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Friday, July 30, 2004

Facts About Five Senses

Google Answers finds fun facts on the human senses. A great read, especially considering the $10 price tag put on the question. [Via Best of Google Answers.]

One myth that got repeated in the answer I’d like to debunk here: “A newborn baby sees the world upside down because it takes some time for the baby’s brain to learn to turn the picture right-side up.”

If you think about this for a while you realize it must be nonsense. Steven Pinker (Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT) in “How the Mind Works” explains:

“Another comment is that the computational theory of mind, explicitly or not, has set the agenda for brain science for decades. An old example from introductory neuroscience classes describes the naive person who asks, “Since the image on the retina is upside-down but we see the world right-side up, is there some part of the brain that turns the image right-side up?” We all realize that this question rests on a fallacy, that there is no such process in the brain, and that there doesn’t need to be any such process. Why is it a fallacy? Because the orientation of the image on the retina makes no difference to how the brain processes information. Since information-processing is the relevant aspect of what goes on in the brain, the orientation on the retina–and, for that matter, on the visual cortex–is irrelevant; that is why the above is a pseudoquestion.”

Google Not Found

Several sources report was not in the Google index yesterday (i.e. could not be found searching for “”, and had a PageRank of 0). Things are back to normal today.

Great Hackers

Paul Graham in Great Hackers says: “When Google advertises Java programming jobs, they cleverly require Python experience.”
And: “The guys at Google didn’t think search was boring, and that’s why they do it so well.”
A very interesting read which rings true on many points.

Worst Reviews Search Engine

In case you missed the Knee-Jerk Contrarian Game (I’m sure you didn’t, as this was one of the fittest memes of July), it’s when you look up the worst reviews for otherwise highly-praised books and movies on Amazon. And now this amusing task got its own search engine. Let’s say you’re a Douglas Adams fan – enter Douglas Adams, click on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and you’ll see:

“I’m compelled stand up amongst the minority to say that, despite its popularity, “Hitchhiker’s” is everything a book should not be. Its only redeeming quality is that, while I found it to be boring, uninteresting, and at best marginally funny on occasion, it was a very fast read, so at least I didn’t waste a lot of time on it, or just give it up entirely. Right up until the end, I didn’t care about the characters or what happened to them.”

And I guess that’s just what Marvin, the always-depressed paranoid android, would have said too.


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