Anonymous said: Would you know, where the water flows, where the beehive grows, when the moonbeams show? Could you tell, if the shoe fits well, if the ego swells, if we were living in hell? Should you say, if it feels like rain, when the clouds go grey, and the head doth ache? The simple things are these, wouldn't matter much to me, what the world may do or say, I still love you anyway.

/Swoon/

jtotheizzoe:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Answers the Big Enchilada Question, “Does the Universe Have a Purpose?”

To say that the universe has a purpose implies that there is a destination or a goal. If that purpose exists, it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with us, the Johnny-come-latelys of the human race. Does the universe have a purpose? There’s a heck of a case to be made that it doesn’t. 

But don’t despair in that view. Purpose or not, we are here, and we can discover our place in the larger extent of the cosmos even if we can’t fully describe why it’s all here.

Narrated by the great Neil deGrasse Tyson for the Templeton Foundation, and animated by Henry from MinutePhysics, this is one of the greatest things you’ll watch all week.

(via Open Culture)

(via absurdlakefront)

artandsciencejournal:


Biofilms

Bacteria, just by the sheer fact that they duplicate very quickly, and because safety is mostly in numbers, tend to form what are called biofilms. But biofilms aren’t quite just an aggregate of cells. These cells adhere to each other and to the surface, and produce an extracellular substance containing extracellular DNA, proteins and polysaccharides, that are going to act as a protective and adhesive layer. Some biofilms have even been found to contain channels to help distribute nutrients and signalling molecules.

So bacteria may well be able to survive on their own, but they are also able to intelligently organize their mass when difficult times arise, and we’re just beginning to see which dangers this can hold. To show these organization skills, researchers have tagged differents lineages of Bacillus subtilis — rod shaped bacteria commonly found in soil —  with distinct fluorescent proteins (TagRFP-T, sfGFP, TagBFP, mKate2 and mOrange2). They then mixed the cells randomly on a petri dish. By looking at the culture with a confocal microscope, they can detect the different colors used to tag the cells. Surprisingly, what should be a random mix of colors actually looks like an incredible painting, full of discernible streaks. Indeed, as the bacteria grew, they were found to organize themselves into patterns, reproduciblepatterns that can be predicted with mathematical models (Computational Modeling of Synthetic Microbial Biofilms, ACS Synthetic Biology). Therefore is looks like bacteria can arrange themselves so that the biofilm is divided in regions where cells exhibit different patterns of gene expression, to increase both their metabolic efficiency and their resistance to changes in their local environment.

The study of biofilms has skyrocketed in recent years due to the increased awareness of its efficiency and its effect on natural, industrial systems and human health. And it is far from over.

Photo credit: Fernan Federici, Tim Rudge, PJ Steiner and Jim Haseloff,  Haseloff Lab, University of Cambridge
This beautiful work was one of the winners in this 2012 Wellcome Image Awards

- Agathe of Frontal Cortex

artandsciencejournal:

Biofilms


Bacteria, just by the sheer fact that they duplicate very quickly, and because safety is mostly in numbers, tend to form what are called biofilms. But biofilms aren’t quite just an aggregate of cells. These cells adhere to each other and to the surface, and produce an extracellular substance containing extracellular DNA, proteins and polysaccharides, that are going to act as a protective and adhesive layer. Some biofilms have even been found to contain channels to help distribute nutrients and signalling molecules.


So bacteria may well be able to survive on their own, but they are also able to intelligently organize their mass when difficult times arise, and we’re just beginning to see which dangers this can hold. To show these organization skills, researchers have tagged differents lineages of Bacillus subtilis — rod shaped bacteria commonly found in soil —  with distinct fluorescent proteins (TagRFP-T, sfGFP, TagBFP, mKate2 and mOrange2). They then mixed the cells randomly on a petri dish. By looking at the culture with a confocal microscope, they can detect the different colors used to tag the cells. Surprisingly, what should be a random mix of colors actually looks like an incredible painting, full of discernible streaks. Indeed, as the bacteria grew, they were found to organize themselves into patterns, reproduciblepatterns that can be predicted with mathematical models (Computational Modeling of Synthetic Microbial Biofilms, ACS Synthetic Biology). Therefore is looks like bacteria can arrange themselves so that the biofilm is divided in regions where cells exhibit different patterns of gene expression, to increase both their metabolic efficiency and their resistance to changes in their local environment.


The study of biofilms has skyrocketed in recent years due to the increased awareness of its efficiency and its effect on natural, industrial systems and human health. And it is far from over.


