All members of Darwin are encouraged to present their research at informal seminars held on Tuesdays and Thursdays during term. Everyone is welcome, whatever your degree or discipline.
Darwin members pick up lunch from 12:00, taking it into the Richard King Room (on the left at the top of the stairs leading to the dining hall) or 1 Newnham Terrace (straight through at the far end of the dining hall). Wine is served. Non-Darwin members are welcome to attend, although lunch is only available to guests of members. The talk begins at about 1:15 and lasts for about 20 minutes and is followed by questions over coffee. We adjourn at 2:00pm at the latest.
Boone and Piccinini (2015) have recently argued that cognitive neuroscience constitutes a revolutionary break from traditional cognitive science, distinguished by its abandonment of the autonomy of psychology from neuroscience in favour of a multilevel mechanistic approach to neurocognitive explanation. Drawing on work by Williams and Colling (2017), I explain one important aspect of this revolution: a dramatic shift away from thinking of cognitive representations as arbitrary symbols towards thinking of them as icons that replicate structural characteristics of their targets. This shift has received increasing attention in the philosophical literature in recent years (e.g., Churchland 2012; Cummins 1989; Grush 2004; Gładziejewski and Miłkowski 2017; O’Brien and Opie 2015; Ryder 2004; Williams 2017). We aim to clarify what it consists in, and explain why it has occurred.
Buck, L. T.1, 2, De Groote, I.3, Hamada, Y.4, Stock, J. T.1
1 Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge
2 Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum
3 School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University
4 Section of Evolutionary Morphology, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University
Homo sapiens has a global distribution, a remarkable achievement for a tropical ape. Adaptations enabling this colonisation are intriguing given suggestions that humans exhibits high levels of physiological and behavioural malleability associated with a ‘colonising niche’. Differences in body size/shape between members of the same species from different climates are well-known adaptations in mammals; could relatively flexible size/shape have been important to human species adapting to novel habitats? If so, at what point did this flexibility arise? To address these questions, a base-line for adaptation to climate must be established by comparison with suitable outgroups. Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) are the most northerly living non-human primates. They have great latitudinal spread and overlap with the historical distribution of prehistoric Jomon foragers, allowing matched latitude comparisons within monkeys and humans and making them an ideal outgroup for this study. We compare skeletons of M. fuscata from four different latitudes, including the most northerly and most southerly extremes of the species’ distribution. Initial results show inter-group differences in M. fuscata postcranial and cranial size and shape. Size varies more than shape, showing a strong, positive relationship with latitude. However, the very small size of the southern-most (island) sample may be affected by resource availability. Allometry-free shape shows geographic patterning and perhaps echoes some trends seen in human groups at high latitudes. These insights begin to provide a comparison for human adaptation to climatic diversity and the role of colonisation in shaping the evolution and dispersal of human species.
Funding: This work was supported by the European Research Council (ADaPt Project: FP7-IDEAS-ERC 617627).
Public procurement today is heavily regulated in most countries. Regulation has been put in place in order to foster competitive markets, safeguard against wasteful spending and corruption and ensure equal access and opportunities. This has not always been the case however. Municipal procurement in Sweden was for example not nationally regulated until the 1970s. So, what happens if procurement is left unregulated? In my PhD project, I use a case study of construction procurement in Swedish city between 1870 and 1975 to explore this question. In this talk I will present the outlines of my work and some preliminary results.
Going through life, our senses perceive a continuous flow of information. Yet when we reminisce about the past, we remember experiences as discrete events. How does this occur? A leading theory (Event Segmentation Theory) suggests that salient changes result in prediction error (a failure to predict the immediate future), and are interpreted as boundaries between events. This, in turn, is thought to drive encoding of the preceding event to memory, while cleaning the slate for new information. I will discuss evidence supporting this theory, demonstrating that the hippocampus – a brain region strongly identified with formation of new memories – is particularly sensitive to the occurrence of event boundaries in naturalistic experience.
Money is clearly one of the most powerful social linkages between individuals, groups, and nation states that exist. Its power of abstraction generates equivalences where none existed, forms the basis of economic calculations and has the metaphysical quality of generating offspring (interest). Sociological enquiry into its emergence and institutional underpinnings brings to the fore its importance for the development of societies. This seminar will shed light on the historic development of monetary values and the effects an apparently abstract economic measurement has on shaping societies and the contracts formed between its members.
Starting with the gift economy – a society functioning entirely without any monetary values – sources of historic anthropology and heterodox economics can help us identify and understand the social construction of money and monetary systems, which will be contrasted with the myth of the barter economy put forward by neoclassical economists. This will lead us to appreciate the primary function of money as money of account, as credit systems predate coins, and its linkage to debt and accounting systems. The organising impact accounting in monetary terms had on common economic undertakings as the nation state formed, and thus the role it played in the formation of what Weber termed “rational industrial capitalism”, will allow a critical view on money’s organisational powers in modern-day capitalist societies.
What does Weber mean exactly when referring to money’s “rational” character and which societal implications come from Marx’ observation regarding the fetishism of commodities in a profit-driven economy? In the light of newly emerging currencies, such as bitcoins and other crypto currencies, can sociological enquiry into monetary systems provide an outlook on how social contracts might change in the future?
