Probably 1800-1899, Europe. This whistle bears the inscription: ‘Siffle un deux trois / Vient au Sabbat / Sorcier larva Rat’. In the event of a rat plague, one called on a ‘shipper’ who possessed the magical power to move the rats to another place. The rat plague could be the work of a witch or a wizard. In French, it means : “Whistle one two three / Come to Sabbath / Sorcerer malicious spirit rat“
I could happily sit on the floor playing with magnets for a couple of hours. I have never outgrown the delight of feeling invisible forces at work, all the more because magnets almost seem to possess some agency and a playful nature. Like baby monkeys, they snatch things that get too close and the next minute freak out and run away. If you look back a couple of posts at the one called ‘magnets sorting themselves out’ they move like highly trained but bumbling soldiers racing to stand at attention, and in formation. They show what feels like certainty about their destination and they seem to clamber over each other to get there.
The thing about invisible forces is how difficult it is to properly imagine what is taking place. If we never saw air moving through smoke or mist, the wind would be a similar mystery to our imagination.
The only way to see the shape and force of a magnetic field is similar to seeing the wind act on smoke. We can’t see the force in a pure, abstract way… we need to see it acting upon something. We need a material the magnet will engage with, but not a large, lumpy object like another magnet. We need something like a cloud, made of tiny, reactive particles. To the right is a familiar image of light iron filings scattered like sand on paper lying atop a horseshoe magnet. A little gentle tapping on the paper and they line up cleanly along the magnetic field lines. If you want a better look, it’s linked to a full-size version.
This is a rather static vision of the effect though. Below is a slightly more dynamic way to see it. Rather than paper, it’s a clear acrylic box with a liquid suspension of iron filings.
It’s better, we can even get a little taste of the three dimensionalities of the effect. Remember though, we never see a magnetic field acting in a vacuum. Iron filings don’t show the truth of magnetic fields, they show that truth as applied to iron filings.
Ferrofluid shows that truth acting on a rather dense liquid. There’s an earlier post on the composition and history of Ferrofluid. Take a look if you need a touch more foundation. Basically, it’s a colloidal suspension of magnetic nanoparticles. Ferrofluid breaks the “fourth wall” of being demurely flat and passive. It’s often in a bowl or other container, open and available to us. The very different physics of a liquid and a powder are instantly apparent. Ferrofluid makes one think of an alien life form or some stylish evil entity. It undulates, it climbs up and down surfaces like sentient oil. It even leaps. It appears to have moods, and rather peculiar ones.
While this view of magnetic fields is not truer than the behavior of iron filings, it’s more dynamic and thrilling. It’s truer perhaps in that way. From the point of view of magnetic energy, peaks and valleys are energetically favorable. In the corrugated configuration, the magnetic field is concentrated in the peaks; since the fluid is more easily magnetized than the air, this lowers the magnetic energy. In consequence, the spikes of fluid ride the field lines out into space until there is a balance of the forces involved.
At the same time, the formation of peaks and valleys is resisted by gravity and surface tension. It requires energy both to move fluid out of the valleys and up into the spikes and to increase the surface area of the fluid. In summary, the formation of the corrugations increases the surface free energy and the gravitational energy of the liquid but reduces the magnetic energy.
Just for fun, ferrofluid mixed with glow-stick liquid:
And finally, with some awesome coloration in the mix.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-the one who the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
With President Trump!
We know he never tells the truth about anything but lying doesn’t get to the root of what is wrong with everything he says. Under every lie, there is a deeper shade of bogus. This is the KungFu of duplicity and misdirection, The bullshit magic of bullshit smoke and bullshit mirrors. And this is the first draft of something I admit is incomplete for now.
“Bill McRaven, retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years, former head of U.S. Special Operations, who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment (Trump’s attacks on the news media )is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime,” Wallace said, as Trump interrupted him to call the former top commander a “Hillary Clinton fan and an Obama backer”.
- Irrelevant conclusion: Irrelevant conclusion, also known as Ignoratio Elenchi (Latin for an ignoring of a refutation) or missing the point, is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may or may not be logically valid and sound, but (whose conclusion) fails to address the issue in question. “Your attacks on the media are dangerous for America!” “Hillary Clinton!”
- Ad Hominem: Rather than refuting an opponent’s argument the person attacks the individual instead. This can be directed towards their character, morals, intelligence, reputation or credentials. The main thing to remember is that they are not addressing the actual argument being presented but relying purely on feelings and prejudices to win their case. Guilt by association is the specific Ad Hominem fallacy here. “Your attacks on the media are dangerous for America!” “This guy likes Hillary Clinton!”
“Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has signed up for the open borders, and it’s a bill, it’s called the ‘open borders bill.’ What’s going on? And it’s written by, guess who? Dianne Feinstein,” Trump said Oct. 6 in Topeka.
- Strawman: Substituting a person’s actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument.
- Alternative Truth: (also, Alt Facts; Counterknowledge; Disinformation; Information Pollution) Ths is pushing your Strawman so hard that he turns inside out. You can’t lie if there aren’t any facts!
“Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and they can get away with it… I’m a big believer, tremendous believer in freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me. But if they make terrible, terrible mistakes, and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people … then yes, I think you should have the ability to sue them.” Trump in 2016
- Inconsistency: A person commits the fallacy of inconsistency when he or she makes contradictory claims. “I fully support a free press and it must end now!”
Even as we try
to behave as
decently as little ministers
We ought to
salute the rippling black
snapping in the windy sky within us.
Even as we try
to behave as
decently as the Sunday school teachers
We ought to
enjoy the Sunshine
on the leather brown skin of our pirate souls
and the way it glitters off our
bone notched blade.
John Allen Chau was a 27-year-old American missionary from Vancouver Washington who dreamed of bringing Jesus to the hostile tribe on North Sentinel Island known as the Sentinelese. In a sense, he did, before dying in a volley of arrows. This is a story about many things, including several that are regular subjects of this blog. Buried in this sad stupid story is a raw example of tension force. If you’ve been following that idea, see if you can find the brief area where it comes into focus here.
Sentinel Island is 700 miles off India’s mainland. It’s illegal to go there because:
A. They attempt to kill anyone who tries and succeed fairly often.
B. They are an uncontacted hunter-gatherer society, a stone-age tribe of humans who know not a goddamn thing about the messy, stressed out human hives buzzing around them. This makes them a rare treasure despite their murderous diplomacy. What’s in it for us? The mere fact of their untouched existence is like a unicorn in a sacred grove. They exist like the long-hidden heart of wild humanity, steadily beating without us. They aren’t chained up to our machine: They have never tasted the poverty or long hours of the shitty, non-essential work they would be assigned on the periphery of our world. They have an unshared language, names, totems, myths and stories buried deep in the secret world of their lives. They laugh at things, they undoubtedly sing. They track the moon and watch the stars. They surely have a name for us and our crazy machines and our snooping ways. And they have a policy toward us: FUCK OFF!
But there’s a much more important reason not to contact them. Officials say the islanders have lived in isolation for nearly 60,000 years and therefore have no immunities to common illnesses such as the flu and measles. Advocacy group Survival International said that by contacting the community, Chau may have passed along pathogens that have the “potential to wipe out the entire tribe” of about 50 to 150 people. Continue reading
I love this, especially the fact that time passing looks like an intense wind blowing around him.
Credit to David Espinosa
“‘Jailer, I’ll tell you an interesting fact. Everything we study, we modify by our study of it. Hence truth eternally eludes us.’
“He did not look convinced, just held out his hands for the plates.
“‘Take crabs, for example, I said ‘We poke them with a stick to see how they behave, and they behave as if poked by a stick.’
He folded his arms, the plates dangling from his fingertips.
“This is, of course, a very simple example,’ I said. Take a subtler example, such as atoms of light. Light, as you know, is one of the four great elements-in common parlance, fire. We study it by bouncing it off polished stones, or bending it in water, or squeezing it through holes. And how does it behave? It behaves as if bounced or squeezed or bent. We learn nothing, we merely cause events.’ I bent closer to him, waving my finger to keep his attention. ‘Has it occurred to you that sundials do not measure time, but create it?’ It had not, I saw. Time,’ I said,’is actually a thing, like porridge.’ I folded my arms and beamed at him, triumphant. The left side of his mouth twitched very slightly. He withdrew.”
From The Wreckage of Agathon, John Gardner – 1970
Background story from the photographer, Ormond Gigli:
“In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal facade.
We had to work quickly to secure City permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisior’s wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers’ lunch time!
The day before the buildings were razed, the 43 women appeared in their finest attire, went into the buildings, climbed the old stairs, and took their places in the windows. I was set up on my fire escape across the street, directing the scene, with bullhorn in hand. Of course I was concerned for the Models’ safety, as some were daring enough to pose out on the crumbling sills.
The photography came off as planned. What had seemed to some as too dangerous or difficult to accomplish, became my fantasy fulfilled, and my most memorable self – assigned photograph. It has been an international award winner ever since.
Most professional photographers dream of having one signature picture they are known for. “GIRLS IN THE WINDOWS ” is mine.”
Pareidolia: A sensory stimulus which is interpreted by the mind as something else. Most famously the faces seen in teapots, trucks, garbage cans and clouds; Jesus on a piece of toast, the cloud that looks like a bunny etc, etc. But also such experiences as being in the shower and in the sound of the running water, hearing your phone or the doorbell ringing.
Besides being funny, these pictures are evidence of two things about us.
- That we all do this, at all times, using whatever sensory data is in front of us. Therefore we are screening all incoming data through a human flavored filter. The sense info here is almost aggressively packaged in human frames. None of us are objective observers, none of us ever will be.
- That it’s similar enough between the random millions of us that we see the same visual punchline almost effortlessly. This automatic consensus supports theories about inner archetypes and symbols, about universals of expression, posture, and gesture. They suggest that the architecture of these inner libraries is innate.
Ferrofluid is a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. A grinding process for ferrofluid was invented in 1963 by NASA’s Steve Papell as a liquid rocket fuel that could be drawn toward a pump inlet in a weightless environment by applying a magnetic field. Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids made of nanoscale ferromagnetic, or ferrimagnetic, particles suspended in a carrier fluid (usually an organic solvent or water). Each tiny particle is thoroughly coated with a surfactant to inhibit clumping.
When a paramagnetic fluid is subjected to a strong vertical magnetic field, the surface forms a regular pattern of peaks and valleys. This effect is known as the Rosensweig or normal-field instability. The instability is driven by the magnetic field; it can be explained by considering which shape of the fluid minimizes the total energy of the system.
From the point of view of magnetic energy, peaks and valleys are energetically favorable. In the corrugated configuration, the magnetic field is concentrated in the peaks; since the fluid is more easily magnetized than the air, this lowers the magnetic energy. In consequence, the spikes of fluid ride the field lines out into space until there is a balance of the forces involved.
At the same time, the formation of peaks and valleys is resisted by gravity and surface tension. It requires energy both to move fluid out of the valleys and up into the spikes and to increase the surface area of the fluid. In summary, the formation of the corrugations increases the surface free energy and the gravitational energy of the liquid but reduces the magnetic energy. The corrugations will only form above a critical magnetic field strength when the reduction in magnetic energy outweighs the increase in surface and gravitation energy terms.
Ferrofluids have an exceptionally high magnetic susceptibility and the critical magnetic field for the onset of the corrugations can be realized by a small bar magnet. – Wikipedia
Very few of the images used in these composites are mine. The artistic idea here is about the relationships, impressions, and stories told by GROUPS of unrelated images. There are relationships of color and content imposed by me but the outcome is greater (or at least different) than the sum of its parts. It’s kind of a visual treatment of the “Third Mind” concept…seeing what emerges as the whole made of disparate parts. It becomes impossible to isolate a single part from the influence of the whole.
Evil forces in high places around the world profit from the state of our disunion and spend untold millions in dark money driving bigger and bigger wedges though our connecting tissue. There was a time when our representatives represented us, not only the 1%. There was a time when our representatives actually cooperated across the gap of tension force and occasionally accomplished things of value. There was a time when they could even be considered “the loyal opposition”, by wiser heads on both sides. This apparent golden age didn’t seem unusual at the time. Civility and non-partisan action laid the foundation for a government machinery that worked reasonably well. Metaphorically the opposition was close enough for conversation.
Every action taken since those days to separate us and inflame hatred for the opposition, from the “Southern Strategy” to “Citizens United” to “Birtherism” has been paid for by the wealthiest elites, commanded by the least principled men in power, and soldiered by easily manipulated conservatives from the middle to lowers classes. Progressives have struggled in reaction to this relentless movement but weren’t equally responsible for it. There was no mighty ocean of money flowing down to raise the boats of economic and social reformers. Politicians and PACs have fundraised through whipping up outrage but that is a weak, secondary force.
The forces behind the money and organizations that are bent on dissolving America are Ayn Rand-loving, representative-government-hating oligarchs. They’ve been fuming since Franklin Roosevelt took practical steps to lessen our suffering. They want full control with only a tissue of government for the sake of appearances. Primarily they want an end to the incessant pursuit by the American public of their own well being. They want to cover us in a skin of their engineered economic parasites so that we may spend our lives working harder and longer to give them more of everything we have.
When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn’t.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.
~ Diana Der-Hovanessian ~
A fascinating glimpse at the first Americans via genetics. They crossed the Bering Strait and shot off in all directions. A body from Nevada turns out to be very closely related to a body found in Brazil, across the equator…a few hundred years later. Close relationships were found between people who lived 10,000 years apart.
Crossing From Asia, the First Americans Rushed Into the Unknown
By CARL ZIMMER November 8, 2018
Three new genetic analyses lend detail, and mystery, to the migration of prehistoric humans throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Some early peoples came 20,000 years ago and died out, their DNA never found again. Some stayed in Alaska or doubled back to it later, apparently soured on the American dream. This article describes the adventure and sweep of this virtual gold-rush of a migration.
To the right is a relationship flowchart by the elegant artists and thinkers of Information is Beautiful. They have a lot of fun and interesting stuff to explore. The image is linked to a full-size version, it may take 2 clicks to open it fully.
All these forms of intimate relationships are going on around us right now. Some are movements and subcultures, some are just deeply personal rabbit holes. Many are virtually invisible through fear of disapproval. Polyamourous people are probably as low profile now as gays and lesbians were in the late sixties. These varieties can be understood as a range of human love styles but also as strategic experiments running parallel to the accepted norms. The norms are pretty obviously the mating styles that do the best job of creating robust and stable populations. That has clear evolutionary significance and suggests a reason for cultural pressure to stay inside the lines. Yet these variations show up within every generation of people. Perhaps life maximizes chances for success by keeping alternate pathways running should fortune suddenly favor them. Since these variants are visible as an emergent, bottom-up effect from the desires and needs of individual people, we can predict them appearing in some ratio within any population, in any circumstances, anywhere on earth. If we imagine small tribes in many different challenging conditions attempting to survive, it’s easy to see how one of these variations might prove more advantageous than straight up monogamy. That makes it evolutionary common sense to preserve these alternate strategies inside the human heart.
Different strategies can become the social norm in different cultures, and be seen as the ideal, natural version of love and marriage. Monogamy is the widest spread, most successful pattern historically but the fact that it isn’t universal and is seen as less than ideal in various other cultures has an important implication. It means that the cultural machinery doesn’t come with a preset mating strategy installed but adopts whichever mating pattern becomes dominant and reinforces it. Apparently, the larger survival value is in a culture-wide agreement about our common strategy. A culture without a dominant strategy is not a fully defined culture.
