Researchers discover new group of quasicrystals

quasicrystals, self assembly, pattern, symmetry, crystal

Quasicrystals are groups of molecules bonded together in structures that resemble crystals in that they are organized, but unlike crystals, the structures are not nearly as uniform. In fact, they are quite the opposite—though they are locally symmetric, they lack any sort of long distance periodicity. Because of their chaotic nature, quasicrystals tend to feel slippery to the touch, which is why they have been used to coat the surface of non-stick frying pans. The first quasicrystal was made, also by accident, in 1982, by Daniel Shechtman (who later won a Nobel prize for his work). Since then many more of them have been made in various labs, (one was even found to exist in a meteorite) though most of them have had one thing in common, they were all formed from two or three metal alloys. In this latest discovery, the quasicrystals self-formed after the researchers placed a layer of iron containing molecules of ferrocenecarboxylic acid on top of a gold surface. The team was expecting to see a linear group of stable molecules pairing up as dimers, but instead were surprised to find that they had formed into five sided rosettes—it was the rosettes that pushed other molecules into bonding forming crystalline shapes, resulting in the formation of 2D quasicrystals that took the form of several different shapes: stars, boats, pentagons, rhombi, etc., all repeated in haphazard fashion.–03-group-quasicrystals.html

Erased Symphony (2013) :: Carlos Amorales & Klangforum…

Erased Symphony (2013) :: Carlos Amorales & Klangforum Wien

Erased Symphony is based on the idea that existing cultural narratives are subject to erasure, whereby the focus is not only on evident extinction but also processes of disappearance, revaluation, densification, corrosion, etc. in the telling of national, continental, in this case Western, and hegemonial (hi)stories. In Erased Symphony the Emperor Waltz by Strauss undergoes a gradual process of erasure, albeit not the original version is modified but Arnold Schönberg’s transcription of the waltz from 1925 for flute, clarinet, string quartet, and piano. Amorales printed a version of this score with a specially prepared plotter: He exchanged the cutter needle of the printer with a pencil so it could be erased afterwards. The project takes place in collaboration with Klangforum Wien.


5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus

mathemtics, math, maths, education, pattern, learning, Moebius Noodles

“It’s not the subject of calculus as formally taught in college,” Droujkova notes. “But before we get there, we want to have hands-on, grounded, metaphoric play. At the free play level, you are learning in a very fundamental way—you really own your concept, mentally, physically, emotionally, culturally.” This approach “gives you deep roots, so the canopy of the high abstraction does not wither. What is learned without play is qualitatively different. It helps with test taking and mundane exercises, but it does nothing for logical thinking and problem solving. These things are separate, and you can’t get here from there.”

In conversation with… Kate Sicchio and Alex McLean

code, performance, music, choreography, notation, Kate Sicchio, yaxu, Alex McLean

Sound Choreography Body Code is a performance collaboration between choreographer and performer Kate Sicchio, and researcher and live coder Alex McLean. The work creates a feedback loop through code, music, choreography, dance and back through code. We spoke with Kate and Alex to ask them about the work, and the thinking behind such a multimedia, multi-disciplinary piece.

Is Photography Over?

Trevor Paglen, photography, perception, image culture, seeing, 2014

Photography has become so fundamental to the way we see that “photography” and “seeing” are becoming more and more synonymous. The ubiquity of photography is, perhaps ironically, a challenge to curators, practitioners, and critics. Why look at any particular image, when they are literally everywhere? Perhaps “photography” has become so all-pervasive that it no longer makes sense to think about it as a discreet practice or field of inquiry. In other words, perhaps “photography,” as a meaningful cultural trope, is over.

Benjamin Gaulon, Corrupt.epub [aka KindleGlitcher] (2012)


Benjamin Gaulon, Corrupt.epub [aka KindleGlitcher] (2012)

«Corrupt.epub is an online data corruption software allowing users to load and glitch electronic books (epub format aka electronic publication). Following the project KindleGlitched [Hardware Glitch], KindleGlitcher corrupt electronic publications on a software level [Data Bending].

Go to to upload and corrupt an EPUB file (Max 2Mbyte, NOTE: Corruption can take a really long time, 5 minutes is nothing! Check the log of your epub to see how far it is). The last 3 uploaded books are available for download on the project page.

