robertogreco + science   1901

Labs, courts and altars are also traveling truth-spots | Aeon Essays
"Throughout history, people found truth at holy places. Now we build courts, labs and altars to be truth spots too"

"But is longevity in a particular location always needed in order for a place to make people believe? Some truth-spots travel: they inhabit a place only temporarily. Sometimes a portable assemblage of material objects might be enough to consecrate an otherwise mundane place as a source for legitimate understandings – but only for the time that the stuff is there, before it moves on. But if a church or lab or courtroom can be folded up like a tent and pitched someplace else, can it really sustain its persuasive powers as a source for truth? Here is how it works."

[Reminds me some of Alexandra Lange on tables: ]
ephemerality  ephemeral  truth  altars  persuasion  2018  thomasgieryn  science  justice  courts  mobility  history  china  antarctica  aztecs  labs  lcproject  openstudioproject 
7 days ago by robertogreco
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein - Fields of Cosmological Dreams - YouTube
"The discovery of the Higgs boson reinforces the possibility that similar, scalar particles may exist in nature and could drive cosmological inflation. This talk describes scientific research in theoretical cosmology through the lens of the experience of a Black, Jewish, queer and femme physicist."
higgsboson  chandaprescod-weinstein  physics  2017  cosmology  race  gender  science  academia 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Decolonising Science Reading List – Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – Medium
"In April, 2015, one of the most visible topics of discussion in the Astronomy community was the planned Thirty Meter Telescope and protests against it from Native Hawaiians who didn’t want it built on Mauna Kea. I wrote a lot about this on social media, spending some significant time trying to contextualize the debate. This reading list was originally created in response to requests for where I was getting some of the information from. A lot of people asked me about what I’d been reading as reference points for my commentary on the relationship between colonialism and what we usually call “modern science.”

In August 2016 I updated to announce: I’m happy to report that Sarah Tuttle and I will be contributing to this list with our own publications in future thanks to this FQXi grant that we are co-I/PI on: Epistemological Schemata of Astro|Physics: A Reconstruction of Observers. The grant proposal was based on a written adaptation of a speech I gave at the Inclusive Astronomy conference, Intersectionality as a Blueprint for Postcolonial Scientific Community Building.

As part of this work, I’ve continued to expand the reading list, which seems to have become a global resource for people interested in science and colonialism. As I originally said, I make no claims about completeness, about updating it regularly, or even ever coming up with a system for organizing it that I find to be satisfactory. You’ll find texts that range from personal testimony to Indigenous cosmology to anthropology, to history to sociology to education research. All are key to the process of decolonising science, which is a pedagogical, cultural, and intellectual set of interlocking structures, ideas, and practices. This reading list functions on the premise that there is value in considering the ways in which science and society co-construct. It is stuff that I have read all or part of and saw some value in sharing with others.

I am especially indebted to the #WeAreMaunaKea movement for educating me and spurring me to educate myself."
science  reading  readinglists  decolonization  chandaprescod-weinstein  2015 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
PIG/PORK: Archaeology, Zoology and Edibility: Pía Spry-Marqués: Bloomsbury Sigma
"Pigs unite and divide people, but why? Pig/Pork explores the love-hate relationship between humans and pigs through the lenses of archaeology, biology, history and gastronomy, providing a close and affectionate look of the myriad causes underlying this singular, multi-millennial bond.

What is it that people in all four corners of the world find so fascinating about the pig? When did the human obsession with pigs begin, how did it develop through time, and where is it heading? Why are pigs so special to some of us, but not to others? Pig/Pork sets out to answer these and other porcine-related questions, examining human-pig interactions across the globe through time, from the Palaeolithic to the present day. The book dissects pig anatomy and behaviour, and describes how this knowledge plays a major role in the advance of the agricultural and medical sciences, among others. The book also looks closely at the history of pig-human interaction; how they were domesticated and when, how they affected human history through their diseases, and how they have been involved in centuries of human conflicts, with particular reference to the story of the Iberian Jews and Muslims at the time of the Inquisition. The book goes on to look at how pigs' characteristics and our relationship with them have combined to produce many of the world's great dishes. All this is accompanied by a liberal peppering of pork recipes and the stories behind them, along with facts, wisdom and porker lore, providing a thought-provoking account of where our food comes from, both historically and agriculturally, and how this continues to influence many parts of our behaviour and culture."
pigs  books  pork  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  morethanhuman  multispecies  livestock  agriculture  history  culture  food  archaeology  zoology  gastronomy  biology  science 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Uranium: Twisting the Dragon's Tail | PBS
"Host and physicist Dr. Derek Muller unlocks the mysteries of uranium, one of the Earth’s most controversial elements. Born from the collapse of a star, uranium has brought hope, progress and destruction. It has revolutionized society, from medicine to warfare. It is an element that has profoundly shaped the past, will change the future and will exist long after humans have left the Earth."
classideas  science  documentary  uranium  radiation  aborigines  australia  physics 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The University of California: 150 years of being boldly Californian - YouTube
"What does it mean to be boldly Californian? For 150 years, the University of California has embodied an imaginative, audacious and pioneering spirit. And our 10 campuses, 5 medical centers and 3 national labs continue to lead the country towards a bright future - for everyone.

Explore our interactive timeline capturing UC's vast history and commemorating its astounding accomplishments, distinguished academics, artists and athletes: "

[See also: ]
uc  universityofcalifornia  california  2018  history  science  research  highered  highereducation  marketing  art  athletics  sports  academics  timelines 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Kilauea: A Beginner’s Guide to Hawaii’s Sublime Lava - The Atlantic
"But Western scientists were not the first people to encounter Hawaii’s volcanoes. Native Hawaiians have lived on the islands, and among the volcanoes, for more than 900 years. And their history, literature, and culture all recognize the reality of living near such a powerful phenomenon.

(A brief language note: Everyone who lives in the archipelago is called a “Hawaii resident.” The term “Hawaiian” is reserved for someone with native Hawaiian ancestry. This distinction is regularly made on the islands, including in the state constitution.)

“There’s aʻa or pahoehoe, the rough lava or the smooth lava,” said Kuʻualoha Hoʻomanawanui, a professor of literature at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “But the word for both of them is Pele.”

Pele is the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes, lava, and fire—but deity in its Western sense doesn’t quite describe the scope of Pele’s power. Many Hawaiian families trace their lineage back to Pele, meaning they count her as an ancestor.

“Pele is not just the goddess of lava. Lava is Pele,” Hoʻomanawanui told me. “The lava flows basically reaffirm what our literature tells us—that the land is alive, that Pele is alive. When we talk about the lava being alive, it’s a metaphor for the earth itself being alive. The lava is Pele, the magma is Pele, the lava flow and then when the lava hardens—each you can just replace the word with Pele.”

Even the site of the new eruption makes sense within Hawaiian culture. The current eruption has focused primarily on a subdivision called Leilani Estates. But Leilani Estates is a new name, and the subdivision sits within a larger area that Hawaiians traditionally called Keahialaka, which means “the fire of Laka.” Laka is the goddess of hula and one of Pele’s daughters.

“The Hawaiians watching are looking at the names of these places and saying, ‘Oh yeah!’” said Noelani M. Arista, a professor of Hawaiian history at the University of Hawaii. “It’s like, sometimes people are amazed that a flood will hit a flood zone. But we’ve got place names that say flood zone.”

“Anyone can come and slap a new name on any thing: ‘Let’s call it Leilani Estates!’ And Leilani is a generic name. But that won’t take away from the mana, the spiritual power and characteristics of that place, that the old place name embodies,” agreed Hoʻomanawanui.

These new names “lull people into a sense of complacency,” she said. “[They think,] I’m not actually buying property and building a house in an active lava rift zone, but I’m buying a piece of paradise.”

But sometimes these new names can be ironic. Kilauea is surrounded by rainforest, and people in Hawaii customarily link its lava flows to the Kool-Aid-red lehua flowers that grow around it. So when Hoʻomanawanui read that one of the first lava fissures in Leilani Estates opened up on Mohala Street, she laughed. “Well, of course!” she said. “Mohala means ‘to blossom,’ or ‘to bloom.’ In a way, it’s all interconnected.”

Pele’s story takes many forms—Hoʻomanawanui has studied 14 different serialized newspaper versions of it, all of which first appeared in the 19th century. But many describe a similar journey: how Pele and her family came up from an island in the South Pacific, how they found the Hawaii archipelago, and how Pele traveled to every island, looking for a place to keep her fire. She visited every island, and dug a hole in every island, until she eventually found Hawaii Island and placed her fire in Kilauea. (Hoʻomanawanui recommended that mainland Americans watch Holo Mai Pele, a PBS-filmed hula about Pele, for a credible summary of her story.)

“The story of Pele is a poetic, literary telling of what scientists would maybe call the Ring of Fire, and how volcanic activity gets to the Hawaiian islands from other parts of the Pacific,” said Hoʻomanawanui. “It’s an ideological explanation for why we don’t have volcanic activity occurring now on the other islands.”

But it’s more than a just-so story. Arista, the Hawaiian historian, contrasts how non-native Hawaii residents and native Hawaiians have discussed the recent lava flow. Much of the national media attention has focused on an American-centric understanding of the destruction, she said—for instance, by talking about the extent of property loss.

“But then you’ve got Hawaii residents saying, how amazing is the presence of this in my life,” she said. “Native people who live in the subdivision are largely saying, ‘Yes, I knew I was living in this space where volcanic activity is a huge factor, because I’ve lived my life here. And because we have this respect for Pele, I wanted to live here.’”

Hoʻomanawanui said she saw many native Hawaiians greeting the lava flow not with dread, but with acceptance. “When the flows start, you clean the house, you open the door, and you say: ‘Tūtū Pele, this is your land, take it,’” she said.

(Since Hoʻomanawanui’s family tracks its lineage back to Pele, they call her Tūtū, or grandmother. But other Hawaiians and non-Natives will call her Tūtū Pele out of respect, even if she is not an ancestor to them. “They acknowledge she’s a special force of nature—literally,” she said. Others, including non-Natives, may call her Madame Pele for the same reason.)

Hoʻomanawanui and Arista told me that seeing the lava as Pele didn’t detract from the scientific understanding of it. Instead, Pele anchors the experience of the lava, envelops it, and connects it to the lives of people who came before.

“Through dance, through costuming, through specific flowers—there’s layers of representation that I think really evoke a sensory experience beyond just knowledge, beyond just understanding as a Western scientific geological process,” Hoʻomanawanui said. “It’s a complete experience that is inclusive of that [scientific] knowledge but goes way beyond it.”

“We don’t have the words for belief or faith in this stuff,” she said. Instead, she said, Westerners should see Hawaiian customary belief as a practice and as a way of understanding the world."
hawaii  lava  science  names  naming  knowledge  volcanoes  complacency  indigeneity  2018  culture  language  languages  morethanhuman  geography  local  classideas  placenames 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Inland surfing // Booming economy // Best O.C. restaurants
"15. State of many Humboldts

In California, a county, a bay, a university, and a state park all bear the name of Alexander von Humboldt, the Prussian naturalist whose fame was once regarded as second only to Napoleon.

“Yet Humboldt,” writes Andrea Wulf, a Humboldt biographer, “is almost forgotten in the English-speaking world.”

Born to wealth in 1769, Humboldt walked away from his aristocratic life in Berlin to embark on a five-year exploration of Latin America. His goal, he wrote, was to discover “the unity of nature.” He navigated the Orinoco River and walked thousands of miles through the Andes, climbing Chimborazo along the way — regarded incorrectly at the time as the world’s tallest peak.

Everywhere Humboldt went, he took measurements. He sketched hieroglyphs, transcribed indigenous vocabularies, gauged the blueness of the sky, and collected 60,000 botanical specimens. 

Upon his return, he settled in Paris and published international best-sellers advancing the theory that all organisms were woven together in a “net-like intricate fabric.” He argued that the “insatiable avarice” of Spanish colonialists had caused incalculable harm to native cultures and stately forests.

His admirers included figures as diverse as Thomas Jefferson, Simón Bolívar, and Charles Darwin, who said that Humboldt’s writings inspired him to board the Beagle.

Over time, Humboldt’s namesakes became legion. Among them was a squid, a penguin, a glacier, an ocean current, and a lily. He never visited California. Even so, a pair of mariners exploring the north coast in 1850 named a bay after him. Humboldt County and Humboldt State Normal College, later renamed Humboldt State University, followed. 

It was on this week in 1859, that Humboldt died at the age of 89. Yet even as American newspapers eulogized him as the “most remarkable man ever born,” he soon faded in the popular imagination. 

About nine years after Humboldt’s death, the Scottish-American wanderer John Muir arrived in California, his head filled with the ideas of the great Prussian polymath. "How intensely I desire to be a Humboldt!" Muir wrote to a friend. Muir’s writings about the sanctity of the natural world later made him a giant of the environmental movement. 

According to Wulf, many of Muir’s more famous lines — along with those of Henry David Thoreau and George Perkins Marsh — were derived from their reading of Alexander von Humboldt."
alexandervonhumboldt  classideas  andreawulf  histoy  california  nature  science  naturalists  interconnected  interdependence  ecology  johnmuir 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Scientists Still Can't Decide How to Define a Tree - The Atlantic
"So far, there is no standout gene or set of genes that confers tree-ness, nor any particular genome feature. Complexity? Nope: Full-on, whole-genome duplication (an often-used proxy for complexity) is prevalent throughout the plant kingdom. Genome size? Nope: Both the largest and smallest plant genomes belong to herbaceous species (Paris japonica and Genlisea tuberosa, respectively—the former a showy little white-flowered herb, the latter a tiny, carnivorous thing that traps and eats protozoans).

A chat with Neale confirms that tree-ness is probably more about what genes are turned on than what genes are present. “From the perspective of the genome, they basically have all the same stuff as herbaceous plants,” he said. “Trees are big, they’re woody, they can get water from the ground to up high. But there does not seem to be some profound unique biology that distinguishes a tree from a herbaceous plant.”

Notwithstanding the difficulty in defining them, being a tree has undeniable advantages—it allows plants to exploit the upper reaches where they can soak up sunlight and disperse pollen and seeds with less interference than their ground-dwelling kin. So maybe it’s time to start thinking of tree as a verb, rather than a noun—tree-ing, or tree-ifying. It’s a strategy, a way of being, like swimming or flying, even though to our eyes it’s happening in very slow motion. Tree-ing with no finish in sight—until an ax, or a pest, or a bolt of Thanksgiving lightning strikes it down."
biology  botany  classification  trees  2018  verbs  rachelehrenberg  plants  science  genetics  multispecies  wood  longevity  andrewgroover  ronaldlanner  evolution  davidneale  genomes  complexity 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Birds can see Earth's magnetic fields, and we finally know how that's possible
"The mystery behind how birds navigate might finally be solved: it's not the iron in their beaks providing a magnetic compass, but a newly discovered protein in their eyes that lets them "see" Earth's magnetic fields.

These findings come courtesy of two new papers - one studying robins, the other zebra finches.

The fancy eye protein is called Cry4, and it's part of a class of proteins called cryptochromes - photoreceptors sensitive to blue light, found in both plants and animals. These proteins play a role in regulating circadian rhythms.

There's also been evidence in recent years that, in birds, the cryptochromes in their eyes are responsible for their ability to orient themselves by detecting magnetic fields, a sense called magnetoreception.

We know that birds can only sense magnetic fields if certain wavelengths of light are available - specifically, studies have shown that avian magnetoreception seems dependent on blue light.

This seems to confirm that the mechanism is a visual one, based in the cryptochromes, which may be able to detect the fields because of quantum coherence.

To find more clues on these cryptochromes, two teams of biologists set to work. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden studied zebra finches, and researchers from the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg in Germany studied European robins.

The Lund team measured gene expression of three cryptochromes, Cry1, Cry2 and Cry4, in the brains, muscles and eyes of zebra finches. Their hypothesis was that the cryptochromes associated with magnetoreception should maintain constant reception over the circadian day.

They found that, as expected for circadian clock genes, Cry1 and Cry2 fluctuated daily - but Cry4 expressed at constant levels, making it the most likely candidate for magnetoreception.

This finding was supported by the robin study, which found the same thing.

"We also found that Cry1a, Cry1b, and Cry2 mRNA display robust circadian oscillation patterns, whereas Cry4 shows only a weak circadian oscillation," the researchers wrote.

But they made a couple of other interesting findings, too. The first is that Cry4 is clustered in a region of the retina that receives a lot of light - which makes sense for light-dependent magnetoreception.

The other is that European robins have increased Cry4 expression during the migratory season, compared to non-migratory chickens.

Both sets of researchers caution that more research is needed before Cry4 can be declared the protein responsible for magnetoreception.

The evidence is strong, but it's not definitive, and both Cry1 and Cry2 have also been implicated in magnetoreception, the former in garden warblers and the latter in fruit flies.

Observing birds with non-functioning Cry4 could help confirm the role it seems to play, while other studies will be needed to figure Cry1's role.

So what does a bird actually see? Well, we can't ever know what the world looks like through another species' eyes, but we can take a very strong guess.

According to researchers at the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose researcher Klaus Schulten first predicted magnetoreceptive cryptochromes in 1978, they could provide a magnetic field "filter" over the bird's field of view - like in the picture above.