It’s intriguing that in America the variations in the chart are all legal to pursue…as hobbies. But illegal as forms of marriage. Gays and lesbians have finally been recognized as normal citizens with a right to marry, but only within the one, true marriage pattern. This shows the intense cultural defense of the dominant strategy. There’s a fear of society losing definition and becoming nonfunctional without a law of marriage. Polygamy (multiple wives) and polyandry (multiple husbands) are illegal here along with group marriage. But as long as you don’t try to stick a ring on it, the law isn’t coming after you. That’s a job for your fellow citizens, creeped out by your weird arrangement which looks to them like the marriage equivalent of a person with three arms and seven eyes. Continue reading
William James was an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James was a leading thinker of the late nineteenth century, one of the most influential U.S. philosophers, and has been labeled the “Father of American psychology”. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, which was a groundbreaking text in the field; Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy; and The Varieties of Religious Experience. He coined the phrase “stream of consciousness” to describe the experience of the mind. He made an enormous contribution to understanding human behavior and to making psychological practice more pragmatic and empirically based. If there were “Baseball cards” for daring, dedicated and original thinkers, he would be Lou Gehrig. The linked article is a fun overview of his life and work. The Thinker Who Believed in Doing.
His theory of Self proposed that there are 4 distinct parts:
“The Constituents of the Self may be divided into two classes, those which make up respectively (a) The material Self; (b) The social Self; (c) The spiritual Self; and (d) The pure Ego.”
My focus here is his model of the Social Self which resembles my model of The Third Mind. The following is edited for relevance from his The Principles of Psychology:
“…Properly speaking, a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their mind. To wound any one of these his images is to wound him. But as the individuals who carry the images fall naturally into classes, we may practically say that he has as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups. Many a youth who is demure enough before his parents and teachers, swears and swaggers like a pirate among his ‘tough’ young friends. We do not show ourselves to our children as to our club-companions, to our customers as to the laborers we employ, to our own masters and employers as to our intimate friends. From this there results what practically is a division of the man into several selves; and this may be a discordant splitting, as where one is afraid to let one set of his acquaintances know him as he is elsewhere; or it may be a perfectly harmonious division of labor, as where one tender to his children is stern to the soldiers or prisoners under his command.
The most peculiar social self which one is apt to have is in the mind of the person one is in love with. The good or bad fortunes of this self cause the most intense elation and dejection …unreasonable enough as measured by every other standard than that of the organic feeling of the individual. To his own consciousness he is not, so long as this particular social self fails to get recognition, and when it is recognized his contentment passes all bounds.”
A ‘star drop’ refers to the patterns created when a drop, ﬂattened by some force, is excited into shape mode oscillations
Abstract: “These patterns are perhaps best understood as the two-dimensional analogs to the more common three-dimensional shape mode oscillations. In this ﬂuid dynamics video, an ultrasonic standing wave was used to levitate a liquid drop. The drop was then ﬂattened into a disk by increasing the ﬁeld strength. This ﬂattened drop was then excited to create star drop patterns by exciting the drop at its resonance frequency. Diﬀerent oscillatory modes were induced by y varying the drop radius, ﬂuid properties, and frequency at which the ﬁeld strength was modulated.”
“Shape oscillation of a levitated drop in an acoustic ﬁeld,” by W. Ran & S. Fredericks (Clemson University, Department of Mechanical Engineering)
Another example of life experience heredity via an unknown process.
Excerpts from Scientific American
A stressed-out and traumatized father can leave scars in his children. New research suggests this happens because sperm “learn” paternal experiences via a mysterious mode of intercellular communication…
The findings are “novel and of very high impact, especially when we consider the impact of military service or other work environments that can confer high stress,” says Robert Rissman, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved with the research. “I think it would be important to better understand the specificity of the effect and how different types of stressors or strength of stressors can modulate this system.”
(Read aloud, even if under your breath)
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle, and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Tension Force is the name I give to the innate push and pull between progressives and conservatives. Physical tension force is a physics concept and can be pictured as the area of rope between teams playing tug of war. In a well-matched tug-of-war, that area doesn’t shift very much but that stability is reached by both teams trying their hardest to win.
Tension force is homeostasis achieved through intense opposing forces. If one of our teams wins the political tug of war it’s guaranteed to be a bad or even disastrous moment for society. One party systems have ugly results.
There are psychological patterns that are consistently reliable predictors of a progressive or conservative view on politics and culture. The personality test used to measure and correlate this connection is the famous Big 5 Test. Here is a quick visual to explain what is measured and the characteristics that typify scoring high or low.
These are the outcomes that populate our country with Progressives and Conservatives:
- High scores in conscientiousness trended conservative on both economic policy, (favoring hard work and organization) as well as social policy (strict adherence to traditional social norms).
- High scores in openness trended progressive on economic policy (favoring new programs and interventions) as well as social policy (favoring complexity and novelty).
- High in agreeableness leaned progressive on economic policy (wanting to help the disadvantaged) and but conservative on social policy (the desire to maintain harmony and traditional relationships).