This project was commissioned by Jeu De Paume for the online exhibition “Erreur d’impression. Publier à l’ère du numérique” at Le jeu de Paume (Paris) 2012, curated by Alessandro Ludovico.

Corrupt.epub is part of the Corrupt projects series (see, and corrupt.desktop).»

(via Benjamin Gaulon aka (я) | RECYCLISM :: KINDLEGLTICHER)

There are some cases where a group of people can do a better job of solving certain kinds of problems than individuals. One…

“There are some cases where a group of people can do a better job of solving certain kinds of problems than individuals. One example is setting a price in a marketplace. Another example is an election process to choose a politician. All such examples involve what can be called optimization, where the concerns of many individuals are reconciled. There are other cases that involve creativity and imagination. A crowd process generally fails in these cases.… Creativity requires periodic, temporary ‘encapsulation’ as opposed to the kind of constant global openness suggested by the slogan ‘information wants to be free.’ Biological cells have walls, academics employ temporary secrecy before they publish, and real authors with real voices might want to polish a text before releasing it. In all these cases, encapsulation is what allows for the possibility of testing and feedback that enables a quest for excellence. To be constantly diffused in a global mush is to embrace mundanity.”

Jaron Lanier

Design Fiction: “Speculative Everything” by Dunne & Raby

book, review, bruces, design, deisng fiction, speculative everything, Dunne & Raby

Much remains unclear. Does “critical design” have “users” or an “audience?” Does it have “patrons” or a “viewership?” Is it a craft, or some form of activism? It’s also unsettled whether its main concerns are, or should be, functional prototypes, diegetic special FX, speculative online videos, design-museum dioramas, or performance art and/or experiential happenings. It’s hard to believe that any designer, however Eamesian and polymathic, will ever be good at doing all these things at once.

A Thousand Words: Writing From Photographs

Casey Cep, writing, photography, images, memory, augmentation, notes, reference

Writing from photographs seems as though it should produce the same effect, sharpening the way we convert experiences and events into prose. I suspect that it also changes not only what we write but how we write it. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the selfie coincides with the age of autobiography.

Optic Nerve

Optic Nerve, GCHQ, Yahoo, webcam, intercept, surveillance, unselected

The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell’s 1984, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ’s existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest. Such searches could be used to try to find terror suspects or criminals making use of multiple, anonymous user IDs. Rather than collecting webcam chats in their entirety, the program saved one image every five minutes from the users’ feeds, partly to comply with human rights legislation, and also to avoid overloading GCHQ’s servers. The documents describe these users as “unselected” – intelligence agency parlance for bulk rather than targeted collection.

A partial proteome reference map of the wine lactic acid bacterium Oenococcus oeni ATCC BAA–1163

wine, bacteria, fermentation, proteome, metabolic pathways

Oenococcus oeni is the main lactic acid bacterium that carries out the malolactic fermentation in virtually all red wines and in some white and sparkling wines. Oenococcus oeni possesses an array of metabolic activities that can modify the taste and aromatic properties of wine. There is, therefore, industrial interest in the proteins involved in these metabolic pathways and related transport systems of this bacterium. In this work, we report the characterization of the O. oeni ATCC BAA-1163 proteome.

A Brief History of Drinking in Space

Arts Catalyst, space, drinking, alchol, food, moon, skylab, Bompas & Parr

To date, there has been relatively little consumption of alcohol in space and on the Moon, but that could be set to change. With space tourism taking off, new lunar missions on the horizon and manned expeditions aiming further into space – with all its stresses – could a new era of zero gravity libations be next?

Join Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr and David Lane of The Gourmand for a speculative look and the past, present and future of alcohol in space. From Buzz Aldrin’s legendary Holy Communion on the Moon to sherry experiments aboard Skylab and ceremonial ‘vodka’ consumption aboard the ISS, we’ll discuss the secret history of a slightly tipsy space age and ask what role our favourite poison will play in the future colonisation of the moon.

