robertogreco + science   1942

What They’re Reading | UCHRI
"Lab in Residence: Collaboratory in Feminist and Social Justice Science Methods

[https://uchri.org/awards/lab-in-residence-tinkering-with-feminist-and-social-justice-science-methods/

"This lab in residence addresses the lack of venues for creating and hosting conversations between researchers who seek to conduct research in the public interest and stakeholders in that research. We also need space to practice these conversations and research methods. Spaces for ongoing engagements between those who practice humanistic critique and speculation on the topic of technoscience, and technical practitioners like physicians, natural science researchers, and engineers, are difficult to justify on university campuses, where labs are imagined around equipment and technology that are highly specific to discipline. Yet labs are spaces where people can sit down together and create a shared sense of research problem based on a common set of skills and training are a successful model for interdisciplinary inquiry. Our culture lab will rework the workshops of technology by gathering resources to plan and troubleshoot a functional model for a “feminist science shop.” The feminist science shop is a space for working out feminist approaches to building communities around material and political problems. Working together, scholars, artists, activists, and others will form relationships, imagine frameworks, and build tools to work towards a more just politics of knowledge production."]

This culture lab reworked the workshops of technology by gathering resources to plan and troubleshoot a functional model for a “feminist science shop.” The feminist science shop is a space for working out feminist approaches to building communities around material and political problems. Working together, scholars, artists, activists, and others will form relationships, imagine frameworks, and build tools to work towards a more just politics of knowledge production.

Here is what they were reading:

https://criticalrefugeestudies.com/

This website provides a model of feminist and social justice scholarship and thinking on refugees. It shows us how to center the voices and narratives of refugees and to approach refugeehood as a lens rather than as an object of study.

Erdrich, Heid. “Microchimerism,” “Upon Hearing of the Mormon DNA Collection,” and “Traffic.” Selected poems from Cell Traffic, 11-13, 47, 51. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

Erdrich is an indigenous poet (Ojibwe) who writes on epigenetics and intergenerational relationality. We arrived to her work by way of the STS-inflected theorizing of scholar Ryan Rhadigan. We drew on this poem to engage what it might look like to take science seriously while provincializing its authoritative structures of claims-making.

Nagar, Richa. “Reflexivity, Positionality, and Languages of Collaboration in Feminist Fieldwork.” In Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms Across Scholarship and Activism, 81-104. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

Nagar offers notions of “co-authoring feminisms” and “studying-with” to consider the depth of trust and reciprocity necessary to contravene the distancing and hierarchical conventions of ethnographic research. She offers material examples and counterpractices for research, collaboration, and the co-creation of knowledge that guide our thinking about accountability in collaborative research—particularly in navigating the shifting dynamics of power across space, institutions, languages, and communities.

Nye, Coleman and Sherine Hamdy. Lissa: A Story of Medical Promise, Friendship and Revolution. University of Toronto Press, 2017.

Since all of us are interested in collaborations within and outside academia, this graphic novel (a collaborative project between two anthropologists and two graphic artists) offers one model for both collaboration and for thinking about ways of representing academic work to a broad, public audience without reducing or losing the complexity of ideas. The graphic novel form also encourages perverse readings of critical medical anthropology ideas and reminds us that scholarship does not always have to be pedantic.

Bonds, Anne, Jennifer Hyndman, Jenna Loyd, Becky Mansfield, Alison Mountz, Margaret Walton-Roberts. “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.” In ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 2015.

Feminist collaboration recognizes that all of us come into a project from an ecology. A feminist collaboration is not just project oriented, but invests in helping sustain the ecologies that support its members (who have different responsibilities, commitments, abilities, capacities, etc.). This is a different model of collaboration that must be distinguished from that of the neoliberal university. Supporting collaborators as part of their ecologies requires slow scholarship.

Weasel, Lisa H. “Laboratories Without Walls: A Personal Path to Feminist Science Action.” In Feminist science studies: A new generation. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Weasel writes about her work as a feminist academic in the Netherlands to convene students, scientists, feminists, and broader communities to work on problems requested by communities. Our group took inspiration from Weasel’s desire to reconfigure scholarly work in collaboration with others, but also sought models of sociality beyond service to communities.

Community Based Participatory Research is an approach drawn from public health that works to redress power imbalances in the provision of health and care. Our group took inspiration from Wallerstein’s and Duran’s work to hold and justify space within institutions to practice research that counters institutionalized hierarchies and forms of domination.



Wallerstein, Nina, and Bonnie Duran. “The Theoretical, Historical, and Practice Roots of CBPR.” In Community Based Participatory Research for Health, 25–46. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Wallerstein and Duran trace overlapping and divergent politics of action research traditions, especially consensus and Southern strands of CBPR. Southern strands work through problems of hybridity and domination in knowledge, settler colonial legacies, racism, and processes of accumulation.

Wallerstein, Nina, and Bonnie Duran. “Community-Based Participatory Research Contributions to Intervention Research: The Intersection of Science and Practice to Improve Health Equity.” In American Journal of Public Health 100, no. S1 (April 1, 2010): S40-S46.

Wallerstein and Duran make the case to public health researchers for building trust over long durations and ceding analytical authority to communities represented and implicated by the knowledge coming out of the collaboration.

Lee, Pam Tau, Niklas Krause, Charles Goetchius, J. M. Agriesti, and R. Baker. “Participatory Action Research with Hotel Room Cleaners: From Collaborative Study to the Bargaining Table.” In Community Based Participatory Research for Health, 390–404. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

This paper shows the trajectory of a CBPR project in collaboration with hotel workers, establishing strong data to support workers’ knowledge about their job conditions and taking that knowledge all the way to the bargaining table through a union."
uchri  socialjustice  feminism  science  technoscience  humanism  christophhansmann  lillyirani  saibavarma  lesliequintanilla  salzarate  heiderdich  richanagar  colemannye  sherinehamdy  annebonds  jenniferhyndman  jennloyd  beckymansfield  alisonmountz  margaretwalton-roberts  lisaweasel  cbpr  ninawallerstein  bonnieduran  pamtaulee  niklaskrause  charlesgoetchius  jmagriesti  rbaker  participatory  research  participatoryresearch  health  slow  resistance 
8 days ago by robertogreco
[Essay] | Faustian Economics, by Wendell Berry | Harper's Magazine
"The general reaction to the apparent end of the era of cheap fossil fuel, as to other readily foreseeable curtailments, has been to delay any sort of reckoning. The strategies of delay, so far, have been a sort of willed oblivion, or visions of large profits to the manufacturers of such “biofuels” as ethanol from corn or switchgrass, or the familiar unscientific faith that “science will find an answer.” The dominant response, in short, is a dogged belief that what we call the American Way of Life will prove somehow indestructible. We will keep on consuming, spending, wasting, and driving, as before, at any cost to anything and everybody but ourselves.

This belief was always indefensible — the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed — and by now it is manifestly foolish. But foolishness on this scale looks disturbingly like a sort of national insanity. We seem to have come to a collective delusion of grandeur, insisting that all of us are “free” to be as conspicuously greedy and wasteful as the most corrupt of kings and queens. (Perhaps by devoting more and more of our already abused cropland to fuel production we will at last cure ourselves of obesity and become fashionably skeletal, hungry but — thank God! — still driving.)"



"The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity. The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination — this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.

Our national faith so far has been: “There’s always more.” Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. Thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done — that of neighborliness and caretaking — cannot be done by remote control with the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.

That human limitlessness is a fantasy means, obviously, that its life expectancy is limited. There is now a growing perception, and not just among a few experts, that we are entering a time of inescapable limits. We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.

This constraint, however, is not the condemnation it may seem. On the contrary, it returns us to our real condition and to our human heritage, from which our self-definition as limitless animals has for too long cut us off. Every cultural and religious tradition that I know about, while fully acknowledging our animal nature, defines us specifically as humans — that is, as animals (if the word still applies) capable of living not only within natural limits but also within cultural limits, self-imposed. As earthly creatures, we live, because we must, within natural limits, which we may describe by such names as “earth” or “ecosystem” or “watershed” or “place.” But as humans, we may elect to respond to this necessary placement by the self-restraints implied in neighborliness, stewardship, thrift, temperance, generosity, care, kindness, friendship, loyalty, and love.

In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define “freedom,” for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, “free” is etymologically related to “friend.” These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of “dear” or “beloved.” We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restraints of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our “identity” is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections."



"And so our cultural tradition is in large part the record of our continuing effort to understand ourselves as beings specifically human: to say that, as humans, we must do certain things and we must not do certain things. We must have limits or we will cease to exist as humans; perhaps we will cease to exist, period. At times, for example, some of us humans have thought that human beings, properly so called, did not make war against civilian populations, or hold prisoners without a fair trial, or use torture for any reason.

Some of us would-be humans have thought too that we should not be free at anybody else’s expense. And yet in the phrase “free market,” the word “free” has come to mean unlimited economic power for some, with the necessary consequence of economic powerlessness for others. Several years ago, after I had spoken at a meeting, two earnest and obviously troubled young veterinarians approached me with a question: How could they practice veterinary medicine without serious economic damage to the farmers who were their clients? Underlying their question was the fact that for a long time veterinary help for a sheep or a pig has been likely to cost more than the animal is worth. I had to answer that, in my opinion, so long as their practice relied heavily on selling patented drugs, they had no choice, since the market for medicinal drugs was entirely controlled by the drug companies, whereas most farmers had no control at all over the market for agricultural products. My questioners were asking in effect if a predatory economy can have a beneficent result. The answer too often is No. And that is because there is an absolute discontinuity between the economy of the seller of medicines and the economy of the buyer, as there is in the health industry as a whole. The drug industry is interested in the survival of patients, we have to suppose, because surviving patients will continue to consume drugs.

Now let us consider a contrary example. Recently, at another meeting, I talked for some time with an elderly, and some would say an old-fashioned, farmer from Nebraska. Unable to farm any longer himself, he had rented his land to a younger farmer on the basis of what he called “crop share” instead of a price paid or owed in advance. Thus, as the old farmer said of his renter, “If he has a good year, I have a good year. If he has a bad year, I have a bad one.” This is what I would call community economics. It is a sharing of fate. It assures an economic continuity and a common interest between the two partners to the trade. This is as far as possible from the economy in which the young veterinarians were caught, in which the powerful are limitlessly “free” to trade, to the disadvantage, and ultimately the ruin, of the powerless.

It is this economy of community destruction that, wittingly or unwittingly, most scientists and technicians have served for the past two hundred years. These scientists and technicians have justified themselves by the proposition that they are the vanguard of progress, enlarging human knowledge and power, and thus they have romanticized both themselves and the predatory enterprises that they have served."



"If the idea of appropriate limitation seems unacceptable to us, that may be because, like Marlowe’s Faustus and Milton’s Satan, we confuse limits with confinement. But that, as I think Marlowe and Milton and others were trying to tell us, is a great and potentially a fatal mistake. Satan’s fault, as Milton understood it and perhaps with some sympathy, was precisely that he could not tolerate his proper limitation; he could not subordinate himself to anything whatever. Faustus’s error was his unwillingness to remain “Faustus, and a man.” In our age of the world it is not rare to find writers, critics, and teachers of literature, as well as scientists and technicians, who regard Satan’s and Faustus’s defiance as salutary and heroic.

On the contrary, our human and earthly limits, properly understood, are not confinements but rather inducements to formal elaboration and elegance, to fullness of relationship and meaning. Perhaps our most serious cultural loss in recent centuries is the knowledge that some things, though limited, are inexhaustible. For example, an ecosystem, even that of a working forest or farm, so long as it remains ecologically intact, is inexhaustible. A small place, as I know from my own experience, can provide opportunities of work and learning, and a fund of beauty, solace, and pleasure — in addition to its difficulties — that cannot be exhausted in a lifetime or in generations.