- High scores in neuroticism leaned progressive on both (oh, shut up).
- High levels of the extraversion trait had no significant effect on predicting a person’s policy position but correlated strongly to being fun at parties.
Although nurture and socialization are certainly a part of shaping these political tendencies, the people nurturing you are your closest relatives and the culture you are being socialized to is the one they have chosen to live in. The matrix seals neatly around you. There’s bound to be a genetic relationship to these scores, and tests significantly confirm that. So every population produces a balance of people apparently fated to be in one camp or the other. Either group can be principled and logical, but those principles and logic are canalized by personality presets. Whatever play is in the system waxes and wanes with important societal upheavals and movements.
The consistent percentages of people born with these traits and concomitant beliefs is the underlying, invisible homeostasis that creates the Tension Force around us. As we plead with the other side to see reason or curse each other for hopeless blind idiocy we can take some comfort in the idea that humanity absolutely requires this struggle. Tension force is how we weigh the balance between the past and future, between tradition and reform.
However, technological change has dropped us into a new and unfamiliar medium for connection and communication. The new medium so completely separates us from engagement with the other side, that each side has become LIKE a one-party country unto themselves. The area of Tension Force has become the weak spot, attacked by opportunistic infections.
The situation makes us “fish in a barrel” for those aiming to divide and conquer us, then gather riches from the ruins left behind.
(I’m talking about Putin you idiots!)
These images were taken with a Scanning Electron microscope (SEM). The surface of a specimen is scanned by a beam of electrons that are reflected to form an image. Color is added later.
“Plenty of Room at the Bottom” is the title of an article written by the American genius, Richard Feynman in 1959. He worked on the Manhattan Project that delivered nuclear weapons to our military before the end of World War II. In the 1980s he was the scientist who figured out why the space shuttle Challenger exploded. In “Plenty of room at the bottom” he visualized the core ideas of Nanotechnology 2 or 3 decades before it became a widespread big idea.
“It is a staggeringly small world that is below. In the year 2000, when they look back at this age, they will wonder why it was not until the year 1960 that anybody began seriously to move in this direction.” Richard Feynman
We’re talking about a bustling industry where objects are measured in nanometers and micrometers.
- A nanometer =1 billionth of a meter and is represented by the symbol ‘nm.’. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
- A micrometer = 1/millionth of a meter (symbol: μm) A sheet of paper is 70 to 180 μm thick.
- One millimeter is equal to 1000 micrometers or 1000000 nanometers. A millimeter is equal to approximately 0.039370 of an inch. (mm)
In this video, we begin focused on a shrimp at a scale of 1 mm. We zoom down and in toward the top of the head where we see a microscopic sea plant, which eventually fills the screen. We close on a single bacteria, atop the seaweed zoomed from 1mm to 0.5um.
The remarkable chain drive below was built by the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories. The distance between chain link centers is 50 microns. The diameter of a human hair is approximately 70 microns. This is one example of thousands of separate projects and experiments laying the foundation of Nanotechnology.
Nearly half the world’s population speaks one of the languages derived from a single ancient tongue, dubbed Proto-Indo-European, or PIE. Mainstream scholarship places the Proto-Indo-Europeans in the forest-steppe zone immediately to the north of the western end of the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe. Or more simply a bit north of the Black Sea. Linguists have long argued that PIE first spread from there to Europe some 6,000 to 5,000 years ago. Some archaeologists would extend the time depth of PIE to the middle Neolithic (5500 to 4500 BC) or even the early Neolithic (!) (7500 to 5500 BC). An alternative hypothesis posits that PIE spread some 8,000 years ago from what is now Turkey, after the introduction of agriculture into those regions. In other words, a bit south of the Black Sea. The latest evidence from evolutionary biology and ancient DNA samples, rather than settling the issue, is adding to the controversy.
This flow chart or family tree should be read from the lower left-hand corner up and outward ending at the top left and top right.
I love that the only image to make the cut here is two icon people having sex. Anyway, wherever the point of origin, the evolution of PIE into dozens of languages appears to be solid science using the technique of linguistic reconstruction. Below is an attempt to reconstruct the sounds of spoken PIE based on this research.
It’s fascinating to look over proto Indo-European vocabulary and see how many of the words bear a trace of resemblance to current languages. Here is a big list of nouns.
I believe there is an essential connection between this rapid spread of a common root language and the tumultuous viral lifestyle shift from Paleolithic to Neolithic. A bit about that can be found here: Sea Change. A related and fascinating piece of this story is that many fairy tales, even some still in use today, turn out to be over 6000 years old. This places them inside this the same zone time zone as the spread of PIE and the mass migration from tribes to settled, far larger communities. Here’s a reference to that discovery.
Through the long human story, we find our ancestors living out several different basic strategies, each more complex than the last. The transition between is often a transformation.
