Thursday, 24 March 2016

Ten more non-work-related items that may interest you

Six things you didn’t know about light
via OUP Blog by Ian Walmsley

Light occupies a central place in our understanding of the world both as a means by which we locate ourselves in nature and as a thing that inspires our imagination. Light is what enables us to see things, and thus to navigate our surroundings. It is also a primary means by which we learn about the world – light beams carry information about the constituents of the universe, from distant stars and galaxies to the cells in our bodies to individual atoms and molecules. The impact of light on the modern world is immense, and often unrealized. For this reason, 2015 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Light – a celebration of light and what is made possible by it.
Continue reading

Clamshell Coupe: 1924
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Clamshell Coupe: 1924
San Francisco circa 1924
“New Reo Six, Pacific Heights”
We’ll bet that house is finished by now
5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin
View original post

What the stories of Reynard tell us about ourselves
via 3 Quarks Daily: Joan Acocella at The New Yorker
Writers aiming to tell us about human life have often done so under cover of telling us about animals. Animals are fun – they have feathers and fangs, they live in trees and holes – and they seem to us simpler than we are, so that, by using them, we can make our points cleaner and faster. With Madame Bovary, you pretty much have to say who her parents were. With SpongeBob, you don’t, and this keeps the story moving. Most important, the use of animals to stand in for human beings creates a fertile ambiguity. We know that the author is not proposing a one-for-one equivalence between human and nonhuman life, but some kinship is certainly being suggested. Think of Swift’s Houyhnhnms, trotting down the road, their withers shining in the sun, saying sober, passionless things to Gulliver. How beautiful they are, and how creepy. Animal narratives have allowed writers with lessons on their mind to make art rather than just lessons.
Continue reading

All Roads: a cool self-working card trick
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

Futility Closet posted a how-to for this neat mathematical card trick by New York magician Henry Christ. It's called All Roads.
Brilliant mathematics

Like a Rolling Stone: Was 1965 the Most Revolutionary Year in Music?
via Big Think by Bob Duggan
What do “Yesterday”, “Satisfaction”, “My Generation”, “The Sound of Silence”, “California Girls”, and “Like a Rolling Stone” all have in common?
They were all hits in 1965, the year author Andrew Grant Jackson calls “the most revolutionary year in music”. In 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music, Jackson weaves a fascinating narrative of how popular music and social change influenced one another to create a year memorable not only for great music, but also for great progress in American culture. In this whirlwind tour of multiple genres of music as well as multiple pressing political issues, Jackson states a compelling case for 1965 as a key turning point in American music and society as well as provides a mirror for how music and society interact today, 50 years later.
Continue reading

Meeting and mating with Neanderthals: good and bad genes
via OUP Blog by Eugene E. Harris
DNA RESIZED 3080247531_561d88e2e7_o
Analyses of Neanderthal genomes indicate that when anatomically modern humans ventured out of Africa around 50,000 years ago, they met and mated with Neanderthals, probably in regions of the Eastern Mediterranean. We know that Neanderthals inhabited regions of Eurasia during the recent ice ages for a period of over 200,000 years and finally became extinct around 40,000 to 35,000 years ago. Today, when we examine the genomes of Europeans and Asians, we find that about 2% of their genomes consist of Neanderthal fragments. Africans either do not have or have very small percentages of Neanderthal DNA, probably due to limited interbreeding between Eurasian peoples and Africans in more recent times.
Continue reading

Emotional Intelligence Is Great, Until It’s Misused
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Emotional intelligence, i.e., the balancing of raw intelligence with emotional awareness, is a double-edged sword: It helps us empathise with others and avoid common misunderstandings that result in hurt feelings, but in the wrong hands, it can become a tool of manipulation.
Continue reading

Depictions of insanity through history
via 3 Quarks Daily: Andrew Scull at The Paris Review
Modern psychiatry seems determined to rob madness of its meanings, insisting that its depredations can be reduced to biology and nothing but biology. One must doubt it. The social and cultural dimensions of mental disorders, so indispensable a part of the story of madness and civilization over the centuries, are unlikely to melt away, or to prove no more than an epiphenomenal feature of so universal a feature of human existence. Madness indeed has its meanings, elusive and evanescent as our attempts to capture them have been.
Continue reading

The sea is pretty dangerous for baby jellyfish
via Boing Boing by Leigh Alexander
I might have a Thing about games featuring the frequent deaths of cute marine life, but here is another one: Jelly Reef, a game about guiding baby jellyfish by creating swirling currents in the sea with your fingertips. It’s soothing, until you realize all kinds of things will kill your jellies.
Continue reading it looks like fun!

Science and serendipity: famous accidental discoveries
via 3 Quarks Daily: Samira Shackle in New Hummanist
Perhaps the most famous accidental discovery of all is penicillin, a group of antibiotics used to combat bacterial infections. In 1928, Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming took a break from his lab work investigating staphylococci and went on holiday. When he returned, he found that one Petri dish had been left open, and a blue-green mould had formed. This fungus had killed off all surrounding bacteria in the culture. The mould contained a powerful antibiotic, penicillin, that could kill harmful bacteria without having a toxic effect on the human body. At the time, Fleming’s findings didn’t garner much scientific attention. In fact, it took another decade before this drug was available for use in humans. Retrospectively, Fleming’s chance discovery has been credited as the moment when modern medicine was born.
Continue reading

No comments: