“Our cosmic environment could be richly textured, but on scales so vast that our purview is restricted to a tiny fragment; we’re not aware of the ‘big picture’, any more than a plankton whose‘universe’ was a liter of water would be aware of the world’s topography and biosphere. It is obviously sensible for cosmologists to start off by exploring the simplest models. But there is no more reason to expect simplicity on the grandest scale than in the terrestrial environment—where intricate complexity prevails.”
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Drones, drones, drones
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“There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean.
There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmonid knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths.
But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens… The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars.
This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.”
―Gerald D. Waxman, a distinguished and enormously popular professor of astronomy and environmental science. From his book, Astronomical Tidbits: A Layperson’s Guide to Astronomy, (Authorhouse, 2010).
Pictured: Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhône, 1888
by Abbey McCulloch
RT @zachlieberman: cubist cube
Value production is inherently networked. Therefore, in order to thrive, it needs an architecture as granular, scalable, and flexible as possible in order to accommodate the kinds of diverse applications and interactions that will, in turn, support its self-organization. Here at the Economic Space Agency, we want to build an ecosystem in which everyone can launch and participate in crowdsales, and exchange tokens without breaking the network. For these reasons we are building GRAVITY: a new common infrastructure for the crypto-economy. As mentioned in our previous post, GRAVITY is an open source, general purpose computing fabric based on an object-capability paradigm. The logical decentralization that this affords introduces important innovations in terms of scalability and speed, and also the possibility to host on-chain solutions for multi-blockchain integration.
Pop Culture Dystopia: Space Invaders
Created by Filip Hodas
Designer Dani Clode’s Third Thumb is a 3D printed robotic prosthetic thumb that goes on the pinky side of your hand, created a motorized, opposable additional thumb that you can use to play the guitar, pick up objects, or crack an egg.
Clode proposes that her thumb can be styled as a piece of jewelry or as a tool, depending on the materials used and the system’s programming.
“When a whale dies, it becomes a rotting feast for birds and sharks. If it ever happens to reach shore, it’ll likely be in terrible shape. Lucky for mammalogy technicians at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, a blue whale that washed up in Newfoundland in 2014 was in good enough condition that they were able to preserve its 440-pound ticker. “Its sheer size alone accelerates decomposition, so it’s remarkable we got to salvage a heart,” says Jacqueline Miller, who led the first-of-its-kind preservation effort. It recently went on display, and Miller gave us a deep dive into how to plastinate a leviathan organ.”
“We’re still trying to figure out what time is,” Gleick said. Time travel stories apparently help us. The inventor of the time machine in Wells’s book explains archly that time is merely a fourth dimension. Ten years later in 1905 Albert Einstein made that statement real. In 1941 Jorge Luis Borges wrote the celebrated short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.” In 1955 physicist Hugh Everett introduced the quantum-based idea of forking universes, which itself has become a staple of science fiction.
“Time,” Richard Feynman once joked, “is what happens when nothing else happens.” Gleick suggests, “Things change, and time is how we keep track.” Virginia Woolf wrote, “What more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment? That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side, the future on another.”
“Enjoy the present. Don’t waste your brain cells agonizing about lost opportunities or worrying about what the future will bring. As I was working on the book I suddenly realized that that’s terrible advice. A potted plant lives in the now. The idea of the ‘long now’ embraces the past and the future and asks us to think about the whole stretch of time. That’s what I think time travel is good for. That’s what makes us human — the ability to live in the past and live in the future at the same time.”
*I probably ought to post this thing once a year until the normals catch on
Loose Arrangement with Myself by Allan1952 (via http://flic.kr/p/mCB8jC )
5 Minute Masterpiece by Allan1952 (via http://flic.kr/p/PwXB5z )
The Stelvio Pass in northern Italy is the highest paved roadway in the Eastern Alps, with an elevation of 2,757 meters (9,045 feet) above sea level. Only accessible in the summer months, the road and its 75 hairpin turns are sometimes scaled during the famous Giro d’Italia cycling race.
Source Imagery: DigitalGlobe
Hitoshi Nomura, (Japan, 1945) Time on a Curved Line’ - 1970.
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
–C.G. Jung (viasyntheticphilosophy)
Ronald Ventura, Filipino painter.