To recover from our disease of limitlessness, we will have to give up the idea that we have a right to be godlike animals, that we are potentially omniscient and omnipotent, ready to discover “the secret of the universe.” We will have to start over, with a different and much older premise: the naturalness and, for creatures of limited intelligence, the necessity, of limits. We must learn again to ask how we can make the most of what we are, what we have, what we have been given. If we always have a theoretically better substitute available from somebody or someplace else, we will never make the most of anything. It is hard to make the most of one life. If we each had two lives, we would not make much of either. Or … [more]
wendellberry  2008  economics  science  technology  art  limits  limitlessness  arts  ecosystems  limitations  local  humanism  humanity  humility  community  communities  knowledge  power  expansion  growth  interdependence  greed  neighborliness  stewardship  thrift  temperance  christianity  generosity  care  kindness  friendship  loyalty  love  self-restraint  restraint  watershed  land  caring  caretaking  morality  accountability  responsibility  respect  reverence  corruption  capitalism  technosolutionism  fossilfuels  waste 
19 days ago by robertogreco
Decolonising Science Reading List – Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – Medium
"A note on Making Meaning of “Decolonising” — and in relation to that I want to be clear that the original motivation behind the creation of this list was to address a land claim issue: the use of Maunakea by non-Kanaka Maoli for science. Please be thoughtful about using “decolonising” if you’re not going to tie it into the physicality that colonialism necessarily requires. Intellectual colonialism only works when there is a physical threat associated with it.

A twitter thread by Melissa Daniels (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation) on engaging in colonialist activity under the guise of “decolonising education”

Thank me for my free labor maintaining this list by making a donation to The Offing via Paypal, Crowdrise, or a monthly donation at Patreon.

October 2016 Introduction
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.

Original April 2015 Commentary

There are two different angles at play in the discussion about colonialism and science. First is what constitutes scientific epistemology and what its origins are. As a physicist, I was taught that physics began with the Greeks and later Europeans inherited their ideas and expanded on them. In this narrative, people of African descent and others are now relative newcomers to science, and questions of inclusion and diversity in science are related back to “bringing science to underrepresented minority and people of color communities.” The problem with this narrative is that it isn’t true. For example, many of those “Greeks” were actually Egyptians and Mesopotamians under Greek rule. So, even though for the last 500 years or so science has largely been developed by Europeans, the roots of its methodology and epistemology are not European. Science, as scientists understand it, is not fundamentally European in origin. This complicates both racist narratives about people of color and innovation as well as discourse around whether science is fundamentally wedded to Euro-American operating principles of colonialism, imperialism and domination for the purpose of resource extraction.

This leads me to the second angle at play: Europeans have engaged what is called “internalist” science very seriously over the last 500 years and often in service and tandem with colonialism and white supremacy. For example, Huygens and Cassini facilitated and directed astronomical observation missions in order to help the French better determine the location of St. Domingue, the island that houses the modern nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Why? Because this would help make the delivery of slaves and export of the products of their labor more efficient. That is just one example, which stuck out to me because I am a descendant of the Caribbean part of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and I also have two degrees in astronomy (and two in physics).

There is a lot that has been hidden from mainstream narratives about the history of astronomy, including 20th century history. Where has the colonial legacy of astronomy taken us? From Europe to Haiti to now Hawai’i. Hawai’i is the flash point for this conversation now, even though the story goes beyond Hawai’i. If we are going to understand the context of what is happening in Hawai’i with the Thirty Meter Telescope, we must understand that Hawai’i is not the first or only place where astronomers used and benefited from colonialism. And in connection, we have to understand Hawai’ian history. Thus, my reading list also includes important materials about Hawai’i’s history.

tl;dr: science has roots outside of the Eurasian peninsula known as Europe, it likely has its limitations as one of multiple ontologies of the world, it has been used in really grotesque ways, and we must understand all of these threads to truly contextualize the discourse in Hawai’i around science, Hawaiian epistemologies and who gets to determine what constitutes “truth” and “fact” when it comes to Mauna a Wakea.

Finally, I believe science need not be inextricably tied to commodification and colonialism. The discourse around “diversity, equity and inclusion” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be viewed as a reclamation project for people of color. Euro-American imperialism and colonialism has had its (often unfortunate) moment with science, and it’s time for the rest of us to reclaim our heritage for the sake of ourselves and the next seven generations.

Note: this reading list is woefully low on materials about science in the pre-European contact Americas, Southeast Asia and parts of Australasia. I’m probably missing some stuff, but I think it signals a problem with research in the history of science too. Also I make no claims about completeness or a commitment to regularly updating it with my newest finds. Also see A U.S./Canadian Race & Racism Reading List.

May 2017 edit: I also just learned that there is a Reading List on Modern and Colonial Science in the Middle East.

October 2017 edit: I gratefully acknowledge Duane Hamacher of the Indigenous Astronomy twitter account for suggesting texts on Australian Indigenous astronomy and for introducing me to research on subarctic Indigenous astronomy.

Martin Kusch’s Sociology of scientific knowledge bibliography may be of interest.

As of May 2017 Beatrice Martini has posted Decolonizing technology: a reading list.

Works by me that may help you contextualize the list with problems I’ve been thinking about. These are partly here not because I particularly enjoy tooting my own horn but because I found that without them, people were assuming I hadn’t contributed to the dialogue myself beyond this reading list:

[lists follow]"
sciene  decolonization  readinglists  chandaprescod-weinstein  diversification  diversity  culture  race  gender  indigenous  indigeneity  imperialism  colonialism  science 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Emily S Klein on Twitter: "A really unsettling thing: American (I'm sure also European) scientists traveling to much lower income countries, doing science on sexy ecosystems and organisms, and then coming back to the States and publishing in high impact j
"A really unsettling thing: American (I'm sure also European) scientists traveling to much lower income countries, doing science on sexy ecosystems and organisms, and then coming back to the States and publishing in high impact journals.

Who is talking/thinking abt this?

I am asking the google who and where are we discussing this serious problem. Modern intellectual colonialism? Modern scientific colonialism? You know, where you head off somewhere and take their science, bring it back and publish/build your career.

The thing is, it looks to me like entire labs are built on this, without a thought on its implications. Students come out of these labs trained in this as a perfectly valid way of studying ecology - and they never have to think about those implications.

Sure, I get it, hire folks wherever you go, maybe do some advocating and some outreach and you make some friends and feel like you're helping. Maybe you even have someone as a co-author here and there.

But... it's still going somewhere else and taking their science.

I realized today another ramification of this I haven't had to even consider before now. Labs that operate this way turn out highly qualified scientists w/expertise in foreign ecosystems. These scientists are more likely to get jobs wrt science in those countries moving forward.

.@Drew_Lab kindly just reminded me this is called "parachute science" - but of course searching so far has provided me with many fun parachute experiment ideas to try with kids...

We can't make real change *globally* if we don't face the impacts of parachute science and the need to move beyond local hiring and minimal engagement. We have to find ways to lift up local science and scientific enterprises.

We need to partner, not lead.

"Advancing Biodiversity Research in Developing
Countries: The Need for Changing Paradigms": creating valuable partnerships esp wrt biodiversity. Touches briefly on parachute science,but overall highlights better ways forward in advancing science globally: https://digitalcommons.csumb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=sns_fac

Another on mutually valuable international collaborations from @HarrisProgram in 2004: "One major point worth emphasizing is that true international partnerships require a huge investment of time from all participants—and are hugely rewarding in return"

.@HarrisProgram also notes lack of incentives to invest: "... teaching, mentorship &collaborations are not part of the institutional reward sys in developed &middle-income countries, bc tenure committees & funding agencies look only at PI of a grant & 1st or last author on a pub"

In my googling on parachute science, found this nice discussion from @NPRGoatsandSoda regarding language: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/01/04/372684438/if-you-shouldnt-call-it-the-third-world-what-should-you-call-it

"Some people use the term "Majority World" - a reminder to those of us in the West that we are but a very small minority on the globe."

All of this should resonate even w/those of us who don't science overseas. Marginalized communities in the US will suffer the brunt of #ClimateChange, and we parachute in there, w/similar consequences domestically.

For example, as a field research intern before going to grad school in Hawai'i, the project routinely had field stations vandalized -- likely due to a lack of engaging w/local Hawaiian communities, in addition to, well, colonialism here at home, folks.

Also thinking abt this more:

1. Parachute or helicopter (better as describes leaving just as fast) science: scientists show up, science, take knowledge, no add’l actions. #kthxbai

2. White savior science: “We have to bc ‘they’ can’t/won’t by themselves and/or ‘in time’”.

Also whew! Thanks for all the responses and resources! I’ll be back on this tomorrow for sure! Yay science twitter!

I've started a thread summarizing resources +contacts, but pls note!! This should NOT be seen as an exhaustive list by any means, just what I could get from what the Twit would let me recover. PLEASE ADD others to this thread and I will cont to also! TY!!!

I also followed up w/some additional thoughts today..."

[multiple branches to follow in this thread]
science  colonialism  parachutescience  emilyklein  scienceimperialism  exploitation  academia  research  2019  ashadevos  access  diversity 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Sri Lankan Whale Researcher Calls for an End to ‘Parachute — Oceans Deeply
[via: https://twitter.com/ashadevos/status/1121574154367422464 ]

"Most of the planet’s coastlines are in the developing world. Western marine scientists and institutions could do better work by developing the scientific talents of the people who live there, says Asha de Vos, founder of Oceanswell."



"THERE’S NO HOPE to conserve the ocean’s biodiversity unless scientists look inward and improve diversity in their own ranks. That’s the message that Asha de Vos, a Sri Lankan marine biologist, delivered to an international meeting of marine mammalogists in Halifax, Canada, in October.

De Vos is founder of Oceanswell, an organization she launched this year to help students from underrepresented nations conduct and communicate marine science. She argues that the health of coastlines depends on local people, yet too often they are ignored or dismissed. The practice of “parachute science,” in which Western researchers drop into developing countries to collect data and leave without training or investing in the region, not only harms communities, it cripples conservation efforts, according to De Vos.

She has first-hand experience. From Sri Lanka, she made her research career by studying blue whales in the Indian Ocean, which she discovered to be the only population that stays in tropical waters year round. Few scientists had paid attention to the whales before.

Oceans Deeply spoke with De Vos about how marine research and conservation could be more effective by investing in scientists and communities around the world.

Oceans Deeply: You recently called on marine researchers to be better at sharing skills, knowledge and funding with people in developing countries. Can you describe what you meant by that?

Asha de Vos: Seventy percent of our planet is oceans. Seventy percent of our coastlines are in the developing world. But we have no representation at the global stage. I actually asked the audience to look at each other and look around the room, because there was hardly anybody from outside North America, some of the bigger European countries and Australia. We want to save the oceans. If that is what our drive is, then we need to have custodians on every coastline. We can’t save the oceans if all of the funds are being pumped into specific nations.

If you want to protect that coastline, you can’t have 10 people from one country going into different countries and trying to save entire coastlines. It doesn’t make any sense. Local people, they live on those coastlines. They speak the languages, and they see the problems every day. They may be part of the problem.

There is a community aspect to it – where they can communicate to the people who live next door to them better than people coming from outside and telling people what to do. That is really patronizing. As soon as you get people who come from within the system, who speak the same language and who are relatable, you will suddenly start to see change.

If we want to protect what is on all of these coastlines, we can’t have parachute science happening. We can’t have people from outside coming into our countries, doing work and leaving, because there is no sustainability in that model.