Photo credit: Fernan Federici, Tim Rudge, PJ Steiner and Jim Haseloff,  Haseloff Lab, University of Cambridge

This beautiful work was one of the winners in this 2012 Wellcome Image Awards

(via quantumaniac)

victoriousvocabulary:

PANOPHOBIA
[noun]
1. a nonspecific fear, a state of general anxiety.
2. an abnormal fear of everything.
3. melancholia marked by groundless fears.
[Dario Puggioni]

victoriousvocabulary:

PANOPHOBIA

[noun]

1. a nonspecific fear, a state of general anxiety.

2. an abnormal fear of everything.

3. melancholia marked by groundless fears.

[Dario Puggioni]

(Source: urhajos)

The Princess Royal has unveiled a sculpture of Noor Inayat Khan, a WWII agent dubbed the “Spy Princess” by her biographer Shrabani Basu, in London’s Gordon Square Gardens.

Raised in Britain and France and a descendant of Indian royalty, bilingual Noor Inayat Khan was recruited by the elite Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1942 to work in Paris as a radio operator.

Records from the national archives show she was the first female wireless operator sent to Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

After evading capture for three months, the spy was imprisoned, tortured and eventually shot by the German Gestapo at Dachau concentration camp in 1944.

Her final word - uttered as the German firing squad raised their weapons - was simple. “Liberté”.

Liberty was a notion the pacificist-turned-war-heroine held deeply, according to Ms Basu.

For her bravery, she was posthumously awarded the George Cross. In France she was honoured with the Croix de Guerre, and later with two memorials and an annual ceremony marking her death.

Brave, glamorous and both sensitive and formidable, it is said she acted not out of a love for Britain, but out of an aversion to fascism and dictatorial rule.

Her father was a musician and Sufi teacher, and Noor Inayat Khan was raised with strong principles and believed in religious tolerance and non-violence.

Ms Basu claims she “couldn’t bear to see an occupied country”, a notion that seems to run in her family.

Noor Inayat Khan’s great-great-great-grandfather was Tipu Sultan, an 18th century Muslim ruler of Mysore. He refused to submit to British rule and was killed in battle in 1799.

Born on 1 January 1914 in Russia to an Indian father and American mother, the agent’s infancy was spent in London.

The family moved to France when she was a child and lived in Paris, where she was educated and learnt fluent French.

The national archives describe how the sensitive young woman studied both medicine and music.

In 1939 the Twenty Jataka Tales, a collection of traditional Indian children’s stories she had retold, were published in Le Figaro.

When war broke out in 1939, Noor Inayat Khan trained as a nurse with the French Red Cross.

She fled the country just before the government surrendered to Germany in November 1940, escaping by boat to England with her mother and sister.

Shortly after arriving in the UK, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) as a wireless operator and soon caught the attention of recruiters from the SOE.

Also known at the time as Nora Baker, Khan joined the elite spy squad in 1942.

She was deployed to France a short time later despite an SOE training report describing her as “not over-burdened with brains” and “unsuited to work in her field”.

Codenamed “Madeleine”, she joined others in the resistance network Prosper, famously tasked by then Prime Minister Winston Churchill to “set Europe ablaze”.

Despite suspicions that the network had been infiltrated by a Nazi spy, Khan refused to return to Britain, risking arrest by the Gestapo.

Ms Basu - who spent eight years researching her life - told the BBC: “She was this gentle writer of children’s stories, a musician, but she was transformed. She was a tigress in the field.”

With her team gradually captured by the Gestapo, Noor Inayat Khan continued for as long as possible to send intercepted radio messages back to England.

Despite her commanders urging her to return to England, she single-handedly ran a cell of spies across Paris for three more months, frequently changing her appearance and alias.

Eventually, she was betrayed, arrested and imprisoned. She was sent to Pforzheim prison in Germany where she was kept shackled and in solitary confinement.

She refused to reveal any information, despite 10 months of repeated beatings, starvation and torture by her Nazi captors.

Her fortitude - and two escape attempts - led her captors to brand her “highly dangerous”, despite her pacifist upbringing.

In September 1944, she and three other female SOE agents were transferred to Dachau concentration camp where on 13 September they were shot and killed.

Ms Basu has described her life as “inspirational”, and said the modern world can draw lessons from the story of Noor Inayat Khan.

She said: “For her to come into this world on the front line taking on the Gestapo, showed her inner strength and her courage, her immense courage and resilience.

“It’s very inspiring, especially given the the troubled times that we live in. It is important to remember these qualities and values.

“Two and a half million Indians volunteered for the war effort and it was the largest single volunteer army.

“I think we must not forget their contribution. Noor was part of this.”

(via lord-kitschener)

myampgoesto11:

Vincent Fournier’s photo journalistic series ‘The Man Machine’ explores developing robotic technology from around the world. Click the photos for more information. 

