Workshop organised by Dr Kim M. Hajek and Prof. Mary S. Morgan
3 June 2019, London School of Economics and Political Science
In the history of science, especially of the human and observational sciences, it has often been the case that knowledge-making activities drew upon many ‘voices’—accounts of a storm given by different observers; patient voices incorporated into a psychological case history; myths transcribed by an anthropologist. What many of these examples share is that the information provided by different voices takes narrative form in its own right. Yet scientists have also organised them into related groupings or broader narratives, as a way to elucidate particular research problems.
This workshop asks how narrative has helped scientists to configure extended chunks of information, and ultimately to manage a multiplicity of voices in their enquiry. Using case studies from across a range of fields, workshop participants explore the roles played by narrative forms of explanation both within and across the contributions of multiple voices to science. Of particular concern are the ways that narrative serves to order polyphonic material into a larger epistemic scheme, and reciprocally, how narrative valorises or suppresses particular voices, or indeed shapes what counts as a ‘voice’ at all.
For more information on the project, please see: www.narrative-science.org
Continue reading “WORKSHOP: Scientific Polyphony: How Scientific Narratives Configure Many ‘Voices’”
Exhibition: “Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo 11 at Fifty”
April 30-August 3rd, 2019
Marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Combines works from Houghton’s history of science collections, including first editions of Copernicus, Newton, and Galileo, with highlights on loan from a private spaceflight collection, including materials used in the Apollo mission and on the lunar surface.
The exhibition is accompanied by a commemorative catalog which focuses on the loaned items only and is also available for free online here.
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Many of us equate the variety of ways in which we see with John Berger’s classic book Ways of Seeing, also presented as a series on BBC. His book’s focus on cultural perspectives doesn’t touch on how differently humans and animals see. Berger later wrote an essay, “Why Look at Animals?” a part his 1980 anthology About Looking, which examines how we look at animals, but not how animals see.
A fascinating article in Atlantic brings to mind how limited our perspective is when we focus primarily on human seeing. The subject of how animals see is a fascinating field study, one that warrants more attention, as a recent article titled “This Animal Has a Suit of Armor With Hundreds of Built-In Eyes” reminds us. This article introduces a group of little-known sea creatures called chitons. They have evolved armor contains hundreds of eyes.
Chitons are mollusks, related to snails, clams, and octopuses. Their oval bodies are covered by a hard shell consisting of eight overlapping plates, which makes them look a bit like a woodlouse with a skirt, or perhaps like the forehead of a Klingon. In many species, these plates are dotted with hundreds of tiny beads, each less than a tenth of a millimeter across. These are eyes. Each contains a lens, a light-sensitive retina, and a layer of black pigment.
For links to a variety of examples on how animals see, visit Christopher Tyler’s Eye Page. He also includes links to a number of other sites. The image accompanying this post is from Tyler’s site. It is the eye of a female net-casting spider from Australia. The large lens concentrates light on the retina.
Study uses arrays of multicoloured disks to demonstrate colour perception in peripheral vision
Some common science-related misconceptions are particularly persistent, such as a duck’s quack doesn’t echo, or that we only use 10% of our brains.
Now new research from City University London is aiming to dispel a long-held misbelief relating to colour vision: that it is weak or non-existent in our periphery vision.
“This misconception about weak peripheral colour vision is completely incorrect,” said Professor Christopher Tyler, a visual neuroscientist at the university’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, who carried out the study.
“Although the number of cone photoreceptors is lower in the periphery than in the fovea, with about 4000 cones per mm2 throughout the peripheral retina compared to 200,000 in the central fovea, this is still plenty enough to give colour vision,” said Professor Tyler.
Continue reading article in OT (Optometry Today), 11 Nov 2015 : https://www.aop.org.uk/ot/science-and-vision/research/2015/11/11/research-debunks-misconceptions-around-peripheral-colour-vision
Read the full study in i-Perception: http://ipe.sagepub.com/content/6/6/2041669515613671.full.pdf
After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain
by Michael L. Anderson
Reviewed by Amy Ione, Director, The Diatrope Institute
After Phrenology by Michael L. Anderson is a unique and thought-provoking contribution to the current debate on how cognition interfaces with the environment and how we can move scientific studies of the brain forward. His theory of “neural reuse” is a proposal for how we may re-frame the debate and fills in some of the gaps that exist now when we communicate about the mind, the brain, and the environment. The basic idea is that, rather than seeing localized areas of brain activity as the way to define brain functionality, we should investigate the neural circuitry combinations that are employed to perform complex functions. Included in this notion is recognizing that our ways of doing things are both active and environmentally connected. For Anderson, “the Modern, Modular, cognitivist assumptions that have guided research during most of the last 50 years of cognitive neuroscience have not been borne out by the data this research produced” (p. 301-302) and, thus, this book is a call for a new kind of approach–neural reuse. He additionally offers a theoretical framework that claims to show how this design offers an evolutionarily informed framework, one that has the capacity to both explain brain functions and recognize our embeddedness in our environments.
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Scientists recently stumbled upon a whale skeleton on the ocean floor near Antarctica. This is one of only six natural whale skeletons found worldwide and, quite remarkably, they also found nine never-before-seen species of deep-sea organisms feeding on the bones and skull.
The whale is believed to be a Minke whale. The deep-sea organisms included a type of bone-eating Osedax worm. Researchers say this discovery, which was made almost a mile below the surface in an underwater crater, will provide new insights into life in the sea depths.
An article about the discovery is available from Science Direct.
Continue reading “Whale and Nine New Species provide insight into ocean’s depth”