Oceans Deeply: In many Western countries, limited scientific funding often goes to a small number of people, largely based on experience and prestige. Are you also calling for a general reform of how science is done?

De Vos: Overall, I think that we do need general reform. Business as usual hasn’t worked, right? The oceans are not in a better state. They’re getting worse. We need to start thinking, “OK, how can we change what is happening? How can we invest in human capital in places that need it?”

Funding bodies should be more conscious about how they administer their funding. It is not just about having a local counterpart – you need to make that local counterpart a lead. You need to mentor them to write the grant. It is the big institutions and funding bodies that really control what happens in these fields. The reason people want to publish and publish is because their tenure track job depends on it. If institutions instead started saying, “Look, what is your actual impact? What are you actually doing on the ground? How does what you do translate?” Then people have an obligation to go beyond [publishing].

I can understand the plight of the scientist as well. I broke out of that system. I never believed in the system, so I couldn’t stay in academia because that just doesn’t work for me. I want to have impact.

Oceans Deeply: How did you end up in your career, and what challenges did you face because you’re from Sri Lanka?

De Vos: I was inspired by National Geographic as a kid. At 18, I told people that I wanted to be a marine biologist. I come from South Asia where the culture is: either you’re a doctor, lawyer, engineer, a business person or you’re wasting your time. Lucky for me I had parents who said, “Do what you love, you’ll do it well.”

I went to the University of St. Andrews, where I did my undergraduate. I needed field experience, but I couldn’t get it in Sri Lanka, so I saved a bunch of money – I dug potatoes in potato fields in Scotland. I managed to get myself to New Zealand, and while I was there I heard of a research vessel that was stopping in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

I wrote to them every single day for three months – and this was back in the day of internet cafes. I was living in a tent, but I was using the little bit of money that I had to convince people to let me get on board. Eventually, I think that they got so tired of me that they said I could come on board for two weeks in the Maldives. They loved me, so they kept me on for six months in Sri Lanka as well.

I got this experience, and then I went off to do my master’s at Oxford. When I was working on the research vessel, the Odyssey, I had my eureka moment because I encountered an aggregation of blue whales. I realized that these whales were not like normal blue whales, as my textbooks and professors had [told me]. Blue whales usually go to cold waters to feed and warm waters to breed. The poo was evidence that they were actually feeding in these warm, tropical waters 5 degrees above the equator. I thought that was fascinating.

Oceans Deeply: How did these experiences help form your understanding of the need for diversity in marine science?

De Vos: It is a result of me being Sri Lankan and local that I have been able to pioneer blue whale research in the northern Indian Ocean. I launched the first long-term study of this population. Over 10 years we have unraveled all of these mysteries, because I am local and I am interested in engagement.

The more people that I can touch with the stories of these whales, the bigger the army [of conservationists] and that is what is going to make the difference. When I started working with these blue whales, People didn’t know that we had whales in our waters. Now, there are more [Sri Lankan] students than ever before wanting to become marine biologists. I just established Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation research and education organization, called Oceanswell.

Oceans Deeply: Have you seen progress in training and investing in local communities?

De Vos: Yes. After the Society of Marine Mammalogy talk, I had people lining up to give their cards. There are people who invest, and not just in the developing world. There are now Inuit communities who are able to run their own PCR machines because someone went in there and helped set up a lab, even if you don’t have all the right conditions.

There are people out there who are doing incredible work and that don’t get highlighted, which is unfortunate. Transfer of knowledge is not valued in our scientific system in the same way as research.

I have had people approach me and say, “Can you get me a research permit so that I can do research in your country?” and I say no. We have talent, so provide opportunity. You come and train our people and then have the confidence to leave and watch this project grow, and then this becomes your legacy because it continues to grow for generations. You are creating something that is sustainable rather than coming in and trying to drive your own agenda"
ashadevos  science  decolonization  parachutescience  academia  local  srilanka  2017  oceanswell  whales  bluewhales  research  marinebiology  maldives  oceans  indianocean  inclusivity  diversity  marineconservation  conservation  impact  training  access  accessibility  mentoring  mentorships 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Society for Marine Mammalogy plenary talk: Asha de Vos - YouTube
[via: https://twitter.com/ashadevos/status/1121574652801773569 ]

"Listen as Dr. Asha de Vos talks about the current marine conservation climate and the need for changing it to change the trajectory of marine conservation. She speaks from her experiences as a researcher from a developing country accessing a field that is largely developed country focused."
ashadevos  science  srilanka  whales  bluewhales  marinebiology  conservation  decolonization  srg  research  climate  paywalls  open  openaccess  journals  accessibility  access  inclusivity  inclusion  diversity  marineconservation  indianocean  impact  training  local  mentoring  mentorships 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Greta Thunberg has done her science homework - Faktabaari
"On 21st February 2019 the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, delivered a strong speech [1] at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Thunberg teamed up with IPCC [2] science and scientists and encouraged politicians to take urgent action to combat climate change.

Thunberg said that politicians should listen to scientists and ”follow the Paris agreement and the IPCC reports”. The speech was considered a success by eyewitnesses [3] and media [4].

We checked the science references in Thunberg’s speech for pedagogical use with top scientists from Finland.

First three of the four science-related claims below were found accurate. The fourth claim about ”a minimum of 80 % CO2 reduction by 2030” would have required more explanation. Overall, the combination of IPCC climate science and an empowered youth raising concerns about the future is powerful. Strong political messages cannot always be evaluated by fact-checking.

That said, Thunberg’s activism can be claimed to be evidence-based and backed by a number of world-class scientists, well worth a nomination for Nobel Peace Prize [5]. As Thunberg claims, she has done her homework. However, defining exact reduction targets is difficult for scientists but important for politicians.

Greta science-based claims 21.2.2019 (full text here [1])

1. ”…by the year 2020 we need to have bended the emissions curve steep downward.”

2. ”According to the IPCC report we are about 11 years away from being in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control.”

3. ”To avoid that unprecedented changes in all aspects of society\, [actions] need to have taken place within this coming decade\, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50 % by the year 2030. And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity\, which is absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work on a global scale\, nor do they include tipping points or feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas released from the thawing Arctic permafrost. They do\, however\, include negative emission techniques on a huge planetary scale that is yet to be invented\, and that many scientists fear will never be ready in time and will anyway be impossible to deliver at the scale assumed.”

4. ”We have been told that the EU intends to improve its emission reduction targets. In the new target\, the EU is proposing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 45 % below 1990’s level by 2030 [6]. Some people say that is good or that is ambitious. But this new target is still not enough to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today. If the EU is to make its fair contribution to staying within the carbon budget for the two-degree limit\, then it means a minimum of 80 % reduction by 2030 and that includes aviation and shipping. So [it is] around twice as ambitious as the current proposal.”

The two independent scientists involved with IPCC were asked to review Greta’s public speech for science-based claims. They are:

Christian Breyer, [7] Professor of Solar Economy, LUT University

“I can clearly approve her Brussels speech from a scientific point of view, every single sentence.

Specifically about the fourth claim on 80 % reduction target: this is part of interpretation, but let me explain.
The remaining GHG emission budget is rather ’large’, in case we would like to reach the target with a 50 % probability. For a 66 % probability of target reaching the remaining GHG emissions are much lower (more than linear reduction), but to be on the safe side one should go for a 90 % probability to reach the target. The latter implies a very fast and very deep GHG emission reduction, even more drastic than mentioned by Greta.

Now the relevant comparison: the Boeing 737 Max 8 is on ground after two strange crashes, but for all passengers in all flights in all of these planes the security had been higher than 99.9 %. This is a very high level of security.

Honestly, for surviving on our planet, we should have the same drastic measures, if not more drastic.

In other words, to really achieve the 1.5 C target in a very high probability the targets should be even more drastic, i.e. deeper and faster defossilisation than claimed by Greta. Thus the claim is more than fine.”

Markku Ollikainen, [8] Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics, University of Helsinki & Chair of Finnish Climate Panel

“I agree on the general approach and arguments 1 - 3, but based on the climate research and data given by Greta statement I cannot fully confirm nor reject claim 4 on minimum 80% EU reduction target by 2030, as the fairness principle behind the calculation is not explicated.”

This factcheck was published for the use of Faktabaari (FactBar) medialiteracy project. Read more www.faktabaari.fi/edu."
gretathunberg  science  climatechange  activism  globalwarming  sustainability  2019  research  factchecking  data  emissions  policy  politics 
29 days ago by robertogreco
How Greta Thunberg’s Lone Climate Strike Became a Global Movement – Rolling Stone
"The 16-year-old Swedish activist’s #FridaysForFuture protests have galvanized young people around the world"
gretathunberg  2019  climatechange  globalwarming  science  activism 
29 days ago by robertogreco
'You did not act in time': Greta Thunberg's full speech to MPs | Environment | The Guardian
"My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to. People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing.

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more.

Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.

You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.

Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?

Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, these calculations do not include unforeseen tipping points and feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing arctic permafrost.

Nor do these scientific calculations include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Nor the aspect of equity – or climate justice – clearly stated throughout the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale.

We must also bear in mind that these are just calculations. Estimations. That means that these “points of no return” may occur a bit sooner or later than 2030. No one can know for sure. We can, however, be certain that they will occur approximately in these timeframes, because these calculations are not opinions or wild guesses.

These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC.

Did you hear what I just said? Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.

During the last six months I have travelled around Europe for hundreds of hours in trains, electric cars and buses, repeating these life-changing words over and over again. But no one seems to be talking about it, and nothing has changed. In fact, the emissions are still rising.

When I have been travelling around to speak in different countries, I am always offered help to write about the specific climate policies in specific countries. But that is not really necessary. Because the basic problem is the same everywhere. And the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.

The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.

Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester.

And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.

But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics.

The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual. The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd.

This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind.

People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.

Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.

Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?

The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.

“So, exactly how do we solve that?” you ask us – the schoolchildren striking for the climate.

And we say: “No one knows for sure. But we have to stop burning fossil fuels and restore nature and many other things that we may not have quite figured out yet.”

Then you say: “That’s not an answer!”

So we say: “We have to start treating the crisis like a crisis – and act even if we don’t have all the solutions.”

“That’s still not an answer,” you say.

Then we start talking about circular economy and rewilding nature and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about.

We say that all those solutions needed are not known to anyone and therefore we must unite behind the science and find them together along the way. But you do not listen to that. Because those answers are for solving a crisis that most of you don’t even fully understand. Or don’t want to understand.

You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time.

Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.

Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.

We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do.

We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.

I hope my microphone was on. I hope you could all hear me… [more]
gretathunberg  2019  sustainability  environment  climate  children  activism  futureyouuth  climatechange  globalwarming  science  policy  politics  action  inaction  avoidance 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Plight of the Platypus
"The more scientists learn about this strange, elusive species, the more concerned they become about its future. But these new insights may ultimately help to save it."
platypus  science  biology  multispecies  animals  nature  wildlife  australia  2019 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Is Dentistry a Science? - The Atlantic
"It’s much less scientific—and more prone to gratuitous procedures—than you may think."



"e have a fraught relationship with dentists as authority figures. In casual conversation we often dismiss them as “not real doctors,” regarding them more as mechanics for the mouth. But that disdain is tempered by fear. For more than a century, dentistry has been half-jokingly compared to torture. Surveys suggest that up to 61 percent of people are apprehensive about seeing the dentist, perhaps 15 percent are so anxious that they avoid the dentist almost entirely, and a smaller percentage have a genuine phobia requiring psychiatric intervention.

