Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Yakovlevian Torque (wikipedia.org)
88 points by bookofjoe on Nov 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments

What's torquing my brain is that in the diagram, the left is on the right, and the right is on the left!

Left and right are defined from “1st person’s perspective”, but that’s not how medics typically look at their patients. When a doctor looks a patient in the eye, the left is on the right, and the right is on the left.

That’s why many medical illustrations have the left on the right and vice versa (examples: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomical_terminology#/media/..., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_notation)

Isn’t this also why the terms SX and DX are used (from the Latin Sinister and Dexter, for Left and Right) respectively - because they always unambiguously refer to the subject/patient’s left and right?

Same with port and starboard on a ship.

Or "stage right" and "stage left."

Or rive gauche and rive droite ,at least in french, as you flow in a river.

It is looked at from below... Strange.

Below and in front. Like you were looking at the underneath of a hat you were about to put on someone else, not on yourself.

Also, if you look at it as bottom as front, the description doesn't match. The left side is slightly forward to the right, contrary to the article.

YES! I spent about 10 minutes trying to visualize the diagram as correct before I gave up. In my case, I just thought I wasn't looking at it correctly.

Must be a cranial view (toward the top of the head from the bottom).

I was curious whether it ever torques the other direction in individuals, and came across a claimed link between inverted torque and stuttering: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537737/

I wish the article would talk about the consequences of this. For example, does this make left-handed people more "left-handed"?

Yes! Tantalising, but short on details. Some more insight into hypothetical causes, and generally much more information:


Recent morphometry studies have consistently found handedness-related effects on the extent of the torque, mainly due to differences in the anatomy of frontal regions.

What causes the torque? Does it have to do with blood pressure being slightly higher on the heart's side of the body or something like that?

Given that the rostral (head) end of the neural tube literally bends inward (cephalic flexure) as it grows into the enclosed space of the head to later become the brain, and that the tip is also attached to a clump of cells that will become the heart (cardiac anlage) which is also migrating downwards with the tip of the neural tube and to the left side of the chest, it is altogether unsurprising that the brain should be slightly pulled to the left.

The articles doesn't indicate if research is sufficiently advanced to have established the time that torquing occurs but given that it's associated strongly with handedness, it seems reasonable to consider it likely that the torquing develops during the stage of increase neural plasticity during normal childhood development. I wonder if the torque balances out if a person later develops ambidextrousness.

Is this observed only in humans? I'd like to find out if it's just a human thing or more general like in all mammals

I just edited the article to explain that. It is well observed in modern-humans and fossil hominids. There's evidence that it is observed in other primates, including great apes and monkeys, but the evidence is conflicting; so probably it exists in other primates, but to a lesser degree. It is not believed to extend beyond the primates.

is this a pathology? the wikipedia article doesn't make it clear.

No. The pathology is if the torque is in the reverse direction (as someone else mentioned in comments, the result is a stutter).

Why is the diagram "exaggerated"? If the physiology is not that obvious maybe the significance isn't either.

It's pretty obvious on CT scans: http://i.imgur.com/hKZqJUO.png -- and here I've been thinking I had a weirdly lopsided brain for 8 years!

I've seen quite a few MRI scans, that's pretty heavily lopsided

may I ask why you got a CT scan? sorry if that's too personal, just curious.

If you look at a picture of Albert Einstein's brain it looks like something similar.

Goes to show how stupid the convention of naming scientific terms after people is. The name "Yakolevian Torque" is not at all descriptive of what the phenomenon is, is hard to spell, and is hard to pronounce. You could say that it's to honor the discoverer but for a natural phenomenon does it really matter who discovered it first given that its a property of reality itself that holds true regardless of who discovered it.

Besides that, many such phenomenon by their nature are discovered simultaneously by multiple people, making their naming by this convention a point of unnecessary political contention.

Naming scientific terms after people also creates an unnecessary barrier to international collaboration. Although scientific terms are usually the most easy terms to translate given the universality of the topic on hand, proper names are usually the most difficult to translate terms from any given language to any other language due to their lack of semantic meaning and therefore the requirement for transliteration, which in most cases is a lossy process. For any given language and English, there are often many different transliteration schemes, making it difficult for even someone who speaks both languages to find the spelling that has been converged upon in English.

The previous point basically nullifies any notion that naming a scientific term after a person honors that person, since it is very likely that it results in their name being butchered across multiple languages, often in egregious ways bordering on offensive.

Well, it's not strictly a bad idea to name it by some unique name if it turns out to be the case that another, better, more rigorous theory or set of observations is developed about the cause and range/extent of morphologies associated with the torque that makes the concept of Yakolevian Torque obsolete.

If the concept of Yakolevian Torque becomes obselete we'll just stop referring to it regardless of how it's named. If it only needs to be updated in a way that obseletes the older descriptional name we can just give it a newer more apt descriptional name.

Kind of like Newtonian mechanics?

You mean Classical Mechanics? Plus your example doesn't make sense because the term "Newtonian Mechanics" was likely coined only after Relativistic Mechanics were discovered[0][1], Newton himself referred to it as "Natural Philosophy". In addition "Newtonian Mechanics" isn't even the preferred name, Wikipedia refers to it as "Classical Mechanics"[2] while the Webster's definition of "Newtonian Mechanics"[3] is just the words "Classical Mechanics", which themselves have a much longer entry[4]. The fact that we do not in fact refer to "Classical Mechanics" as "Philosophiae Naturalis" actually supports my point: as our understanding of Physics improved we renamed the field, with older concepts/terms falling out of use and being renamed when they are reused.

[0] https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Newtonian+Mech...

[1] https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Natural+Philos...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Newtonian_Mechani...

[3] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Newtonian%20mecha...

[4] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/classical%20mecha...

Crazy how you knew exactly what I was talking about.

Can you elaborate? I'm not sure what you're getting at. I never claimed that you can't use an arbitrary name to convey information. You can call it Classical Mechanics "gleeebnok" and people will understand you long as they can look up "gleeebnok" but that doesn't mean it's not a dumb name.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact