St. Petersburg. 2

July 26, 2011 • 9:08 pm

There’s been absolutely no time for me to write as the meetings are keeping us busy from morning until late at night.  That said, they’ve been fun.  Talks during the day, a huge breakfast buffet in the hotel, and lunch and dinner at fancy restaurants.

Last night we had a wonderful 3-hour cruise up the Neva combined with a great dinner. I drank too much vodka, I fear, so I’m writing this under a bit of a fog.  We also saw a statue in the University courtyard to Pavlov’s CATS (I took a photo).  That, at least, is what we were told, although I didn’t know that Pavlov worked on cats.  Although he was indeed at St. Petersburg State University), I’m dubious, for I can’t imagine a cat being conditioned.  (“I’m not fricking salivating on cue!”). Perhaps an alert reader can ascertain whether this is true.

At lunchtime today they promised to take us to the University Museum, where, we’re told, resides the only stuffed mammoth in the world (I presume it’s one of the specimens preserved in permafrost.)

Tomorrow we have a half day at the Peterhof palace (see photo from my previous post), and I give the plenary lecture.  Then I’ll have four days on my own, and I hope to do some posting then.  Never fear, though—I’ve taken plenty of photos and if I can’t post a travelogue here, I’ll do it when I return. The statue to “Pavlov’s cats” is hilarious.
Thanks to Greg and Matthew for keeping things going.

UPDATE:  Yes, the cat statue is the one a reader posted in the comments below, and the reader is right: it has nothing to do with Pavlov. I now have the full story on that statue from a local physiologist, and will recount it when I do a proper posting.

23 thoughts on “St. Petersburg. 2

  1. Maybe your tail is being gently pulled Jerry ? Are you referring to a cat only or is Ivan Petrovich also in the tableau ?

    There’s a monument to Yelisei the cat in St. Piter. One is supposed to throw a coin at his feet for luck.

    He was an ace mouser during the heroic & epic WWII 900-day Siege of Leningrad when 5,000 cats were brought in from other cities to counter the health hazard posed by rats. The rats were also eating their way through mountains of supplies.

    1. From a student guide I note there’s a live music venue in St. Piter. called Cheshire Cat (Hippie & World music) @ 9 Ulitsa Lva Tolstogo Metro Petrogradskaya

      This is its 3rd address

  2. Sounds like you’re having fun, Professor Coyne! Please… PLEEEEEEZE get a photo or two of the mammoth, if you’re allowed to. That would be the cat’s meow, Pavlov or no Pavlov.

    Looking forward to more of your posts from Russia. Have a wodka or two for me!

    1. Not to worry, I took several pictures of the adult mammoth (amazing, and its penis is fully erect), three of baby mammoths (one fully furred) and mammoth skeletons and teeth. I may not be able to post much about Russia until I return, but you’ll see them all in good time.

          1. (*groaning*…perfectly dreadful :-))

            In line–waiting for photos! No hurry, though– no one should have to post after too much vodka;-)) Will there be food, too? (apart from the vodka…)

  3. Was there some (perhaps vodka-fueled) Russian folksong singing on the boat? That is my foremost pleasant memory from a Neva cruise.

  4. There was an experiment with cats in 1939 by F. L. Dimmick, N. Ludlow & A. Whiteman, A STUDY OF “EXPERIMENTAL NEUROSIS” IN CATS, Journal of Comparative Psychology, Vol 28(1), Aug 1939, 39-43. doi: 10.1037/h0058856
    I have the article up but here is where the abstract is –
    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/com/28/1/39/
    What this amounts to is a form of torture frankly.

      1. Nope, but it took me awhile to find a decent pic somewhere other than at one of the creationist outfits site. I gather the head is largely reconstructed. There was some heroic operation involving dogsleds to transport the remains in pieces thousands of miles south to a rail head.

  5. If it was this statue, your leg is being gently pulled, but it is still a science cat:

    http://www.oldpetersburg.com/monument-dedicated-to-cats.html

    By the way, if you are able to take a side trip to Moscow, you really should take in the Kuklachev Cat Theatre:

    http://www.moscow.info/children/kuklachev-cat-theater.aspx

    These are not cats haven’t been trained so much as they and the director have come to a mutual agreement on what sort of action they will perform, most of the time, according to their own artistic vision.

  6. Jerry: “I can’t imagine a cat being conditioned”

    Jerry, m’boy, you need to meet my cat Cuddles. If I have a bag of treatz in my bedroom and decide to give a few to her and her mother Gypsy, when Cuddles hears the rustle of the bag, she’s bingo! right there; her pupils dilate widely; she drools; and she paws frantically at you to get on with the handouts.

    Not very different in her intensity from a meth addict about to get a fix, I suppose.

    Now cat treatz are not, to my knowledge, laced with habit-forming drugs. Cuddles is clearly conditioned.

    1. Actually, even if your cat treatz were pure cracknip (that’s catnip in freebase form), it’s still a conditioned response.

      Drool in response to actual treatz- unconditioned.

      Drool in response to bag rustling – conditioned (ie. learned association between sound and treatz).

  7. Pavlov’s Cats sounds like something for a Monty Python routine. (That would be Bruce Pavlov, and one (or all?) of the cats was named Eric.)

  8. My friends, we say in Russia, “Pavlov’s dog” is on the dogs, he experimented with reflections.
    When the dog was given food – included a light bulb. After a while, just include a light bulb (not bring food), and saliva in the dog started to stand out.
    we can assume that Pavlov was at the forefront of NLP

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