When you’re in the dentist’s chair, the power imbalance between practitioner and patient becomes palpable. A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see, asking you questions you cannot properly answer, and judging you all the while. The experience simultaneously invokes physical danger, emotional vulnerability, and mental limpness. A cavity or receding gum line can suddenly feel like a personal failure. When a dentist declares that there is a problem, that something must be done before it’s too late, who has the courage or expertise to disagree? When he points at spectral smudges on an X-ray, how are we to know what’s true? In other medical contexts, such as a visit to a general practitioner or a cardiologist, we are fairly accustomed to seeking a second opinion before agreeing to surgery or an expensive regimen of pills with harsh side effects. But in the dentist’s office—perhaps because we both dread dental procedures and belittle their medical significance—the impulse is to comply without much consideration, to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.

The uneasy relationship between dentist and patient is further complicated by an unfortunate reality: Common dental procedures are not always as safe, effective, or durable as we are meant to believe. As a profession, dentistry has not yet applied the same level of self-scrutiny as medicine, or embraced as sweeping an emphasis on scientific evidence. “We are isolated from the larger health-care system. So when evidence-based policies are being made, dentistry is often left out of the equation,” says Jane Gillette, a dentist in Bozeman, Montana, who works closely with the American Dental Association’s Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry, which was established in 2007. “We’re kind of behind the times, but increasingly we are trying to move the needle forward.”

Consider the maxim that everyone should visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings. We hear it so often, and from such a young age, that we’ve internalized it as truth. But this supposed commandment of oral health has no scientific grounding. Scholars have traced its origins to a few potential sources, including a toothpaste advertisement from the 1930s and an illustrated pamphlet from 1849 that follows the travails of a man with a severe toothache. Today, an increasing number of dentists acknowledge that adults with good oral hygiene need to see a dentist only once every 12 to 16 months.

Many standard dental treatments—to say nothing of all the recent innovations and cosmetic extravagances—are likewise not well substantiated by research. Many have never been tested in meticulous clinical trials. And the data that are available are not always reassuring.

The Cochrane organization, a highly respected arbiter of evidence-based medicine, has conducted systematic reviews of oral-health studies since 1999. In these reviews, researchers analyze the scientific literature on a particular dental intervention, focusing on the most rigorous and well-designed studies. In some cases, the findings clearly justify a given procedure. For example, dental sealants—liquid plastics painted onto the pits and grooves of teeth like nail polish—reduce tooth decay in children and have no known risks. (Despite this, they are not widely used, possibly because they are too simple and inexpensive to earn dentists much money.) But most of the Cochrane reviews reach one of two disheartening conclusions: Either the available evidence fails to confirm the purported benefits of a given dental intervention, or there is simply not enough research to say anything substantive one way or another.

Fluoridation of drinking water seems to help reduce tooth decay in children, but there is insufficient evidence that it does the same for adults. Some data suggest that regular flossing, in addition to brushing, mitigates gum disease, but there is only “weak, very unreliable” evidence that it combats plaque. As for common but invasive dental procedures, an increasing number of dentists question the tradition of prophylactic wisdom-teeth removal; often, the safer choice is to monitor unproblematic teeth for any worrying developments. Little medical evidence justifies the substitution of tooth-colored resins for typical metal amalgams to fill cavities. And what limited data we have don’t clearly indicate whether it’s better to repair a root-canaled tooth with a crown or a filling. When Cochrane researchers tried to determine whether faulty metal fillings should be repaired or replaced, they could not find a single study that met their standards.

“The body of evidence for dentistry is disappointing,” says Derek Richards, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry at the University of Dundee, in Scotland. “Dentists tend to want to treat or intervene. They are more akin to surgeons than they are to physicians. We suffer a little from that. Everybody keeps fiddling with stuff, trying out the newest thing, but they don’t test them properly in a good-quality trial.”

The general dearth of rigorous research on dental interventions gives dentists even more leverage over their patients. Should a patient somehow muster the gumption to question an initial diagnosis and consult the scientific literature, she would probably not find much to help her. When we submit to a dentist’s examination, we are putting a great deal of trust in that dentist’s experience and intuition—and, of course, integrity."



"Throughout history, many physicians have lamented the segregation of dentistry and medicine. Acting as though oral health is somehow divorced from one’s overall well-being is absurd; the two are inextricably linked. Oral bacteria and the toxins they produce can migrate through the bloodstream and airways, potentially damaging the heart and lungs. Poor oral health is associated with narrowing arteries, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and respiratory disease, possibly due to a complex interplay of oral microbes and the immune system. And some research suggests that gum disease can be an early sign of diabetes, indicating a relationship between sugar, oral bacteria, and chronic inflammation.

Dentistry’s academic and professional isolation has been especially detrimental to its own scientific inquiry. Most major medical associations around the world have long endorsed evidence-based medicine. The idea is to shift focus away from intuition, anecdote, and received wisdom, and toward the conclusions of rigorous clinical research. Although the phrase evidence-based medicine was coined in 1991, the concept began taking shape in the 1960s, if not earlier (some scholars trace its origins all the way back to the 17th century). In contrast, the dental community did not begin having similar conversations until the mid-1990s. There are dozens of journals and organizations devoted to evidence-based medicine, but only a handful devoted to evidence-based dentistry.

In the past decade, a small cohort of dentists has worked diligently to promote evidence-based dentistry, hosting workshops, publishing clinical-practice guidelines based on systematic reviews of research, and creating websites that curate useful resources. But its adoption “has been a relatively slow process,” as a 2016 commentary in the Contemporary Clinical Dentistry journal put it. Part of the problem is funding: Because dentistry is often sidelined from medicine at large, it simply does not receive as much money from the government and industry to tackle these issues. “At a recent conference, very few practitioners were even aware of the existence of evidence-based clinical guidelines,” says Elliot Abt, a professor of oral medicine at the University of Illinois. “You can publish a guideline in a journal, but passive dissemination of information is clearly not adequate for real change.”

Among other problems, dentistry’s struggle to embrace scientific inquiry has left dentists with considerable latitude to advise unnecessary procedures—whether intentionally or not. The standard euphemism for this proclivity is overtreatment. Favored procedures, many of which are elaborate and steeply priced, include root canals, the application of crowns and veneers, teeth whitening and filing, deep cleaning, gum grafts, fillings for “microcavities”—incipient lesions that do not require immediate treatment—and superfluous restorations and replacements, such as swapping old metal fillings for modern resin ones. Whereas medicine has made progress in reckoning with at least some of its own tendencies toward excessive and misguided treatment, dentistry is lagging behind. It remains “largely focused upon surgical procedures to treat the symptoms of disease,” Mary Otto writes. “America’s dental care system continues to reward those surgical procedures far more than it does prevention.”

“Excessive diagnosis and treatment are endemic,” says Jeffrey H. Camm, a dentist of more than 35 years who wryly described his peers’ penchant for “creative diagnosis” in a 2013 commentary published by the American Dental Association. “I don’t want to be damning. I think the majority of dentists are pretty good.” But many have “this … [more]
dentistry  health  healthcare  2019  fraud  science  ferrisjabr  malpractice  research  authority  surgery  oralhealth  teeth  motivation  capitalism 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Entrevista a Gastón Soublette - Parte I: La Sabiduría Tradicional - YouTube
"Realizada en Limache el 3 de octubre de 2015 en ocasión del Premio Nueva Civilización por su contribución al estudio y valorización de la cultura y la sabiduría popular creativa.
El Galardón será otorgado el Miércoles 25 de Noviembre, a las 18.30 hrs. en el marco del Simposio Internacional 'Desafíos de la Política en un Mundo Complejo', ocasión en que don Gastón Soublette ofrecerá una Conferencia Magistral."

[Parte II: El Arte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjn8B-aSFaE

Parte III: La Cultura Mapuche
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N27LAd906yM

Parte IV: El Conocimiento Científico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjEj-i0dcUs

Parte V: Filosofía y Educación
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neci7LTwH_8

Parte VI: Religión y Cultura
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neyEPrRH_oQ

Parte VII: Una Nueva Civilización
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=930FCVu9_7M ]
gastónsoublette  chile  history  mapuche  science  education  philosophy  culture  religion  civilization  future  art  music  tradition  oraltradition  oral  orality  diegoportales  improvisation  wisdom  mexico  precolumbian  inca  maya  aztec  quechua  literature  epics  araucaria  aesthetics  transcendentalism  myths  myth  arthistory  2015  perú 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Why You Want to Eat This Baby Up: It’s Science - The New York Times
"Researchers are beginning to ask why some people want to squeeze puppies and others want to sniff babies."



"Cute Overload
Anyone who has been on the internet lately knows that cuteness can get weird: lemurs with Keane-painting eyes, infants dressed as peapods, cats with toast on their heads. The internet offers up achingly sweet “cute porn” because those images grab our attention. There’s something almost aggressive about the way we crave cuteness.

Several years ago, the actress Leslie Bibb perched next to Conan O’Brien’s desk and riffed about a baby so cute that it drove her crazy. She pantomimed her extreme reaction to the infant by gritting her teeth and clenching her fists.

A social psychologist named Oriana Aragón, who was then teaching at Yale, happened to be watching. In the days that followed, she found herself pondering a subject that doesn’t usually receive much attention from the scientific community: cuteness.

Dr. Aragón realized that feelings of tenderness can be so overwhelming that they spill over into a behavior that she calls “cute aggression.” An example, she told me, is “when you see a grandparent pinching a baby’s cheeks and saying, ‘I want to eat you up.’” In fact, sometimes baby-talk can sound downright serial-killer-ish if you take it out of context. You might find yourself telling a puppy that you want to squish it — even though, of course, you’re doing just the opposite and gently caressing it.

Dr. Aragón and her colleagues at Yale undertook what are probably the world’s first attempts to scientifically prove the existence of cute aggression. In an adorable experiment, she and her research partners handed volunteers bubble wrap, then showed them a parade of images. Dr. Aragón found that people popped more bubbles when looking at, say, a photo of a kitten than of an adult cat — suggesting that the cutest images do seem to prompt the urge to crush or squeeze.

Because the cute-overload feeling lends itself to study, it may help to reveal the parts of our minds devoted to nurturing that have heretofore been hidden.

Katherine Stavropoulos, a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist at the University of California at Riverside, has conducted a study on the neural circuitry that is active during cuteness-overload. She asked volunteers to wear caps outfitted with sensors that measure brain activity, and then showed them images of wee little animals. Her results suggested that “cute-aggression” involves the reward system in the brain. In other words, it feels good.