The history of invention is not the history of a necessary future to which we must adapt or die, but rather of failed futures,…

“The history of invention is not the history of a necessary future to which we must adapt or die, but rather of failed futures, and of futures firmly fixed in the past. We do not have a history of invention, but instead histories of the invention of only some of the technologies which were later successful”

David Edgerton in’The Shock of the Old

In One Month, Everyone In Iceland Will Own Cryptocurrency

iceland, cryptocurrency, bitcoin, auroracoin, economics

The cryptocurrency craze spun into a new realm of ridiculous with Kanyecoin, Dogecoin, Ron Paul Coin and the bounty of other clone-coins that sprung up to ride the Bitcoin wave. But the latest altcoin to enter the market, Auroracoin, wants to take the futurist trend back to its cryptoanarchist roots. The altcoin was designed specifically for Iceland, and the creator plans to give every citizen of the Nordic country a digital handful of Auroracoins to kickstart their use. Auroracoin is the brainchild of cryptocurrency enthusiast Baldur Friggjar Odinsson, and he’ll be the one distributing pre-mined coins to the entire population of Iceland at midnight on March 25 in a countrywide “airdrop.” Each Icelandic citizen—all 330,000 of them—will receive 31.8 AUC through a digital transaction. Citizens all have a national ID number available through a public database, which will be used to verify their identity.

Crowdworking is often hailed by its boosters as ushering in a new age of work. With the zeal of high-tech preachers, they cast…

Crowdworking is often hailed by its boosters as ushering in a new age of work. With the zeal of high-tech preachers, they cast it as a space in which individualism, choice and self-determination flourish. “CrowdFlower, and others in the crowdsourcing industry, are bringing opportunities to people who never would have had them before, and we operate in a truly egalitarian fashion, where anyone who wants to can do microtasks, no matter their gender, nationality, or socio-economic status, and can do so in a way that is entirely of their choosing and unique to them,” asserts Lukas Biewald, the CEO of CrowdFlower, in an e-mail exchange. (CrowdFlower claims to have “among the largest, if not the largest, crowd” available, with roughly 100,000 workers completing tasks on any given day.)

But if you happen to be a low-end worker doing the Internet’s grunt work, a different vision arises. According to critics, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk may have created the most unregulated labor marketplace that has ever existed. Inside the machine, there is an overabundance of labor, extreme competition among workers, monotonous and repetitive work, exceedingly low pay and a great deal of scamming. In this virtual world, the disparities of power in employment relationships are magnified many times over, and the New Deal may as well have never happened.

As Miriam Cherry, one of the few legal scholars focusing on labor and employment law in the virtual world, has explained: “These technologies are not enabling people to meet their potential; they’re instead exploiting people.” Or, as CrowdFlower’s Biewald told an audience of young tech types in 2010, in a moment of unchecked bluntness: “Before the Internet, it would be really difficult to find someone, sit them down for ten minutes and get them to work for you, and then fire them after those ten minutes. But with technology, you can actually find them, pay them the tiny amount of money, and then get rid of them when you don’t need them anymore.”

How Crowdworkers Became the Ghosts in the Digital Machine | The Nation (vianew-aesthetic)

From Cognitive Biases to Institutional Decay

institutions, agency, politics, engineering, heuristics

The belief that agency can be distributed is hard to internalize even after you’ve been intellectually convinced. I nodded along as I read Mike’s posts last year, but I keep catching myself acting in violation of these beliefs. As an example but without intending to get bogged down in politics, it’s easy to read about congressional corruption and gain a sense that all congressmen are bad people. Then you might read a story about a specific congressman and think, “hmm, he wasn’t so bad.” Ok, so maybe he’s an exception. Or today’s congressmen are more corrupt. But there’s a third possible synthesis that the mind shies away from: perhaps the system made them that way. Perhaps sequences of simple actions that are each beyond reproach can cause the group as a whole to grow hostile toward the people who form it or who caused it to be formed.

Panarchy and pace in the big back loop

panarchy, time, pace layering, reflection, turbulence, innovation, revolt

What can we learn by mapping pace against panarchy? Picture a stack of adaptive cycles, with frantic fashion at the bottom, and nature’s biophysical processes, broad and slow, at the top. Reaching from each cyclic layer down to the next is an arrow labeled “remember,” for memory is an important influence that slower cycles exert on faster ones. And stretching from each cycle up to the next is the arrow “revolt,” representing the actions that, in the time of the back loop – of release and subsequent renewal – can enact structural shifts in the cycles above.

A Handful of Heuristics

resilience, heuristics, adaptive cycle, panarchy, adaptation

The loss of ecological resilience (Holling 1973, 1996) tests the adaptive capacity of the human dimensions of the system. Patterns of abrupt change (Gunderson 2003) are described, in a handful of heuristics, by (1) an adaptive cycle, (2) panarchy, (3) resilience, (4) adaptability, and (5) transformability. The first two describe the dynamics of systems within and across scales, whereas the last three are the properties of social-ecological systems that determine these dynamics. Each is described in the following sections, and together they provide the foundation for the subsequent propositions.

