Friday, January 31, 2014

Max Born, on receiving the 1954 Nobel Prize for Quantum Mechanics and the statistical interpretation of the Wave Function . . .

Max Born (1882–1970) 
 (Link (wiki))
Max Born reflecting on the philosophical implications of "Quantum Mechanics and the statistical interpretation of the Wave Function" (His Nobel Prize lecture, 1954):
"I believe that ideas such as absolute certitude, absolute exactness, final truth, etc. are figments of the imagination which should not be admissible in any field of science. On the other hand, any assertion of probability is either right or wrong from the standpoint of the theory on which it is based. This loosening of thinking (Lockerung des Denkens) seems to me to be the greatest blessing which modern science has given to us. For the belief in a single truth and in being the possessor thereof is the root cause of all evil in the world."
Related Paper:

Paleoanthropology: Homo erectus and the Limits of a Paleontological Species

Related Posts on this blog:

Fertile Crescent Components Do the Wilson Wakeley Model
Note that in this post "Fertile Crescent Components Do the Wilson . . .", the components are normalized in order to meet the normalization condition of the probability density function.  In order to "operate" on population components, the components must be normalized.

Outmoded Metaphor
In this post, I mention that "To start with, statistically speaking, there will never be a clear horizon for humanness."  I add here that humanness could only ever be formulated in terms of the space-time statistics for multiple hominin characteristics.

Mesolithic Western European Hunter Gatherers Partly Descended
from Upper Paleolithic Reindeer Hunters
In this posts, "West Asian", "Northern European" and "South European" components are arranged by major component.  Because all ten of the components (entire population) are shown in the plots, the components are inherently normalized.  Thus, it is correct to "operate" on the data. 
Several "operations" are interesting:
        1.  Deconvolution of the "West Asian" component from the dataset.
        2.  Deconvolution of the "South European" component from 1.

In "1", the effect is to shift the populations to the west.   In "2", the effect is to shift populations to the north.

Update (February 1, 2014):
This post is a good example of the power of normalization on specific population components in order to focus on specific gene flow processes:
Westward Across the Asian Steppe; Southward Through the Himalayas.
In fact, having now found a good map that shows topology, I would instead name this post something like "North-South Bi-directional Gene Flow by way of Western Afghanistan".  Here's the plot:

                     1:  Chuvash
                     2:  Lezgins
                     3:  Sindhi
                     4:  Adygei
                     5:  Pathan
                     6:  Turks
                     7:  Syrians
                     8:  Romanians
                     9:  Jordanians
                   10:  Ashkenazis
                   11:  Uygurs
                   12:  Burusho
                   13:  North Kannadi
                   14:  Gujarati
The analysis focuses on an apparent pattern presented by two components:  "East Asian" (lime) and "Northeast Asian" (turquoise), shown at the bottom of the plot, above.  These two components are normalized and then arranged in order to show the obviously correlated distributions indicating bi-rectional gene flow between Russia and  India.  These populations also have quite a lot of "Northern European" ancestry.  However, there does not seem to be a correlation of the "Northern European" component distribution with the joint distribution of the other two components.  Therefore, it is not included in the normalization.  The fact that the "Northern European" component distribution is not correlated would indicate that the arrival of the "North European" component post-dates the normalized north-south bidirectional gene flow process occurring through western Afghanistan.
Update (February 2, 2014):  Suggested Reading:
Decoherence and the Transition from Quantum to Classical - Revisited
Wojciech H. Zurek


  1. Marnie, Amazing how Max Born's probabilistic interpretation could apply to phylogenetics and phylogeography! I really liked how you applied the Wilson Wakeley model to autosomal admixture data to find probable geographic origins of the three Near Eastern/Mediterranean/Caucasus components. How do you deconvolve components from the dataset? Is it a spatial deconvolution, like a kind of regression analysis?

  2. I have not up to this point numerically deconvolved these components. I'm just discussing a possible theoretical basis for deconvolution of population subcomponents.