But why? “It’s just a completely open question,” Dr. Aragón, who now works at Clemson, told me. Even so, she points out, it’s reasonable to assume that our extreme reaction to cuteness is evolution’s way of making sure that parents do the relentless work of nurturing children. To perpetuate the species, parents must feel driven to hold their babies for hours — and that might explain why the urge to squeeze gets mixed into a cocktail of tender emotions."
nervio  science  pagankennedy  2019 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
mattomildenberger on Twitter: "Something I've been meaning to say about The Tragedy of the Commons. Bear with me for a small thread on why our embrace of Hardin is a stain on environmentalism. tldr: we’ve let a flawed metaphor by a racist ecologist defi
[via: "The concept of 'the tragedy of the commons' "is not a legacy based on empirical scholarship, but on a metaphor that doesn't quite hold water."
t h r e a d"
https://twitter.com/hautepop/status/1102903178901766144 ]

[also here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1102604887223750657.html ]

"Something I've been meaning to say about The Tragedy of the Commons. Bear with me for a small thread on why our embrace of Hardin is a stain on environmentalism. tldr: we’ve let a flawed metaphor by a racist ecologist define environmental thinking for a half century. 1/

Hardin’s article, published in Science, turned 50 this past December. Since then, tens of millions of students have been taught its core message. Every individual seeks to exploit the commons. In doing so they unsustainably overuse our shared resources to the ruin of all. 2/

Google Scholar gives me a current citation count of 38730 (!). Most articles on environmental politics use the phrase at some point or another. It has permeated our lexicon like few other concepts. Here is the original Science essay, btw: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/162/3859/1243
3/

(Side note: Hardin’s piece actually drew on a much earlier 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd about the dangers of overgrazing the English countryside. Worth a read for those so inclined: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1972412?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents ) 4/

That this metaphor offers some essential insight is taken for granted. A generation of scholarship builds on its back, including in political science and economics. But does it? That's much less clear. 5/

As Susan Cox points out, British commons were exclusive to a defined set of individuals + this use itself was regulated. Commons as an institution worked but were undermined by other factors, including the efforts by the rich to accumulate more land http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/bitstream/handle/10535/3113/buck_NoTragedy.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y 6/

So the metaphor is not actually grounded in an empirically accurate representation of the commons. Other scholars have more strongly contested the logic of Hardin's argument. These range from friendly amendments (Ostrom) to wholesale critiques. 7/

This would all be an academic argument if not for the intellectual roots of Hardin's metaphor and thinking - roots that too few environmentalists acknowledge. 8/

Hardin wasn't a social scientist or on an expert on social organization. Instead, he was a Human Ecology prof at UC Santa Barbara (my home institution) where he taught until his 1978 retirement. (Morbid side note: he and his wife killed themselves in a 2003 suicide pact.) 9/

Have you read Hardin's Science essay lately? It's a mind-numbingly racist piece. And not in a subtle way that demands 2019 woke analysis. Spend the 20 minutes and do it. It’s an ethical mess from beginning to end. 10/
There are headings like “Freedom to Breed is Intolerable”, under which Hardin imagines the benefits that might accrue if “children of improvident parents starve to death”, an outcome stymied (a bad thing to him), by the welfare state. 11/

[image]

For these reasons, he campaigned against such programs as Food for Peace. A few paragraphs later: “If we love the truth we must openly deny the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” I think you get the idea. 12/

And this is par for the course for Hardin, who was also a passionate eugenicist. Oh hey! Look who is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a known white nationalist: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/garrett-hardin 13/

Lets quote the SPLC: 14/

SPLC has painful quotes from his later work. “Diversity is the opposite of unity, and unity is a prime requirement for national survival” (1991). “My position is that this idea of a multiethnic society is a disaster…we should restrict immigration for that reason.” (1996) 15/

And here is another one, again as an image because, no thanks do I want my twitter history to pop up when people search these things. 16/ [image]

And here is Hardin making an appearance in the infamous racist “Mainstream Science on Intelligence” op-ed. I could go on (and the SPLC does), but you get the idea. http://www.intelligence.martinsewell.com/Gottfredson1997.pdf 17/

Fast forward. Probably you’ve read articles on the intellectual network behind Trump’s nativist, racist demagoguery. Many mention the very influential anti-immigration activist John Tanton, and his Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR): https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/27/shadowy-network-shaping-trumps-anti-immigration-policies/
18/

And who was on FAIR’s board, and a close friend of Tanton? Yep, Hardin. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/federation-american-immigration-reform 19/

In my mind, it’s not that Hardin WOULD HAVE been a Trumper. It's that he WAS a Trumper before Trump was a Trumper. He helped build the entire intellectual movement Trump has since exploited. 20/

Now, lots of awful people have left noble ideas that outlive them. But in Hardin’s case, the intellectual legacy is largely built on top of his racist, flawed Science that we still treat as gospel and uncritically assign in undergraduate courses year after year. 21/

It is not a legacy based on empirical scholarship, but on a metaphor that doesn't quite hold water. Not that you would know any of this from the anodyne retrospectives that have sprouted up in the last several months celebrating his article's 50th anniversary. 22/

Fifty years later, the environment community needs to stop ignoring this dark intellectual heritage. A movement that seeks to define a just, vibrant climate future needs to tear away the veneer, and choose what of Hardin to keep and what to discard. 23/

We must ask: on what empirical basis do we accept his metaphor? How do we teach his metaphor? Do we contextualize its racist roots? Is it productive to the social transformation necessary to save the world from the climate crisis? 24/

Not undertaking this honest examination will perpetuate its own (common) tragedy and make our intellectual heritage a form of unwitting support for some of the ugliest social forces at play in the world today. 25/25"
mattmildenberger  garrethardin  2019  en  commons  eugenics  diversity  racism  race  tragedyofthecommons  nativism  immigration  population  science 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Refiguring the Future Conference | Day One - YouTube
The Refiguring the Future conference convenes artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberatory future by providing us with ideas that move beyond and critique oppressive systems. Participants in the conference will address concepts of world-building, ecologies, disability and accessibility, biotechnology and the body.

The conference kicks off the opening weekend of the Refiguring the Future, a new exhibition offering a politically engaged and inclusive vision of the intersection of art, science, and technology, organized in partnership with the REFRESH collective and Hunter College Art Galleries,

The Refiguring the Future conference is curated by Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow Lola Martinez and REFRESH member Maandeeq Mohamed.

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM | Opening Remarks

Dorothy R. Santos and Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Co-Curators of Refiguring the Future

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM | World-building

Exploring the settler ontologies that govern technoscientific inquiry, this panel will engage technology towards a liberatory, world-building politic.

shawné michaelain holloway, Artist

Rasheedah Phillips, Artist and Co-Creator of Black Quantum Futurism

Alexander G. Weheliye, Professor, Northwestern University

Moderated by Maandeeq Mohamed, Writer


11:30 AM – 12:30 AM | Keynote Lecture


12:30 PM – 02:00 PM | Lunch


02:00 PM – 02:30 PM | Keynote Performative Lecture

In this performative lecture, artist Zach Blas offers critical investigations on issues of the internet, capitalism, and state oppression.

Zach Blas, Artist

Keynote Introduction by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Artist


02:30 PM – 03:30 PM | Symbiotic Ecologies

Narratives of colonial legacy, migration, and extinction have shifted our cultural imagining of ecologies. Beginning by acknowledging our existence in unsustainable climates, this panel brings forth artistic and activist practices which provoke and foster symbiotic relationships for new understandings within environmental predicaments.

Sofía Córdova, Artist

Jaskiran Dhillon, Associate Professor, The New School

Sofía Unanue, co-founder and co-director of La Maraña

Moderated by Kathy High, Artist.


03:30 PM – 04:00 PM | Coffee Break

04:00 PM – 05:00 PM | Speculative Bodies: A Shell to be Surpassed

Technological biases categorize individuals according to markers such as race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship, and in turn undermine how we live and navigate our present and future worlds. This panel collectively examines how the fields of health, genomics, and technology are reinforced by Western scientific discourses and speculate new insights for alternative systems of knowledge.

Ruha Benjamin, Associate Professor, Princeton University

micha cárdenas, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Pinar Yoldas, Artist

Moderated by Dr. Kadija Ferryman, Researcher at Data and Society.

05:00 PM – 06:00 PM | Keynote Lecture

In this Keynote lecture, Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor examines the politics of social liberation movements. Author of #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Taylor offers an examination of the history and politics of Black America and the development of the social movement Black Lives Matter in response to police violence in the United States.

Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, Assistant Professor, Princeton University

Keynote introduction by Dorothy R. Santos, Curator and Writer"

[See also:
Refiguring the Future Conference | Day Two
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCa36fWJhyk

"The Refiguring the Future conference convenes artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberatory future by providing us with ideas that move beyond and critique oppressive systems. Participants in the conference will address concepts of world-building, ecologies, disability and accessibility, biotechnology and the body.

The conference kicks off the opening weekend of the Refiguring the Future, a new exhibition offering a politically engaged and inclusive vision of the intersection of art, science, and technology, organized in partnership with the REFRESH collective and Hunter College Art Galleries,

The Refiguring the Future conference is curated by Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow Lola Martinez and REFRESH member Maandeeq Mohamed.

See the full schedule here: https://www.eyebeam.org/events/refiguring-the-future-conference/

In the Annex:

Talks | Refiguring Planetary Health, Building Black Futures

We cannot have a healthy planet that sustains all human beings as long as the systemic oppression of Black and Indigenous peoples continues. And yet, prominent environmental science institutions concerned with conservation and climate change often fail to address this oppression or their role in perpetuating it. In this talk, we will explore how histories of scientific racism and eugenics inform current scientific policies and practice. Cynthia Malone will work with various forms of freedom practice, from hip hop to science fiction to scholarship in the Black Radical Tradition, to consider alternative visions for planetary health that advance both environmental stewardship and liberation from oppressive ideologies and systems.

Cynthia Malone, Activist, Scholar, and Scientist
---
The Spirit of the Water Bear

In this talk, Claire Pentecost will give an introduction and reading of Spirit of the Water Bear, a young adult novel set in a coastal town in the Carolinas. The novel’s protagonist, Juni Poole, is a 15-year-old girl who spends much of her time exploring the natural world. Inevitably, she finds herself confronting the urgency of a crisis that has no end, namely climate change and the sixth great extinction. Through experiences of activism, she finds comrades who feel environmental and political urgency much as she does, and learns that she has a place in the ongoing struggle for environmental justice. The book is a work of “Cli-Fi” or climate fiction, featuring Juni’s adventures, but it is also a work of “Cli-Phi” or climate philosophy, featuring conversations and musings on the nature of our existential predicament.

Claire Pentecost, Artist

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow
---
Roundtables and Talks | Visible networks: Community Building in the Digital Arena

As notions of accessibility are being rendered visible on networks and digital medias, disability and chronic illness communities are utilizing networks to provide resources and representations. Yet what does it mean to build community within these platforms? This roundtable discussion offers reflections by artists working to provide new insights into biomedical discourses which reinforce apparent and unapparent representations of disabled bodies.

Hayley Cranberry, Artist

Anneli Goeller, Artist

Yo-Yo Lin, Artist
---
#GLITCHFEMINISM

Legacy Russell is the founding theorist behind Glitch Feminism as a cultural manifesto and movement. #GLITCHFEMINISM aims to use the digital as a means of resisting the hegemony of the corporeal. Glitch Feminism embraces the causality of ‘error’ and turns the gloomy implication of ‘glitch’ on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system disturbed by economic, racial, social, sexual, cultural stratification, and the imperialist wrecking-ball of globalization—processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies—may not be ‘error’ at all, but rather a much-needed erratum. The digital is a vessel through which our glitch ‘becoming’ realises itself, and through which we can reprogramme binary gender coding. Our ‘glitch’ is a correction to the machine—f**k hegemonic coding! USURP THE BODY—BECOME YOUR AVATAR!

Legacy Russell, Curator and Writer

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow"]

[See also:
"Eyebeam presents Refiguring the Future: an exhibition and conference organized by REFRESH, produced in collaboration with Hunter College Art Galleries."
https://www.eyebeam.org/rtf/

EXHIBITION
Curated by REFRESH collective members Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Dorothy R. Santos, the exhibition title is inspired by artist Morehshin Allahyari’s work defining a concept of “refiguring” as a feminist, de-colonial, and activist practice. Informed by the punk ethos of do-it-yourself (DIY), the 18 artists featured in Refiguring the Future deeply mine the historical and cultural roots of our time, pull apart the artifice of contemporary technology, and sift through the pieces to forge new visions of what could become.

The exhibition will present 11 new works alongside re-presented immersive works by feminist, queer, decolonial, anti-racist, and anti-ableist artists concerned with our technological and political moment including: Morehshin Allahyari, Lee Blalock, Zach Blas*, micha cárdenas* and Abraham Avnisan, In Her Interior (Virginia Barratt and Francesca da Rimini)*, Mary Maggic, Lauren McCarthy, shawné michaelain holloway*, Claire and Martha Pentecost, Sonya Rapoport, Barak adé Soleil, Sputniko! and Tomomi Nishizawa, Stephanie Syjuco, and Pinar Yoldas*.