The Paleolithic (Old stone age) is the longest period of human experience. In this phase, we hunted and gathered. We were nomadic or semi-nomadic. We lived in small groups and made decisions in a relatively open, egalitarian way. The distance between headman and tribesman was minimal. This long phase of our time was spent getting a toehold and spreading all across the earth. The earth could never have been as densely populated by people as it is now if this strategy had continued. The “carrying capacity” of a small nomadic group is very finely balanced on a knife-edge of luck and skill and the relationship between the number of mouths to feed and the available food would have been constantly on everyone’s mind. Sick babies would likely be abandoned and sick elders in hard times would “walk out on the ice flows” to improve the odds for their families. The level of complexity in this life was low, the number of places where their lives overlapped and engaged with others was minimal. Strangers were serious business. The Neolithic picks up exactly where this leaves off. Continue reading
If the title is confusing, I apologize. Emergence is a huge focus of my writing and explained in depth elsewhere in the site. A short version is: Emergence is when a new and surprising result emerges from grouping enough of almost anything together. The effect doesn’t resemble the individuals it emerges from. The things being grouped in this video are individual Starlings, the grouping is their seasonal flocking behavior. The emergent effect is the murmuration, the huge, shapeshifting display of their collective flight. No bird is in charge, the effect is bottom up as the individual birds react to each other yet we see what feels very much like a huge excited individual playing in the sky.
There is a deep cool to this city
like the chill underside of a large rock lifted from the soil.
And Spring fights for every moment of warm sunshine pried from the hands of Winter.
There is a chill in the bones of this deep water town, crowned with western blue skies and a storm to the east, the color of navy hulls and sorrow.
There is a wind across this tall forest town that sets the daisies and the pine trees to nodding their heads in agreement.
A cuttlefish transmitting social information via pattern and color change. Apparently, this display means he’s really pissed off. Watch till the end and you’ll be in no doubt.
All cephalopods; cuttlefish, squid, and octopus use the same remarkable technique to communicate among their kind and camouflage themselves.
Close up of a squid’s color-changing cells called chromatophores. Amazingly these cells blend shades to create colors outside their individual range much as we can blend red, green and blue to create any color. Odder still, all cephalopods appear to be color blind.
Finally, here’s an octopus giving a practical demonstration of using chromatophores for camouflage.
In computing, algorithms are an unambiguous set of instructions like:
- go in the house
- hang up your coat
- sit down
But what if I have a problem getting in the house? What if the door is locked? If/Then subroutines are context dependent algorithms allowing for variation without failure.
- find key
- use key to open door
But what if I can’t find the key? As the story plays out, deeper levels of algorithmic problem solving are exposed to rescue us from a dead end.
- search for key
- in pockets
- on the ground
- in the car
You can probably imagine further subroutines and variances to each step. And all this for something that only comes up in the rare case of being locked out of the house.
When enough such related algorithms are grouped together usefully, they can become the human version of a program or app, ready to run when needed. We all have tons of garden variety apps installed, some are innate and essential and some are highly individual choices.
The opening example of being locked out isn’t an app by itself but it shows one at work. I call this one the”What-If” app, and I consider it to be a part of the Human Operating System (or HOS) which is a very important sounding thing I made up one day to refer to the totality of our preprogrammed behavior. If the troubleshooting steps made sense as you were reading them it’s because you actually have this “What-If” program in your head and use it regularly. We never think of it in the abstract this way, as an always running background app. We never think of it at all because we rely upon this internalized application to appear with some answers the instant it is needed. The framework delivering those answers is as taken for granted as having a hand to pick up a cup. This program deconstructs any problem and triages potential solutions to create an “order of operations” that determines the most logical first step and then orders the cascade of “If-Thens” by logical position and least effort required to succeed. An example is the old tech support truism of starting with the question “Is it plugged in?” We briefly touch base with this app hundreds of time a day whenever “Uh Oh, what if ?” thoughts arise. Often these thoughts and the suggested reactions are so short-lived that we don’t even notice them happening. In stressful situations, we can sometimes better observe the process in action as we focus on a particular worry. A decision tree forms in your mind and the outcome branches order-rank themselves from likely success to likely failure. What-If is like an indefatigable Jeeves to our fretting Bertie Wooster. While the “What-If” app comes installed in every human being, the quality of the program varies with individual common sense and can be impacted by the “having a shitty day” phenomena, which is known to affect decision making. It is also a perfect amoral slave to any sort of nonsense or evil we are pursuing, the mad scientist and the selfless philanthropist rely on it equally to achieve their ends.
Mutually Dependent Apps
If a person had never used a key on a locked door or even seen another person use a key, they wouldn’t have the introductory example with its various sub-responses already in place. Decision trees need solid ground to grow. Our keyless protagonist has the WI program though, and it would fall back to a more general level of What-If. What if you arrive at your destination and you mysteriously can’t enter? When What-If hits this sort of new blank problem, conscious effort and even struggle are required to establish the baseline realities and possibilities. If you had no help, coming up with the idea of a key would be comparable to a minor scientific breakthrough. It’s a good thing we have the “What the Hell is Up with That” app, aka WHUT to tinker with mysteries, develop theories about them and update those theories as needed. WHUT creates the conceptual givens that What-If needs in order to work.