    "Is it is spatial deconvolution, like a kind of regression analysis?"

    In quantum mechanics, you can work in vector space. For three dimensional space + time, it is common to use something called a 4-vector. Higher dimensions are possible.

  3. Thanks, Marnie, I now understand it better. I like your re-posting of the normalized East Asian vs. Northeast Asian components. I see the power of normalizing to tease apart relative degrees of migration. I never noticed the East Asian component in the Indian subcontinent. From a history of religion perspective, I've often wondered about the similarities between yoga (the later forms in India in the past millennium) and religious Daoism. Both offer models of life-energy (qi and prana) and have similar meditation techniques. Perhaps there was an ancient migration from East Asia to India bearing a common spiritual substrate. I agree with you that the NE Asian component seems like a widespread series of Central Asian migrations.

  4. Roy,

    if you look at the post I did called "Mesolithic Western European Hunter Gatherers Partly Descended from Upper Paleolithic Reindeer Hunters", you can see that the "North European" component. I make this observation about the "North European" component:


    "Note that no "Scandinavian Hunter Gatherers [North Europeans]" reached Sardinia. This is likely because the sea depth between Corsica and Sardinia is 100 meters. Before the Last Glacial Maximum, the only other time that the sea level fell this low was 65,000 years ago, before modern humans reached Europe. Therefore, Upper Palaeolithic Hunter Gatherers could only have reached Sardinia by boat, which it appears did not happen. Instead, "Early European Farmers [South Europeans]" reached Sardinia. A likely time was when the sea level briefly dipped to -120 meters approximately 25,000 years ago.

    "Also of note in this plot is that the Chuvash population has no "Early European Farmer [South European]" ancestry. This tells us that at one point, probably before the Last Glacial Maximum, "Scandanavian Hunter Gatherers [North Europeans]" had not yet mixed with "Early European Farmers [South Europeans]".

    Based on the above observations, I assert that the "North European" component is associated Western Europe. It's appearance in Western Europe likely predates the LGM (approximately 26kya).

    The nexus of "North European" component is Northwest Europe.

    The "North European" component also appears rather loosely in populations of Eastern Europe and Asia, as shown in the above diagram. It's probalistic distribution is not clear.

    By comparison, in the above plot, there is a very clear distribution shown bidirectionally for the "East Asian" (lime) and "Northeast Asian" (turquoise). It appears, as discussed above, that the "North European" component is a superposition (occurs after) the "East Asian/Northeast Asian" gene flow process.

    Therefore, if the early "North European" component predates the LGM, the "East Asian/Northeast Asian" gene flow process is even older. It is probably quite a bit older, given its wide variance compared to other distributions.

  5. Sorry, "probalistic" should read "probabilistic".

  6. I would also note and emphasize the uncorrelated nature of the "North European" process with the "East Asian/Northeast Asian" process.

  7. Yeah--the East Asian component could be quite old in India. I'm thinking of the Tibeto-Burman language speakers in NE India. A Tibeto-Burman presence in India might have been more widespread and that could explain the similarities between Daoism which seems to have an origin from Southwest China and Hatha Yoga or even Tibetan Buddhism. Your argument that the North European component is very old, but spreads after the East Asian/Northeast Asian component makes sense.

  8. Roy, there's a beautiful garden at the University of British Columbia, the Nitobe Garden.

    You might find this website on it interesting:

  9. Marnie, What an incredibly beautiful and inspiring looking garden. There is so much to see in the world!

  10. My Dad was a UBC grad in forestry and very interested in landscaping and gardening . . . and his mother was an Olmsted, if it matters.

    My maternal grandmother was interested in this garden for a different reason: the garden commerates Inazo Nitobe, who was an Under-Secretary General of the League of Nations. My grandmother was involved with the push to develop the League of Nations and later the UN (through her connection with the United Church, which in Canada is unification of Presbyterians and Methodists.)

    Roy, I'm tired and I have to clean up my house. It's a total mess! Signing off for now.


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