(also check out ‘Space Project’ posted earlier this week)

(via quantumaniac)

victoriousvocabulary:

SINUOUS

[adjective]

1. having many curves, bends, or turns; winding.

2. lithe and supple, as a body.

3. elongated, long and curving, as a body.

4. indirect; devious.

5. characterised by a series of graceful curving motions.

6. Botany: sinuate, as a leaf.

[Andy Kehoe]

The physics of the weird geometries of the corpse city of R’lyeh

iheartchaos:

Most people who read Lovecraft admire his prose and his ability to reach the darkest corners of the human mind and mythology, not so much as to the real world mathematical and physical properties of his nightmarescapes. But then, you’re probably not theoretical physicist Benjamin K. Tippett, who just  paper called “Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific,” which analyzes the account of Gustaf Johansen, the author of the manuscript embedded in HP Lovecraft’s story The Call of Cthulhu, and tries to account for the weird geometries that hide “the corpse city of R’lyeh.”

Read More

septagonstudios:

Nicolai Troshinsky

septagonstudios:

Nicolai Troshinsky

“The Flynn effect does not reflect gains in general intelligence, it reflects a shift to more abstract thinking brought about by a changing social environment. We aren’t getting smarter; we are getting more modern.”

In the mid-’80s, the political philosopher James Flynn noticed a remarkable but puzzling trend: for the past century, average IQ scores in every industrialized nation have been steadily rising. And not just a little: nearly three points every decade. Every several years, IQ tests test have to be “re-normed” so that the average remains 100. This means that a person who scored 100 a century ago would score 70 today; a person who tested as average a century ago would today be declared mentally retarded.

This bizarre finding—christened the “Flynn effect” by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray inThe Bell Curve—has since snowballed so much supporting evidence that in 2007 Malcolm Gladwell declared in The New Yorker that “the Flynn effect has moved from theory to fact.” But researchers still cannot agree on why scores are going up. Are we are simply getting better at taking tests? Are the tests themselves a poor measure of intelligence? Or do rising IQ scores really mean we are getting smarter?

In spite of his new book’s title, Flynn does not suggest a simple yes or no to this last question. It turns out that the greatest gains have taken place in subtests that measure abstract reasoning and pattern recognition, while subtests that depend more on previous knowledge show the lowest score increases. This imbalance may not reflect an increase in general intelligence, Flynn argues, but a shift in particular habits of mind. The question is not, why are we getting smarter, but the much less catchy, why are we getting better at abstract reasoning and little else?

Flynn starts from a position that accepts the idea of IQ—a measure that supposedly reflects an underlying “general” intelligence. Some researchers have objected to this concept in part because of its circular definition: psychologists measure general intelligence by analyzing correlation patterns among multiple intelligence tests; someone with greater general intelligence will perform better on all these subtests. But although he does not quibble with the premise, Flynn argues that an increase in general intelligence is not the full story when it comes to the past century’s massive score gains.

If we were really getting smarter overall, scores should be going up across all the subtests, but that is not the case. To understand the score gains, then, we need to set aside issues of general intelligence and instead analyze patterns on the IQ subtests. Doing so opens a window into cognitive trends over time and reveals a far more interesting picture of what may be happening to our minds. This inquiry is at the heart of Flynn’s thirty-year career, and it drives his thoughtful (though occasionally tedious) book.

As Flynn demonstrates, a typical IQ test question on the abstract reasoning “Similarities” subtest might ask “How are dogs and rabbits alike?” While our grandparents were more likely to say something along the lines of “Dogs are used to hunt rabbits,” today we are more likely to say the “correct” answer, “Dogs and rabbits are both mammals.” Our grandparents were more likely to see the world in concrete, utilitarian terms (dogs hunt rabbits), but today we are more likely to think in abstractions (the category of “mammal”). In contrast, the Arithmetic IQ subtest and the Vocabulary IQ subtest—tests that rely on previous knowledge—show hardly any score increase at all.

Why has this happened? The short answer, according to Flynn, is that a convergence of diverse social factors in post-industrial societies—from the emphasis of scientific reasoning in school to the complexity of modern video games—has increasingly demanded abstract thinking. We have begun to see the world, Flynn says, through “scientific spectacles.” To put it even more broadly, the pattern of rising IQ scores does not mean that we are comparing “a worse mind with a better one,” but rather that we are comparing minds that “were adapted to one cognitive environment with those whose minds are adapted to another cognitive environment.” Seen in this light, the Flynn effect does not reflect gains in general intelligence, it reflects a shift to more abstract thinking brought about by a changing social environment. We aren’t getting smarter; we are getting more modern.

(Source: sunrec, via absurdlakefront)