Mrs. Lishman and her Flying Saucer
photo by Tim Walker
The ultimate roadmap of metabolic pathways to produce ATP!
by Eleanor Lutz
Buquê II by Hengki Koentjoro (via http://flic.kr/p/VKhdRs )
IMG_3497 by _foam (via http://flic.kr/p/W5W467 )
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☾ by EmilyJHansell (via http://flic.kr/p/UYLy8u )
P6172506 by c-eek (via http://flic.kr/p/UZQzAY )
“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. ” - William S. Burroughs
“The video, called “Alternative Face v1.1”, is the work of Mario Klingemann, a German artist. It plays audio from an NBC interview with Ms Conway through the mouth of Ms Hardy’s digital ghost. The video is wobbly and pixelated; a competent visual-effects shop could do much better. But Mr Klingemann did not fiddle with editing software to make it. Instead, he took only a few days to create the clip on a desktop computer using a generative adversarial network (GAN), a type of machine-learning algorithm. His computer spat it out automatically after being force fed old music videos of Ms Hardy. It is a recording of something that never happened.”
It might seem counter-intuitive, but Coleridge’s famous line from the Ancient Mariner could also apply to the desert. Even in some of the driest places on earth, the air holds thousands of litres of fresh water that have remained tantalisingly inaccessible. Until now. Scientists at MIT and the University of California at Berkeley have created a device that can suck water from the air. Even better: it’s solar-powered. So, even in the most remote, arid deserts it can harvest drinking water from the atmosphere.
“It is a recording of something that never happened.” Generative adversarial networks and fake media.
Over at Superflux, our work investigating potential and plausible futures, involves extensively scanning for trends and signals from which we trace and extrapolate into the future. Both qualitative and quantitative data play an important role. In doing such work, we have observed how data is often used as evidence, and seen as definitive. Historical and contemporary datasets are often used as evidence for a mandate for future change, especially in some of the work we have undertaken with governments and policy makers. But lately we have been thinking if this drive for data as evidence has led to the unshakeable belief that data is evidence.
Anton Lieberman, Land Urchin
“As I get older I tend not to get less cynical about things but to move judgment from individuals to systems. And just about every time that I’ve made some sort of judgment on the integrity of people, individually or in groups, I later find that in fact those people are just trapped in systems or cultures that they didn’t create and which narrow and dictate their choices in unhealthy directions.”
“the future is mostly in the past”
–Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Antifragile.
Eystri Ranga River, Iceland, Chromogenic print.
2 symmetries in one shot
“Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, artists gradually became aware of the unusually precise nature of the imagery generated by computers, as did people from other fields.
Among them was a lecturer at the University of Manchester, Desmond Paul Henry. The university was responsible for important early advances in computer science, not least in building the world’s first stored-program computer, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, which was nicknamed ‘Baby’ when it was completed in 1948. Henry took a keen interest in such developments, but as an observer, not a participant. He taught philosophy at the university, and had discovered computers as a technical clerk for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during the Second World War. In 1951, while browsing around the second-hand bookstalls on Shudehill in Manchester, Henry went into an army surplus warehouse and spotted an old Sperry bombsight computer used by British bomber aircraft to calculate when to release their bombs. He bought it for £50, a substantial sum at the time, and rigged it up to guide ballpoint pens and, later, technical tube pens across paper. After his first machine died, Henry recycled some of the components into a new one and subsequently repeated the process to build a third. He exhibited his mechanical drawings at local art galleries in Manchester and also in ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’, the 1968 survey of computer art at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, which later toured to the United States.”
–Rawsthorn, Alice.Hello World: Where Design Meets Life. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2013. (viacarvalhais)
First comes the unscratchable itching, and the angry blossoming of hives. Then stomach cramping, and—for the unluckiest few—difficulty breathing, passing out, and even death. In the last decade and a half, thousands of previously protein-loving Americans have developed a dangerous allergy to meat. And they all have one thing in common: the lone star tick. Red meat, you might be surprised to know, isn’t totally sugar-free. It contains a few protein-linked saccharides, including one called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal, for short. More and more people are learning this the hard way, when they suddenly develop a life-threatening allergy to that pesky sugar molecule after a tick bite. Yep, one bite from the lone star tick—which gets its name from the Texas-shaped splash of white on its back—is enough to reprogram your immune system to forever reject even the smallest nibble of perfectly crisped bacon. For years, physicians and researchers only reported the allergy in places the lone star tick calls home, namely the southeastern United States. But recently it’s started to spread. The newest hot spots? Duluth, Minnesota, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the eastern tip of Long Island, where at least 100 cases have been reported in the last year. Scientists are racing to trace its spread, to understand if the lone star tick is expanding into new territories, or if other species of ticks are now causing the allergy.