Eventually, sufficient familiarity with the basics of the situation and frequent practice will transform the skill into an autopilot function that no longer requires conscious effort and doesn’t interrupt us to stop and think about it anymore. This silent efficiency is a trait of well-integrated apps. A frequent partner to What-If and WHUT is an essential global app I’ll call Gleaning Useful Information from Everything, obviously known as GUIE. This foundational human app is always adding to its database of potentially important knowledge and it doesn’t always require direct personal experience. I would guess that most of us have successfully dealt with at least one situation based on information gathered from television or the internet. This was GUIE handing off useful ideas to What-if, who shoots and scores. One of the most essential, always on, global apps is “Endlessly Scanning for Danger” (ESD) which often triggers the “What-If” app to generate getaway or fight back plans. Usually, these plans aren’t needed as many danger signals turn out to be false alarms. Those getaway plans evaporate instantly when we get confirmation of a false alarm but just imagine how many of these survival scenarios your brain has generated and trashed over your lifetime. Global apps like these aren’t chosen, they come pre-installed as modules of the HOS because we could not function without them.
But many human skills are chosen and often for deeply personal reasons to express our souls or achieve our goals.
We can learn a huge variety of specialty programs like driving a car, performing brain surgery, cooking a dessert or dancing ballet. Continue reading
by Wendell Berry
I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.
This comes after silence. Was it something I said
that bound me to you, some mere promise
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
like the earth’s empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of you
I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
that lay before me, but only the level ground.
Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.
How many times have I come to you out of my head
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
in you, when I arrive at last.
I have a theory that the reason that many different neurological types maintain consistent percentages per capita year after year is that somehow it’s useful for constructing human communities. As an incomplete example, I’m talking about:
- High functioning sociopaths (cold-hearted leader/organizer types) 4%
- Bipolar disorder (frequently leaders or very creative) ~2.6%
- Autism Spectrum (technological and scientific innovation) 1.7%
- ADHD (novelty generators) 5% to 11%
- Schizophrenia (visionary thinking in any discipline) 1%
I’m not certain how the predictable gay and lesbian* population percentages factor into this exactly but as a guess, they have historically not been focused on raising children. As a predictable percentage of the population not absorbed in raising families and often positioned as outsiders in their own surrounding cultures, they would almost guarantee the existence of an alternative subculture where they might generate new ideas not approved of by our final group. 3.5%
Everyone else is good old standard human stock who mostly just want family and security. I think the neurotypical brain which defines this group, is every bit as much a specialized filter as the atypical types mentioned above, it is simply specialized to keep things simple and inside the comfort zone. They respond to social pressure far more seriously than atypicals which makes them a kind of cultural cement. Neurotypical breeders are the low center of gravity for every community that ensures stability. They are neither better than our atypicals, or worse, they are the dominant percentage because life wants a solid base to grow from. There are three structural divisions in this last group. ~90%
- Male and female. ( the transgender variations and shadings of male and female are very small in number compared to “standard issue” they might be classed with the gay and lesbian populations for our purposes. 0.3%) There are obvious cultural roles and practical roles determined here. One astounding but well-documented fact is that during and after wars, a higher than average number of boys are born. The mechanism driving this effect has no useful model within current science but the reason for it is easily understood: “I guess we better make a few more boys to cover losses”. Whatever the mechanism is, it perceives large events at a community level… and adjusts via individual pregnancies. Males ~51.9% Females ~49.1%
- Progressive vs conservative viewpoint, which is strongly linked to personality type metrics and as I’ve explored elsewhere in this blog their “Tension force” creates the defining zeitgeist of every culture. In a polling in June 2010, 40% of American voters identify themselves as conservatives, 36% as moderates and 22% as liberals, with a strong majority of both liberals and conservatives describing themselves as closer to the center than to the extremes (Wikipedia).
- Age-based focus and attitude within the general population. From child to teenager to young adult to middle-aged to elderly there is a predictable staged transition through age-based societal roles***: Student, soldier, young married, worker, settled parents, judgemental elders. In a way, this echoes the division of labor within bee and ant colonies. How do they decide what job to do? As the individual insect ages, it progresses through a series of preset “vocational” roles within the hive. For humans, the most basic example of the age-based behavior difference is the openness of the young to change and the resistant defensiveness of the old. This mechanism makes a cultural shift possible, then limits the amount of change.
According to my half-assed theory, being Neuro-Atypical or sexually atypical is not a random failure to create a normal person. Rather it is a structural role predictably of some benefit to the general population. That would explain why the percentages of these varied types are so reliable. Everyone from the most boring normal person to with wildest transgender bipolar radical conservative has a structural purpose in the diverse needs of the human hive. This points to a real-time reproductive algorithm affecting the population as a whole and somehow sensitive to such temporal events as war. It would be no shock if such a mechanism exists, for it to show other concerns about population balance necessary to keep the community organism in good repair. We see a similar balancing mechanism in other hive creatures. In a sense, it’s like a body generating replacement cells of the right kind as needed.
- * I’m not claiming to have discovered an atypical neurology specific to gays and lesbians. They are here because their population percentage is very consistent over time and they tend to occupy a unique reality niche.
- ** I’m not mistaking transgender folk for gay or lesbian. I’m just placing them in a sex/gender outsiders group.
- *** William Shakespear on this preset aging process:
At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms; And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
How falling in love differs from online dating.
