i’m going to start a fashion line called FAKEGEEK and its sole purpose will be to produce tshirts that will piss off nerds
For the first time ever, a quadriplegic woman has used her thoughts to move a robotic hand across 10 degrees of freedom. The remarkable system allowed her to pick up a variety of objects, including skinny tubes and oddly shaped rocks.
There's no blue pigment present in the wings of the morpho butterfly. So where does that shimmering brilliant blue color come from? It's an instance of structural color, where the physical structure of the surface scatters or refracts only certain wavelengths of light...in this case, blue.
Eye color is another example of structural color in action. Eyes contain brown pigments but not blue. Blue, green, and hazel eyes are caused by Rayleigh scattering, the same phenomenon responsible for blue skies and red sunsets. Blue eyes and blue skies arise from the same optical process...that's almost poetic. (thx, jared)Tags: color physics science video
This is so powerful.
Si ves una nube de humo en forma de hongo de una explosión nuclear, apunta con el pulgar hacia arriba y si el hongo es mayor que tu dedo, debes evacuar debido a que te encuentras en la zona de exposición a la radiación.
Parenting is difficult. I don’t need to tell you this—those of you who face the challenge daily and hourly. Those of you who don’t have heard your friends—and your own parents—do enough complaining that you know, in theory at least, how raising humans is rough business all around. Paradoxically, there is no rulebook for parenting and there are hundreds of rulebooks for parenting, seemingly a new one published every day. In my admittedly limited experience as the parent of a young child, most such guides have diminishing returns next to the direct lessons learned in the fray, so to speak, through trial after trial and no small amount of error.
But we do benefit from the wisdom of others, especially those who record their experiments in child-rearing with the precision and thoughtfulness of Susan Sontag. In the list below, made by a 26-year-old Sontag in 1959, we see how the young mother of a then 7-year-old David Rieff approached the job. The son of Sontag and sociologist Philip Rieff (“pop,” below), whom Sontag married at 17 then divorced in 1958, David has written a memoir of Sontag’s painful final days. He also edited her journals and notebooks, which contained the following rules.
While Rieff has described his relationship with Sontag as “strained and at times very difficult,” it seems to me that a parent who adhered to these rules would create the kind of supportive structure children need to thrive. The remainder of Sontag’s journal entries show us a deeply introspective, self-conscious writer, and yet, writes Emily Greenhouse at The New Yorker, her work as a whole offers “surprisingly little of her own direct experience” and she never undertook an autobiography. Yet, this short list of parenting rules gives us a great deal of insight into the perspicacity and compassion she brought to her role as a mother, qualities most of us could use a bit more of in our daily parenting struggles.
The list above appears in the new book Lists of Note, the follow up to Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note, both compilations of his extensive online archives of personal notes and correspondence from famous and interesting people. Download a preview of the book and purchase a hardcover copy, just in time for Christmas, at Waterstones.com (if you live in the UK).
Susan Sontag’s List of 10 Parenting Rules is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooks, Free Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.
I love this
Philippines-based illustrator Kerby Rosanes began his career as an artist by doodling away in Moleskein notebooks and sharing the results online. Rosane’s imagination runs wild in his composite images of cartoony characters that morph into familiar faces of animals and pop-culture characters. After a number of art and design blogs picked up the story last year, his career took off, and the self-taught 23-year-old found himself creating illustrations for Nike, Mazda, and Ford. Seen here are a number of recent sketchbook spreads, but you can see more by scrolling through his archives. (via My Modern Met)
Eye doctor: “one…*switches lenses*..or two? Choose which is better…one….*switches lens again*..or two”
Me: *sweats nervously*
Oh, yeah. Me: ::pipes politely:: Again, please?
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Sonya Belousova is one of today's most accomplished young composers and pianists. Watch her demonstrate her skill by listening to a series of Nintendo themes — most for the first time ever — and then coming up with gorgeous arrangements on the spot.
I can pick out a tune on just about any instrument you mut in front of me, but what Sonya of PlayerPianoMusic.com does in this video, a few weeks old but currently making the Reddit rounds, is some sort of dark melodic sorcery.
While the themes from games like Kid Icarus, Castlevania, Duck Tales and Mega Man are ingrained in the collective gamer consciousness, Russian-born Belousova is hearing most of these for the first time, save the original Super Mario Bros. music.
Her Duck Tales moon theme arrangement literally brought a tear to my eye.
The video was put together as a reward for one of Player Piano Music's Indiegogo campaign. Good man, Oliver.