The zebra finch study was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and the robin study was published in Current Biology."
birds  science  vision  navigation  2018  animals  nature  wildlife 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
ties and insight | sara hendren
"Jill Lepore on the writing of Rachel Carson, in the new New Yorker:
Carson’s father died in 1935, followed, two years later, by her older sister, leaving Carson to care for her mother and her nieces, ages eleven and twelve; she later adopted her grandnephew, when he was orphaned at the age of four. These obligations sometimes frustrated Carson, but not half as much as they frustrate her biographers. For [these biographers], Carson’s familial obligations—in particular, the children—are nothing but burdens that “deprived her of privacy and drained her physical and emotional energy.” They mean this generously, as a way of accounting for why Carson didn’t write more, and why, except for her Sun articles, she never once submitted a manuscript on time.

But caring for other people brings its own knowledge. Carson came to see the world as beautiful, wild, animal, and vulnerable, each part attached to every other part, not only through prodigious scientific research but also through a lifetime of caring for the very old and the very young, wiping a dying man’s brow, tucking motherless girls into bed, heating up dinners for a lonely little boy. The domestic pervades Carson’s understanding of nature. “Wildlife, it is pointed out, is dwindling because its home is being destroyed,” she wrote in 1938, “but the home of the wildlife is also our home.” If she’d had fewer ties, she would have had less insight."
care  caring  jilllepore  rachelcarson  children  emotionallabor  vulnerability  science  age  aging  nature  understanding  howwelearn  wildlife  sustainability  biographies  biographers 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
"We were founded in 2009 on the simple idea that humans love to learn, and intentionally design an educational experience that supports this in our classrooms. The result is an exciting intellectual and social environment where students leave a class or a summer camp fulfilled, energized, and excited to continue exploring these ideas.

QuantumCamp is a school enterprise with a core mission of delivering amazing, hands-on math and science courses to kids via three main platforms:

1. In-School Labs
2. Home School
3. Summer Camps

Both homeschoolers and summer campers come from all backgrounds and from all academic skill levels. QuantumCamp students come from all nine Bay Area counties.


QuantumCamp instructors are given one main task: facilitate an environment which allows student-driven discovery. We pride ourselves on our curriculum - developed by in-house content experts, and value the importance of collaboration. We are looking for innovative educators, who are excited to teach small classes, and contribute to our growing math and science program."
homeschool  marin  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  bayarea  camps  math  science 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Inside Einstein's head - an explorable explanation of relativistic spacetime
"An explorable explanation of relativistic spacetime, inspired by Albert Einstein's thought experiments."
via:lukeneff  examples  science  visualization  explainer  classideas  alberteinstein 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Drupe - Wikipedia
"In botany, a drupe (or stone fruit) is an indehiscent fruit in which an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounds a single shell (the pit, stone, or pyrene) of hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside.[1] These fruits usually develop from a single carpel, and mostly from flowers with superior ovaries[1] (polypyrenous drupes are exceptions). The definitive characteristic of a drupe is that the hard, "lignified" stone (or pit) is derived from the ovary wall of the flower—in an aggregate fruit composed of small, individual drupes (such as a raspberry), each individual is termed a drupelet and may together form a botanic berry.

Other fleshy fruits may have a stony enclosure that comes from the seed coat surrounding the seed, but such fruits are not drupes.

Some flowering plants that produce drupes are coffee, jujube, mango, olive, most palms (including date, sabal, coconut and oil palms), pistachio, white sapote, cashew, and all members of the genus Prunus, including the almond (in which the mesocarp is somewhat leathery), apricot, cherry, damson, nectarine, peach, and plum.

The term drupaceous is applied to a fruit which has the structure and texture of a drupe,[2] but which does not precisely fit the definition of a drupe."
fruit  classideas  stonefruits  peaches  vocabulary  botany  plants  science 
march 2018 by robertogreco
MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies Special Collection
"Welcome to the online repository of MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) Special Collection, part of the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) Archives and Special Collections.

The CAVS Special Collection documents a nearly 45 year history of collaborative and time-based productions generated by the tenure of over 200 internationally recognized artist-fellows. This digitized, “virtual museum” includes images, publications, posters, documents, portfolios, videos and other materials of historic importance documenting the process of creating art-science-technology projects at CAVS. This site presents experimental ways in which to explore collection materials.

The Works page connects users to CAVS art works and projects, which can be browsed chronologically, or by subject or format.

The People page provides several methods for browsing artists, scientists, and others affiliated with CAVS.

The About page includes more information about CAVS, ACT, and this project.

You may also browse a randomized 3-dimensional environment of collection materials below (double click an image to view the item record)."

".@ACTMIT launched the online repository of the CAVS (Center for Advanced Visual Studies) archive! Super excited for this weird and wonderful website, and the important works within: "

"More Shannon Mattern Retweeted Ann Lui
So much amazing material here, documenting an important center for experimentation in art/science/tech -- and such a fitting interface. A great case study for ppl studying + developing digital collections." ]
archives  art  installation  cvs  mit  science  technology  experimentation  collections 
february 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon,, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Wrong - By David H. Freedman - The New York Times
"Putting trust in experts who are probably wrong is only part of the problem. The other side of the coin is that many people have all but given up on getting good advice from experts. The total effect of all the contradicting and shifting pronouncements is to make expert conclusions at times sound like so much blather — a background noise of modern life. I think by now most of us have at some point caught ourselves thinking, or at least have heard from people around us, something along these lines: Experts! One day they say vitamin X / coffee / wine / drug Y / a big mortgage / baby learning videos / Six Sigma / multitasking / clean homes / arguing / investment Z is a good thing, and the next they say it’s a bad thing. Why bother paying attention? I might as well just do what I feel like doing. Do we really want to just give up on expertise in this way? Even if experts usually fail to give us the clear, reliable guidance we need, there are still situations, as we’ll see, where failing to follow their advice can be self-defeating and even deadly.

So I’m not going to spend much time trying to convince you that experts are often, and possibly usually, wrong. Instead, this book is about why expertise goes wrong and how we may be able to do a better job of seeking out more trustworthy expert advice. To that end, we’re going to look at how experts — including scientists, business gurus, and our other highly trusted sources of wisdom — fall prey to a range of measurement errors, how they come to have deep biases that lead them into gamesmanship and even outright dishonesty, and how interactions among them tend to worsen rather than correct for these problems. We’re also going to examine the ways in which the media sort through the flow of dubious expert pronouncements and further distort them, as well as how we ourselves are drawn to the worst of this shoddy output, and how we end up being even more misled on the Internet. Finally, we’ll try to extract from everything we’ve discovered a set of rough guidelines that can help to separate the most suspect expert advice from the stuff that has a better chance of holding up.

As I said, most people are quite comfortable with the notion that there’s a real problem with experts. But some — mostly experts — do in fact take objection to that claim. Here are the three objections I encountered the most often, along with quick responses.

(1) If experts are so wrong, why are we so much better off now than we were fifty or a hundred years ago? One distinguished professor put it to me this way in an e-mail note: “Our life expectancy has almost doubled in the past seventy-five years, and that’s because of experts.” Actually, the vast majority of that gain came earlier in the twentieth century from a very few sharp improvements, and especially from the antismoking movement. As for all of the drugs, diagnostic tools, surgical techniques, medical devices, lists of foods to eat and avoid, and impressive breakthrough procedures and technologies that fill medical journals and trickle down into media reports, consider this: between 1978 and 2001, according to one highly regarded study, U.S. life spans increased fewer than three years on average — when the drop in smoking rates slowed around 1990, so did life-expectancy gains. It’s hard to claim we’re floating on an ocean of marvelously effective advice from a range of experts when we’ve been skirting the edges of a new depression, the divorce rate is around 50 percent, energy prices occasionally skyrocket, obesity rates are climbing, children’s test scores are declining, we’re forced to worry about terrorist and even nuclear attacks, 118 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written annually in the United States, chunks of our food supply periodically become tainted, and, well, you get the idea. Perhaps a reasonable model for expert advice is one I might call “punctuated wrongness” — that is, experts usually mislead us, but every once in a while they come up with truly helpful advice.

(2) Sure, experts have been mostly wrong in the past, but now they’re on top of things. In mid-2008 experts were standing in line to talk about the extensive, foolproof controls protecting our banks and other financial institutions that weren’t in place in the late 1920s — just before those institutions started collapsing. Cancer experts shake their heads today over the ways in which generations of predecessors wasted decades hunting down the mythical environmental or viral roots of most cancers, before pronouncing as a sure thing the more recent theory of how cancer is caused by mutations in a small number of genes — a theory that, as we’ll see, has yielded almost no benefits to patients after two decades. Most everyone missed what was happening to our climate, or even spoke of a global cooling crisis, until we came to today’s absolutely certain understanding of global warming and its man-made causes — well, we’ll see how that turns out. How could we have been so foolish before? And what sort of fool would question today’s experts’ beliefs? In any case, the claim that we’ve come from wrong ideas to right ideas suggests that there’s a consensus of experts today on what the right ideas are. But there is often nothing close to such a consensus. When experts’ beliefs clash, somebody has to be wrong — hardly a sign of an imminent convergence on truth.

And, finally, (3) So what if experts are usually wrong? That’s the nature of expert knowledge — it progresses slowly as it feels its way through difficult questions. Well, sure, we live in a complex world without easy answers, so we might well expect to see our experts make plenty of missteps as they steadily chip away at the truth. I’m not saying that experts don’t make any progress, or that they ought to have figured it all out long ago. I’m suggesting three things: we ought to be fully aware of how large a percentage of expert advice is flawed; we should find out if there are perhaps much more disconcerting reasons why experts so frequently get off track other than “that’s just the nature of the beast”; and we ought to take the trouble to see if we can come up with clues that will help distinguish better expert advice from fishier stuff. And, by the way, if experts are so comfortable with the notion that their efforts ought to be expected to spit out mostly wrong answers, why don’t they work a little harder to get this useful piece of information across to us when they’re interviewed on morning news shows or in newspaper articles, and not just when they’re confronted with their errors?

Given that I’ve already started throwing the term “expert” around left and right, I suppose I ought to make sure you know what I mean by the word. Academics study “expertise” in pianists, athletes, burglars, birds, infants, computers, trial witnesses, and captains of industry, to name just a few examples. But when I say “expert,” I’m mostly thinking of someone whom the mass media might quote as a credible authority on some topic — the sorts of people we’re usually referring to when we say things like “According to experts . . .” These are what I would call “mass” or “public” experts, people in a position to render opinions or findings that a large number of us might hear about and choose to take into account in making decisions that could affect our lives. Scientists are an especially important example, but I’m also interested in, for example, business, parenting, and sports experts who gain some public recognition for their experience and insight. I’ll also have some things to say about pop gurus, celebrity advice givers, and media pundits, as well as about what I call “local” experts — everyday practitioners such as non-research-oriented doctors, stockbrokers, and auto mechanics.

I’ve heard it said, half kiddingly, that meteorologists are the only people who get paid to be wrong. I would argue that in that sense most of our experts are paid to be wrong, and are probably wrong a much higher percentage of the time than are meteorologists. I’m going to show that although the process of wringing useful insights and advice from complex subjects may indeed be an inherently slow and erratic one, there are many other, less benign reasons why experts go astray. In fact, we’ll see that expert pronouncements are pushed toward wrongness so strongly that in the end it’s harder, I think, to explain why they’re sometimes right. But that doesn’t mean we’re hopelessly mired in this swamp of bad advice. With a decent compass, we can find our way out. Let’s start by exploring some of the muck."
experts  expertise  authority  2010  davidfreedman  wrongness  science  medicine 
february 2018 by robertogreco
When Scientists "Discover" What Indigenous People Have Known For Centuries | Science | Smithsonian
"Our knowledge of what animals do when humans aren’t around has steadily increased over the last 50 years. For example, we know now that animals use tools in their daily lives. Chimps use twigs to fish for termites; sea otters break open shellfish on rocks they selected; octopi carry coconut shell halves to later use as shelters. But the latest discovery has taken this assessment to new heights—literally.

A team of researchers led by Mark Bonta and Robert Gosford in northern Australia has documented kites and falcons, colloquially termed “firehawks,” intentionally carrying burning sticks to spread fire. While it has long been known that birds will take advantage of natural fires that cause insects, rodents and reptiles to flee and thus increase feeding opportunities, that they would intercede to spread fire to unburned locales is astounding.

It’s thus no surprise that this study has attracted great attention as it adds intentionality and planning to the repertoire of non-human use of tools. Previous accounts of avian use of fire have been dismissed or at least viewed with some skepticism.

But while new to Western science, the behaviors of the nighthawks have long been known to the Alawa, MalakMalak, Jawoyn and other Indigenous peoples of northern Australia whose ancestors occupied their lands for tens of thousands of years. Unlike most scientific studies, Bonta and Gosford’s team foregrounded their research in traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge. They also note that local awareness of the behavior of the firehawks is ingrained within some of their ceremonial practices, beliefs and creation accounts.

The worldwide attention given to the firehawks article provides an opportunity to explore the double standard that exists concerning the acceptance of Traditional Knowledge by practitioners of Western science.

Traditional Knowledge ranges from medicinal properties of plants and insights into the value of biological diversity to caribou migration patterns and the effects of intentional burning of the landscape to manage particular resources. Today, it’s become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, ethnobotanists, climatologists and others. For example, some climatology studies have incorporated Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) to explain changes in sea ice conditions observed over many generations.

Yet despite the wide acknowledgement of their demonstrated value, many scientists continue to have had an uneasy alliance with Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous oral histories.

On the one hand, these types of knowledge are valued when they support or supplements archaeological, or other scientific evidence. But when the situation is reversed—when Traditional Knowledge is seen to challenge scientific “truths —then its utility is questioned or dismissed as myth. Science is promoted as objective, quantifiable, and the foundation for “real” knowledge creation or evaluation while Traditional Knowledge may be seen as anecdotal, imprecise and unfamiliar in form.

Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world, past and present?

Ways of Knowing

There are many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.

For instance, in the past two decades, archaeologists and environmental scientists working in coastal British Columbia have come to recognize evidence of mariculture—the intentional management of marine resources—that pre-dates European settlement. Over the course of thousands of years, the ancestors of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other Indigenous groups there created and maintained what have become known as “clam gardens”—rock-walled, terrace-like constructions that provide ideal habit for butter clams and other edible shellfish.

To the Kwakwaka’wakw, these were known as loxiwey, according to Clan Chief Adam Dick (Kwaxsistalla) who has shared this term and his knowledge of the practice with researchers. As marine ecologist Amy Groesbeck and colleagues have demonstrated, these structures increase shellfish productivity and resource security significantly. This resource management strategy reflects a sophisticated body of ecological understanding and practice that predates modern management systems by millennia.

These published research studies now prove that Indigenous communities knew about mariculture for generations—but Western scientists never asked them about it before. Once tangible remains were detected, it was clear mariculture management was in use for thousands of years. There is a move underway by various Indigenous communities in the region to restore and recreate clam gardens and put them back into use.

A second example demonstrates how Indigenous oral histories correct inaccurate or incomplete historical accounts. There are significant differences between Lakota and Cheyenne accounts of what transpired at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) in 1876, and the historical accounts that appeared soon after the battle by white commentators.

The Lakota and Cheyenne can be considered more objective than white accounts of the battle that are tainted by Eurocentric bias. The ledger drawings of Red Horse, a Minneconjou Sioux participant in the battle, record precise details such as trooper’s uniforms, the location of wounds on horses, and the distribution of Indian and white casualties.

In 1984, a fire at the battleground revealed military artifacts and human remains that prompted archaeological excavations. What this work revealed was a new, more accurate history of the battle that validated many elements of the Native American oral histories and accompanying pictographs and drawings of the events. However, without the archaeological evidence, many historians gave limited credence to the accounts obtained from the participating Native American warriors.

Hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights. The travels of Glooscap, a major figure in Abenaki oral history and worldview, are found throughout the Mi’kmaw homeland of the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada. As a Transformer, Glooscap created many landscape features. Anthropologist Trudy Sable (Saint Mary’s University) has noted a significant degree of correlation between places named in Mi’kmaw legends and oral histories and recorded archaeological sites.

Opportunities at the Intersection

As ways of knowing, Western and Indigenous Knowledge share several important and fundamental attributes. Both are constantly verified through repetition and verification, inference and prediction, empirical observations and recognition of pattern events.

While some actions leave no physical evidence (e.g. clam cultivation), and some experiments can’t be replicated (e.g. cold fusion), in the case of Indigenous knowledge, the absence of “empirical evidence” can be damning in terms of wider acceptance.

Some types of Indigenous knowledge, however, simply fall outside the realm of prior Western understanding. In contrast to Western knowledge, which tends to be text-based, reductionist, hierarchical and dependent on categorization (putting things into categories), Indigenous science does not strive for a universal set of explanations but is particularistic in orientation and often contextual. This can be a boon to Western science: hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights.

There are partnerships developing worldwide with Indigenous knowledge holders and Western scientists working together. This includes Traditional Ecological Knowledge informing government policies on resource management in some instances. But it is nonetheless problematic when their knowledge, which has been dismissed for so long by so many, becomes a valuable data set or used selectively by academics and others.

To return to the firehawks example, one way to look at this is that the scientists confirmed what the Indigenous peoples have long known about the birds’ use of fire. Or we can say that the Western scientists finally caught up with Traditional Knowledge after several thousand years."

[See also:
"How Western science is finally catching up to Indigenous knowledge: Traditional knowledge has become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, climatologists and others"

"It’s taken thousands of years, but Western science is finally catching up to Traditional Knowledge" ]
science  indigenous  knowledge  archaeology  ecology  biology  climatology  climate  animals  nature  amygroesbeck  research  clams  butterclams  birds  morethanhuman  multispecies  knowing  scientism  anthropology  categorization  hierarchy  hawks  firehawks  fire  landscape  place  nativeamericans  eurocentricity  battleofgreasygrass  littlebighorn  adamdick  kwaxsistalla  clamgardens  shellfish  stewardship  inuit  australia  us  canada  markbonta  robertgosford  kites  falcons  trudysable  placenames  oralhistory  oralhistories  history  mariculture 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Una mutación social acecha a la humanidad
"las transformaciones del trabajo y de la subjetividad provocadas por la globalización y la financiarización de la economía: la desterritorialización, la precarización del empleo, el declive de la burguesía y el proletariado y su paulatina reemplazo por el “cognitariado” y la clase ejecutiva financiera, el sometimiento de los trabajadores por dispositivos de automatización y control, cuyos efectos incluyen la dificultad para crear formas de solidaridad y de relación cuerpo a cuerpo."

"Me interesa en particular la separación entre el ingeniero y el poeta, entre el conocimiento científico y la imaginación artística, que es una consecuencia de la reducción de la formación, la educación y el sistema escolar y universitario a meras herramientas para la acumulación financiera. El declive de la enseñanza humanística, la introducción de criterios puramente económicos en el pensamiento científico y en la innovación tecnológica son los efectos más evidentes y peligrosos de la sumisión del conocimiento al provecho económico. En este contexto, la figura del economista domina abusivamente el panorama cognitivo. ¿Qué es la economía? ¿Una ciencia? No me parece. La ciencia se define ante todo por su objeto, por la capacidad de formular leyes universales que nos permiten prever los acontecimientos futuros. La economía no tiene un objeto independiente de su actuación, y por ende me parece una técnica, no una ciencia. El problema es que esta técnica pretende reglar las otras formas de conocimiento según un principio que no pertenece a la ciencia, sino al interés de una minoría. La reducción de la dinámica social al provecho económico devino el dogma central del pensamiento contemporáneo: no se puede decir, pensar ni investigar nada si no sirve a la acumulación de capital."
work  labor  economics  solidarity  2018  francoberardi  precarity  capitalism  humanism  disciplines  finance  universities  colleges  education  highered  highereducation  science  humanities 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Exploding Chocolate Teacakes - Gastro Obscura
"In the 1960s, Royal Air Force pilots made a startling discovery about their sweets."

"When Tony Cunnane joined the Royal Air Force in 1953, chocolate teacakes were “all the rage.” Employees aboard strategic nuclear strike aircrafts requested the snack be added to their in-flight ration boxes. But this wasn’t just a sugary jolt to fuel their Cold War training. Chocolate-coated marshmallow teacakes had become, as Cunnane described it, “the subject of some rather unscientific in-flight experiments.”

Shortly after the foil-wrapped treats appeared in RAF ration packs, pilots began to notice that as altitude increased, the teacakes expanded. At 15,000 feet, the marshmallow interior cracked the chocolate shell. Air crews removed the teacakes from their silver foil packaging and perched them around the cabin for observation. The aerated marshmallow continued to swell as pressure changed, and the sweets became too big to eat in one bite. Many noted that, despite the extreme physical effects, the expansion didn’t compromise the taste.

But the expanding teacakes’ fame was short-lived. After a period of marshmallow fever aboard the V-Bombers departing from Gaydon air base, an explosion put a stop to the fun. During the summer of 1965, a captain and student pilot forgot they had placed unwrapped teacakes above their instrument panels. When the captain pulled an emergency depressurizing switch during a training mission, the treats erupted. Shards of chocolate and marshmallow hit the windshield, flight controls, and the mens’ uniforms.

Shortly thereafter, the RAF put marshmallows on their no-fly list. Decades later, The Telegraph recounted the incident with an article entitled “Deadly Teacakes.” Thankfully, no lives were lost in the explosion.

Need to Know
While it's never been confirmed, it's likely the pilots' chocolate teacakes were Tunnock's, a still-popular brand in the United Kingdom. Under normal circumstances, they won't explode."
classideas  flight  science  food  1960s 
february 2018 by robertogreco
"A Planetary Perspective
Our planet is changing dramatically, and changing fast—all because of human activity. The vast majority of Earth’s species extinctions, resource depletion, freshwater decline, and climate change are caused by how we use and produce food, water, and energy. Changing course to build a better future is still within our grasp. By working together and looking to science and nature for guidance, we can find a new way forward.

A Plan for the Future We Want
To tackle our biggest environmental challenges, we should zero-in on their direct causes: how we use and produce food, water, and energy. Once we address these systems, we can rethink the ways we live our lives. What are the underlying causes of our environmental crises, including population growth and our unsustainable consumer throw-away culture, and how can we learn to avoid them in the future?

Rethinking Food, Water, Energy, and Ourselves
Food:Fixing our food system
Water: Protecting our water resources
Energy: Reimagining our energy system
Us: Reinventing ourselves

Solutions in Action
PlanetVision is here to inspire communities, businesses, governments, and individuals to turn world-changing ideas into action. How can you help? Explore impactful actions you can take to help the environment by addressing food, water, energy, and our everyday lifestyle choices. Individual actions can scale to be a big part of the solutions we need. Discover how you can multiply your inspirational and environmental impact for a better future.

Join PlanetVision
Incredible things are possible when we work together, focus on solutions, and cultivate hope for a better world. Join the community and stay up to date."

[See also: ]
planetvision  californiaacademyofsciences  climatechange  eneregy  food  water  science  nature  sustainability  systems  systemsthinking  population  classideas 
january 2018 by robertogreco
HEWN, No. 250
"I wrote a book review this week of Brian Dear’s The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold History of of PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture. My review’s a rumination on how powerful the mythologizing is around tech, around a certain version of the history of technology – “the Silicon Valley narrative,” as I’ve called this elsewhere – so much so that we can hardly imagine that there are other stories to tell, other technologies to build, other practices to adopt, other ways of being, and so on.

I was working on the book review when I heard the news Tuesday evening that the great author Ursula K. Le Guin had passed away, I immediately thought of her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” – her thoughts on storytelling about spears and storytelling about bags and what we might glean from a culture (and a genre) that praises the former and denigrates the latter.
If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic. “Technology,” or “modern science” (using the words as they are usually used, in an unexamined shorthand standing for the “hard” sciences and high technology founded upon continuous economic growth), is a heroic undertaking, Herculean, Promethean, conceived as triumph, hence ultimately as tragedy. The fiction embodying this myth will be, and has been, triumphant (Man conquers earth, space, aliens, death, the future, etc.) and tragic (apocalypse, holocaust, then or now).

If, however, one avoids the linear, progressive, Time’s-(killing)-arrow mode of the Techno-Heroic, and redefines technology and science as primarily cultural carrier bag rather than weapon of domination, one pleasant side effect is that science fiction can be seen as a far less rigid, narrow field, not necessarily Promethean or apocalyptic at all, and in fact less a mythological genre than a realistic one.

The problems of technology – and the problems of the storytelling about the computing industry today, which seems to regularly turn to the worst science fiction for inspiration – is bound up in all this. There’s a strong desire to create, crown, and laud the Hero – a tendency that’s going to end pretty badly if we don’t start thinking about care and community (and carrier bags) and dial back this wretched fascination with weapons, destruction, and disruption.

(Something like this, I wonder: “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin.)

Elsewhere in the history of the future of technology: “Sorry, Alexa Is Not a Feminist,” says Ian Bogost. “The People Who Would Survive Nuclear War” by Alexis Madrigal.

There are many reasons to adore Ursula K. Le Guin. And there are many pieces of her writing, of course, one could point to and insist “you must read this. You must.” For me, the attraction was her grounding in cultural anthropology – I met Le Guin at a California Folklore Society almost 20 years ago when I was a graduate student in Folklore Studies – alongside her willingness to challenge the racism and imperialism and expropriation that the field engendered. It was her fierce criticism of capitalism and her commitment to freedom. I’m willing to fight anyone who tries to insist that Sometimes a Great Notion is the great novel of the Pacific Northwest. Really, you should pick almost any Le Guin novel in its stead – Always Coming Home, perhaps. Or The Word for the World is Forest. She was the most important anarchist of our era, I posted on Facebook when I shared the NYT obituary. It was a jab at another Oregon writer who I bet thinks that’s him. But like Kesey, his notion is all wrong.

Fewer Heroes. Better stories about people. Better worlds for people.

Yours in struggle,
audreywatters  ursulaleguin  2018  anarchism  sciencefiction  scifi  technology  edtech  progress  storytelling  care  community  caring  folklore  anarchy  computing  siliconvalley  war  aggression  humanism  briandear  myth  heroes  science  modernscience  hardsciences  economics  growth  fiction  tragedy  apocalypse  holocaust  future  conquest  domination  weapons  destruction  disruption 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Reasons To Be Cheerful
"I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.

The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.

What is Reasons To Be Cheerful?

I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, "Oh no!" Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us of all persuasions and party affiliations feel remarkably similar.

As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, "Hey, there's actually some positive stuff going on!" Almost all of these initiatives are local, they come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.

I will post thoughts, images and audio relating to this initiative on whichever platform seems suitable and I’ll welcome contributions from others, if they follow the guidelines I’ve set for myself.

These bits of good news tend to fall into a few categories:

Civic Engagement

Culture, music and the arts might include, optimistically, some of my own work and projects, but just as much I hope to promote the work of others that has a proven track record.

Why do I do this? Why take the time? Therapy, I guess, though once in awhile I meet someone who has the connections and skills but might not be aware of some of these initiatives and innovations, so I can pass the information on. I sense that not all of this is widely known.

Emulation of successful models- 4 guidelines

I laid out 4 guidelines as I collected these examples:

1. Most of the good stuff is local. It’s more bottom up, community and individually driven. There are exceptions.

2. Many examples come from all over the world, but despite the geographical and cultural distances in many cases others can adopt these ideas—these initiatives can be utilized by cultures other than where they originated.

3. Very important. All of these examples have been tried and proven to be successful. These are not merely good IDEAS; they’ve been put into practice and have produced results.

4. The examples are not one-off, isolated or human interest, feel-good stories. They’re not stories of one amazing teacher, doctor, musician or activist- they’re about initiatives that can be copied and scaled up.

If it works, copy it

For example, in an area I know something about, there was an innovative bike program in Bogota, and years later, I saw that program become a model for New York and for other places.

The Ciclovia program in Bogota"
davidbyrne  politics  urban  urbanism  bogotá  curitiba  addiction  portugal  colombia  brazil  brasil  jaimelerner  cities  society  policy  qualityoflife  economics  drugs  health  healthcare  crime  ciclovia  bikes  biking  bikesharing  activism  civics  citybike  nyc  medellín  afroreggae  vigariogeral  favelas  obesity  childabuse  education  casamantequilla  harlem  civicengagment  engagement  women'smarch  northcarolina  ingridlafleur  afrotopia  detroit  seattle  citizenuniversity  tishuanajones  sunra  afrofuturism  stlouis  vancouver  britishcolumbia  transportation  publictransit  transit  velib  paris  climatechange  bipartisanship  energy  science  technology  culture  music  art  arts  behavior 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How Birds-of-Paradise Produce Super-Black Feathers - The Atlantic
"Blackbirds, it turns out, aren’t actually all that black. Their feathers absorb most of the visible light that hits them, but still reflect between 3 and 5 percent of it. For really black plumage, you need to travel to Papua New Guinea and track down the birds-of-paradise.

Although these birds are best known for their gaudy, kaleidoscopic colors, some species also have profoundly black feathers. The feathers ruthlessly swallow light and, with it, all hints of edge or contour. They make body parts seem less like parts of an actual animal and more like gaping voids in reality. They’re blacker than black. None more black.

By analyzing museum specimens, Dakota McCoy, from Harvard University, has discovered exactly how the birds achieve such deep blacks. It’s all in their feathers’ microscopic structure.

A typical bird feather has a central shaft called a rachis. Thin branches, or barbs, sprout from the rachis, and even thinner branches—barbules—sprout from the barbs. The whole arrangement is flat, with the rachis, barbs, and barbules all lying on the same plane. The super-black feathers of birds-of-paradise, meanwhile, look very different. Their barbules, instead of lying flat, curve upward. And instead of being smooth cylinders, they are studded in minuscule spikes. “It’s hard to describe,” says McCoy. “It’s like a little bottlebrush or a piece of coral.”

These unique structures excel at capturing light. When light hits a normal feather, it finds a series of horizontal surfaces, and can easily bounce off. But when light hits a super-black feather, it finds a tangled mess of mostly vertical surfaces. Instead of being reflected away, it bounces repeatedly between the barbules and their spikes. With each bounce, a little more of it gets absorbed. Light loses itself within the feathers.

McCoy and her colleagues, including Teresa Feo from the National Museum of Natural History, showed that this light-trapping nanotechnology can absorb up to 99.95 percent of incoming light. That’s between 10 and 100 times better than the feathers of most other black birds, like crows or blackbirds. It’s also only just short of the blackest materials that humans have designed. Vantablack, an eerily black substance produced by the British company Surrey Nanosystems, can absorb 99.965 percent of incoming light. It consists of a forest of vertical carbon nanotubes that are “grown” at more than 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The birds-of-paradise mass-produce similar forests, using only biological materials, at body temperature.

Vantablack is genuinely amazing: It’s so good at absorbing light that if you move a laser onto it, the red dot disappears. But McCoy has created a similar demonstration with her super-black feathers. In the image below, you can see two feathers, both of which have been sprinkled with gold dust. The left one is from the lesser melampitta—a bird of average blackness—and it looks as golden as its surroundings. The right one comes from a paradise riflebird—one of the 42 species of bird-of-paradise. Yes, it is covered in gold dust. And yes, it still looks black. The gold settles within the grooves of microscopic forest, and all of its glitter is lost.

This opens up several other questions, says Rafael Maia from Columbia University, who studies the evolution of bird colors. “Is this something unique to birds-of-paradise, or have other species evolved similar optical solutions?” he says. “If they have, do they use the same type of feather modifications?”

Many animals and plants use microscopic structures to produce exceptionally vivid colors with metallic sheens; this is called iridescence. Comparably fewer species use microscopic structures for the opposite purpose: to absorb colors entirely. These include a few butterflies and the Gaboon viper.

The viper—whose fangs, at two inches, are the longest of any snake—likely uses its super-black scales for camouflage, breaking up its outline so that the rest of its body better blends into the leaf litter of a rainforest. The birds-of-paradise, meanwhile, probably use their unfeasibly black blacks for the same thing that seems to motivate everything about them: sex.

“These likely evolved as an optical illusion, to make adjacent colors seem even brighter than they are,” says McCoy. “Animal eyes and brains are wired to control for the amount of ambient light. That’s why an apple looks red whether it is in the sun or the shade, even though the wavelength hitting our eyes is quite different in those scenarios. A super-black frame inhibits this ability, so nearby colors look like they are very bright—even glowing.”

The male birds use this illusion to great effect. The magnificent riflebird—that’s its adjective, not mine—splays out his super-black wings and flicks his head between them, showing off his electric blue throat. The superb bird-of-paradise—again, that is literally its name—spreads a cape of super-black feathers to highlight the electric blue patches on his cheeks and chest. He ends up looking like a spectral, wide-mouthed face. The six-plumed bird-of-paradise erects a super-black tutu and shimmies about to show off his kaleidoscopic throat bib.

Feathers on birds-of-paradise contain light-trapping nanotechnology that makes some of the deepest blacks in the world.

The illusions work best when viewed straight on. From that angle, the little barbules and spikes are pointing straight at you, and they become better at trapping light. When viewed from the side, the super-blacks lose some of their blackness. That’s why the dancing males take such care to face the objects of their attention, bouncing around so their audience never gets a side view.

Super-black surfaces have plenty of uses for humans, too. They could camouflage military vehicles, help solar panels collect more light, or stop stray light from entering telescopes, improving the ability to spot faint stars. Vantablack can already do all of the above, but McCoy thinks the structure in super-black feathers might still be useful to engineers. “If these could be really cheaply 3-D printed, that would be amazing,” she says."
birds  nature  color  black  biology  biomimcry  science  2018  edyong  nanotechnology  vantablack  blackness 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Duskin Drum » School of advanced studies
At the School of Advanced Studies, duskin drum is a founding professor and researcher in the Material Relations research group. He is an interdisciplinary scholar, artist, performer, and woodsman. In 2017, he completed a doctorate in Performance Studies with designated emphases in Native American Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at University of California, Davis. In 2005, he earned a Bachelors of Arts studying interdisciplinary theatre and performance at Evergreen State College . For 15 years, duskin has been making art and performance in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The Material Relations research group is an interdisciplinary collaboration devising a new theory of love for studying ecologically substantiating human-nonhuman relations including technological relations. duskin is particular interested in nonhumans loving humans, or where people understand and feel themselves to be loved by non-human entities or materials. How does accepting speculation of universal sentience and vitality of nonhumans change the study of material relations?

From his dissertation study of petroleum performances and professional art career, Duskin brings a broad theoretical engagement with material relations at the intersections of indigenous studies, social cultural anthropology, science and technology studies, and ecological art production.

Duskin is considering practices of love in substantive more-than-human human relationships such as petroleum, salmon, and server farms. He also wants to critique how love figures scientific research and language. He is deeply interested ethical and deontic regulations enacted by material entanglements with substantiating nonhuman and more-than-human arrangements.

Duskin’s interests in both the petroleum complex and indigenous legal systems emerge from analyzing and speculating about human-nonhuman ecological relations.

Duskin researches using methods from art practices, cultural anthropology, science and technology studies, ecological criticism, and indigenous studies. Duskin has been developing an innovative performance method. He devises participatory performances that submerge the participants in the crucial questions of his research.

He is also interested in comparative studies of knowledge production by contributing methods like creative practice-as-research, innovations from theatre and performance, and indigenous knowledge practices.