Names with asterik denotes participation in the conference. ]
eyebeam  dorothysantos  lolamartinez  maandeegmohamed  liberation  art  events  2019  heatherdewey-hagborg  shawnémichaelainholloway  rasheedahphillips  alexanderwehelive  zachblas  ecology  ecologies  sofíacórdova  sofíaunanue  jaskirandhillon  lamaraña  speculativefiction  designfiction  keeangayamahtta-taylor  michacárdenas  blacklivesmatter  gender  race  sexuality  citizenship  future  inclusions  inclusivity  health  genomics  speculativedesign  design  arts  pinaryoldas  kadijaferryman  glitchfeminism  feminism  clairepentecost  heyleycranbery  anneligoeller  yo-yolin  cyntihiamalone  climatechange  globalwarming  eugenics  racism  science  scientificracism  oppression  systemsthinking  activism  climatefiction  junipoole  accessibility  legacyrussell  technology  digital  disability  worldbuilding  bodies  biotechnology  morehshinallahyari  queer  decolonization  anti-racist  ableism  abti-ableism  leeblalock  abrahamavnisan  virginiabarratt  francescadarimini  marymaggic  lauranmccarthy  marthapentecost  sonyarapoport  barakadésoleil  sputniko!  tomominishiz 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Visualizing the Speed of Light
"Light is fast! In a recent series of animations, planetary scientist James O’Donoghue demonstrates just how fast light is…and also how far away even our closest celestial neighbors are. Light, moving at 186,000 mi/sec, can circle the Earth 7.5 times per second and here’s what that looks like:

[video]

It can also travel from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the Moon in ~1.3 seconds, like so:

[video]

That seems both really fast and not that fast somehow. Now check out light traveling the 34 million miles to Mars in a pokey 3 minutes:

[video]

And Mars is close! If O’Donoghue made a real-time animation of light traveling to Pluto, the video would last over 5 hours. The animation for the closest undisputed galaxy, Seque 1, would last 75,000 years and 2.5 million years for the Andromeda galaxy animation. The farthest-known objects from Earth are more than 13 billion light years away. Light is slow!

See also The Leisurely Pace of Light Speed."
visualization  light  science  speedoflight  moon  mars  earth 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Indigenous myths carry warning signals about natural disasters | Aeon Essays
"Indigenous peoples around the world tell myths which contain warning signs for natural disasters. Scientists are now listening"
indigeneity  indigenous  storytelling  science  nauraldisasters  carriearnold  2017  warnings  nature  environment 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Greta Thunberg full speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference - YouTube
[See also:
https://grist.org/article/call-the-cops-this-swedish-teenager-just-wrecked-u-n-climate-negotiators/
https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/16/world/greta-thunberg-cop24/index.html ]

"15 year old activist Greta Thunberg speaks truth to power at the UN COP24 climate talks:

"My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn't matter what we do.

But I've learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn't do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you.""
gretathunberg  climatechange  2018  sustainability  youth  sweden  change  globalarming  activism  civilization  crisis  flight  action  money  corruption  anthropocene  goodancestors  resistance  science  climatescience  hope 
december 2018 by robertogreco
School strike for climate - save the world by changing the rules | Greta Thunberg | TEDxStockholm - YouTube
"Greta Thunberg realized at a young age the lapse in what several climate experts were saying and in the actions that were being taken in society. The difference was so drastic in her opinion that she decided to take matters into her own hands. Greta is a 15-year-old Stockholm native who lives at home with her parents and sister Beata. She’s a 9th grader in Stockholm who enjoys spending her spare time riding Icelandic horses, spending time with her families two dogs, Moses and Roxy. She love animals and has a passion for books and science. At a young age, she became interested in the environment and convinced her family to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community."
gretathunberg  climatechange  2018  sustainability  youth  autism  aspergers  sweden  change  globalarming  activism  extinction  massextinction  equity  climatejustice  inequality  infrastructure  interconnected  crisis  flight  action  money  corruption  anthropocene  goodancestors  resistance  science  climatescience  hope 
december 2018 by robertogreco
10,000 ["How to Send a Message 10,000 Years into the Future."]
"This is The Ray Cat Solution:

1. Engineer cats that change colour in response to radiation.

2. Create the culture/legend/history that if your cat changes colour, you should move some place else."



"In the 1980's, a curious project was proposed by two scientists : why not creating a breed of radioactive cats that would change colors when they are next to nuclear waste?

OFFICIAL SELECTION Pariscience 2015 - International Science Film Festival -- This film is on free access - if you like it or if you feel it should be seen, feel free to share it.

THE RAY CAT SOLUTION
Philosophers Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri were part of the Human Interference Task Force, employed by the US Department of Energy and Bechtel Corp at the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in 1981. Their solution consisted of two steps:

Engineer a cat that changes colour in response to radiation.

Create a culture around this cat, such that if your cat changes colour, you should move someplace else.

This requires a combination of scientific work in biology as well as social sciences and art, and there are many questions to consider:

• How do we actually engineer this cat?
• What are some of the scientific challenges?
• How do we create this culture?
• What types of art are more effective?

and much more..."



"WHAT DOES THE RAY CAT MEAN FOR YOU?
This project is as multi-faceted as it can be. Everyone's expertise and opinions are welcome and encouraged. We are here to challenge each other, ask questions, learn and share knowledge and perspectives with eachother.

SCIENCE
How do we engineer a colour change in response to radiation?
Where do we start and what are the challenges?

ART & DESIGN
How do we send a message 10,000 years into the future?
What types of projects do we need to do in order to create this culture?

POLITICS AND PHILOSOPHY
How is science funded?
What are the regulations and current perspectives on this type of project?
Should ray cats be allowed to exist?"



"SHARE, DISCUSS, CREATE, INVENT
This isn't a project. It is a movement. It doesn't have a particular direction, nor is it meant to. We are starting out with a blank canvas, and many directions we could go. The movement exists simply from those who choose to visit it and contribute.

We encourage creativity, and discussion. Question each other's ideas, inspire new ones, think out of the box and listen to what people have to say. Every mistake made and every question asked is progress.

This movement and process is bigger than the cats. This page also exists as a challenge to artists, scientists and anyone. How provocative are your ideas? Does this project have any less or perhaps more meaning than yours? Are your ideas truly creative and innovative?

There are many questions to answer, and even more questions to ask. We are in our first few years of another ten thousand. If nothing else, we at least have some time.

CONTACT US
Feeling inspired? Want to start a project? Not sure how you can contribute? Write to us at:

info@brico.bio "
cats  bioluminescence  biology  bioengineering  multispecies  radiation  via:vruba  pets  françoisebastide  paolofabbri  color  art  design  science  future 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Alom Shaha on Twitter: "Have encountered a few people recently who’ve been enamoured with education research and how “science” can help us teach better. These people seem to confuse the explanatory and predictive powers of the physical sciences with
"Have encountered a few people recently who’ve been enamoured with education research and how “science” can help us teach better. These people seem to confuse the explanatory and predictive powers of the physical sciences with what social sciences can do.

This is not to disparage the social sciences - they are important and valuable. But it worries me that some in education seem to think “science” can help us teach in the same way “science” helps us build rockets.

There’s a lot going on with the current enthusiasm for research in education, and it’s great that it gives teachers a focus for discussion and sharing ideas, but it’s not the panacea some seem to think."
alomashaha  socialsciences  science  research  education  edtech  metrics  measurement  2018  misguided  unschooling  deschooling  scientism  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Dr Sarah Taber on Twitter: "Red Delicious was A+ in its original incarnation. Then folks kept grafting from bud sports (=sometimes a tree throws a branch that's a little different, it's normal) w darker & darker fruit. Selected for color instead of qualit
"Red Delicious was A+ in its original incarnation. Then folks kept grafting from bud sports (=sometimes a tree throws a branch that's a little different, it's normal) w darker & darker fruit. Selected for color instead of quality. 100+ yrs later we now have purple foamballs.

[quoting: "If I had a time machine I would 100% make sure that the person who named the Red Delicious apple was brought to justice"
https://twitter.com/faithchoyce/status/1055944025121771520]

(2/) Weirdly this makes some evolutionary sense. When confronted w a variety of otherwise identical fruit (say, bins of apples at the store), humans go for the darkest red ones.

In nature, that's how you eat the ripe ones & leave bb fruit to mature.

(3/) So. All other things being equal, if you have multiple apple varieties at the store, the darkest red ones tend to sell the fastest. It's not hard to see how that wound up being the priority for deciding which Red Delicious variants to graft.

(4/) Tl;dr a lot of the stuff that the food movement blames on "bad agriculture" or w/e is ... really just the result of a lot of micro-scale human decisions that made sense on their own. Then they snowball into something weird.

(5/) Also when I worked in fruit breeding the weirdest thing would happen. Us in the breeding program would wind up with our favorite cultivars. We liked the ones with a lot of flavor: strong, balanced acidity & sweetness with a lot of aroma.

(6/) There was this one blueberry that had this amazing rich flavor. Thick, jammy with a little bit of blackberry to it. mmmmmm

(7/) But when we actually did the flavor testing? Let civilians eat our new berry crosses?

They LOOOVED the most watery, insipid, shitty berries. Kept giving them top marks, and our favorite big-flavor berries always wound up in the middle.

(8/) IIRC the top-testing blueberry from that program during my time there was Meadowlark. Bless its heart, it's a great bush- but the fruit is a bland-ass water bean. Its max flavor level is a faint whiff of violets.

(9/) Anyway, it seems like every other thinkpiece about ~food these days~ has obligatory remarks on how The Scientists Are Breeding Crops For Durability Instead of Flavor.

lmao fuck that, we keep TRYING to breed for flavor & getting sabotaged by y'all on the taste panels

(10/) Again, there's some really complex human systems stuff going on in our produce markets. Like asking why so many ppl seem to prefer bland fruit. We'd really be able to help ourselves out if we actually ... looked at that?

(11/) But it wraps the story up in a neat little bow to blame ~science~ so sure let's do that instead.

-cut to scientists hissing Gollum-style over the 3 good berry plants from their field trials that never made it to market because The People Have Spoken- 🤣

(12/) Hrmmm replies have turned into a "let's hate on the plebes who don't appreciate fruit like ~we~ do" sesh.

The entire point of this thread was, there's a HUGE spectrum of flavors out there most of us don't ever encounter & we don't know what we don't know.

(13/) Statistically speaking, MOST OF US in the ol' u s of a are secretly one of those majority of people who like shitty bland fruit, AND WE'LL NEVER KNOW IT."
fruit  science  agriculture  2018  sarahtaber  apples  blueberries  grafting  flavor  food  selection  humans  berries  blackberries 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley - The Gifford Lectures
"An interviewer from the Guardian newspaper once wrote that Mary Midgley ‘may be the most frightening philosopher in the country: the one before whom it is least pleasant to appear a fool’. In a series of books, particularly Beast and Man (1978), Evolution as a Religion (1985),Science as Salvation (1992; her 1990 Edinburgh Gifford Lectures) and Science and Poetry(2001), Midgley offers a trenchant critique of science’s pretence to be much more than it actually is, of the ways in which science often becomes a religion.