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Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog
"Mythbusters fire a soccer ball at 50mph out of a cannon on a truck driving at 50mph in the opposite direction." [via]
Not to critique teachers or anything (after all, I am one). It’s just that these Gifs are astoundingly elegant.
(There are curves of constant width besides circles and spheres. It’s a convex planar shape whose width is the same regardless of the orientation of the curve)
(Animation shows the act of unrolling a circle’s circumference [or trying to], illustrating the ratio π)
(These are used in algebra and probability, where it can be used to find Combinations. )
(It’s a method of folding a flat surface into a smaller volume. It consists of tessellated parallelograms and is used in the solar panels of satellites)
(If you kick a soccer ball (or shoot an arrow, fire a missile or throw a stone) it will arc up into the air and come down again…following the path of a parabola!)
(The radian is the standard unit of angular measure, used in many areas of mathematics)
(A matrix which is formed by turning all the rows of a given matrix into columns and vice-versa. The transpose of matrix A is written AT )
(a kind of fractal, a mathematically generated pattern that can be reproducible at any magnification or reduction)
(they add up to 360 degrees)
(in the video, a white blood cell chases and engulfs this bacteria–watch until the end!)
(it’s not just nothingness, obviously)
(A superconductor levitates over a magnetic track)
(watch a slinky fall to the Earth; this is how slinkies always fall)
(Sulphur hexaflouride is much denser than air)
21) BONUS! And remember, all those amazing astronomy images are much more than 2D images…
(the Elephant’s Trunk nebula in 3D)
“Our world is dangerously riven by religious doctrines that all educated people should condemn, and yet there is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular culture generally admit.”
Nietzsche’s famous proclamation that “God is dead” is among modern history’s most oft-cited aphorisms, and yet as is often the case with its ilk, such quotations often miss the broader context in a way that bespeaks the lazy reductionism with which we tend to approach questions of spirituality today. Nietzsche himself clarified the full dimension of his statement six years later, in a passage from The Twilight of Idols, where he explained that “God” simply signified the supersensory realm, or “true world,” and wrote: “We have abolished the true world. What has remained? The apparent one perhaps? Oh no! With the true world we have also abolished the apparent one.”
Indeed, this struggle to integrate the sensory and the supersensory, the physical and the metaphysical, has been addressed with varying degrees of sensitivity by some of history’s greatest minds — reflections like Carl Sagan on science and religion, Flannery O’Connor on dogma, belief, and the difference between religion and faith, Alan Lightman on science and spirituality, Albert Einstein on whether scientists pray, Ada Lovelace on the interconnectedness of everything, Alan Watts on the difference between belief and faith, C.S. Lewis on the paradox of free will, and Jane Goodall on science and spirit.
In Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (public library), philosopher, neuroscientist, and mindful skeptic Sam Harris offers a contemporary addition to this lineage of human inquiry — an extraordinary and ambitious masterwork of such integration between science and spirituality, which Harris himself describes as “by turns a seeker’s memoir, an introduction to the brain, a manual of contemplative instruction, and a philosophical unraveling of what most people consider to be the center of their inner lives.” Or, perhaps most aptly, an effort “to pluck the diamond from the dunghill of esoteric religion.”
Harris begins by recounting an experience he had at age sixteen — a three-day wilderness retreat designed to spur spiritual awakening of some sort, which instead left young Harris feeling like the contemplation of the existential mystery in the presence of his own company was “a source of perfect misery.” This frustrating experience became “a sufficient provocation” that launched him into a lifelong pursuit of the kinds of transcendent experiences that gave rise to the world’s major spiritual traditions, examining them instead with a scientist’s vital blend of skepticism and openness and a philosopher’s aspiration to be “scrupulously truthful.”
Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others… Every experience you have ever had has been shaped by your mind. Every relationship is as good or as bad as it is because of the minds involved.
Noting that the entirety of our experience, as well as our satisfaction with that experience, is filtered through our minds — “If you are perpetually angry, depressed, confused, and unloving, or your attention is elsewhere, it won’t matter how successful you become or who is in your life — you won’t enjoy any of it.” — Harris sets out to reconcile the quest to achieve one’s goals with a deeper longing, a recognition, perhaps, that presence is far more rewarding than productivity. He writes:
Most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the underlying purpose of our search. Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.
Acknowledging that this is the structure of the game we are playing allows us to play it differently. How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives.
This message, of course, is nothing new — half a century ago, Alan Watts made a spectacular case for it, building on millennia of Eastern philosophy. But what makes our era singular and this discourse particularly timely, Harris points out, is that there is now a growing body of scientific research substantiating these ancient intuitions.