Duskin is also interested in anime, manga and other graphic storytelling.

Additional information is available at duskin’s page and his personal website.

Duskin’s educational background is interdisciplinary, seminar-style and project-driven learning. Even in large lecture classes, he break students into small groups for discussion and activities. He combines reading, writing and experiential learning using techniques from digital media, theatre, performance, and participatory art. Somatic exercises, improvisations, meditation, collaborative writing exercises and performances expose students to and activate different modes of attention and learning.

In his electives, Duskin supports students making final projects in mediums other than the textual essay or report. He encourages students to produce all kinds of media or performance projects instead of traditional essays, and teaches them to develop critical skills appropriate to each medium. In these kinds of practices-as-research projects students keep a reflective production journal that is submitted along with their project, and write a short critical essay reflecting on their creative processes and outcomes of their project. Self-reflection is practical and theoretical. Reflection about personal work becomes a means by which critical ideas, frameworks and interpretations can move from creative practice into other skills and work/study situations."

[See also:

"UT SAS Project Session: Duskin Drum. "Teaching in Tyumen. Wow! Could I?" ]
duskindrum  multispecies  morethanhuman  petroleum  art  artists  performance  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  salmon  serverfarms  ecology  anthropology  culturalanthropology  srg  science  technology  indigenous 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Recurrent Domestication by Lepidoptera of Genes from Their Parasites Mediated by Bracoviruses
"Laila Gasmi, Helene Boulain, Jeremy Gauthier, Aurelie Hua-Van, Karine Musset, Agata K. Jakubowska, Jean-Marc Aury, Anne-Nathalie Volkoff, Elisabeth Huguet, Salvador Herrero , Jean-Michel Drezen"

"Bracoviruses are symbiotic viruses associated with tens of thousands of species of parasitic wasps that develop within the body of lepidopteran hosts and that collectively parasitize caterpillars of virtually every lepidopteran species. Viral particles are produced in the wasp ovaries and injected into host larvae with the wasp eggs. Once in the host body, the viral DNA circles enclosed in the particles integrate into lepidopteran host cell DNA. Here we show that bracovirus DNA sequences have been inserted repeatedly into lepidopteran genomes, indicating this viral DNA can also enter germline cells. The original mode of Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) unveiled here is based on the integrative properties of an endogenous virus that has evolved as a gene transfer agent within parasitic wasp genomes for ≈100 million years. Among the bracovirus genes thus transferred, a phylogenetic analysis indicated that those encoding C-type-lectins most likely originated from the wasp gene set, showing that a bracovirus-mediated gene flux exists between the 2 insect orders Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera. Furthermore, the acquisition of bracovirus sequences that can be expressed by Lepidoptera has resulted in the domestication of several genes that could result in adaptive advantages for the host. Indeed, functional analyses suggest that two of the acquired genes could have a protective role against a common pathogen in the field, baculovirus. From these results, we hypothesize that bracovirus-mediated HGT has played an important role in the evolutionary arms race between Lepidoptera and their pathogens."

[via: ]
multispecies  morethanhuman  genetics  science  pathogens  2015 
january 2018 by robertogreco
2017 Civilisation has been corrupted, would you like to open a new file?
"Moving Forward.

Moving forward in the 21st century requires us to systematically de-corrupt civilisation.

1. We need to collectively buy out legacy interests, dependancies, and blocks – like we did with slavery in the UK to allow us to all move forward, we will need to buy out and systemically make redundant our carbon economy.

2. We need to work to bridge the gap between the sense of justice and the law and reinventing regulation & Goverance to match.

3. We need a new governance model which acknowledges our global interdependence at all scales & focuses on the quality, diversity and integrity Of feedback in all its natures – & recognises the future of Goverance is realtime, contingent and contextual – for more see – Innovation Needs a Boring Revolution [ ]

4. We need to invest in a restorative justice national programme to acknowledge and respect the economic, social, gender and cultural violence many in our society have been faced.

5. We need to out forward a Grand Jubilee not of debt by transgression focused on establishing a fresh start with new ground rules and new social contract. Inviting us all into this new world.

6. We need to put Homo Cívica as the centre of our world as opposed to Homo Economicus – further explored here – Towards a Homo Civica Future [ ]

7. Structurally, this transition needs us recognise the progress in science of being human & the reality of a social injustice 2.0 – as outlined more fully here – Human(e) Revolution [ ]

8. We need us to democratise agency, care, creativity and innovation – as outlined here – Beyond Labour [ ]

9. Detox our emotional addition to a mal-consumer economy driven by Bad Work. Further explored here – The Case for Good Work [ ]

10. We need to embrace Moonshots and System Change – to misquote Cooper from Interstellar – “help us find our place in the stars as opposed to fighting for our place in the dirt.” Further explored here – Moonshots & System Change. [ ]

11. We need to break the duopoly of Market and State – rebuilding the role of Learned Societies, as decentralised agents for advancing the public good – driven by the legitimacy of knowledge, to compliment the legitimacy of the vote and the consumer. Further explored here – Remaking Professionalism. [ ]

12. We need to re-embrace freedom – a democracy of freedom. A freedom not just “to do”, but a freedom for all, where we nurture the conditions for all to be free, all to be intrinsically motivated, organised and purposeful. There can be no coercive pathway to a 21st Century. Further explored here – Democracy of Purpose [ ]

But perhaps, most critically of all, what this reboot requires is for all these programmes, activities and investments to be made together, simultaneously, and openly – a systematic reboot of our civilisation. This future cannot be crawled away from – it must be audaciously fought. It requires audacity, and a belief in a radically better tomorrow. A belief in our humanity, not a grudging nod to diversity – but our complete full on belief in humanity as a whole. This is a tomorrow which needs the future to not be a zero sum game but a world of great abundance. Let us reignite our democracy of dreams and fuel the audacity that is the antidote to fear and our zombie society.

I would put forward any viable new government wishing to take us into the real 21st century as opposed to sustain us in a zombie 20th century, must systemically de-corrupt society. If we are to rebuild a new inclusive economy, we must rebuild trust in ourselves – personally and also collectively – without this there can be no progress."
indyjohar  change  systemsthinking  2018  2017  civilization  society  democracy  governance  economics  carbon  regulation  reinvention  revolution  interdependence  gender  culture  violence  science  care  agency  consumerism  capitalism  work  meaning  purpose  moonshots  systemschange  markets  decentralization  audacity  abundance  inclusivity  corruption 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Goddesses of Venus
"Last year, Eleanor Lutz made a medieval-style map of Mars. As a follow-up, she’s made a topographical map of Venus. The features on Venus are named for female mythological figures & notable women and Lutz provides a small biography for each one on the map. Among those featured on the map are:

Anne Frank
Selu (Cherokee Corn Goddess)
Kali (Hindu Goddess, Mother of Death)
Virginia Woolf
Sedna (Eskimo Whose Fingers Became Seals and Whales)
Ubastet (Egyptian Cat Goddess)
Beatrix Potter
Edith Piaf

Here are the full lists of the craters, mountains, and coronae on Venus."
maps  mapping  women  eleanorlutz  mars  venus  myths  mythology  myth  history  biographies  biography  2017  infoviz  religion  science  space  astronomy 
january 2018 by robertogreco
“My Working Will be the Work:” Maintenance Art and Technologies of Change – The New Inquiry
"In 1973, Mierle Laderman Ukeles staged a series of art performances at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut. In Transfer: The Maintenance of the Art Object, she took over the duties of the museum’s janitor and used his tools to clean a glass case containing a mummy. When she was finished, she stamped her cleaning tools and the mummy case with a rubber stamp, branding them “Maintenance Art Works.” She then transferred the cleaning duties to the museum’s curator, who alone was allowed to handle and conserve artworks. In another performance, Keeper of the Keys, Ukeles took the janitor’s keys and locked and unlocked various offices and rooms in the museum. Once Ukeles had locked an office, it became a Maintenance Artwork and no one was permitted to enter or use the room. Keeper of the Keys created an uproar, as it drastically impacted the work lives of the museum’s staff who pleaded to have certain floors exempted from the project so they could work undisturbed. Ukeles’ performances, examples of conceptual art called “Institutional Critique,” surfaced the hidden labor of maintenance in the museum setting, and the subsequent visibility of this labor proved to be incredibly disruptive to the institution of the museum.

Recently within the history of science and technology, scholars have focused an increasing amount of attention on the maintenance of technology and systems. Maintenance has been long overlooked in favor of a focus on innovation and design practices; the very beginnings of technology have always been more appealing than their often messy or disappointing longer lives. One important aspect of this “turn” to maintenance histories is that the un-and-underpaid labor of women and marginalized people, who are disproportionately relegated to maintenance work, has again become an important site for articulating the history of technology. A similar turn was initiated by scholars, like historian of technology Ruth Schwartz Cowan and others, in the 1980s.

Even before these early efforts, however, art historian and curator Helen Molesworth has argued that women artists, like Ukles and Martha Rosler, were making significant contributions to a discourse about public and private life, and the hidden labor that sustains both. Ukeles and Rosler, despite often being marginalized as “feminist artists,” were in the 1970s making strikingly political art about labor and gender, about technology and potential violence, and about the ability of art itself to sustain and renew utopia and revolution.

In her video piece The Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), Rosler appears behind a table laden with kitchen tools, with the refrigerator, sink, and cupboards of her kitchen as backdrop. The artist works through her collection of kitchen gadgets one by one, alphabetically: A is for apron, K is for knife. But her gestures clash with the setting. Instead of using the knife to mime cutting food, she stabs violently at the air. She ladles invisible soup, but then flings it over her shoulder. Rosler’s deadpan stare and her gestural subversion of the audiences cooking-show set-up expectations make a mockery, or perhaps even a threat, out of the labor of the kitchen. Her misuse of the tools of the kitchen has the effect of stripping the technology of its meaning, making it more “thingy” and, thus, somehow threatening or alienating.

Helen Molesworth has used Ukeles’ performances and Rosler’s video pieces to unpick a largely unquestioned binary had existed for much of the 1980s and 90s between “essentialist” feminist art and the more theory-driven works, which succeeded them in critical estimation. Essentialist works focused on more straightforward imagery of the feminine and the female — of this school, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (1974-79) is considered emblematic. Theory-based works are represented in this debate by conceptual artist Mary Kelly in the Post-Partum Document (1973-79), which consists of text and artifacts that document and analyze Kelly’s relationship to and experience of mothering her son. Molesworth shows that by adding Rosler and Ukeles to this longstanding binary, we can see that all four artists are actually working in an expanded field that investigates maintenance and other forms of hidden labor.

We might venture to expand the field once more, and place these maintenance artworks in a more explicit story about technology. In her influential book More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave, Ruth Schwartz Cowan takes pains to remind us that the modern industrialized household is intimately dependent on the large technological systems of modernity. No plumbing, electricity, gas means no housework. No access to the manufacture of tools and appliances, textiles and packaged foods means no dinner on the table. These artworks show us how the larger technological world as the public sphere, which Ukeles and Rosler contrast with a degraded private sphere, is itself intimately dependant on the invisible labor and technological systems of the home and the invisible labors of maintenance.

Recontextualizing of the labor and tools of housework, and the slightly unsettling effect this has on audiences, is the most important feature of both Ukeles’ and Rosler’s works. They give the viewer a little glimpse of the power that has, ironically, been vested in the home and its laborers by the public sphere that insists, indeed depends, on the private remaining private. These caches of unseen power, levers that can move an economy in their numbers, are also technological levers that rely on tools and systems that have been degraded and devalued because of their connection to maintenance labor.

Ukeles and Rosler remind us the invisible labor of women and marginalized people ensures that those permitted in the public sphere, white able-bodied men, are properly clothed and housed and supported and separated from waste so that they can innovate in comfort. By surfacing this labor and critiquing the ways it has been made invisible, Ukeles and Rosler prefigure scholarly critiques about the labor of women and marginalized people and the hidden histories of maintenance technology that support a public culture of innovation.

In an interview for Artforum, Ukeles talks about how two of the most famous Minimalist artists of the 20th century, Richard Serra and Donald Judd, made artworks that “skimmed the surface” of the industrial, technological world of the public sphere. The universalism of their work depends on the labor of making them which remains invisible and only the artwork itself is available for critique. Meanwhile, Ukeles felt that as both an artist and a mother her labor had become all about care and maintenance. Her decision to commit to an artistic practice of maintenance was an investment in the personal and political act of melding her artistic self to the aspects of herself that were defined by care-work. “My working will be the work,” she declared in her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!.

Ukeles’ radical intervention was to name this invisible work of cleaning, repairing, cooking, and mending Maintenance Art, and to force this labor into spaces that had always privileged the result, not the work that sustains it. Rosler’s critique of the labor of the kitchen is enacted through her alienation from kitchen technologies, a transformation of the object that was mirrored in Ukeles’ branding of the cleaning rag as an artwork and her taking possession of the building keys. These are technology stories, but not the kind we may find most familiar.

Obsession with innovation over preservation is an obsession with those who are allowed to innovate and an indifference to those who are made to maintain. It’s not just an aesthetic matter of what kind of labor seems more appealing; it’s a power structure that requires the domination of others in order to “maintain the change” created by the innovators. Yet, Ukeles meant “maintain the change” in a much more utopian sense, a thread that Molesworth notes in her expanded field of feminist-informed art. The maintenance needed to preserve positive change is itself a worthy and humanistic pursuit and deserves the same status as change itself. The technologies and labors of maintenance, wielded and performed by the marginalized, have the power to disrupt as much as they have the power to sustain.

Further Reading

Helen Molesworth, “House Work and Art Work,” October vol. 92 (Spring 200): 71-97.

Ruth Schwartz Cowan, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technologies form the Open Hearth to the Microwave (Basic Books, 1983). "
art  maintenance  criticaltheory  feminism  annareser  2017  1973  mierleladermanukeles  performance  science  technology  care  caring  caretakers  ruthschartzcowan  1980s  martharosler  1970s  utopia  revolution  resistance  work  labor  productivity  gender  violence  1975  kitchens  helenmolesworth  judychicago  marykelly  ruthschwartzcowan  richardserr  donaldjudd  innovation  preervation 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Fantastically Strange Origin of Most Coal on Earth – Phenomena: Curiously Krulwich
"This is a story about trees—very, very strange looking trees—and some microbes that failed to show up on time. Their non-appearance happened more than 300 million years ago, and what they didn’t do, or rather what happened because they weren’t there, shapes your life and mine.

All you have to do is walk the streets of Beijing or New Delhi or Mexico City: If there’s a smog-laden sky (and there usually is), all that dust blotting out the sun is there because of this story I’m going to tell.

It begins, appropriately enough, in an ancient forest …"

[See also:
"How Fungi Saved the World"

"This was the one and only time in the last 300 million years that the wood-rotting ability evolved. All the fungi today that can digest wood (and a few that can't) are the descendants of that enterprising fungus. Its strategy may have been inelegant, but wood decay played a crucial role in reversing the loss of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and bringing about the end of the Carboniferous period.

What would have happened if white rot fungi had never evolved? We can only speculate, but it's possible the world of today would look a lot like the world at the end of the Carboniferous period – cooler, high in oxygen, and with a denser atmosphere. Dragonflies with foot-and-a-half wingspans might still roam the forests, but the plant life might still be primeval, stifled by the lower carbon dioxide concentrations. Many a homeowner may disagree, but we're lucky wood-rotting fungi evolved. "]


"For 40 million years, trees were not biodegradable.
430 million years before present, the first vascular plants emerged from early tide pools. In order to stay upright, these plants employed cellulose, a chain of simple sugars ... it was easy to make and offered rigid yet flexible support

This is from How Fungi Saved the World.

90 million years later, heralding the Carboniferous period,
plants developed a new kind of support material, called lignin. Lignin was an improvement development over cellulose in several ways: it was harder, more rigid, and, being more complex, almost impossible to digest, which made it ideal for protecting cellulose. With lignin, plants could make wood, and it lead to the first treelike growth form.

But lignin made the lycopod trees a little too successful. Because their leaves were lofted above many herbivores and their trunks were made inedible by lignin, lycopods were virtually impervious to harm.

Dead trees piled up without decomposing. Compacted by weight, they turned to peat and then to coal. 90% of all today's coal is from this period.

Wood pollution lasted 40 million years.
Finally, however, a fungus belonging to the class Agaricomycetes - making it a distant cousin of button mushrooms - did find a crude way to break down lignin. Rather than devise an enzyme to unstitch the lignin molecule, however, it was forced to adapt a more direct strategy. Using a class of enyzmes called peroxidases, the fungus bombarded the wood with highly reactive oxygen molecules, in much the same way one might untie a knot using a flamethrower. This strategy reduced the wood to a carbohydrate-rich slurry from which the fungus could slurp up the edible cellulose.

Which leads me to think:

There's a ton of plastic in the ocean. Why not engineer a fungus to rot it? Having this magical material that lasts forever is absurd. This is a controversial idea I admit. But although I agree that we need to reduce plastic pollution (via social change and by regulatory intervention), cybernetics tells me that's a fragile solution. Homeostasis is to be found in a ecosystem of checks and balances: instead of eternal plastic, we need plastic plus a plastic-rotting fungus plus an effective-but-hard-to-apply fungicide. Then balance can be found."
2016  coal  plants  trees  fungi  science  evolution  classideas  naturalhistory  decomposition  srg  plastic 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Engage – Michael Langan – Medium
"I know a science teacher who loves working with kids so much that he becomes depressed every June knowing that his current group of 8th graders are going to be leaving the middle school. This Science teacher has more high school kids come back to visit him than the rest of the staff combined.

Whats so special about this science teacher? He treats the kids like people. He talks with them like they are equals. He sits with them at lunch. He removes the authority boundaries in his classroom. He gives them freedom, as much as the system allows, during class.

This Science teacher stays after school with anywhere from 10 to 30 students four days a week so that the students can work on science projects for various regional and state science competitions. “If you really want to do science you have to stay after school,” the teacher often says to me with a grin.

When you walk by this science teachers class it is messy. Kids are in the hall throwing balsa wood airplanes, testing mousetrap cars, or working on the computer to learn the mandated “content.” Inside the room kids are everywhere. They are in the corners measuring levers, gluing, cutting, revising and testing. It is loud. It is chaotic and many traditional teachers in the building hate it and suggest that the “inmates are running the asylum” (real quote).

I visit often. I talk with him often. I try to relieve his angst often.
What does he have angst about? Two things usually.
The lesser of the two is the few judgmental adults. The adults that make comments. The adults that judge him passively and not so passively. The adults that remind him that their job is a bit harder because they have “rules” that need to be enforced in their rooms and its difficult “when they come from your room.”

Forget the fact that we have more regional science winners than ever before. Forget the fact that our kids are truly believing again (like they believed when they were much younger) that they like science.
None of that matters. What matters to these few angst causing adults is that the kids are harder to control due to the Science teacher giving the kids some control.

The main area where this teacher has angst is in figuring out how to engage the students. How to create an environment where all of them are in a totally absorbed state of mind without even realizing it. How does he get the kids looking and acting like a group of kids enthralled in a video game….while at the same time meeting the expectations of the institution?

How does he convince the kids to learn for the sake of learning while at the same time saying “clear your desks for the test?” How can he best keep the flow of the learning going while also making sure they know the vocab words that are on the common assessments and state tests?

I walk in this classroom nearly everyday, but when I walked in towards the end of one of his classes this past Wednesday the teacher was sitting down with the students and asking them, imploring them to help him figure out how he can engage ALL of them.
“When you think about learning, when you think back to the times that you were really motivated, what types of things were you doing?” He asked them.

A student answered, “friendly competitions.” Many other students perked up at this answer and chimed in “Yeah, like jeopardy type games, where we collaborate for the answer and stuff.”

“Or like when we made those Rube Goldberg machines and we were trying to beat the other groups.”

The bell rang and I stayed to debrief with the teacher about the conversation he just elicited.
He told me, “before you came in I was telling the students I really needed them to stop worrying about grades, and they told me “we have been taught since kindergarten that the most important thing is to get an A.”

“Yep,” I said. “getting the right answer and the importance of an A is pounded into them at school and at home.”

I continued, “what I realized, as the students were talking with you, was that they didn’t even comprehend what you were asking them. They can’t separate learning from a test. So when you ask them how can they be engaged they simply think about ways they are motivated to learn for the test.
Kids want the answer to “why are we doing this.” For some the motivator is simply for the grade. For others the motivator is, “to win the game,” or, “so I don’t get in trouble,” There are some that jump right in just for the sake of learning something new….but I don’t think there are a lot of those kids.”

Of course, saying this to the Science teacher caused him more angst. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” He responds. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. School keeps getting in my way.”

“That means you’re doing it right,” I replied. “Its the people that have it all figured out that I worry about. The kids love you, and they respect you because they know you respect them. Plus, they love science again.”

“Yeah, but next year when they visit they are going to tell me how they are getting their teeth kicked in because Science is so hard. Am I doing them a disservice by not preparing them for that?”

“We don’t need to prepare kids to deal with things that suck. They had many classes that required them to sit, study, and regurgitate before they ever had your class. You are showing them what Science in school can be…and we never know which of your students may grow to be teachers themselves. Perhaps they will model your class.”

“Thanks bud.” He said, “But, I don’t know what I’m doing.”"

[via: "Great piece on the stress endured by teachers who try to buck the system to create better experiences for kids." ]
education  teaching  howweteach  angst  2017  learning  children  empowerment  grades  grading  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  thewhy  deschooling  unschooling  michaellangan  testing  assessment  respect  science  lcproject  openstudioproject  stress 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Sally-Ann Spence on Twitter: "Tucked away in a drawer in @morethanadodo's entomological collection there is a little unassuming brown note book. In it observations are en…"
"Tucked away in a drawer in @morethanadodo's entomological collection there is a little unassuming brown note book. In it observations are entwined with a fleeting moment of a very human story...

Beautifully written by hand with meticulously pressed specimens, this book records the observations of leaf cutter bees in the summer of 1852

Each plant used by the bees that summer was recorded & pressed. It would have required hours of careful observations & every plant was individually researched to correctly identity it

Detailed notes on the bees nesting behaviour was also recorded & observed. Tubes were diligently made, carefully fixed to the wall & patient hours spent watching the insects at work...

There are many important things to be drawn from this little note book. Data on insect behaviour supported by plenty of evidence certainly, but also a story that resonates with so many today & is something we are examining & studying right now

William was an inmate of Hanwell Asylum, the first purpose-built public asylum for the pauper insane in England & Wales opened in 1831. A little note by the warden accompanying his notebook tells of the benefit of this personal project to William & other patients mental wellbeing

So here is an example of real entomological data, an historical object in itself, evidence that supports modern day research & a very human story all contained in the corner of a drawer in a museum within a little unassuming brown notebook.

There is quantifiable evidence that in our rapidly urbanising world spending time in natural areas immersing ourselves in nature has positive affects on our mental health. I believe William found this in that summer of 1852."
insects  plants  classdieas  leafpressing  science  1852  entomology  collections  observation  inmates  data  evidence  research  nature  sally-annspence 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Conner Habib on Twitter: "13 I learned not just about science from Lynn, but a whole new way of thinking. One that allows me to stand back and see the big picture - G…"
"I learned not just about science from Lynn, but a whole new way of thinking. One that allows me to stand back and see the big picture - Gaia - and to lean forward and see the tiniest details - the microcosm.

She is one of the most brilliant visionaries of our time."

I want to tell you about an amazing woman who changed my life, and who you need to know about if you don't already: biologist Lynn Margulis.

She died on this day, 6 years ago.
She was my main intellectual mentor in life, my friend, my second mom.

Lynn made quite a few major scientific discoveries.
She's best known for proving that organisms and cells that have nucleuses have symbiotic origins - that they originate from the coming together of different bacteria (and sometimes protoctists/protozoa)

She also discovered, with James Lovelock, that the Earth regulates itself quite a bit like an organism - particularly through the interactions of bacteria and the abiota (the non-living aspects of the environment). This is called the Gaia Theory or biogeochemistry.

She created a whole new theory of evolution, of which Lewis Thomas said, "Darwin was wrong, and Lynn Margulis is right." That theory is in her book Acquiring Genomes with co-author Dorion Sagan.

When offered potentially millions of dollars by the US govt to do research on bacteria that could help with defense, Lynn Margulis hung up on the phone on them. She said, "If it's not public, it's not science."

If you've heard anything about gut biomes, that is a direct result of Lynn's tireless work, yet she is rarely credited.

Lynn's theory of evolution came from rejecting the capitalistic cost-benefit analysis version of evolution adopted by ppl like Richard Dawkins (who has almost no lab experience comparatively). She rediscovered the science of symbiotic evolution, pioneered by Russian scientists.

She was well-versed in postmodern theory and studied philosophy. She was fond of saying, "the first thing scientists need to learn is that there's no objective truth."
She knew hundreds of Emily Dickinson poems by heart and lived in the house next to hers in Amherst.

She won just about every science award you could ever win, except the Nobel, which she no doubt would have won had she not died of a stroke on this day in 2011.

In spite of her being one of the most influential and profound minds of our time, she is often overshadowed by her late husband, Carl Sagan. He was a fine person, but nowhere near as arduous in his efforts or profound in his thinking as Lynn Margulis.

I approached her after I started my grad studies as an MFA student. Lynn tried to dismiss me at first. "What does this have to do with environmental evolution?" was the first thing she said to me.

"I want to take your classes," I said.
She was thrilled that I was in the humanities&wanted to take science courses. I studied with her for three yrs.
She became my closest teacher. She took me to science conferences and gave me my most profound educational experiences.

I learned not just about science from Lynn, but a whole new way of thinking. One that allows me to stand back and see the big picture - Gaia - and to lean forward and see the tiniest details - the microcosm.
She is one of the most brilliant visionaries of our time.

Lynn was a huge supporter of my decision to be in gay porn. She was lustful and sexual and very much a proponent of sexual liberation.

Please join me in honoring this tremendous intellect today.
I wrote an essay summarizing her work shortly after her death. It's under my Birthname so that her colleagues would recognize me as the author.
Here it is: "
lynnmargulis  zoominginandout  earth  perspective  connerhabib  details  systemsthinking  bigpicture  gaia  microcosm  science  andrekhalil  carlsagan  postodernism  philosophy  principles  bacteria  evolution  richarddawkins  charlesdarwin  doriansagan 
november 2017 by robertogreco
You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring :: Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 — YES! Magazine
"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seat belts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see ifit was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages,campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a … [more]
paulhawken  humanity  2009  commencementaddresses  environment  sustainability  earth  peace  deforestation  poverty  climatechange  refugees  activism  davidjamesduncan  mercycorps  strangers  abolitionists  grnvilleclark  thomasclarkson  josiahwedgewood  progressives  england  anthropocene  civilization  globalwarming  movement  bodies  humans  morethanhuman  multispecies  interconnected  interdependence  charlesdarwin  janinebanyus  life  science  renewal  restoration  exploitation  capitalism  gdp  economics  maryoliver  adriennerich  ecology  interconnectedness 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Adventures in lifelong learning: Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum
"Yesterday's Warsaw demonstrations were shocking in their scale (60,000 nationalists marched on Poland's independence day; many calling for 'a white Europe of brotherly nations'), but were also disturbing in the way that, whilst confronted with new displays of far-right extremism almost daily - we just don't seem shocked enough. Fascism is like that, of course. It is out-there in the Charlottesville marches, echoed in the words of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, yet it is also insidious. It creeps into lives - and becomes normalised in our language and behaviours. As Umberto Eco wrote in 'Ur-Fascism' (1995, p.8), 'Fascism..can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world.'

The warning signs

I won't use this blog to attempt to summarise important political discussions or try to analyse fascism in any detail; I am not a historian. But given the international rise of the far-right I believe that, as educators, we have a duty to be sensitive to these shifts and as a result should be reshaping our curricula and pedagogy to take account of it.

According to Merriam Webster, fascism is 'a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition'. Eco suggests a list of features that are typical of what he calls Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. As he states, 'These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it'. The first principle, that fascism derives from individual or social frustration, is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. Four other key features are:

1. The cult of tradition. The desire to return to a better age, and a fear of modernism: 'Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message'. (It should be noted that the first thing that fascist states seize is the curriculum).

2. Irrationalism, and the promotion of action over thought. 'Distrust of the intellectual world'.

3. Fear of difference (fascism is racist by definition). 'The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.'

4. The fostering of a spirit of war, heroism and machismo. 'Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual 8 habits, from chastity to homosexuality).'

An anti-fascist curriculum

I suggest here that an anti-fascist curriculum should take account of warning signs such as Eco's, and should also pay heed to Lawrence Britt's 'Fourteen signs of fascism' which include Cronyism and Corruption, the suppression of organised labour, obsession with national security and identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The word 'curriculum' here refers to more than just the syllabus; it incorporates all influences on a child (or adult's) education (buildings, pedagogy, classroom management, the implicit and explicit things that are taught). As teachers we often distract ourselves from the bigger picture; arguments about the specifics of practice give a sense that our classrooms operate as micro-entities, where children are unaffected by the social dysfunction surrounding them. Managing behaviour is seen as a battle of 'them versus us,' and the 'othering' of pupils causes us to neglect the development of our own self-awareness. For this reason, such a curriculum can only start with the teacher.

Below are a few ideas for what an anti-fascist curriculum manifesto might practically include. It can only ever be a guideline; wanting it to become policy or enacted in some way defeats the object of a movement that should sit outside the state. Likewise, it should not dictate the behaviour of teachers, only act as a stimulus that has the potential, not to make large-scale change, but to spark a 'line of flight' that disrupts the status quo. If any of the manifesto chimes with you or you want send any thoughts or ideas as I continue to extend it, please do not hesitate to comment or get in touch with me.

Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum - A Manifesto for Educators

1. We start by examining the 'fascist inside us all.'

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” (Foucoult, 1983)

We recognise our own interior desire for power and accept our responsibility as educators to reflect on this with others in spirit of critical challenge. We undertake critically reflective processes that make us question our own assumptions and prejudices, such as tests of cognitive dissonance to expose gender, race, age, disability bias, and intersections of these and other identities. We examine our own values, as individuals and within our organisations and consider the roots of these and their influences on our practice. Our reflective activity extends to our roles as leaders; we aim to continually refine and develop ourselves as human beings, alongside our students.

2. We promote difference over uniformity.

This includes de-centring the Enlightenment idea of the 'perfect human' in order to augment the voices of oppressed 'others'. We celebrate the living knowledge of our students, and examine the genealogy of the subjects we teach to decolonise and diversify our curricula. We make efforts to connect with others globally to inform our practice and maintain perspective. We challenge the threat of toxic masculinity through deliberate educational approaches which liberate men and boys from the need to conform to 'gender-specific' ideals (which further male supremacy). We reflect on our own privilege.

3. We accept complexity and uncertainty.

Whilst welcoming research-informed practice, we reject the fetishisation of science and the search for the 'ultimate truths' of education theory, which can limit educational autonomy.

4. We resist the reduction of 'education' to instrumentalism.

We widen the purpose of education to take into account the socialisation and subjectification of our students (Biesta, 2010). We believe in education as the practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and consider each subject we teach as a potential vehicle to promote agency and social justice.

5. We are pro-social, critical pedagogues.

We use teaching methods that place an emphasis on the building of community, togetherness and belonging, which have a strong critical and reflective focus. Specific teaching innovations may include philosophical inquiry, restorative practice and thinking environments (and would include the implementation of critical digital pedagogies)."
fascism  sfsh  2017  education  uniformity  difference  complexity  cv  uncertainty  instrumentalism  schools  learning  freedom  community  togetherness  belonging  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  bellhoooks  teaching  howweteach  openstudioproject  lcproject  restorativejustice  thinking  socialization  agency  socialjustice  science  scienticsm  autonomy  truth  enlightenment  humansism  othering  others  decolonization  diversity  curriculum  masculinity  gender  race  reflection  disability  power  responsibility  canon  love  exploitation  xenophobia  irrationalism  action  machismo  war  heroism  nationalism  tradition  modernism  cronyism  corruption  classroommanagement  manifesto  foucault  supremacy  patriarchy  privilege  disabilities  michelfoucault 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Aesop's Anthropology | Theorizing culture across species lines
[now a book:

"Aesop’s Anthropology is a guide for thinking through the perplexing predicaments and encounters that arise as the line between human and nonhuman shifts in modern life. Recognizing that culture is not unique to humans, John Hartigan Jr. asks what we can learn about culture from other species. He pursues a variety of philosophical and scientific ideas about what it means to be social using cultural dynamics to rethink what we assume makes humans special and different from other forms of life. Through an interlinked series of brief essays, Hartigan explores how we can think differently about being human."]
johnhartiganjr  multispecies  morethanhuman  anthropology  culture  philosophy  science  books  toread 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Jen Bervin: Artist as Researcher de Make/Time
"Jen Bervin’s interdisciplinary work often combines art, science and writing. One recent project is Silk Poems, a poem written nanoscale in the form of a silk biosensor in collaboration with Tufts University’s Silk Lab, and also published as a book. Another project, The Dickinson Composite Series, is a series of large-scale embroideries that depict the variant markings in Emily Dickinson’s original manuscripts. Jen's work as a poet and visual artist takes her in surprising directions. She says, “I love research because I don’t know what I’ll find.”

Make/Time shares conversations about craft, inspiration, and the creative process. Listen to leading makers and thinkers talk about where they came from, what they're making, and where they're going next. Make/Time is hosted by Stuart Kestenbaum and is a project of Major funding is provided by the Windgate Charitable Foundation."


"I love @jenbervin's work. @tchoi8, if you don't know about it already, you should :)
via" ]
jenbervin  art  research  interdisciplinary  science  2017  poetry  making  drawing  creating  artists  silk  writing  tolisten 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Gig Posters for Scientists | Flickr
"Hand screen printed posters for distinguished scientists visiting UNC Chapel Hill Biology."
posters  science  via:unthinkingly  biology  scientists 
october 2017 by robertogreco
"The Observational Practices Lab, Parsons, (co-directed by Pascal Glissmann and Selena Kimball) launches a multi-phase project and investigation, OBJECT AMERICA, to explore the idea of “America” through everyday objects. The aim is to use comparative research and observational methods—which may range from the scientific to the absurd—to expose unseen histories and speculate about the future of the country as a concept. The contemporary global media landscape is fast-moving and undercut by “fake news” and “alternative facts” which demands that students and researchers build a repertoire of strategies to assess and respond to sources of information. For the first phase of OBJECT AMERICA launching in the fall of 2017, we invited Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, to choose an object for this investigation which she believed would represent “America” into the future (she chose the Model 500 Telephone by Henry Dreyfuss designed in 1953). Researchers will investigate this object through different disciplinary lenses — including art, climate science, cultural geography, data visualization, economics, history of mathematics, medicine, media theory, material science, music, poetry, and politics — in order to posit alternative ways of seeing."