Lauren E. Marbella,1 Kent J. Griffith,1 Matthias F. Groh,1 Joseph Nelson,2 Matthew Evans,2 Andrew J. Morris,2 and Clare P. Grey1,*
1University of Cambridge, Department of Chemistry, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, United Kingdom
2University of Cambridge, Theory of Condensed Matter Group, Cavendish Laboratory, J. J. Thomson Avenue, CB3 0HE, United Kingdom
As the demand for batteries for portable electronics, electric vehicles, and large-scale energy storage continues to increase, improvements in capacity, safety, lifetime, and particularly cost, to the current Li-ion standard are crucial. To address these needs, Na-ion batteries are a promising alternative for long-term energy storage sustainability in terms of both cost and natural abundance. For example, highly competitive layered Na-transition metal phosphate and oxide intercalation cathode materials offer a cost-effective alternative to their Li-ion counterparts. Further, Na-ion systems allow the replacement of expensive Cu current collectors with Al. However, robust candidates for anode materials in Na systems that offer equivalent capacities are lacking. As a result, progress in the development of suitable Na-ion batteries has been substantially stalled. Typical anode materials that are high performing for Li-ion systems, such as Si and graphite, do not reversibly store Na ions or suffer from low capacities, respectively. Otherwise, the high theoretical capacity for the formation of Na3P (2596 mAh/g) makes phosphorus-based materials promising candidates for anodes in Na-ion systems.
Indeed, by combining elemental phosphorus with conductive carbon, we can produce high capacity (2510 mAh/g) in Na-ion batteries. However, while we find that performance near that of theoretical capacity is reached in the first cycle, the capacity retention in phosphorus anodes is poor. Here, we use advanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques (ultrafast magic-angle spinning, variable temperature quadrupolar NMR, and two dimensional phase adjusted spinning sidebands experiments) to probe the phase chemistry and structural transformations that occur during electrochemical cycling to begin to understand the processes that are responsible for capacity fade in phosphorus anodes in Na-ion batteries. The insights gained from this work should help to guide the design and formulation of electrode materials used in next generation electrochemical energy storage devices.
At some point in evolutionary history, our ancestors came to understand, as no animal does, that death brings to an end a person’s bodily and mental presence in the world. But a potentially devastating consequence was that individuals, when experiencing physical or mental pain, might deliberately choose this outcome for themselves. Suicide has in fact become an alarmingly common trait, responsible for more deaths today than war and homicide combined. In this talk I shall ask what this means for human biological fitness. While some suicides are arguably adaptive, the majority are clearly maladaptive. Nonetheless the trait has been able to take hold because the suicide meme – to which humans have no natural immunity – easily infects vulnerable minds and is highly contagious.
In this talk, I will discuss some of my PhD and my PostDoc work on multimodal driver displays, autonomous car handovers, and inclusiveness. During my PhD, I investigated the utility of multimodal driver displays, meaning multisensory ways to alert drivers about events on the road, using audio, vibration, and visual cues. I studied the effectiveness of such displays in both manual and autonomous driving scenarios, and found that they can help people to recognise the urgency of the situation signified. My fascination for this topic, as well as the fact that autonomous cars are quickly becoming a reality, led me to pursue research in autonomous cars also in my PostDoc. I am currently working at the Department of Engineering, Engineering-Design Centre, as part of the project Human Interaction: Designing Autonomy in Vehicles, funded by EPSRC and Jaguar-Land Rover. The focus of the project is to design inclusive interfaces for autonomous cars, meaning interfaces that most people (and not only highly technical and highly capable people) are likely to find useful. A particularly critical part of the interaction between the car and the driver in autonomous cars, are the transitions between manual and autonomous modes, called handovers of control. Through an iterative design cycle, involving questionnaires, focus groups, and design workshops, we created a set of design concepts to assist these handovers. We then designed a set of dialogue interactions for this transition, and evaluated them with an inclusive user group in an autonomous car simulator. We revealed the potential of using our dialogue-based concepts for handovers, and are now improving them based on our findings, expecting to test them on a test track and on the road in the coming years.
In my talk I discuss my current book project _Producing Vijñān in Colonial North India, c. 1890-1950_, which brings together histories of knowledge, science and linguistic nationalism to examine the role of language and translation in the global circulations of scientific discourse.
One of the several research projects Tom is currently pursuing is assessing the influence of the UK on the development of state security sectors in the Global South - in particular but not exclusively the Commonwealth - through training, equipment and other forms of assistance since 1945. This is intended to better inform understanding of, on the one hand, the UK’s post-colonial legacies and foreign policy and, on the other, contemporary debates regarding upstream conflict prevention, human rights, and security sector reform why security sectors develop in similar and different ways. This talk will present preliminary findings from one case area of the project: Cold War Southeast Asia, placing it in the context of British overseas security assistance and foreign policy across the Global South in this era.
In the last decades, there has been a rapid demographic shift, where populations in both developing and developed countries live far longer. Although an indication of medical advances and overall improved health, an increase in lifespan comes with great costs too. Individuals over the age of 65 have an increased chance of developing dementias and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and the chances increase every year. Despite numerous clinical trials and funds invested in testing for new cures and treatments, nothing has yet been found. These diseases, which are still incurable, progressive and eventually fatal, currently represent a tremendous burden on our social systems, as well as the patients’ and their families’ lives. The primary reason why no significant development in treating these conditions has occurred is that we do not really understand their molecular origins. In the Centre for Misfolding diseases we have been working to develop a ‘gene signature’ for such conditions, which will provide us with a tool to gain insight and allow us to recapitulate these diseases, which will test our fundamental understanding of their causes, as well as enabling effective drug discovery programs to be carried out.