Harris recounts one of his own early empirical dabblings into how physical experience precipitates metaphysical awareness — taking the drug 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as Ecstasy, with a close friend — which profoundly shifted his sense of the human mind’s potential. Remarking on the “moral and emotional clarity” of the experience, Harris describes it not as a muddling of consciousness but as a homecoming to truth:
It would not be too strong to say that I felt sane for the first time in my life. And yet the change in my consciousness seemed entirely straightforward… I had ceased to be concerned about myself. I was no longer anxious, self-critical, guarded by irony, in competition, avoiding embarrassment, ruminating about the past and future, or making any other gesture of thought or attention that separated me from him. I was no longer watching myself through another person’s eyes.
And then came the insight that irrevocably transformed my sense of how good human life could be. I was feeling boundless love for one of my best friends, and I suddenly realized that if a stranger had walked through the door at that moment, he or she would have been fully included in this love. Love was at bottom impersonal — and deeper than any personal history could justify. Indeed, a transactional form of love — I love you because . . . — now made no sense at all.
The interesting thing about this final shift in perspective was that it was not driven by any change in the way I felt. I was not overwhelmed by a new feeling of love. The insight had more the character of a geometric proof: It was as if, having glimpsed the properties of one set of parallel lines, I suddenly understood what must be common to them all… The experience was not of love growing but of its being no longer obscured. Love was — as advertised by mystics and crackpots through the ages — a state of being. How had we not seen this before? And how could we overlook it ever again?
Such a formulation calls to mind the sentiment at the heart of Tolstoy’s letters to Gandhi (where, one can assume based on the time period, there was no Ecstasy involved) — a testament to the immutability of this basic human truth. For Harris, it laid the foundation for what would become his life’s work:
I still considered the world’s religions to be mere intellectual ruins, maintained at enormous economic and social cost, but I now understood that important psychological truths could be found in the rubble.
This sentiment, it turns out, is one shared by about a quarter of the population, who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” – a seemingly paradoxical proposition that, Harris argues, captures the crux of our ancient struggle for integration:
Although the claim seems to annoy believers and atheists equally, separating spirituality from religion is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. It is to assert two important truths simultaneously: Our world is dangerously riven by religious doctrines that all educated people should condemn, and yet there is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular culture generally admit.
Even the term “spiritual” itself comes so loaded with cultural baggage — from self-help books to off-the-deep-end kooks — that its usage seems to warrant a special kind of self-conscious, almost apologetic justification, and Harris offers an elegant one:
There is no other term — apart from the even more problematic mystical or the more restrictive contemplative — with which to discuss the efforts people make, through meditation, psychedelics, or other means, to fully bring their minds into the present or to induce nonordinary states of consciousness. And no other word links this spectrum of experience to our ethical lives.
Much of our unease with nonreligious spirituality and the integration of science and spirit, Harris argues, comes from the blinders that narrow the view of both camps. Scientists “generally start with an impoverished view of spiritual experience, assuming that it must be a grandiose way of describing ordinary states of mind,” while New Age thinkers “idealize altered states of consciousness and draw specious connections between subjective experience and the spookier theories at the frontiers of physics” — a fault line that leaves us with the lose-lose choice “between pseudo-spirituality and pseudo-science.”
A lucid approach to integration, Harris suggests, requires the acknowledgment of some “well-established truths about the human mind,” ones revealed equally through meditation, in the scriptures of the major religious traditions, and by neuroscience — the illusory nature of what we call the “self,” the notion that how we pay attention shapes our “reality,” the idea that happiness can be taught and its psychological detractors uprooted. Harris writes:
Nothing that a Christian, a Muslim, and a Hindu can experience — self-transcending love, ecstasy, bliss, inner light — constitutes evidence in support of their traditional beliefs, because their beliefs are logically incompatible with one another. A deeper principle must be at work.
The feeling that we call “I” is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is — the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself — can be altered or entirely extinguished. Although such experiences of “self-transcendence” are generally thought about in religious terms, there is nothing, in principle, irrational about them. From both a scientific and a philosophical point of view, they represent a clearer understanding of the way things are…
Confusion and suffering may be our birthright, but wisdom and happiness are available. The landscape of human experience includes deeply transformative insights about the nature of one’s own consciousness, and yet it is obvious that these psychological states must be understood in the context of neuroscience, psychology, and related fields.
I am often asked what will replace organized religion. The answer, I believe, is nothing and everything. Nothing need replace its ludicrous and divisive doctrines — such as the idea that Jesus will return to earth and hurl unbelievers into a lake of fire, or that death in defense of Islam is the highest good. These are terrifying and debasing fictions. But what about love, compassion, moral goodness, and self-transcendence? Many people still imagine that religion is the true repository of these virtues. To change this, we must talk about the full range of human experience in a way that is as free of dogma as the best science already is.
