol of constancy/permanence/safety/understanding even though I know I can't truly have any of these"

So in the universe we have a neutral void randomly scattered with mind-blistering complex fractals. It does feel right....

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is having their annual meeting in Seattle this year. Tickets are already sold out. I love this town!

Debra said...

Ooooh, goody, Thai has given us lots of junk science to dig our teeth into...
Let me see... I have kind of decided that there is a hidden cartel/conspiracy between the chiantists who dream up this stuff... and the women's magazines that devise all kinds of multiple choice quizzes to exploit it.
For many years I used to, kind of ... cheat on these quizzes to convince myself that I was OUTSIDE the norm (not the same thing as abnormal, hint hint...).
Now I no longer have to cheat. I... AM outside the norm. (sleep test, I favor the... coffin position, I will let you guess what that one is. By the way, as you get older, your cervicals tend to stiffen up a little bit and your favorite positions when you were a child become unavailable...)
Right on for Godel's theory. It is so beautifully... LOGICAL, right, Thai ?
Digit ratio : my index and my ring finger are almost identical, my birth weight is...limit, so.. I must be the PERFECT NORM !!!
Congratulations to little ole me.
The digit ratio observations are interesting only as a preamble to research on hormones, and the difference between the sexes, that quintessentially absolute difference.
And Street Dog.... I am absolutely NULLE in mathematics. The only math I really got into was algebra. It was so... beautiful.
I will stick up my French poem in an upcoming post.

Thai said...

"Street Dog likes to think of fractals as mathematical models that simulate the natural consequences of symmetry breaking"


"... a more fundamental concept"


Which is why I am posting here on this posting of all places. For you see, I had this dream last night as well and when I awoke a few minutes ago I wanted to get it down before I ha to rush to work.


1. I see this viewpoint much better
2. I see why I this viewpoint does not come so easily to me (in fact I have a tendency to unfairly reject it)
3. Why it IS NOT a more fundamental concept than mine- it is equal

Weird how I solved this in a dream! I guess it was bugging me.

Anyway, the metaphors I want to use are:

1. A black and white photographic negative
2. A movie reel run in reverse

When you look at a photographic negative, it looks different than the photo itself. But shine a little light through it and you see the photo.

Play a movie in reverse and it looks wrong, and yet reverse direction again and it is the same thing.

So here is my question:

"what is the reverse of Street Dog's statement "fractals as mathematical models that simulate the natural consequences of symmetry breaking".

Answer: "models which simulate the natural consequences of symmetry forming from chaos (chose your term)"

I don't like looking at them from Street Rat's viewpoint because it goes against the very reason I love looking at them in the first place (actually I couldn't stop seeing them even if I wanted to).

It also explains why that view does not come so natural to me- I have to flip 180 degrees to see it.

God I love a good dream!

Be well

Dink said...

"God I love a good dream!"


It sounds like an amazingly cool and insightful dream and I think you should describe it fuller detail (though I do understand that getting to work and sewing people's necks back together arguably takes priority).

Street Dog said...


I'm not sure how Gödel's Theorem applies to energy. As far as information goes, the ongoing conjecture with the black hole information paradox and fuzzball theory are of interest (ie. is quantum information preserved?)

Street Dog describes symmetry breaking as fundamental in that the diversity of elementary particles and the four fundamental forces of nature (SNF, WNF, G, EM) theoretically came about through the first symmetry breakings after the big bang. Fractaloid patterns followed symmetry breaking in primacy. Symmetry breaking IS chaos breaking, Order (or a pattern) FROM chaos. A fractaloid is an example of broken symmetry not formed symmetry (ie. again the snowflake). However, fractaloids are a more appealing and memorable visual concept in modeling nature, Street Dog wags his tail in agreement about that.

Street Dog notices a pattern here (fractaloid?) of solving problems in the dream state (Ah, the wonders of Ambien and neural remodeling). Street Dog had a good dream last night, but sharing it would be inappropriate in this or any other forum. Interestingly, his dream did help him solve a problem.