Work It - Jacobin

work, capitalism, exchange, labour, anti-work, doing nothing

The problem that crops up in all discussions of this kind, however, is the ambiguity of the term “work,” particularly in a capitalist society. It has at least three distinct meanings that are relevant. One, it can mean activity that is necessary for the continuation of human civilization, what Engels called “the production and reproduction of the immediate essentials of life.” Two, it can mean the activity that people undertake in exchange for money, in order to secure the means of continued existence. Three, it can mean what Gourevitch is talking about, an activity that requires some kind of discipline and deferred gratification in pursuit of an eventual goal. These three meanings tend to get conflated all the time, even though they all appear seperately in reality. This is the point I’ve tried to make going back to my earliest writing on this topic. “Work” manifests itself in all eight possible permutations of its three meanings.

Wages For Facebook

wages, work, facebook, labour, value, capitalism, exploitation, doing nothing

The difficulties and ambiguities in discussing wages for facebook stem from the reduction of wages for facebook to a thing, a lump of money, instead of viewing it as a political perspective. The difference between these two standpoints is enormous. To view wages for facebook as a thing rather than a perspective is to detach the end result of our struggle from the struggle itself and to miss its significance in demystifying and subverting the role to which we have been confined in capitalist society.

Science is not the Enemy of the Humanities

science, humanities, art, literature, technology, enlightenment (the)

Science has also provided the world with images of sublime beauty: stroboscopically frozen motion, exotic organisms, distant galaxies and outer planets, fluorescing neural circuitry, and a luminous planet Earth rising above the moon’s horizon into the blackness of space. Like great works of art, these are not just pretty pictures but prods to contemplation, which deepen our understanding of what it means to be human and of our place in nature. And contrary to the widespread canard that technology has created a dystopia of deprivation and violence, every global measure of human flourishing is on the rise. The numbers show that after millennia of near-universal poverty, a steadily growing proportion of humanity is surviving the first year of life, going to school, voting in democracies, living in peace, communicating on cell phones, enjoying small luxuries, and surviving to old age. The Green Revolution in agronomy alone saved a billion people from starvation. And if you want examples of true moral greatness, go to Wikipedia and look up the entries for “smallpox” and “rinderpest” (cattle plague). The definitions are in the past tense, indicating that human ingenuity has eradicated two of the cruelest causes of suffering in the history of our kind.

Hunter S. Thompson’s Harrowing, Chemical-Filled Daily Routine

routine, Hunter S. Thompson, food, breakfast, drugs, gonzo

HST outlines his ideal breakfast. It consists of “four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert.” All eaten naked and alone. Naturally.

Can an Audacious Plan to Create a New Energy Resource Help Save the Planet?

ITER, fusion, research, science, politics, invesment, energy, accounting

For the machine’s creators, this process—sparking and controlling a self-sustaining synthetic star—will be the culmination of decades of preparation, billions of dollars’ worth of investment, and immeasurable ingenuity, misdirection, recalibration, infighting, heartache, and ridicule. Few engineering feats can compare, in scale, in technical complexity, in ambition or hubris. Even the ITER organization, a makeshift scientific United Nations, assembled eight years ago to construct the machine, is unprecedented. Thirty-five countries, representing more than half the world’s population, are invested in the project, which is so complex to finance that it requires its own currency: the ITER Unit of Account.

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers

nature, publishing, peer review, SCIgen, algorithmic writing, computer literature, Springer, IEEE, C

The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense. Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labbé, say that they are now removing the papers. Among the works were, for example, a paper published as a proceeding from the 2013 International Conference on Quality, Reliability, Risk, Maintenance, and Safety Engineering, held in Chengdu, China. (The conference website says that all manuscripts are “reviewed for merits and contents”.) The authors of the paper, entitled ‘TIC: a methodology for the construction of e-commerce’, write in the abstract that they “concentrate our efforts on disproving that spreadsheets can be made knowledge-based, empathic, and compact”. (Nature News has attempted to contact the conference organizers and named authors of the paper but received no reply; however at least some of the names belong to real people. The IEEE has now removed the paper).–120-gibberish-papers–1.14763