[via: ]
objects  pascalglissmann  selenakimball  ellenlupton  art  climate  science  culturalgeography  datavisualization  economics  mathematics  math  medicine  mediatheory  materialscience  music  poetry  politics  seeing  waysofseeing  geography  culture  history  climatescience  dataviz  infoviz 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing - A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man - YouTube
"To take seriously the concept of the Anthropocene—the idea that we have entered a new epoch defined by humans’ impact on Earth’s ecosystems—requires engagement with global history. Using feminist anthropology, this lecture explores the awkward relations between what one might call “machines of replication”—those simplified ecologies, such as plantations, in which life worlds are remade as future assets—and the vernacular histories in which such machines erupt in all their particularity and go feral in counter-intentional forms. This lecture does not begin with the unified continuity of Man (versus indigenous ontologies; as scientific protocol; etc.), but rather explores contingent eruptions and the patchy, fractured Anthropocene they foster.

Anna L. Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of several books including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.

This Helen Pond McIntyre '48 Lecture was recorded on November 10, 2015 at Barnard College."
annalowenhaupttsing  2015  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  ecology  disentanglement  feminism  naturalhistory  anthropology  ecologies  plantations  capitalism  humans  entanglement  interdependence  animals  plants  trees  birds  farming  fordlandia  rubber  environment  hope  science  humanism  agriculture 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet — University of Minnesota Press
[via: ]

"Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene

2017 • Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt, Editors

Can humans and other species continue to inhabit the earth together?

As human-induced environmental change threatens multispecies livability, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet puts forward a bold proposal: entangled histories, situated narratives, and thick descriptions offer urgent “arts of living.” Included are essays by scholars in anthropology, ecology, science studies, art, literature, and bioinformatics who posit critical and creative tools for collaborative survival in a more-than-human Anthropocene.
Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet exposes us to the active remnants of gigantic past human errors—the ghosts—that affect the daily lives of millions of people and their co-occurring other-than-human life forms. Challenging us to look at life in new and excitingly different ways, each part of this two-sided volume is informative, fascinating, and a source of stimulation to new thoughts and activisms. I have no doubt I will return to it many times.

—Michael G. Hadfield, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Living on a damaged planet challenges who we are and where we live. This timely anthology calls on twenty eminent humanists and scientists to revitalize curiosity, observation, and transdisciplinary conversation about life on earth.

As human-induced environmental change threatens multispecies livability, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet puts forward a bold proposal: entangled histories, situated narratives, and thick descriptions offer urgent “arts of living.” Included are essays by scholars in anthropology, ecology, science studies, art, literature, and bioinformatics who posit critical and creative tools for collaborative survival in a more-than-human Anthropocene. The essays are organized around two key figures that also serve as the publication’s two openings: Ghosts, or landscapes haunted by the violences of modernity; and Monsters, or interspecies and intraspecies sociality. Ghosts and Monsters are tentacular, windy, and arboreal arts that invite readers to encounter ants, lichen, rocks, electrons, flying foxes, salmon, chestnut trees, mud volcanoes, border zones, graves, radioactive waste—in short, the wonders and terrors of an unintended epoch.

Contributors: Karen Barad, U of California, Santa Cruz; Kate Brown, U of Maryland, Baltimore; Carla Freccero, U of California, Santa Cruz; Peter Funch, Aarhus U; Scott F. Gilbert, Swarthmore College; Deborah M. Gordon, Stanford U; Donna J. Haraway, U of California, Santa Cruz; Andreas Hejnol, U of Bergen, Norway; Ursula K. Le Guin; Marianne Elisabeth Lien, U of Oslo; Andrew Mathews, U of California, Santa Cruz; Margaret McFall-Ngai, U of Hawaii, Manoa; Ingrid M. Parker, U of California, Santa Cruz; Mary Louise Pratt, NYU; Anne Pringle, U of Wisconsin, Madison; Deborah Bird Rose, U of New South Wales, Sydney; Dorion Sagan; Lesley Stern, U of California, San Diego; Jens-Christian Svenning, Aarhus U.
books  toread  anthropocene  annalowenhaupttsing  multispecies  heatheranneswanson  elainegan  nilsbubandt  anthropology  ecology  science  art  literature  bioinformatics  2017  morethanhuman  humans  transdisciplinary  interspecies  karenbarad  katebrown  carlafreccero  peterfunch  scottgilbert  deborahgordon  donnaharaway  andreasheinol  ursulaleguin  marianneelisabethlien  andrewmathews  margaretmcfall-ngai  ingridparker  marylouisepratt  annepringle  deborahbirdrose  dorionsagan  lesleystern  jens-christiansvenning  earth  intraspecies 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Lens of Time: Secrets of Schooling - bioGraphic
"Shimmering schools of fish have dazzled scientists for centuries with their synchronized maneuvers. Now, high-speed video is revealing how—and why—they do it."

"Collective behavior is embodied in swarms of insects, flocks of birds, herds of antelope, and schools of fish. In each of these cases, individuals move through their environment and respond to threats and opportunities almost simultaneously, forming an undulating enclave that seems to operate as a single entity. Such coordinated movement requires the rapid and efficient transfer of information among individuals, but understanding exactly how this information spreads through the group has long eluded scientists. Studying this behavior in schools of fish has been incredibly challenging, because the cues that drive it occur at lightening speed, come from multiple directions and sources, and of course because all of it takes place underwater. Now, Iain Couzin and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology at the University of Konstanz, Germany are using new observation techniques and technologies—including high-speed video, motion-tracking software, and advanced statistical modeling—to reveal the mysterious mechanics of schooling fish. Their findings may shed light on the evolution and benefits of collective behavior across the animal kingdom."
nature  animals  multispecies  collectivebehavior  fish  birds  herds  antelopes  insects  science  iaincouzin  video  towatch  motion  movement 
august 2017 by robertogreco
@debcha en Instagram: “Graham Stevens, "Desert Cloud" (1972) A 10x12x2m tethered solar balloon, the top surface is clear and the bottom black, so sunlight heats…”
"Graham Stevens, "Desert Cloud" (1972) A 10x12x2m tethered solar balloon, the top surface is clear and the bottom black, so sunlight heats the air inside and it rises, providing shade in the heat of the day. At the BSA's "New Inflatables" exhibit."
grahamstevens  1972  inflatables  science  art  heat  desert  inflatable 
august 2017 by robertogreco
@debcha en Instagram: “I'm not really a souvenir person, but I did come home with some @transportforlondon swag—I think those are real line status magnets…”
"I'm not really a souvenir person, but I did come home with some @transportforlondon swag—I think those are real line status magnets, together with the ubiquitous hazard sign. The print amused me because I recently learned that the reason why the Tube is so hot in the summer is because a century and a half of dumping waste heat, particularly from braking, has raised the temperature of the clay surrounding the tunnels from a cool 15C to a toasty 25C, which makes it much harder to cool now."
debchachra  2017  london  trains  heat  clay  materials  science  subways  transportation  souvenirs  signs 
august 2017 by robertogreco
What’s in the path of the 2017 eclipse? - Washington Post
"Follow the shadow of the moon as it completely blocks out the sun on Aug. 21, moving along a 3,000-mile path from Oregon’s Pacific coast to the eastern shore of South Carolina."
2017  eclipse  classideas  astronomy  visualization  us  maps  mapping  science  geography 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Why capitalism can’t survive without socialism - Vox
"Sean Illing

This raises a thorny question: The kinds of skills this technological economy rewards are not skills that a majority of the population possesses. Perhaps a significant number of people simply can’t thrive in this space, no matter how much training or education we provide.

Eric Weinstein

I think that's an interesting question, and it depends a lot on your view of education. Buckminster Fuller (a prominent American author and architect who died in 1983) said something to the effect of, "We're all born geniuses, but something in the process of living de-geniuses us." I think with several years more hindsight, we can see that the thing that de-geniuses us is actually our education.

The problem is that we have an educational system that's based on taking our natural penchant for exploration and fashioning it into a willingness to take on mind-numbing routine. This is because our educational system was designed to produce employable products suitable for jobs, but it is jobs that are precisely going to give way to an economy increasingly based on one-off opportunities.

Sean Illing

That’s a problem with a definable but immensely complicated solution.

Eric Weinstein

Part of the question is, how do we disable an educational system that is uniformizing people across the socioeconomic spectrum in order to remind ourselves that the hotel maid who makes up our bed may in fact be an amateur painter? The accountant who does our taxes may well have a screenplay that he works on after the midnight hour? I think what is less clear to many of our bureaucrats in Washington is just how much talent and creativity exists through all walks of life.

What we don't know yet is how to pay people for those behaviors, because many of those screenplays and books and inventions will not be able to command a sufficiently high market price, but this is where the issue of some kind of hybridization of hypercapitalism and hypersocialism must enter the discussion.

“We will see the beginning stirrings of revolution as the cost for this continuing insensitivity”
Sean Illing

Let's talk about that. What does a hybrid of capitalism and socialism look like?

Eric Weinstein

I don't think we know what it looks like. I believe capitalism will need to be much more unfettered. Certain fields will need to undergo a process of radical deregulation in order to give the minority of minds that are capable of our greatest feats of creation the leeway to experiment and to play, as they deliver us the wonders on which our future economy will be based.

By the same token, we have to understand that our population is not a collection of workers to be input to the machine of capitalism, but rather a nation of souls whose dignity, well-being, and health must be considered on independent, humanitarian terms. Now, that does not mean we can afford to indulge in national welfare of a kind that would rob our most vulnerable of a dignity that has previously been supplied by the workplace.

People will have to be engaged in socially positive activities, but not all of those socially positive activities may be able to command a sufficient share of the market to consume at an appropriate level, and so I think we're going to have to augment the hypercapitalism which will provide the growth of the hypersocialism based on both dignity and need.

Sean Illing

I agree with most of that, but I’m not sure we’re prepared to adapt to these new circumstances quickly enough to matter. What you’re describing is a near-revolutionary shift in politics and culture, and that’s not something we can do on command.

Eric Weinstein

I believe that once our top creative class is unshackled from those impediments which are socially negative, they will be able to choose whether capitalism proceeds by evolution or revolution, and I am hopeful that the enlightened self-interest of the billionaire class will cause them to take the enlightened path toward finding a rethinking of work that honors the vast majority of fellow citizens and humans on which their country depends.

Sean Illing

Are you confident that the billionaire class is so enlightened? Because I'm not. All of these changes were perceptible years ago, and yet the billionaire class failed to take any of this seriously enough. The impulse to innovate and profit subsumes all other concerns as far as I can tell."

"Sean Illing

I suppose that’s my point. If the people with the power to change things are sufficiently cocooned that they fail to realize the emergency while there’s still time to act, where does that leave us?

Eric Weinstein

Well, the claim there is that there will be no warning shots across the bow. I guarantee you that when the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators left the confines of Zuccotti Park and came to visit the Upper East Side homes of Manhattan, it had an immediate focusing on the mind of those who could deploy a great deal of capital. Thankfully, those protesters were smart enough to realize that a peaceful demonstration is the best way to advertise the potential for instability to those who have yet to do the computation.

“We have a system-wide problem with embedded growth hypotheses that is turning us all into scoundrels and liars”
Sean Illing

But if you're one of those Occupy Wall Street protesters who fired off that peaceful warning shot across the bow six years ago, and you reflect on what’s happened since, do have any reason to think the message was received? Do you not look around and say, “Nothing much has changed”? The casino economy on Wall Street is still humming along. What lesson is to be drawn in that case?

Eric Weinstein

Well, that's putting too much blame on the bankers. I mean, the problem is that the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the bankers share a common delusion. Both of them believe the bankers are more powerful in the story than they actually are. The real problem, which our society has yet to face up to, is that sometime around 1970, we ended several periods of legitimate exponential growth in science, technology, and economics. Since that time, we have struggled with the fact that almost all of our institutions that thrived during the post-World War II period of growth have embedded growth hypotheses into their very foundation.

Sean Illing

What does that mean, exactly?

Eric Weinstein

That means that all of those institutions, whether they're law firms or universities or the military, have to reckon with steady state [meaning an economy with mild fluctuations in growth and productivity] by admitting that growth cannot be sustained, by running a Ponzi scheme, or by attempting to cannibalize others to achieve a kind of fake growth to keep those particular institutions running. This is the big story that nobody reports. We have a system-wide problem with embedded growth hypotheses that is turning us all into scoundrels and liars."

"Sean Illing

So our entire economy is essentially a house of cards, built on outdated assumptions and pushed along with gimmicks like quantitative easing. It seems we’ve gotten quite good at avoiding facing up to the contradictions of our civilization.

Eric Weinstein

Well, this is the problem. I sometimes call this the Wile E. Coyote effect because as long as Wile E. Coyote doesn't look down, he's suspended in air, even if he has just run off a cliff. But the great danger is understanding that everything is flipped. During the 2008 crisis, many commentators said the markets have suddenly gone crazy, and it was exactly the reverse. The so-called great moderation that was pushed by Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and others was in fact a kind of madness, and the 2008 crisis represented a rare break in the insanity, where the market suddenly woke up to see what was actually going on. So the acute danger is not madness but sanity.

The problem is that prolonged madness simply compounds the disaster to come when sanity finally sets in."
2017  capitalism  socialism  business  dystopia  history  seanilling  ericweinstein  economics  politics  policy  productivity  technology  inequality  revolution  dignity  creativeclass  creativity  repetition  ows  occupywallstreet  banks  banking  finance  ponzischemes  alangreenspan  timothygeitner  civilization  systems  systemsthinking  growth  society  science  automation 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Insects Unlocked - Entomology for Everyone
"Insects Unlocked is a public domain project from The University of Texas at Austin’s Insect Collection. In 2015, our team of student and community volunteers crowd-funded a campaign to create thousands of open, copyright-free images. From more than 200 small contributions, we built an insect photography field kit and photo studio. This website holds discussions of the small animals we encounter, updates from the project, and other entomological miscellanea.

To view our galleries, visit Insects Unlocked on flickr. [ ]"

[via: "The Entomologist Giving Bugs Their Close Up" ]
insects  biology  classideas  science  photography  nature  via:subtopes 
july 2017 by robertogreco
More Than Bread: Sourdough As a Window Into The Microbiome : The Salt : NPR
"Benjamin Wolfe sticks his nose into a Ziploc bag and takes a whiff. "Ooh! That's actually kind of nice," he says. Inside the bag is a pungent, beige goop. It's a sourdough starter — a slurry of water, flour, yeasts and bacteria — from which loaves of delicious bread are born. And it's those microbes that have the attention of Wolfe, a microbiologist at Tufts University.

As the microbes munch on the sugars in the flour, they produce carbon dioxide, ethanol, acids and a smorgasbord of other compounds that give sourdough its bouquet of flavors and aromas.

It's got "a little bit of buttery and barnyard," he says. He hands me the bag to sniff, and surprisingly, it does smell like butter. But barnyard? "It's like fermented hay and manure," he explains. "But in a good way."

This starter, which came in the mail from New York, and other samples sent by home bakers will be used to better understand how the mix of microbes in a starter imbues it with its unique flavor and character. The submissions are part of the sourdough project, a citizen-science initiative led by biologist Rob Dunn at North Carolina State University. Wolfe is a collaborator.

The project is trying to answer many questions: How does a starter's microbial ecosystem vary with different flours? How does a new starter compare with one that's 200 years old, filled with tradition and lore? Do they change with geography, as some claim? And, of course, how can you bake a more delicious loaf?

Not long after the researchers asked for volunteers last fall, I sealed my own starter in Ziploc bags and mailed it to Wolfe's lab. About 1,000 others responded to the initial call, and 571 of them submitted samples — mostly from the U.S. and Europe, but also a few from Australia, New Zealand and even one from Thailand.

"In terms of getting a great depth of sampling across a huge geographic area, this is impressive," Wolfe says. "We've never done anything like this for any fermented food before."

The researchers are just starting to analyze the samples, but Wolfe hypothesizes that microbial variations will be determined more by whatever microbes are already in the flour than by geography. And a rough, preliminary analysis of a few samples seems to support that. Comparing East and West Coast starters hasn't revealed any obvious differences so far. Another test shows that the microbes in different starters bought from King Arthur, a flour company, appear to be similar to one another.

For Wolfe, food is an avenue for his larger goal of trying to better understand microbial ecosystems, or microbiomes, which are found everywhere, from your gut to the oceans. In recent years, scientists have learned that microbiomes have an outsize influence on nearly every aspect of the world, including health, agriculture and the environment. Imbalances in our gut microbiomes, for example, have been linked to a laundry list of health issues, including obesity, colon cancer and autism. Last year, then-President Barack Obama launched the National Microbiome Initiative, a half-billion-dollar plan to study the microbiome.

Unlike most microbiomes, which contain up to thousands of species, fermented foods like sourdough, sauerkraut and kimchi have only a few to a couple of dozen species, making them easier to study. At the same time, they share commonalities with more complex microbiomes. For example, the microbiome on cheese rinds is similar to that on your skin.

Fermented foods, then, are like the lab mice of microbiomes, Wolfe says. "Just like how people can take a mouse and learn human biology, we're taking fermented foods and trying to learn about microbiomes." He wants to understand what environmental factors and biochemical processes determine which organisms can thrive in different microbiomes. The ultimate goal is to pinpoint the intricate molecular machinery that dictates how microbes interact and change over time under different circumstances.

And this kind of change can happen fast — within a few weeks, as Wolfe has discovered with his experiments on cheese. For example, a mold found on Camembert cheese called Penicillium (related to other molds that produce the antibiotic penicillin) grows blue-green and fuzzy in more austere, wild environments. "It looks like the thing that might rot your bread or fruit at home," Wolfe says. It produces pigments and toxins that help fight off other microbes — a reaction to stressful environments.