"PS- would you share what you at least do/did do/are passionate about? Why you are interested in them?"

Street Dog studied Engineering and Physics in college. He ended up professionally, in your neck of the woods. Street Dog's passions wax and wane. He initially learned about fractals while studying recursive functions in comp sci (Mandelbrot set). He found renewed interest years later after reading Crichton's "Jurassic Park" --> Chaos theory/fractals --> Ian Malcolm, character based on --> Heinz Pagels ("Cosmic Code", "Perfect Symmetry"), and so on. Thai has once again rekindled Street Dog's interest (Pavlovian response). Street Dog trots off to read Debra's poem.

Thai said...

OK, so your is more fundamental than mine, agreed. My mind tends to play in the world of fractaloids.

... But I will start reading ;-)

Re: Godel

Isn't information really energy?

I don't see the difference

And you are a neighbor?

Street Dog said...


Street Dog believes it may be an epistemological error, at least in certain instances, to conflate matter-energy with the term "information" which needs different definitions for different discussions. The conservation of quantum information (a very specific definition) may or may not hold (ie. reference the black hole information paradox, and superstring theory's answer: fuzzballs).

What Street Dog meant by "in your neck of the woods, professionally" is that he studied Medicine and thus shares that brotherhood, not neighborhood, with Thai(Street Dog is on guard for a feminist cat clawing at Street Dog's rump for using sexist terms; catnip on standby).

This statement is false. (self-referential hat tip to Kurt)

Thai said...

Ah, do you have a link to help me with the epistomological error?

More reading (when I get a chance)

What specialty?

Thai said...

Ok, I think I sort of understand- sort of... Perhaps I should say I see the road map I need to follow.

FWIW I am still working on getting a better handle of Calabi-Yau manifolds of superstring spacetime... I need a few more good dreams to process ;-)... so it may be a little while before I see your point on when they differ.

But my gut tells me this issues should still be observable at a more approachable level- I have a hard time believing I have to go subatomic to understand this stuff- that would be very un-fractal/oid if it were not the case ;-)

So let me try a different approach:

Are the letters and words printed on a piece of paper (say a recipe to make chicken soup) BOTH information and energy? If so, are they the same thing? If not, why not?

Thai said...

And re: "This statement is false"

Very clever! ;-)

From my perspective, this statement simply forces the observer to recognize the statement itself is a kind of closed system that must exist within a larger system as the smaller system does not have enough information (energy) to answer itself.

But from some perspectives, say a literal interpretation of its meaning without thinking about the underlying implications of that meaning, it still stands as its own information (energy) as an independent entity.

This is just another version of reductionism/wholism/"we are all connected" stuff and which just gets into larger and larger systems that are part of still larger systems, etc...

Still conservation of energy, no?

Street Dog said...


Street Dog usually practices Medicine and Surgery of the Retina and Vitreous (fellowship trained subspecialty in Ophthalmology).

This link is a bit detailed but it discusses ONE definition of the entropy-information relationship. You can gloss over the equations and read the rest. Street Dog couldn't find a more concise link that had enough details. Maxwell's Demon and modern responses were favorites of Street Dog in college.

The connection between thermodynamic entropy and information

Street Dog said...


"This statement is false", known as the liar paradox may have partially inspired Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. Your interpretation reminds Street Dog of these:

Russian Nesting Dolls

Thai said...

Agreed, but why would it be wrong?

Thai said...

Great link by the way ;-)

Dink said...

1) Noticed from the Godel link:

Miskatonic University Press? When your book is not just weird, but Lovecraft weird..

2) "Interestingly, his dream did help him solve a problem."

As Malcolm said, Nature Finds A Way.

3) From SD's link

"More bullshit has been written about entropy than about any other physical quantity." David Beeman"


The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits