Archive for August 16th, 2007

Bangaloreans, rejoice!

August 16, 2007

Here is some wonderful news:

The Bangalore International Centre is presenting a unique program titled “The Shy Girl from Madurai- Homage to M.S. Subbulakshmi” – a lecture demonstration by Gowri Ramnarayan on Saturday, August 25, 2007, at the Bangalore Gayana Samaj, Sri Krishnarajendra Road, 6 p.m.

The two-hour presentation will showcase the consummate artistry of M.S. Subbulakshmi though music tracks of her immortal songs interspersed with commentaries by Gowri Ramnarayan on her music and her unparalleled life.

This will be followed by a 11-minute black and white film on M.S. by Avinash Pasricha.

For further information please call Bangalore International Centre, 080-25359680

I hope Jayan and (or) Shencottah will make it to the program and give us their impressions!

Rhetoric in scientific writing

August 16, 2007

Here is a review in Nature by Steven Shapin of what looks like a very interesting book–Joseph Harmon and Alan Gross’ The Scientific Literature:

… neither a research monograph on the history of scientific writing nor a straightforward compilation of excerpts. Originating from an exhibition held at the University of Chicago in 2000, it includes about 125 examples of scientific writing taken from papers, books, reviews and Nobel speeches, and covers material from the seventeenth century up to the announcement of the rough draft of the human genome in 2001.

The authors point out that, not surprisingly, specialization has been accompanied by increasingly exclusive scientific writing.

Another theme is the impersonality of scientific prose.

I liked the following sentence in the review too:

The very big differences between Jane Austen’s Persuasion and a scientific paper lie in the different patterns of rhetoric used in the latter, not in their absence from it.

Take a look!

Nature edits its mission statement

August 16, 2007

Nature will add the word sic in parenthesis in its mission statement wherever the word “scientific men” appears:

The original mission statement of this journal, first printed in Nature‘s second issue on 11 November 1869, was therefore running behind the times when it referred to “Scientific men” — even though, to be fair, the word ‘scientist’ did not enter general circulation until the end of the nineteenth century. In other respects it is well worded — which is why we print it every week in the Table of Contents.

There is a convention within the English language by which writers quoting text can indicate their view that a particular phrase is inappropriate. That is to insert sic, a Latin word meaning ‘thus’, after the phrase — in effect expressing the sentiment ‘alas, dear reader, this is what was said’.

This is what we will do in the mission statement from now on.

As they note, it is a tiny step, but a step in the right direction nevertheless.

Mysteries of the brain

August 16, 2007

Discover magazine discusses the ten unsolved mysteries of the brain; via Mind Hacks. For our convenience, Cognitive Daily lists the bulleted points alone :

1. How is information coded in neural activity?
2. How are memories stored and retrieved?
3. What does the baseline activity in the brain represent?
4. How do brains simulate the future?
5. What are emotions?
6. What is intelligence?
7. How is time represented in the brain?
8. Why do brains sleep and dream?
9. How do the specialized systems of the brain integrate with one another?
10. What is consciousness?

Take a look!