But in the comfy confined environment of a cheese cave, for example, the microbe no longer needs those harsh survival tactics. It stops making toxins, loses pigment and takes on the familiar white of Camembert. "We can see microbes completely transforming their physiology in the cheese-making environment, which is really cool," he says.

These changes aren't necessarily new species but are akin to wine-grape varieties or dog breeds. They're variations that give rise to the range of textures, aromas and flavors of cheese. Wolfe has been working with Jasper Hill Farm, a cheese-maker in Vermont, helping it to analyze its cheese microbes and better control flavors.

Wolfe and his colleagues are also studying salami, fermented cabbages like sauerkraut and kimchi, and fermented teas known as kombucha. Sourdough is just the latest to join the lab.

Back in the lab, Elizabeth Landis, a graduate student, is processing the new starter sample. After sterilizing a corner of the Ziploc bag with ethanol, she snips it with a scissors and squeezes some of the starter into small vials for freezing.

The frozen samples will be sent to Dunn's lab to have their DNA sequenced to identify every single species in the starter. But to learn how microbes interact and evolve, Wolfe and Landis need their microbes alive.

So they freeze another sample with glycerol, which keeps the microbes viable. They will isolate individual microbial species, letting them grow on petri dishes under different conditions, like varying amounts of food and nutrients. Then, they can observe how the microbes react to and change in different environments.

Wolfe and Landis look at another sourdough starter under a microscope — the sample I had sent in a few months ago. I was curious: Was an imbalanced microbiome the reason my bread didn't rise the way I wanted it to?

"You've got some good stuff!" Wolfe says. Right away, he spots a few globules and a bunch of smaller, pill-shape critters: yeasts and bacteria, respectively. The proper ratio of yeast cells to bacterial cells, he tells me, is about 1 to 100. "It's a typical sourdough," he says.

So it wasn't my starter that was at fault, after all. It was me.

These samples will now go to Dunn's lab, which is trying to take a DNA snapshot and capture the most detailed census ever of a sourdough microbiome. The researchers plan to begin sequencing the first batch of starters in a few months. The hope is that identifying individual microbes in the starters will help answer the hows and whys behind the spectrum of aromas and flavors in sourdough. What they learn may even help bakers create new kinds of even more delicious bread.

We may never look at sourdough the same way again. "We have these things right on our dinner plates," Wolfe says. "Yet there are all these mysteries of the microbiome that's right there that we haven't figured out.""
science  food  bread  bacteria  cooking  classideas  2017  microbiomes  kombucha  biology 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Towards an Internet of Living Things – OpenExplorer Journal – Medium
"Conservation groups are using technology to understand and protect our planet in an entirely new way."

"The Internet of Things (IoT) was an idea that industry always loved. It was simple enough to predict: as computing and sensors become smaller and cheaper, they would be embedded into devices and products that interact with each other and their owners. Fast forward to 2017 and the IoT is in full bloom. Because of the stakes — that every device and machine in your life will be upgraded and harvested for data — companies wasted no time getting in on the action. There are smart thermostats, refrigerators, TVs, cars, and everything else you can imagine.

Industry was first, but they aren’t the only. Now conservationists are taking the lead.

The same chips, sensors (especially cameras) and networks being used to wire up our homes and factories are being deployed by scientists (both professional and amateur) to understand our natural world. It’s an Internet of Living Things. It isn’t just a future of efficiency and convenience. It’s enabling us to ask different questions and understand our world from an entirely new perspective. And just in time. As environmental challenges — everything from coral bleaching to African elephant poaching— continue to mount, this emerging network will serve as the planetary nervous system, giving insight into precisely what actions to take.

It’s a new era of conservation based on real-time data and monitoring. It changes our ecological relationship with the planet by changing the scales at which we can measure — we get both increased granularity, as well as adding a truly macro view of the entire planet. It also allows us to simultaneously (and unbiasedly) measuring the most important part of the equation: ourselves.

Specific and Real-Time

We have had population estimates of species for decades, but things are different now. Before the estimates came from academic fieldwork, and now we’re beginning to rely on vast networks of sensors to monitor and model those same populations in real-time. Take the recent example of Paul Allen’s Domain Awareness System (DAS) that covers broad swaths of West Africa. Here’s an excerpt from the Bloomberg feature:
For years, local rangers have protected wildlife with boots on the ground and sheer determination. Armed guards spend days and nights surrounding elephant herds and horned rhinos, while on the lookout for rogue trespassers.

Allen’s DAS uses technology to go the distance that humans cannot. It relies on three funnels of information: ranger radios, animal tracker tags, and a variety of environmental sensors such as camera traps and satellites. This being the product of the world’s 10th-richest software developer, it sends everything back to a centralized computer system, which projects specific threats onto a map of the monitored region, displayed on large screens in a closed circuit-like security room.

For instance, if a poacher were to break through a geofence sensor set up by a ranger in a highly-trafficked corridor, an icon of a rifle would flag the threat as well as any micro-chipped elephants and radio-carrying rangers in the vicinity.


These networks are being woven together in ecosystems all over the planet. Old cellphones being turned into rainforest monitoring devices. Drones surveying and processing the health of Koala populations in Australia. The conservation website MongaBay now has a section of their site dedicated to the fast-moving field, which they’ve dubbed WildTech. Professionals and amateurs are gathering in person at events like Make for the Planet and in online communities like It’s game on.

The trend is building momentum because the early results have been so good, especially in terms of resolution. The organization WildMe is using a combination of citizen science (essentially human-powered environmental sensors) and artificial intelligence to identify and monitor individuals in wild populations. As in, meet Struddle the manta ray, number 1264_B201. He’s been sited ten times over the course of 10 years, mostly around the Maldives.


The combination of precision and pervasiveness means these are more than just passive data-collecting systems. They’re beyond academic, they’re actionable. We can estimate more accurately — there are 352,271 elephants estimated to remain in Africa — but we’re also reacting when something happens — a poacher broke a geofence 10 minutes ago.

The Big Picture

It’s not just finer detail, either. We’re also getting a better bigger picture than we’ve ever had before. We’re watching on a planetary scale.

Of course, advances in satellites are helping. Planet (the company) has been a major driving force. Over the past few years they’ve launched hundreds of small imaging satellites and have created an earth-imaging constellation that has ambitions of getting an image of every location on earth, every day. Like Google Earth, but near-real-time and the ability to search along the time horizon. An example of this in action, Planet was able to catch an illegal gold mining operation in the act in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.


It’s not just satellites, it’s connectivity more broadly. Traditionally analog wildlife monitoring is going online. Ornithology gives us a good example of this. For the past century, the study of birds have relied on amateur networks of enthusiasts — the birders — to contribute data on migration and occurrence studies. (For research that spans long temporal time spans or broad geographic areas, citizen science is often the most effective method.) Now, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile phones, birding is digitized and centralized on platforms like eBird and iNaturalist. You can watch the real-time submissions and observations:


Sped up, we get the visual of species-specific migrations over the course of a year:

[animated GIF]

Human Activity

The network we’re building isn’t all glass, plastic and silicon. It’s people, too. In the case of the birders above, the human component is critical. They’re doing the legwork, getting into the field and pointing the cameras. They’re both the braun and the (collective) brain of the operation.

Keeping humans in the loop has it’s benefits. It’s allowing these networks to scale faster. Birders with smartphones and eBird can happen now, whereas a network of passive forest listening devices would take years to build (and would be much more expensive to maintain). It also makes these systems better adept at managing ethical and privacy concerns — people are involved in the decision making at all times. But the biggest benefit of keeping people in the loop, is that we can watch them—the humans—too. Because as much as we’re learning about species and ecosystems, we also need to understand how we ourselves are affected by engaging and perceiving the natural world.

We’re getting more precise measurements of species and ecosystems (a better small picture), as well as a better idea of how they’re all linked together (a better big picture). But we’re also getting an accurate sense of ourselves and our impact on and within these systems (a better whole picture).

We’re still at the beginning of measuring the human-nature boundary, but the early results suggests it will help the conservation agenda. A sub-genre of neuroscience called neurobiophilia has emerged to study the effects on nature on our brain function. (Hint: it’s great for your health and well-being.) National Geographic is sending some of their explorers into the field wired up with Fitbits and EEG machines. The emerging academic field of citizen science seems to be equally concerned with the effects of participation than it is with outcomes. So far, the science is indicating that engagement in the data collecting process has measurable effects on the community’s ability to manage different issues. The lesson here: not only is nature good for us, but we can evolve towards a healthier perspective. In a world approaching 9 billion people, this collective self-awareness will be critical.

What’s next

Just as fast as we’re building this network, we’re learning what it’s actually capable of doing. As we’re still laying out the foundation, the network is starting to come alive. The next chapter is applying machine learning to help make sense of the mountains of data that these systems are producing. Want to quickly survey the dispersion of arctic ponds? Here. Want to count and classify the number of fish you’re seeing with your underwater drone? We’re building that. In a broad sense, we’re “closing the loop” as Chris Anderson explained in an interview:
If we could measure the world, how would we manage it differently? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves in the digital realm since the birth of the Internet. Our digital lives — clicks, histories, and cookies — can now be measured beautifully. The feedback loop is complete; it’s called closing the loop. As you know, we can only manage what we can measure. We’re now measuring on-screen activity beautifully, but most of the world is not on screens.

As we get better and better at measuring the world — wearables, Internet of Things, cars, satellites, drones, sensors — we are going to be able to close the loop in industry, agriculture, and the environment. We’re going to start to find out what the consequences of our actions are and, presumably, we’ll take smarter actions as a result. This journey with the Internet that we started more than twenty years ago is now extending to the physical world. Every industry is going to have to ask the same questions: What do we want to measure? What do we do with that data? How can we manage things differently once we have that data? This notion of closing the loop everywhere is perhaps the biggest endeavor of … [more]
davidlang  internetofthings  nature  life  conservation  tracking  2017  data  maps  mapping  sensors  realtime  iot  computing  erth  systems  wildlife  australia  africa  maldives  geofencing  perú  birds  ornithology  birding  migration  geography  inaturalist  ebird  mobile  phones  crowdsourcing  citizenscience  science  classideas  biology 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Edgeless & Ever-Shifting Gradient: An Encyclopaedic and Evolving Spectrum of Gradient Knowledge
"A gradient, without restriction, is edgeless and ever-shifting. A gradient moves, transitions, progresses, defies being defined as one thing. It formalizes difference across a distance. It’s a spectrum. It’s a spectral smearing. It’s an optical phenomenon occurring in nature. It can be the gradual process of acquiring knowledge. It can be a concept. It can be a graphic expression. It can be all of the above, but likely it’s somewhere in between.

A gradient, in all of it’s varied forms, becomes a catalyst in it’s ability to seamlessly blend one distinct thing/idea/color, to the next distinct thing/idea/color, to the next, etc.

In this sense, it is the gradient and the way it performs that has become a model and an underlying ethos, naturally, for this online publishing initiative that we call The Gradient.

Similarly, it’s our hope that this post—an attempt to survey gradients of all forms and to expand our own understanding of gradients—will also be edgeless and ever-shifting. This post will evolve and be progressively added to in an effort to create, as the subtitle says, an encyclopaedic and evolving spectrum of gradient knowledge."
gradients  art  2017  ryangeraldnelson  color  blending  spectrums  nature  design  gender  genderfluidity  computers  music  photography  graphics  graphicdesign  thermography  iridescence  brids  animals  insects  snakes  cephlalopods  reptiles  chameleons  rainbows  sky  math  mathematics  taubaauerbach  science  tomássaraceno  vision  brycewilner  alruppersberg  germansermičs  glass  ignazschiffermüller  lizwest  markhagen  ombré  rawcolor  samfall 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Your car has just been crushed by hagfish: Frequently Asked Questions | Southern Fried Science
"1396 words • 6~10 min read
Your car has just been crushed by hagfish: Frequently Asked Questions
Wait, what?

Earlier today, Oregon State Police reported that a truck carrying a shipment of live hagfish overturned, spilling it’s slimy cargo all over the highway and damaging at least one vehicle."
science  humor  hagfish  2017  oregon  biology  andrewdavidthaler  nature  multispecies  fish  fishing  commercialfishing 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says? - The Atlantic
"Over the past decade, most researchers have trended away from climate doomsdayism. They cite research suggesting that people respond better to hopeful messages, not fatalistic ones; and they meticulously fact-check public descriptions of global warming, as watchful for unsupported exaggeration as they are for climate-change denial.

They do this not because they think that climate change will be peachy. They do it because they want to be exceptionally careful with facts for such a vital issue. And many of them, too, think that a climate-changed world will look less like a starved wasteland and more like our current home—just more unequal and more impoverished.

What does that world look like? We got a fairly good look late last month, actually, when a new consortium of economists and scientists called the Climate Impact Lab published their first study in the journal Science. Their research looks at how global warming will afflict Americans economically, on a county-by-county level. It tells a frightening but much more mundane story.

Climate change, they say, will not turn us into idiots before broiling us in our sleep. Instead, it will act as a kind of ecological reverse Robin Hood, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. It will impoverish many of the poorest communities in the country—arrayed across the South and Southwest, and especially along the Gulf Coast—while increasing the fortunes of cities and suburbs on both of the coasts.

“This study—the climate equivalent of being informed that smoking carries serious risk of lung cancer—should be enough to motivate us,” says Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University. “The NYMag article is the climate equivalent of being told that everyone in the world’s life will end in the most grisly, worst-case possible scenario if we keep on smoking.”

The Climate Impact Labs’ accounting is a much likelier view of what is “much more likely to occur than the doomsday scenario,” she added.

Other communicators reject Wallace-Wells’s approach for a third reason: He glosses over the many reasons that climate advocates now have hope. Many of these criticisms came not from researchers but from other climate communicators. “Through combo of exaggeration and hopelessness, [the NYMag piece] turns away those in the middle we need to persuade. It makes action harder,” tweeted Ramez Naam, a technologist and novelist. “We’ve made huge climate strides. Business-as-usual used to mean six or seven degrees Celsius or warming. Now it looks like three to four, and [it’s] trending down.”

Chuck Wendig, another novelist, called the story irresponsible. “It leans very hard on the EXTINCTION PORN angle, and almost not at all on the BUT HERE'S WHAT WE DO angle,” he said on Twitter.

I’m not so sure about this last angle. I have been writing about climate change nearly full-time for several years now. I don’t think journalists should frame the truth to better inspire people—that’s not our job.

But I vacillate considerably on the doom versus no-doom question. Consider what Wallace-Wells writes about climate change and war:
Researchers like Marshall Burke and Solomon Hsiang have managed to quantify some of the non-obvious relationships between temperature and violence: For every half-degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict. In climate science, nothing is simple, but the arithmetic is harrowing: A planet five degrees warmer would have at least half again as many wars as we do today. Overall, social conflict could more than double this century.

That final sentence is simplistic; we cannot wield careful social science conclusions like an abacus. It is also too certain: While Burke and Hsiang have found links between conflict and climate change, another group of researchers from Oslo have found far weaker connections. They observe a link between natural disaster and war only when a country is divided by ethnicity.

Yet this is worrisome by itself. Consider the world that climate scientists say is more realistic: a place where sea levels cause mass migration within and without the developed world; where the economy is never great but isn’t in shambles either; where voters fear for their livelihoods and superpowers poke at each others’ weaknesses.

Does that world sound like a safe and secure place to live? Does it sound like a workable status quo? And how many small wars need to start in that world before they all fuse together? Who needs planet-killing methane burps when nine different countries have 15,000 nuclear weapons between them? In short, there are plenty of doomsday scenarios to worry about. They don’t need to be catastrophic on their face to induce catastrophe."
2017  accuracy  reporting  climate  environment  future  climatechange  sustainability  inequality  robinsonmeyer  davidwallace-wells  science  communication  journlism  dystopia  doom  doomsdayism  exaggeration 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions - IOPscience
"Current anthropogenic climate change is the result of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, which records the aggregation of billions of individual decisions. Here we consider a broad range of individual lifestyle choices and calculate their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries, based on 148 scenarios from 39 sources. We recommend four widely applicable high-impact (i.e. low emissions) actions with the potential to contribute to systemic change and substantially reduce annual personal emissions: having one fewer child (an average for developed countries of 58.6 tonnes CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) emission reductions per year), living car-free (2.4 tCO2e saved per year), avoiding airplane travel (1.6 tCO2e saved per roundtrip transatlantic flight) and eating a plant-based diet (0.8 tCO2e saved per year). These actions have much greater potential to reduce emissions than commonly promoted strategies like comprehensive recycling (four times less effective than a plant-based diet) or changing household lightbulbs (eight times less). Though adolescents poised to establish lifelong patterns are an important target group for promoting high-impact actions, we find that ten high school science textbooks from Canada largely fail to mention these actions (they account for 4% of their recommended actions), instead focusing on incremental changes with much smaller potential emissions reductions. Government resources on climate change from the EU, USA, Canada, and Australia also focus recommendations on lower-impact actions. We conclude that there are opportunities to improve existing educational and communication structures to promote the most effective emission-reduction strategies and close this mitigation gap."

[via: ]
climatechange  action  classideas  research  travel  2017  sethwynes  kimberlynicholas  science  sfsh  climate  sustainability  environment 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Is the U.S. Education System Producing a Society of “Smart Fools”? - Scientific American
[had me until he says more (a new kind of) testing is the answer to the problem]

"At last weekend’s annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in Boston, Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg sounded an alarm about the influence of standardized tests on American society. Sternberg, who has studied intelligence and intelligence testing for decades, is well known for his “triarchic theory of intelligence,” which identifies three kinds of smarts: the analytic type reflected in IQ scores; practical intelligence, which is more relevant for real-life problem solving; and creativity. Sternberg offered his views in a lecture associated with receiving a William James Fellow Award from the APS for his lifetime contributions to psychology. He explained his concerns to Scientific American.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

In your talk, you said that IQ tests and college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT are essentially selecting and rewarding “smart fools”—people who have a certain kind of intelligence but not the kind that can help our society make progress against our biggest challenges. What are these tests getting wrong?