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*What world is this, for heaven’s sake
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The Standard Ebooks project is a volunteer driven, not-for-profit effort to produce a collection of high quality, carefully formatted, accessible, open source, and free public domain ebooks that meet or exceed the quality of commercially produced ebooks. The text and cover art in our ebooks is already believed to be in the public domain, and Standard Ebook dedicates its own work to the public domain, thus releasing whole ebooks files themselves into the public domain.
“As a double bonus, if everyone stays irrational it might greatly enrich the author, providing future funding for blockchain performance art.” The great art project of our age is to entirely collapse the distinctions between “fraud” and “performance art,” so that one day mortgage-bond traders will be able to say “wait, no, I wasn’t lying about bond prices to increase my bonus, I was performing a metafictional narrative about bond-price negotiations in order to problematize the underlying foundations of bond trading in late capitalism.”
As the great German theologian Josef Pieper argued, for most of history philosophers and theologians treated overwork as a moral failing. The Stoic philosopher Seneca, for example, made a distinction between leisure and idleness; and importantly, people who were “out of breath for no purpose, always busy about nothing” were, in Seneca’s view, guilty of the worst kind of idleness. Because it occupies our time and feels like accomplishment, but actually produces very little and gives us little opportunity to learn about ourselves, this kind of busyness was to be avoided. As Pieper put it, in this vision leisure “is not a Sunday afternoon idyll, but the preserve of freedom, of education and culture, and of that undiminished humanity which views the world as a whole.” This is not to say that work was something to be avoided. Stoics like Seneca saw work as essential, as one of the things that made life meaningful. But in order to become our best selves, they argued, it was also necessary to take the time to reflect on our lives and choices — and that required both time and an “inward calm” that let us see ourselves and the world clearly.
Drop urgent/not-urgent from your prioritization 2x2. Use arbitrary/not-arbitrary instead.
“Individuals with grapheme-color synesthesia experience idiosyncratic colors when viewing achromatic letters or digits. Despite large individual differences in grapheme-color association, synesthetes tend to associate graphemes sharing a perceptual feature with similar synesthetic colors. Sound has been suggested as one such feature. In the present study, we investigated whether graphemes of which representative phonemes have similar phonetic features tend to be associated with analogous synesthetic colors.”
Someone’s done the cross-linguistic synesthesia writing system study that I was speculating about a couple months ago! This study features grapheme-colour synesthetes who were trilingual in Korean, English, and Japanese. Here’s the abstract:
Individuals with grapheme-color synesthesia experience idiosyncratic colors when viewing achromatic letters or digits. Despite large individual differences in grapheme-color association, synesthetes tend to associate graphemes sharing a perceptual feature with similar synesthetic colors. Sound has been suggested as one such feature. In the present study, we investigated whether graphemes of which representative phonemes have similar phonetic features tend to be associated with analogous synesthetic colors. We tested five Korean multilingual synesthetes on a color-matching task using graphemes from Korean, English, and Japanese orthography. We then compared the similarity of synesthetic colors induced by those characters sharing a phonetic feature. Results showed that graphemes associated with the same phonetic feature tend to induce synesthetic color in both within- and cross-script analyses. Moreover, this tendency was consistent for graphemes that are not transliterable into each other as well as graphemes that are. These results suggest that it is the perceptual—i.e., phonetic—properties associated with graphemes, not just conceptual associations such as transliteration, that determine synesthetic color.
The study is open-access and available in full here.
Agua con Gaz, Various Artists, 2015, installation view, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo by: Ela Bialkowska.
The next step takes the logic further: not only stealing from the rich and giving to the poor (like Robin Hood did), but exploring, building new ecologies, new ecosystems, new universes, new possibilities, new worlds of value. For this purpose the Robin Hood hydra grew a new head: a start-up company Economic Space Agency, Inc. (ECSA). Economic Space Agency builds tools with which we can create economic space — not only to distribute something existing or produced in a pre-existing space, but to reorganize/rebuild the space itself. Two trends are converging and making open source economy possible: the moldability and plasticity of financial technologies and the decentralization and disintermediation provided by distributed ledgers. ECSA’s DNA contains all these things: hard core research (the team has published over 25 books), direct engagement with the power of art to create unforeseen (economical, social, political, financial, incorporeal) processes, financial first-in-the-world inventions (such as a hedge fund as a coop, and asset-backed cryptoequity), experimental hands-on attitude and an intimate lived experience of how the financial and the social co-determine each other.
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