Illustration by Maurice Sendak from 'Open House for Butterflies' by Ruth Krauss. Click image for more.
Perhaps Harris’s most central focus in the book is the art of presence as a gateway to true happiness — something Alan Watts so eloquently championed more than half a century ago but, crucially, without the advances in neuroscience and cognitive psychology that make Harris’s case so compelling. Reflecting on how the hamster wheel of achievement and approval can cheat us of the very happiness with which we so often equate it, Harris writes:
Even in the best of circumstances, happiness is elusive. We seek pleasant sights, sounds, tastes, sensations, and moods. We satisfy our intellectual curiosity. We surround ourselves with friends and loved ones. We become connoisseurs of art, music, or food. But our pleasures are, by their very nature, fleeting. If we enjoy some great professional success, our feelings of accomplishment remain vivid and intoxicating for an hour, or perhaps a day, but then they subside. And the search goes on. The effort required to keep boredom and other unpleasantness at bay must continue, moment to moment.
Ceaseless change is an unreliable basis for lasting fulfillment… Is there a form of happiness beyond the mere repetition of pleasure and avoidance of pain?
If there exists a source of psychological well-being that does not depend upon merely gratifying one’s desires, then it should be present even when all the usual sources of pleasure have been removed.
We seem to do little more than lurch between wanting and not wanting. Thus, the question naturally arises: Is there more to life than this? Might it be possible to feel much better (in every sense of better) than one tends to feel? Is it possible to find lasting fulfillment despite the inevitability of change?
Spiritual life begins with a suspicion that the answer to such questions could well be “yes.” And a true spiritual practitioner is someone who has discovered that it is possible to be at ease in the world for no reason, if only for a few moments at a time, and that such ease is synonymous with transcending the apparent boundaries of the self. Those who have never tasted such peace of mind might view these assertions as highly suspect. Nevertheless, it is a fact that a condition of selfless well-being is there to be glimpsed in each moment.
In the remainder of the altogether spectacular Waking Up, Harris goes on to outline the practices, mechanisms, and psychoemotional tools that enable us to access that “selfless well-being,” exploring such dimensional themes as the frontier of the conscious and the unconscious mind, the elusive but highly teachable skills of happiness, and the nature of consciousness. Complement it with Alan Lightman’s beautiful meditation on science and spirituality.
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Sometimes it feels like all anyone has time to do these days is work.
And thanks to decades of stagnant wages, a lot of people do have to work grueling hours, and multiple jobs, just to tread water.
But as these charts from Max Roser at Our World In Data show, on average, in developed countries, people work a lot less than they used to.
One caveat on these charts is that they show hours-worked-per-employed-person, not hours worked per-capita. The entry of many women into the out-of-home work force over the last five decades has meant that, in many countries, the percentage of the population counted as "working" has risen sharply. So in many households, the total-hours-worked-per-household has probably risen.
(Of course, as anyone who has managed all the work around a house will attest—especially without modern shopping, cooking, and cleaning tools—women have busted their butts for centuries. It's only recently however that their work has been counted as "work.")
Now they just need to add "orange" backlight (CCT of ~2500 K), then it will be perfect!
Sure, smartphones and tablets get all the press, and deservedly so. But if you place the original mainstream eInk device from 2007, the Amazon Kindle, side by side with today's model, the evolution of eInk devices is just as striking.
Each of these devices has a 6 inch eInk screen. Beyond that they're worlds apart.
8" × 5.3" × 0.8"
6.4" × 4.5" × 0.3"
|6" eInk display
4 level greyscale
|6" eInk display
16 level greyscale
|256 MB||4 GB|
|400 Mhz CPU||1 GHz CPU|
|7 days battery life
|6 weeks battery life
WiFi / Cellular
They may seem awfully primitive compared to smartphones, but that's part of their charm – they are the scooter to the motorcycle of the smartphone. Nowhere near as versatile, but as a form of basic transportation, radically simpler, radically cheaper, and more durable. There's an object lesson here in stripping things away to get to the core.
eInk devices are also pleasant in a paradoxical way because they basically suck at everything that isn't reading. That doesn't sound like something you'd want, except when you notice you spend every fifth page switching back to Twitter or Facebook or Tinder or Snapchat or whatever. eInk devices let you tune out the world and truly immerse yourself in reading.