Perhaps appropriately, Midgley the scourge of ‘science as religion’ was born to an army and Cambridge college chaplain, Canon Tom Scrutton, and educated in a boarding school in Charles Darwin’s old home, Downe House. Perhaps Midgley’s fascination with science came from her mother’s side; Lesley Hay’s father was an engineer who built the Mersey tunnel. It was in the Downe House library that Midgley first picked up Plato, and, in her own words, ‘thought it was tremendous stuff’ (although in later life perhaps Aristotelian questions have proved more fascinating). By this time, Midgley also realised that she was not a Christian, a position her clergyman father accepted rather matter-of-factly. Nevertheless, Midgley remains convinced that ‘the religious attitude’ is essential to human thriving, and in her work has repeatedly defended the place of religious belief (rather than particular religious beliefs) against its arrogant critics from the sciences.

A number of Midgley’s contemporaries at Somerville College, Oxford, went on to achieve philosophical distinction in later life, including Iris Murdoch, another Edinburgh Gifford Lecturer, with whom Midgley became a close friend. Midgley relished doing philosophy in wartime Oxford, partly because there wasn’t ‘an endless gaggle of young men’ to offer distraction. But she considered it ‘providential’ that she did not get the post she applied for at St. Hugh’s College, and left Oxford, since she thought that the then-prevailing climate of Oxford philosophy would have destroyed her as a philosopher.

She met Geoffrey Midgley while at Oxford. They married in 1950 at Newcastle, where Geoffrey had a job. She then raised a family and did not take up a post in the Department of Philosophy in Newcastle until 1962, where she remained until she retired as Senior Lecturer when the department closed.

Midgley’s animated critique of scientism—science become religion—has been taken by some, especially scientists, as an attack on science itself. This may partly be because Midgley seems much more adept at demolishing others’ positions than in stating her own clearly. In fact, Midgley’s critique of science should be seen against her own metaphor of the philosopher as plumber: the philosopher, like the plumber, engages in an activity that civilisation depends on, but it is an activity which people only notice and require when certain rather essential workings have gone wrong. At her best, Midgley is a ‘science critic’ (using the word ‘critic’ in the way it is used in ‘literary critic’), seeking dialogue with the important activity called science to enable it to do more good and less harm in the modern world. Midgley’s contribution to this project is perhaps largely that of negative criticism. However, her friendship with and support for James Lovelock, the scientist who developed the Gaia hypothesis (that the planet earth as a whole is a living system), tells us a lot about her positive beliefs. Presumably, in Lovelock, she finds a scientific approach that is more congenial and conducive to human flourishing."
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley, 99, Moral Philosopher for the General Reader, Is Dead - The New York Times
"The biologist Stephen Rose, writing in The Times Literary Supplement in 1992, called Dr. Midgley “a philosopher with what many have come to admire, and some to fear, as one of the sharpest critical pens in the West.”

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian in 1981, called her “the foremost scourge of scientific pretension in this country.”

Dr. Midgley unhesitatingly challenged scientists like the entomologist Edward O. Wilson and the biologist, and noted atheist, Richard Dawkins. By her lights they practiced a rigid “academic imperialism” when they tried to extend scientific findings to the social sciences and the humanities.

In place of what she saw as their constricted, “reductionistic” worldview, she proposed a holistic approach in which “many maps” — that is, varied ways of looking at life — are used to get to the nub of what is real.

One challenge came in 1978 in her first book, “Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature,” based on a conference she had organized on that slippery, perennial subject as a visiting scholar at Cornell University.

She was later asked to revise her original manuscript to reflect her critical reaction to Professor Wilson’s best-selling 1975 book, “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis” (“a volume the size of a paving stone,” she wrote later in a well-received 2005 autobiography, “The Owl of Minerva”). She described the field of sociobiology as a kind of reactionary “biological Thatcherism.”

Sociobiology — the application of gene-centered theories of natural selection to the social life of organisms — was not itself overly controversial, especially, as Professor Wilson originally used it, in the study of ants and insects. Dr. Midgley, given her own interest in emphasizing humans’ animal nature — that “we are not, and do not need to be, disembodied intellects” — praised parts of Professor Wilson’s book.

What provoked her and others was his hypothesis that the tenets of sociobiology could be applied to humans. That idea, according to scholars, threatened to radically revise generally accepted notions of human nature.

“The term ‘human nature’ is suspect because it does suggest cure-all explanations, sweeping theories that man is basically sexual, basically selfish or acquisitive, basically evil or basically good,” Dr. Midgley wrote in “Beast and Man.”

In “The Owl of Minerva,” she wrote that the need to address Professor Wilson’s concepts had distracted readers from her crucial topic: “the meaning of rationality itself — the fact that reason can’t mean just deductive logic but must cover what makes sense for beings who have a certain sort of emotional nature.”

She added that “Beast and Man” remained “the trunk out of which all my various later ideas have branched.”

Dr. Midgley took pains to distinguish between the important contributions of science and the philosophy of “scientism,” in which “prophets,” she wrote, decree that science is “not just omnicompetent but unchallenged, the sole form of rational thinking.”

“We do not need to esteem science less,” she continued. “We need to stop isolating it artificially from the rest of our mental life.”

Dr. Midgley did not align herself with any specific school of thought: She wrote that moral philosophy and plain “common sense” often covered the same ground. She targeted what she saw as some of the basic errors of modern scientific orthodoxy, including misplaced objectivity, the exclusion of purpose and motive, and the propensity to depersonalize nature.

The very titles of her books — among them “Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and Its Meaning” (1992) and “Evolution as a Religion” (1985) — and even irreverent chapter headings, like “Knowledge Considered as a Weed Killer,” conveyed her stance against what she called the “parsimonious” worldview of science.

In 1979, in the journal Philosophy, she issued a scathing critique of Professor Dawkins’s widely popular book “The Selfish Gene,” taking issue with what she called his “crude, cheap, blurred genetics.”

In that book, Professor Dawkins suggested that evolution is a product of an innate drive in genes to perpetuate themselves, “selfishly,” through the vehicle of a given species, and that the behavior of living things is in service to their genes.

Dr. Midgley explained her disagreement years later in The Guardian, writing: “Selfish is an odd word because its meaning is almost entirely negative. It does not mean ‘prudent, promoting one’s own interest.’ It means ‘not promoting other people’s’ or, as the dictionary puts it, ‘devoted to or concerned with one’s own advantage to the exclusion of regard for others.’”

She refuted the notion that selfishness underpinned all life.

“Just as there would be no word for white if everything was white, there could surely be no word for selfish if everyone was always selfish,” she wrote, adding, “Selfishness cannot, then, be a universal condition.”

In a long career as a published philosopher, Dr. Midgley addressed a great number of subjects. Evolution, the importance of animals, the role of science in society, cognitive science, feminism and human nature all came under her scrutiny.

She ranged more widely in “Science and Poetry” (2001), in which she considered the place of the imagination in human life. She found excesses of materialism and fatalism in human life, discussed the unusual compatibility of physics and religion, and approved of philosophical and metaphorical aspects of the Gaia hypothesis, which looks at the earth as a living system.

“With this book,” Brian Appleyard wrote in The Sunday Times of London, “Professor Midgley establishes herself as the most cool, coherent and sane critic of contemporary superstition that we have.”"
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley obituary | Education | The Guardian
"Philosopher who brought a sharp critical intelligence and a gift for vivid metaphor to her writing on human behaviour"



"In 1931, Mary was sent to Downe House. This progressive boarding school started in Charles Darwin’s old home, although by the time Mary was a pupil it had moved to Ash Green, near Newbury. She won a scholarship to Oxford to read Classical Greats and, arriving at Somerville College in 1938, became one of a strikingly able and forceful group of women philosophers. Elizabeth Anscombe had arrived at Oxford the year before, Iris Murdoch, who became a close friend, was an exact contemporary, and Philippa Foot arrived a year later. The work of this interesting quartet of thinkers has recently become the object of revived interest in the contribution of women to philosophy during the last century.

Mary graduated with a first in 1942 and for the remainder of the war worked mainly as a civil servant. From 1945-47 she was secretary to the classical scholar Gilbert Murray, after which she returned to philosophy, starting a thesis on the psychology of Plotinus. She tutored at Somerville and lectured at the University of Reading from 1948 until 1950.

At this point it looked as if an academic career of a familiar shape might be opening up. But instead, in 1950, she married a fellow philosopher, Geoffrey Midgley, whom she had first met in Oxford in 1945. He was lecturing at what later became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, but was then King’s College of the University of Durham. He and Mary set up house together in Newcastle and had three sons over the next five years.

Mary turned to journalism, reviewing children’s books and novels for the New Statesman and the BBC Third Programme. She also read extensively in (among other things) psychology, anthropology, evolutionary theory and animal behaviour, becoming particularly interested in the views of such pioneers of ethology as Lorenz and Tinbergen. Her excellent autobiography, The Owl of Minerva (2005), gives a vivid account of this first half of her life.

It is unlikely that she would ever have become a professional philosopher in quite the mould of many of her contemporaries, since she had little taste for the logical and linguistic issues that were the focus of mainstream work in the 1950s and 1960s, and which remain the focus of much contemporary work. She said later that she was glad to have escaped when she did from the ambience of Oxford, finding it overly narrow and competitive.

The break in her career kept her very much aware of the need for philosophy in wider debate and, as she said herself, she was concerned “to bring academic philosophy back into its proper connection with life, rather than letting it dwindle into a form of highbrow chess for graduate students”.

In 1965 she returned to teaching philosophy, as a lecturer and later senior lecturer at Newcastle. It was not until this point, when she was over 50, that she began to publish the work for which she later became famous.

In 1980 she took early retirement to have more time to write and travel, and she was writing up to the end. Her final book What is Philosophy For? was published last month. Her work had already begun to be widely known at the time she retired, and she was invited to address numerous conferences and festivals. She became involved in campaigning for animal welfare (and for several years she chaired the RSPCA’s committee on animal experimentation), for environmental awareness and against the arms trade. She also appeared frequently on television and radio, presenting the case for animals and the environment and against scientific hubris. Her speaking and writing were always direct and vigorous and were informed by wide reading, a sharp critical intelligence and a gift for vivid metaphor. The drive of her thought is throughout sane and humane."
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Jantar Mantar: The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh
"Between 1724 and 1730 Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II of Jaipur constructed five astronomical observatories in north India. The observatories, or "Jantar Mantars" as they are commonly known, incorporate multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement. These structures with their striking combinations of geometric forms at large scale have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians world wide, yet remain largely unknown to the general public.

jantarmantar.org presents the observatories through a variety of media, making it possible to explore and learn about these historic sites through interactive panoramic tours, time lapse sequences, and 3D models as well as articles, drawings, and historic texts. It is a comprehensive resource for exploring the observatories in depth.

Welcome to the new jantarmantar.org!
The redesigned website was launched in October 2015 - and we are still hard at work refining the content and tweaking the design. As new pages and features are added, they will be announced through our Facebook and Instagram pages, so follow us there!

New to jantarmantar.org is the Learn section, featuring a wealth of information about the observatories and the unique instruments Jai Singh created to observe celestial objects.
But more than that, the Learn section also features projects you can do to learn more about the observatories and sky observation without a telescope."

[via: http://www.ma-tt-er.org/elements/ar/ ]
architecture  astrology  astronomy  india  jaisingh  jantarmantar  observatories  measurement  science 
october 2018 by robertogreco
James Bridle on New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future - YouTube
"As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes. Underlying this trend is a single idea: the belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world.

