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January 25, 2005: Links & Books

Mirror Neurons


Mirror Neurons and imitation learning as the driving force behind "the great leap forward" in human evolution
Article by V. S. Ramachandran in which he says "the discovery of mirror neurons in the frontal lobes of monkeys, and their potential relevance to human brain evolution ... is the single most important 'unreported' (or at least, unpublicized) story of the decade."

Mirror Neurons
"Mirror neurons may well become this century's equivalent of the mid-20th century discovery of DNA," writes Robert Sylwester, an emeritus professor of education at the University of Oregon, in this article.

What Do Mirror Neurons Mean?
The Paris-based Interdisciplines, a Web-based project aimed at enhancing interdisciplinary research and exchanges in the humanities, offers this "virtual workshop," in which scholars discuss a number of recent articles about mirror neurons.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
This is the interdisciplinary research institute where Daniel Glaser's dance study was undertaken. For Glaser's own Web page, see

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran MD, PhD
This is the personal Web page of V. S. Ramachandran, who appears in the NOVA scienceNOW segment on mirror neurons.


The Neuroscience of Social Interaction: Decoding, Imitating, and Influencing the Actions of Others, edited by Christopher Frith and Daniel Wolpert. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

The Electric Meme: A New Theory of How We Think, by Robert Aunger. New York: Free Press, 2002.

Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language, edited by Maksim Stamenov and Vittorio Gallese. Amsterdam, Neth.: John Benjamins Publishing, 2002.

A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers, by V. S. Ramachandran. New York: Pi Press, 2004.



National Hurricane Center
This site tracks active tropical cyclones in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Eastern Pacific during the hurricane season, with satellite images updated every hour and much more useful information, including e-mail advisories and notes on hurricane preparedness.

NOAA's Hurricane Research Division
Part of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, which conducts research on hurricanes, this site has a very rich FAQ section. Answered questions range from why are tropical cyclones named to why don't we try to destroy tropical cyclones?

This National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration page has a host of links to useful NOAA sites on hurricanes. Also featured are downloadable hurricane awareness and preparedness guides.

EYE TO EYE: Seeing Hurricanes As Only NASA Can
This extremely rich page offers in-depth analysis of Isabel, Frances, and other 2004 hurricanes. The page offers numerous intriguing QuickTime movies and animations built from data and images of hurricanes captured by NASA and NOAA satellites.

Hurricanes (FEMA for Kids)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency runs this colorful Web site for kids. Check out the hurricane IQ quiz, learn how to care for your pets during a hurricane or other emergency, or make your own hurricane tracking maps.


Hurricane Watch: Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth, by Dr. Bob Sheets and Jack Williams. New York: Vintage, 2001.

Inside the Hurricane: Face to Face With Nature's Deadliest Storms, by Pete Davies. New York: Owl Books, 2001.

Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms, 1871-2001, by John M. Williams and Iver W. Duedall. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002.

Isaac's Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, by Erik Larson. New York: Vintage, 2000.

Profile: James McLurkin


James McLurkin
This is James McLurkin's personal Web page. Through his "Current Research" page, you can access short videos he's made of his robot swarms dispersing, clumping, etc. Try "Swarm2-Follow.mpg," or Follow the Leader.

This page describes McLurkin's swarm-robot research and development project at iRobot, a robotics company based in Burlington, Mass. Learn about "HIVE" and "Robot Ecology" as well as about possible future applications for robot swarms.

JPL Robotics
On the robotics page of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, learn about cryobots, cliff-bots, and the bizarre six-legged Lemur, among other specialized robots built by JPL engineers.

Robotics: Sensing, Thinking, Acting
This online exhibit, developed by the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, focuses on the world of intelligent machines. Control your own remotely operated vehicle, see some cool robot art, and hear how scientists, artists, and others answer questions like "Are there any kinds of robots that shouldn't be created?"

Kiss Institute for Practical Robotics
KIPR seeks to improve learning and skills through robotics. On its Web site, learn about institute classes in robotics for any age, participate in Botball, a game that gives students hands-on experience in designing, building, and programming robots, and more.


Swarm Intelligence: From Natural to Artificial Systems, by Eric Bonabeau, Marco Dorigo, and Guy Theraulaz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Multi-Robot Systems: From Swarms to Intelligent Automata, Volume II, edited by Alan C. Schultz, Lynne E. Parker, Frank E. Schneider. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003.

123 Robotics Experiments for the Evil Genius, by Myke Predko. New York: McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics, 2004

The Robot Builder's Bonanza: 99 Inexpensive Robotics Projects, by Gordon McComb. New York: McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics, 2000.

Booming Sands


Singing and Booming Sand Dunes of California and Nevada
Read an article on the historical background of noisy sands, learn more about the factors necessary for sound production, and see an annotated list of North American booming dune sites.

Mysteries of Science
Find out about booming sands and their mysterious cousins—"drifting rocks," "iceballs out of the clear blue sky," "ball lightning," and other unexplained anomalies.

Melany Hunt
What does engineer Melany Hunt of CalTech study besides booming dunes? Visit her research page to find out. While you're there, be sure to watch the movie clip of her work with sonorous sand.


The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes by R. A. Bagnold. London: Methuen, 1954.


"Booming Sands," by Franco Nori, Paul Sholtz, and Michael Bretz, Scientific American, September 1997.

"Sound-producing Dune and Beach Sands," by J. F. Lindsay, D. R. Criswell, T. L. Criswell, and B. S. Criswell, Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 87, 1976.


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