I believe in the broadest sense, bits > atoms. Sure, we'll always read on whatever device we happen to hold in our hands that can display words and paragraphs. And the advent of retina class devices sure made reading a heck of a lot more pleasant on tablets and smartphones.
But this idea of ultra-cheap, pervasive eInk reading devices eventually replacing those ultra-cheap, pervasive paperbacks I used to devour as a kid has great appeal to me. I can't let it go. Reading is Fundamental, man!
That's why I'm in this weird place where I will buy, sight unseen, every new Kindle eInk device. I wasn't quite crazy enough to buy the original Kindle (I mean, look at that thing) but I've owned every model since the third generation Kindle was introduced in 2010.
I've also been tracking the Kindle prices to see when they can get them down to $49 or lower. We're not quite there yet – the basic Kindle eInk reader, which by the way is still pretty darn amazing compared to that original 2007 model pictured above – is currently on sale for $59.
But this is mostly about their new flagship eInk device, the Kindle Voyage. Instead of being cheap, it's trying to be upscale. The absolute first thing you need to know is this is the first 300 PPI (aka "retina") eInk reader from Amazon. If you're familiar with the smartphone world before and after the iPhone 4, then you should already be lining up to own one of these.
When you experience 300 PPI in eInk, you really feel like you're looking at a high quality printed page rather than an array of RGB pixels. Yeah, it's still grayscale, but it is glorious. Here are some uncompressed screenshots I made from mine at native resolution.
Note that the real device is eInk, so there's a natural paper-like fuzziness that makes it seem even more high resolution than these raw bitmaps would indicate.
I finally have enough resolution to pick a thinner font than fat, sassy old Caecilia.
The backlight was new to the original Paperwhite, and it definitely had some teething pains. The third time's the charm; they've nailed the backlight aspect for improved overall contrast and night reading. The Voyage also adds an ambient light sensor so it automatically scales the backlight to anything from bright outdoors to a pitch-dark bedroom. It's like automatic night time headlights on a car – one less manual setting I have to deal with before I sit down and get to my reading. It's nice.
The Voyage also adds page turn buttons back into the mix, via pressure sensing zones on the left and right bezel. I'll admit I had some difficulty adjusting to these buttons, to the point that I wasn't sure I would, but I eventually did – and now I'm a convert. Not having to move your finger into the visible text on the page to advance, and being able to advance without moving your finger at all, just pushing it down slightly (which provides a little haptic buzz as a reward), does make for a more pleasant and efficient reading experience. But it is kind of subtle and it took me a fair number of page turns to get it down.
In my experience eInk devices are a bit more fragile than tablets and smartphones. So you'll want a case for automatic on/off and basic "throw it in my bag however" paperback book level protection. Unfortunately, the official Kindle Voyage case is a disaster. Don't buy it.
Previous Kindle cases were expensive, but they were actually very well designed. The Voyage case is expensive and just plain bad. Whoever came up with the idea of a weirdly foldable, floppy origami top opening case on a thing you expect to work like a typical side-opening book should be fired. I recommend something like this basic $14.99 case which works fine to trigger on/off and opens in the expected way.
It's not all sweetness and light, though. The typography issues that have plagued the Kindle are still present in full force. It doesn't personally bother me that much, but it is reasonable to expect more by now from a big company that ostensibly cares about reading. And has a giant budget with lots of smart people on its payroll.
This is what text looks like on a kindle.— Justin Van Slembrou… (@jvanslem) February 6, 2014
If you've dabbled in the world of eInk, or you were just waiting for a best of breed device to jump in, the Kindle Voyage is easy to recommend. It's probably peak mainstream eInk. Would recommend, would buy again, will probably buy all future eInk models because I have an addiction. A reading addiction. Reading is fundamental. Oh, hey, $2.99 Kindle editions of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich? Yes, please.
(At the risk of coming across as a total Amazon shill, I'll also mention that the new Amazon Family Sharing program is amazing and lets me and my wife finally share books made of bits in a sane way, the way we used to share regular books: by throwing them at each other in anger.)
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Whether you're learning in a classroom or on your own , few things beat a good library of resources for learning to code. Invent With Python houses tons of resources dedicated to learning the language, including a long list of free and cheap ebooks that you can download directly from the site.
So last week a guy at my work was running late for an audition. So he was running downtown and ran into someone and as he was looking up to apologize he sees that it’s Amy Poehler. And she goes, “In a hurry curry?” And then he says “I’m late for an audition!” So then the whole way to his audition Amy fucking Poehler is running in front of him pushing people out of the way yelling “Move! Get outta the way! Comin through!”
I found a real angry bird today