In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime."
quantification  computationalthinking  systems  modeling  bigdata  data  jamesbridle  2018  technology  software  systemsthinking  bias  ai  artificialintelligent  objectivity  inequality  equality  enlightenment  science  complexity  democracy  information  unschooling  deschooling  art  computation  computing  machinelearning  internet  email  web  online  colonialism  decolonization  infrastructure  power  imperialism  deportation  migration  chemtrails  folkliterature  storytelling  conspiracytheories  narrative  populism  politics  confusion  simplification  globalization  global  process  facts  problemsolving  violence  trust  authority  control  newdarkage  darkage  understanding  thinking  howwethink  collapse 
september 2018 by robertogreco
The Blog of Phyz: Be careful with your parabolic mirror
"[image]

Let's say you you were into making solar ovens. Let's say that you decided a few years ago to make the best solar oven ever. Further, let's stipulate that you saw a nearly meter-diameter Direct TV antenna on the side of the road. An idea happened. You rushed to the local plastics store and bought highly reflective Mylar and glued it to the antenna.

Your solar oven was pretty amazing. While the hot spot wasn't super small, it was hot. Really hot. It can pasteurize a liter of water in 15 minutes.

And now you work at the Exploratorium and you think that you might bring it to work for grins. If you forget it in the back of the your Outback face up on a sunny day near the solstice, well, it can melt the molding in a fairly impressive way. I think I was lucky that my car didn't catch on fire.

[image]

You might be wondering how I could make such a mistake? I had a lot to carry into the Exploratorium, and the mirror wouldn't fit on the cart. I planned on coming back in a few minutes, but I got busy doing something else, and it slipped my mind. Coming back in the afternoon, I sat in the driver seat and looked into the rear view mirror.

[image]

Uh oh.

[image]

If you want to make your own parabolic mirror, you can find some excellent instructions here.

Marc "Zeke" Kossover"
classideas  optic  science  physics  mirrors  exploratorium  2018  humor  disasters  marckossover 
august 2018 by robertogreco
You're Not Hallucinating. That's Just Squid Skin. | Deep Look - YouTube
"Octopuses and cuttlefish are masters of underwater camouflage, blending in seamlessly against a rock or coral. But squid have to hide in the open ocean, mimicking the subtle interplay of light, water, and waves. How do they do it? (And it is NOT OCTOPI)"



"--- How do squid change color?

For an animal with such a humble name, market squid have a spectacularly hypnotic appearance. Streaks and waves of color flicker and radiate across their skin. Other creatures may posses the ability to change color, but squid and their relatives are without equal when it comes to controlling their appearance and new research may illuminate how they do it.

To control the color of their skin, cephalopods use tiny organs in their skin called chromatophores. Each tiny chromatophore is basically a sac filled with pigment. Minute muscles tug on the sac, spreading it wide and exposing the colored pigment to any light hitting the skin. When the muscles relax, the colored areas shrink back into tiny spots.

--- Why do squid change color?

Octopuses, cuttlefish and squid belong to a class of animals referred to as cephalopods. These animals, widely regarded as the most intelligent of the invertebrates, use their color change abilities for both camouflage and communication. Their ability to hide is critical to their survival since, with the exception of the nautiluses, these squishy and often delicious animals live without the protection of protective external shells.

But squid often live in the open ocean. How do you blend in when there's nothing -- except water -- to blend into? They do it by changing the way light bounces off their their skin -- actually adjust how iridescent their skin is using light reflecting cells called iridophores. They can mimic the way sunlight filters down from the surface. Hide in plain sight.

Iridophores make structural color, which means they reflect certain wavelengths of light because of their shape. Most familiar instances of structural color in nature (peacock feathers, mother of pearl) are constant–they may shimmer when you change your viewing angle, but they don't shift from pink to blue."
chromatophores  2015  squid  octopus  cuttlefish  camouflage  classideas  science  multispecies  nature 
august 2018 by robertogreco
The logic of Buddhist philosophy goes beyond simple truth | Aeon Essays
"When Western philosophers look East, they find things they do not understand – not least the fact that the Asian traditions seem to accept, and even endorse, contradictions."



"An abhorrence of contradiction has been high orthodoxy in the West for more than 2,000 years. Statements such as Nagarjuna’s are therefore wont to produce looks of blank incomprehension, or worse. As Avicenna, the father of Medieval Aristotelianism, declared:
Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.


One can hear similar sentiments, expressed with comparable ferocity, in many faculty common rooms today. Yet Western philosophers are slowly learning to outgrow their parochialism. And help is coming from a most unexpected direction: modern mathematical logic, not a field that is renowned for its tolerance of obscurity."



"Functions give a unique output; relations can give any number of outputs. Keep that distinction in mind; we’ll come back to it a lot."
buddhism  science  philosophy  language  logic  2014  grahampriest  contradiction  betweeness 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change - The New York Times
"Editor’s Note
This narrative by Nathaniel Rich is a work of history, addressing the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989: the decisive decade when humankind first came to a broad understanding of the causes and dangers of climate change. Complementing the text is a series of aerial photographs and videos, all shot over the past year by George Steinmetz. With support from the Pulitzer Center, this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it. Jake Silverstein"
climatechange  1980s  1979  science  history  nathanielrich  anthropocene  activism  politics 
august 2018 by robertogreco
76X Marin Headlands Express | SFMTA
[via: "Onboard the 76X! @peterhartlaub and @hknightsf weren’t able to include this route for #TotalMuni2018 because it’s weekends only. Marin Headlands, here we come!"
https://twitter.com/that_mc/status/1023622994067828736

We met a fan on the 76X, and now I get to feel like Beyoncé, @peterhartlaub! Was a beautiful if chilly afternoon at Rodeo Beach, where we visited @TMMC and @HeadlandsArts, not to mention a run in with @apthornley! #totalmunisummer
https://twitter.com/that_mc/status/1023684500591525889 ]
togo  sanfrancisco  muni  marin  todo  buses  sfmta  marinemammalcenter  marinheadlands  headlandscenterforthearts  art  arts  science  classideas 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Buddhism and the Brain § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Many of Buddhism’s core tenets significantly overlap with findings from modern neurology and neuroscience. So how did Buddhism come close to getting the brain right?"
buddhism  neuroscience  brain  religion  science  2011  davidweisman 
july 2018 by robertogreco
quantum distributions for Sarah Baartman | The Offing
"“Baartman lived in poverty, and died in Paris of an undetermined
inflammatory disease in December 1815. After her death, Cuvier dissected
her body, and displayed her remains. For more than a century and a half,
visitors to the Museum of Man in Paris could view her brain, skeleton and
genitalia as well as a plaster cast of her body.”

from Sarah Baartman’s Wiki page, referencing
Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus:
A ghost story and a biography
by Clifton C. Crais and Pamela Scully

here is what is true:
a black body radiator be a star that Rayleigh Jeans Law fails to approximate
black bodies be emitting spectral radiance but those white men act like they ain’t ever seen us i mean
who gave men permission to approximate the black body?
to contain us? how have men deluded themselves that they are close enough to touch
us? why must they demand black bodies self-sacrifice
in ultraviolet? that is why must we give
all of us to them until we have nothing left? until we approach
infinity? why must they make us approach infinity?
why must they contrast us against the omnipotent?
why must they deny us our humanity in death? why must they torture us
with the focus they have been beaming on to black bodies?
why are they so hungry? like we shine but it ain’t enough? for them
black bodies is never enough
and our purgatory ain’t either how dare they
in fact we the black bodies refuse and denounce lawful men
and their sickly approximations because
we the black bodies understand each other at visible frequencies
without a dissection or death—which is to say witness
us the black bodies rejoice to become mortals again because
here is what is true:
a black body radiator be in thermodynamic equilibrium which is to say
a black body be at rest yes let the black bodies rest
in peace watch us the black bodies converge into an infrared sunset so
blessed be the tail of a distribution curve like where my thigh meets my ass
mine own black body emblematic and
fundamentally mine"

[via: "quantum distributions for Sarah Baartman" is by Lena Blackmon, a Black woman undergrad studying materials science (applied physics) @Stanford. I dreamed of a poem like this: a Black woman writing herself & her history into science, with accurate science!"
https://twitter.com/IBJIYONGI/status/1012346837427109889

"This poem is also my answer to everyone who has ever asked me why it is a problem to compare Black people to dark matter:
black bodies be emitting spectral radiance but those white men act like they ain’t ever seen us i mean
who gave men permission to approximate the black body?"

"If you're writing about Black people and trying to use physics analogies, you better imagine that Black scientists exist and not just reference popular science writing by white people. Talk to a Black scientist. There are many @ #BlackandSTEM."

"Part of Black liberation has to be imagining Black experts in science too. Black people don't just write poetry. We also do science. Sometimes, like Lena, we do both. When you don't imagine that, you don't imagine Lena, and I need you to imagine Lena. I made a department for her."

"I am proud of everything we have published in Back of the Envelope, but it was work like Lena's that drove my initial thinking behind creating the department. I wanted somewhere that a Black woman wouldn't feel like she had to choose between her scientific and literary identities"]
lenablackmon  science  physics  sarahbaartman  blackness  bodies  blackbodies  darkmatter  chandaprescod-weinstein  body 
june 2018 by robertogreco
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:
http://dirty-furniture.com/article/power-positions-2/ ]
ephemerality  ephemeral  truth  altars  persuasion  2018  thomasgieryn  science  justice  courts  mobility  history  china  antarctica  aztec  labs  lcproject  openstudioproject  antarctic 
june 2018 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 
may 2018 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 
may 2018 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 
may 2018 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 
may 2018 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: https://150.universityofcalifornia.edu "

[See also: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/what-it-means-be-boldly-californian ]
uc  universityofcalifornia  california  2018  history  science  research  highered  highereducation  marketing  art  athletics  sports  academics  timelines 
may 2018 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 
may 2018 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  interconnectivity 
may 2018 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 
april 2018 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 
april 2018 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 
april 2018 by robertogreco
QuantumCamp
"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.

QC AT-A-GLANCE
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

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

Faculty

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 
march 2018 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)."

[via https://twitter.com/paperarchitect/status/967563932620742656
".@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: http://act.mit.edu/cavs/ "

via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/967656022058897409
"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, Time.com, 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"
http://www.macleans.ca/society/how-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-indigenous-knowledge/

"It’s taken thousands of years, but Western science is finally catching up to Traditional Knowledge"
https://theconversation.com/its-taken-thousands-of-years-but-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-traditional-knowledge-90291 ]
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
PlanetVision
"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: https://www.calacademy.org/planetvision
https://www.planetvision.com/actions ]
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,
~Audrey"
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:

Education
Health
Civic Engagement
Science/Tech
Urban/Transportation
Energy
Culture

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  medellin 
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
"BIO:
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.

RESEARCH INTERESTS:
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 academia.edu page and his personal website.

TEACHING INTERESTS AND APPROACHES
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:
https://utmn.academia.edu/duskindrum
http://forestmongrel.undeveloping.info/
http://forestmongrel.undeveloping.info/?p=221
https://sas.utmn.ru/en/material-relations-en/

"UT SAS Project Session: Duskin Drum. "Teaching in Tyumen. Wow! Could I?"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cAfT4BXC-4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx__Ym4KUqs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtcSzSnyJYY ]
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: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdja9w0nBdm/ ]
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 [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/innovation-needs-a-boring-revolution-741f884aab5f ]

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 [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/its-time-to-rediscover-homo-c%C3%ADvica-bef94da3e16f ]

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 [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/the-human-e-revolution-267022d76c71 ]

8. We need us to democratise agency, care, creativity and innovation – as outlined here – Beyond Labour [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/beyond-labour-96b23417dea3 ]

9. Detox our emotional addition to a mal-consumer economy driven by Bad Work. Further explored here – The Case for Good Work [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/there-is-nothing-wrong-with-the-consumer-society-as-an-idea-3c408b17ce ]

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. [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/moonshots-system-change-368c12e2e2ab ]

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. [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/beyond-the-good-words-2d034fd82942 ]

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 [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/purposeful-democracy-9d9966655d63 ]

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
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