Tests like the SAT, ACT, the GRE—what I call the alphabet tests—are reasonably good measures of academic kinds of knowledge, plus general intelligence and related skills. They are highly correlated with IQ tests and they predict a lot of things in life: academic performance to some extent, salary, level of job you will reach to a minor extent—but they are very limited. What I suggested in my talk today is that they may actually be hurting us. Our overemphasis on narrow academic skills—the kinds that get you high grades in school—can be a bad thing for several reasons. You end up with people who are good at taking tests and fiddling with phones and computers, and those are good skills but they are not tantamount to the skills we need to make the world a better place.

What evidence do you see of this harm?

IQ rose 30 points in the 20th century around the world, and in the U.S. that increase is continuing. That’s huge; that’s two standard deviations, which is like the difference between an average IQ of 100 and a gifted IQ of 130. We should be happy about this but the question I ask is: If you look at the problems we have in the world today—climate change, income disparities in this country that probably rival or exceed those of the gilded age, pollution, violence, a political situation that many of us never could have imaged—one wonders, what about all those IQ points? Why aren’t they helping?

What I argue is that intelligence that’s not modulated and moderated by creativity, common sense and wisdom is not such a positive thing to have. What it leads to is people who are very good at advancing themselves, often at other people’s expense. We may not just be selecting the wrong people, we may be developing an incomplete set of skills—and we need to look at things that will make the world a better place.

Do we know how to cultivate wisdom?

Yes we do. A whole bunch of my colleagues and I study wisdom. Wisdom is about using your abilities and knowledge not just for your own selfish ends and for people like you. It’s about using them to help achieve a common good by balancing your own interests with other people’s and with high-order interests through the infusion of positive ethical values.

You know, it’s easy to think of smart people but it’s really hard to think of wise people. I think a reason is that we don’t try to develop wisdom in our schools. And we don’t test for it, so there’s no incentive for schools to pay attention.

Can we test for wisdom and can we teach it?

You learn wisdom through role-modeling. You can start learning that when you are six or seven. But if you start learning what our schools are teaching, which is how to prepare for the next statewide mastery tests, it crowds out of the curriculum the things that used to be essential. If you look at the old McGuffey Readers, they were as much about teaching good values and good ethics and good citizenship as about teaching reading. It’s not so much about teaching what to do but how to reason ethically; to go through an ethical problem and ask: How do I arrive at the right solution?

I don’t always think about putting ethics and reasoning together. What do you mean by that?

Basically, ethical reasoning involves eight steps: seeing that there’s a problem to deal with (say, you see your roommate cheat on an assignment); identifying it as an ethical problem; seeing it as a large enough problem to be worth your attention (it’s not like he’s just one mile over the speed limit); seeing it as personally relevant; thinking about what ethical rules apply; thinking about how to apply them; thinking what are the consequences of acting ethically—because people who act ethically usually don’t get rewarded; and, finally, acting. What I’ve argued is ethical reasoning is really hard. Most people don’t make it through all eight steps.

If ethical reasoning is inherently hard, is there really less of it and less wisdom now than in the past?

We have a guy [representative-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana] who allegedly assaulted a reporter and just got elected to the U.S. House of Representatives—and that’s after a 30-point average increase in IQ. We had violence in campaign rallies. Not only do we not encourage creativity, common sense and wisdom, I think a lot of us don’t even value them anymore. They’re so distant from what’s being taught in schools. Even in a lot of religious institutions we’ve seen a lot of ethical and legal problems arise. So if you’re not learning these skills in school or through religion or your parents, where are you going to learn them? We get people who view the world as being about people like themselves. We get this kind of tribalism.

So where do you see the possibility of pushing back?

If we start testing for these broader kinds of skills, schools will start to teach to them, because they teach to the test. My colleagues and I developed assessments for creativity, common sense and wisdom. We did this with the Rainbow Project, which was sort of experimental when I was at Yale. And then at Tufts, when I was dean of arts and sciences, we started Kaleidoscope, which has been used with tens of thousands of kids for admission to Tufts. They are still using it. But it’s very hard to get institutions to change. It’s not a quick fix. Once you have a system in place, the people who benefit from it rise to the top and then they work very hard to keep it.

Looking at the broader types of admission tests you helped implement—like Kaleidoscope at Tufts, the Rainbow Project at Yale, or Panorama at Oklahoma State, is there any evidence that kids selected for having these broader skills are in any way different from those who just score high on the SAT?

The newly selected kids were different. I think the folks in admissions would say so, at least when we started. We admitted kids who would not have gotten in under the old system—maybe they didn’t quite have the test scores or grades. When I talk about this, I give examples, such as those who wrote really creative essays.

Has there been any longitudinal follow-up of these kids?

We followed them through the first year of college. With Rainbow we doubled prediction [accuracy] for academic performance, and with Kaleidoscope we could predict the quality of extracurricular performance, which the SAT doesn’t do.

Do you think the emphasis on narrow measures like the SAT or GRE is hurting the STEM fields in particular?

I think it is. I think it’s hurting everything. We get scientists who are very good forward incrementers—they are good at doing the next step but they are not the people who change the field. They are not redirectors or reinitiators, who start a field over. And those are the people we need.

Are you hopeful about change?

If one could convince even a few universities and schools to try to follow a different direction, others might follow. If you start encouraging a creative attitude, to defy the crowd and to defy the zeitgeist, and if you teach people to think for themselves and how what they do affects others, I think it’s a no-lose proposition. And these things can be taught and they can be tested."
education  science  social  wisdom  iq  meritocracy  intelligence  2017  psychology  claudiawallis  robertsternberg  performance  creativity  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  rainbowproject  power  ethics  reasoning  values  learning  selfishness  gildedage  inequality  climatechange  pollution  violence  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  sat  gre  act  knowledge  teachingtothetest 
june 2017 by robertogreco
A biologist explains CRISPR to people at five different levels of knowledge
"For the second part of an ongoing series, Wired asked biologist Neville Sanjana to explain CRISPR to five people with different levels of knowledge: a 7-year-old, a high school student, a college student, a grad student, and an expert on CRISPR. As I began to watch, I thought he’d gone off the rails right away with the little kid, but as soon as they connected on a personal issue (allergies), you can see the bridge of understanding being constructed."

"CRISPR is a new area of biomedical science that enables gene editing and could be the key to eventually curing diseases like autism or cancer. WIRED has challenged biologist Neville Sanjana to explain this concept to 5 different people; a 7 year-old, a 14 year-old, a college student, a grad student and a CRISPR expert."]

[See also: "A neuroscientist explains a concept at five different levels" ]
biology  CRISPR  genetics  nevillesanjana  science  video  explanation  communication  teaching  complexity  classideas  howweteach  2017  genomes 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A neuroscientist explains a concept at five different levels
"Wired recently challenged neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri to explain what a connectome is to people with five different levels of potential understanding: a 5-year-old, a 13-year-old, a college student, a neuroscience grad student, and an expert neuroscientist. His goal: “every person here can leave with understanding it at some level”.

Watching this, I kept thinking of Richard Feynman, who was particularly adept at describing concepts to non-experts without sacrificing truth or even nuance. See him explain fire, rubber bands, how trains go around curves, and magnets."

"The Connectome is a comprehensive diagram of all the neural connections existing in the brain. WIRED has challenged neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri to explain this scientific concept to 5 different people; a 5 year-old, a 13 year-old, a college student, a neuroscience grad student and a connectome entrepreneur."

[See also: "A biologist explains CRISPR to people at five different levels of knowledge" ]
bobbykasthuri  neuroscience  richardfeynman  science  video  explanation  communication  clarity  complexity  teaching  howweteach  classideas 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Lifetime of a Dynastes Hercules Rhinoceros Beetle - Incredible Metamorphosis Timelapse - YouTube
"he Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules, Dynastinae) is a rhinoceros beetle native to the rainforests of Central America, South America, Lesser Antilles, and the Andes. They are large beetles, with some males reaching 17.5 cm including the horn, and a slightly iridescent coloration to their elytra, which also vary in color from beetle to beetle, and even depending on the humidity. Dynastes hercules is highly sexually dimorphic, with only males exhibiting the characteristic horn. Several subspecies have been named, though there is still some uncertainty as to the validity of the named taxa. Reports suggest the Hercules beetle is able to carry up to 850 times its body mass but actual measurements on a much smaller (and relatively stronger: see square-cube law) species of rhinoceros beetle shows a carrying capacity only up to 100 times their body mass, at which point they can barely move.

Life cycle

The larval stage of the Hercules beetle will last one to two years, with the larva growing up to 4.5 inches (11 cm) in length and weighing more than 100 grams. Much of the life of the larva is spent tunneling through rotting wood. After the larval period, transformation into a pupa, and moulting, the beetle then emerges as an adult.


The larval stage of the Hercules beetle will feed on rotting wood during this two year stage.The adult Hercules beetle feeds on fresh and rotting fruit. They have been observed feeding on peaches, pear, apple, and grapes within captivity."
beetles  classideas  insects  science  metamorphosis  2017 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."

"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me" ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis 
may 2017 by robertogreco
How Do Pelicans Survive Their Death-Defying Dives? | Deep Look - YouTube
"Brown pelicans hit the water at breakneck speed when they catch fish. Performing such dangerous plunges requires technique, equipment, and 30 million years of practice.

California’s brown pelicans are one of two pelican species (once considered the same) that plunge from the air to hunt. The rest, like the white pelican, bob for fish at the water’s surface.

The shape of its bill is essential to the birds' survival in these dives, reducing “hydrodynamic drag” — buckling forces, caused by the change from air to water — to almost zero. It’s something like the difference between slapping the water with your palm and chopping it, karate-style.

And while all birds have light, air-filled bones, pelican skeletons take it to an extreme. As they dive, they inflate special air sacs around their neck and belly, cushioning their impact and allowing them to float.

Even their celebrated pouches play a role. An old limerick quips, “A remarkable bird is a pelican / Its beak can hold more than its belly can…” That beak is more than just a fishing net. It’s also a parachute that pops open underwater, helping to slow the bird down.

Behind the pelican’s remarkable resilience (and beaks) lies 30 million years of evolutionary stasis, meaning they haven’t changed much over time.

--- What do pelicans eat?

Pelicans eat small fish like anchovies, sardines, and smelt.

--- How long to pelicans live?

Pelicans live 15-25 years in the wild.

--- How big are pelicans?

Brown pelicans are small for pelicans, but still big for birds, with a 6-8 foot wingspan. Their average weight is 3.5 kg.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science: "
pelicans  birds  science  animals  nature  2017  classideas 
april 2017 by robertogreco
RC KFC bucket aeroplane (magnus effect) - YouTube
"hey guys! well you requested it and here it is!!!!! The magnus force (effect) KFC bucket aeroplane. not sure why I chose KFC buckets though... they make poor rotating flettner wings!"
classideas  airplanes  science  perseverance  engineering  2017  flight  makers  making 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Your best pictures of newly recognised cloud formations | Science | The Guardian
"Meteorologists have consulted the International Cloud Atlas since the 19th century – now, updated with crowd-sourced images and newly categorised formations such as wave-like asperitas, it’s going online. Readers have been sharing their images via GuardianWitness"
via:laure  clouds  photography  matthewholmes  science  classideas 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Science and the Senses: Perturbation — Cultural Anthropology
"I vividly remember how, on certain nights in my childhood, my brother and I would be herded toward the entrance hall of my parents’ house, where the Carl Zeiss Ultraphot II microscope still stands. This was a huge machine from the 1960s, one of the relics that my father would rescue from the constant upgrading of his lab required by so-called scientific progress. To me, as a child, it was some sort of abstruse, mysterious device. Taking up a large portion of the hall, it was a massive object, coming with its own table, which was usually covered with a thick gray drape to protect it from dust. Above the oculars, there was a giant, round screen typical of the 1960s design, all curves and matte metal. On those nights, my parents—both freshwater microbial ecologists—would take off the drape, turn all of the lights off, and turn on the screen to show my brother and me the wonders of microscopic worlds.

Growing up with experiences like this, the notion that science forgets the sensory never made much sense to me. Perception was present and was much more than just that: it entailed the full spectrum of emotions, passions, senses, and the kind of fascination and wonder that only the natural world can inspire. Still now, when I converse with scientists in the course of my fieldwork, I see that wonder and I find the senses present in all kinds of ways. Yet the role of the sensory is shifting. I hear it whenever my mother discusses her work with me: so many of the younger scientists with whom she works are oblivious, she tells me, to the sensorial engagements that she grew up with. “They don’t even count them!” she exclaims, referring to the microorganisms in their samples. “How can you know what you have if you don’t even look in the microscope?” The sensory dimensions of molecular biology are replacing the time consuming, eye-wrenching work of counting by microscope. More advanced techniques allow the scientist to determine what is in a sample without ever putting it in a slide under a microscope. Or so their proponents claim.

The problem with these changes is not so much the depersonalization of sensorial experience. Rather, it is the increasing confidence in new methods and the assumption that these are unproblematic and fully objective. The story goes that 16S rRNA analysis tells you what organisms you are dealing with with the certainty of a fact. Of course, most people working with these techniques know better. But as students have less time to get their degrees and are pushed forward faster, they have less time to doubt and to fully grasp the limits of their newly acquired sensorium. Often these techniques rely on advanced knowledge in other fields, far from the expertise of those who use them, thus hiding their limitations by design. Those who depend on these prosthetics are easily alienated from the nitty-gritty details of the materialities in play, and have little sense of what the limits and constraints of those prosthetics might be."

"This re-scription is useful when considering the scale of the microbial and the scientific sensorial apparatuses proper to it. But it is equally useful for thinking and doing on another scale, which is central to my current work: that of the planetary. Having been sucked into the maelstrom of the Anthropocene, my research tries to resist the traction of this notion and its mainstream political currents. To do so, I attend to the figure of the planet. The planetary scale is the motor force of the Anthropocene, on which the gears of the vast machine of sustainability rely. The way in which the Anthropocene frames global environmental change depends on the same sensorial apparatuses that make the planet. But in the process of making environmental emergency, the Anthropocene also risks remaking the planet Earth in its own image, perpetuating dangerous elisions and tensions and forgetting the limits of its own planetary sensorium. In resisting the notion of the planetary, then, I attend to it historically and praxiographically—but also, one might say, scientifically. My aim is to flesh out not only the continuities in the histories of this notion and its object, but also the gaps, interruptions, and diversions that characterize it. In doing so, I aim to offer inspiration for unfolding alternative constellations of the planetary. Here, the planet emerges not only as an object; it complicates the clear distinction between subjects and objects that informs the official epistemology of modern science. Rethinking the sensory in terms of modes of attention (and distraction) can, I think, play a crucial role in this rearticulation of the planetary away from received theories of knowledge, toward a world in which knowing is just one among a multiplicity of practices and doings/undoings that make worlds in which living together, willy-nilly, is done.

Attending to the sensorium of the planetary highlights the technosocial apparatuses that are at work in making planetary vision possible. It imagines as nature not only the planet, but also satellites, spaceflight, remote sensing, radioisotope tracers, global circulation models; the vast machine of climate-change science policy; social phenomena like the green economy and austerity; and the discourses of extinction, loss, adaptation, and proliferation that characterize the Anthropocene. Considering these sensory mediations as relational and historical modes of attention and distraction inflected across heterogeneous materials and sites allows us to attend to how knowing, doing, and living with the planet are enacted in the same gesture. This move can restore the sense of wonder that I saw in the screen of my childhood to the sciences."
science  senses  wonder  method  sfsh  expeuence  2017  donnaharaway  anthropology  anthropocene  perception  doubt  prosthetics  technology  time  technoscience  attention  maríacarozzi  williamjames  vincianedespret  knowing  distraction 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Experiment | Crowdfunding Platform for Scientific Research
"Experiment is an online platform for discovering, funding, and sharing scientific research.

We're based in New York City. We're a team of scientists, designers, and technologists passionate about helping ideas grow. Our mission is to democratize science.

Where does the most impactful science come from? What makes science beautiful? What if anyone could be a scientist? There are a lot of big questions in science, but these are the ones we ask."
science  crowdfunding  funding  research  crowdsourcing  academia 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Planetarium by Adrienne Rich | Poetry Foundation
"Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750—1848)
astronomer, sister of William; and others.

A woman in the shape of a monster   
a monster in the shape of a woman   
the skies are full of them

a woman      ‘in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments   
or measuring the ground with poles’

in her 98 years to discover   
8 comets

she whom the moon ruled   
like us
levitating into the night sky   
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness   
ribs chilled   
in those spaces    of the mind

An eye,

          ‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’
          from the mad webs of Uranusborg

                                                            encountering the NOVA   

every impulse of light exploding

from the core
as life flies out of us

             Tycho whispering at last
             ‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’

What we see, we see   
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain   
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse   
pouring in from Taurus

         I am bombarded yet         I stand

I have been standing all my life in the   
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most   
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15   
years to travel through me       And has   
taken      I am an instrument in the shape   
of a woman trying to translate pulsations   
into images    for the relief of the body   
and the reconstruction of the mind."
poems  poetry  adriennerich  nature  stars  heavens  sexuality  gender  science  planets  starts 
january 2017 by robertogreco
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