2017

Jurisdictional Rivalries between Company and State

This contribution to the research theme Crossing Borders, centres on two questions posed explicitly by the subtheme, Boundaries and Legal Authority in a Global Context. The first is how to understand in normative and conceptual terms, the changing capacity of the state to regulate (in the face of) cross-border activity, and the second is the … [Read more]

“Dementia: a growing problem in South Africa and the world”

Prosperous people live longer and old age carries a high risk of dementia, a condition that is so far neither preventable nor curable. The trend of incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, is increasing all over the world. When AD is consolidated with other dementias with similar clinical profiles, it … [Read more]

Global Citizenship and the Practice of Being Human. South African Visions and the legacy of Enlightenment

This project addresses the idea of global citizenship and common humanity in South Africa today. These ideas were powerful in Enlightenment Europe, where they promised a new regime of justice in opposition to despotism, exploitation, and slavery. But they were also highly problematic, since they tended to obscure cultural difference and impose European values on … [Read more]

Scaling the drivers and consequences of biodiversity change

Biological diversity is intrinsically scale-dependent, and understanding its scaling properties may help us better manage and conserve it. Factors such as invasive alien species, climate change or habitat fragmentation can have strikingly different effects on local diversity and on coarser-scale (regional or global) diversity, and indeed it may be possible to deduce the drivers of … [Read more]

Climate Change and the Emerging Disease Crisis: An Existential Threat to Technological Humanity

The emerging infectious disease (EID) crisis encompasses all pathogens affecting humans and the species upon which we depend for survival and socio-economic development. It constitutes an existential threat of global proportions. Humanity is playing a losing game with respect to emerging diseases. The Stockholm Paradigm is a new conceptual framework that explains the surprising ease … [Read more]

The Functional Structure of Brain Asymmetries: A Unified Theory

Hemispheric asymmetries play an important role in almost all cognitive functions. Despite this tremendous relevance, our understanding of the neurobiological fundaments of lateralization is just in its infancy. In the last decade I tried to streamline my research on bird and human asymmetries such that overlapping phenomena were studied with diverse neuroscientific methods in both … [Read more]

Controlling Landscapes and Bodies

During my time at STIAS I will collaborate with Stellenbosch and Cape Town faculty in both the humanities and the sciences to look at the positioning and chronology of Egyptian rock art in the Eastern Sahara in order to establish whether the animal or human images shown reflect changes in the environment and how it … [Read more]

Life in the transients

This project will explore a new theory of adaptation that I have termed Life in the Transients (LIT). In a nutshell, LIT argues that the theory of open thermodynamic systems has significant implications for how we think about life, adaptation and evolution. These are largely unexplored, largely because we do not have a good idea … [Read more]

Reservoir computing of (African) bird song

South Africa is one of the top destinations in the world for bird watching. From the total of about 10000 of bird species,850 species are to be found here. Kwazulu-­Natal in particular is one of the richest regions supporting a wide array of different birds, while the Western Cape is another very popular destination. Bird … [Read more]

The scorpion chemosensory organs (project 1) & Biological contexts of pain perception and suffering in experimental animals (project 2)

1. The scorpion chemosensory organs have a number of unusual properties, making them an intriguing research object for neurobiologists. First, the scorpion pectines are not located on the head like the noses or antennae of most animals but rather on the ventral side of the abdomen in close proximity to the substrate. Second, the pectines … [Read more]