Falling in love
Love doesn’t arrive like a bus. Love arrives as a slow reveal, an awakening, a dawn. It doesn’t take an assigned seat or speak in plain sentences. Love needs propinquity to confidently find its way. Love needs to bump against the beloved and smell them. Love needs to watch the beloved from the corner of its eye. Love is exited eventually when it has warmed to the subject and faced the facts. Disliking the spotlight, love stirs in shadows telling you with urgent whispers that you have become vulnerable to that person with the extraordinary smile.
You will no longer be able to not notice them. As of now, you will worry over whether they notice you. Their face and words, lovely to you now, host uncertainties that trouble your sleep. Typically, at this point, love must pretend it doesn’t exist, at least for a time. This is as graceful as hiding a cow under a sheet. It makes normal life a self-conscious burden. Flirting with your love is as disorienting as a sudden accident where time distorts and details flicker and swoop.
Mostly, love will die on this vine, either tethered to silence or offered and declined.
But when love and love stand naked face to face, desire is the bridge. From both sides to the middle, they run. And something new is born.
An ordinary e-commerce database replaces item color with ethnicity and product description with the story of your heart’s longing to find a home. Each human transforms, on entry into a product.
Each product describes itself and the product it hopes to find in turn. In their profiles, each product makes their case to be understood and recognized for their divine spark. Each provides photo evidence. Each provides lists of activities and music and food in hopes of being found and adopted by a stranger they will find it effortless to love.
The product automatically generates a query and when enough data points correlate, results cascade or trickle before the querent in rows of common faces, names, ages, and isolated facts. Carol, 47 Speaks English. Laura, 44 has cats. The querying product wanders through the matrix-like results looking for something that stands out from the vending machine assortment as somehow, more than a product. And it happens, a certain beauty or quirk distinguishes a profile and we browse deeper. We carefully seek evidence both pro and con about the candidate. Are they fresh and funny, does a selfie reveal the honest fat hiding behind the word voluptuous? Is there some terrible band waiting to appear in her favorite music? What do we do with that knowledge? Perhaps we LIKE them, which might be a request for contact or merely a vague seal of approval in passing. All that is left is to either reach out to them or turn and leave.
If we message them and if they reply, and if we survive the labyrinth of failed texting outcomes, each ending like a dead branch, we may achieve a date.
And if we date, two individuals composed of meat and hope find each other on the earth. At this point, we receive a lesson about how little our data points actually count toward the goal we’ve pursued. Our data points felt like investment capital online but here in this restaurant or coffee shop, they are dwarfed to trivia by the God of Chemistry.
Whenever two of us meet, the god of chemistry reveals the truth of our experiment in a court of no appeal. Over that hour or two we take in the truth, adjust expectations, swallow disappointment, and treat each other as we would want to be treated. We sit there at least briefly cast in the role of everything the other person was praying for and to them we look wrong and miscast in that role and the whole thing seems a bit crazy, now, how real this felt while texting.
“Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should, therefore, claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”
― Karl Raimund Popper, The Open Society, and Its Enemies
A society based on freedom and liberal humanism must value tolerance just to exist. But it must value itself more highly than any culture or alternate system of government if it is to survive. When the Mohamed cartoons controversy arose we were faced with another culture protesting the rules of our own. There were threats of murder, and outraged demands to change our rules on their behalf. Demands to essentially to add a dogma of Islam (not depicting Mohamed) as an amendment to western values from now on.
The west responded with a mix of:
- Cowardice: “OK! Done.”
- Nationalistic grumbling.
- Assholes taunting Muslims by burning Korans.
- Liberal appeasement, which volunteered to alter our way of life because other cultures naturally take precedence.
- Indifference, the deciding vote of many disputes.
- Worry by those who know that there are no take backs when you hand over any part of your autonomy.
The conciliatory impulse when someone is (or even seems) deeply offended is to apologize and seek accommodation. It’s a good impulse because peace is good. In seeking peace you ask what will make it right. The clear message from the Islamic protesters was: “You aren’t allowed to do that, it must never happen again.” Claiming the right in a non-Islamic, free speech culture to determine not only what they see in newspapers but what everyone else sees too.
Many European politicians acceded instantly, deploring the cartoons, many in the media acceded to cowardice really but cloaked as respect for feelings. There have been roughly 200 deaths related to the cartoon controversy since 2005 and anti-blasphemy laws have sprouted up in many places giving more control over speech to those who feel offended. Tolerant European societies began dismantling their foundations partly from fear of religious thugs and partly out of the desire to be nice people and not cause offense.
This hardly constitutes the death of a tolerant culture, but it was surrendering the autonomy of a tolerant culture to the demands of an intolerant one. This is “proof of concept” for Popper’s thesis. What possible polar corollary can we dream up where Europe is offended by an Islamic meme and Islam is sorry and wants to make it right? There is no such situation. In fact, throughout Islamic cultures, things we would find outrageously offensive are common-place: Horrible anti-semitic cartoons are daily fare, hateful denouncements of everything in the west and hope for their prompt destruction is the stuff of coffee chat on TV.
All impulse to appease travels one way, and that is through the hole in our cultural defenses wrought by tolerance. The values we thrive on and hope to leave in place for the future will be further weakened by the culture of being too “nice”. Our cultural immune system recognizes certain hot topics for special handling. We maintain our Nazi defenses, we recognize that this hateful speech is something to be watched cautiously. We also recognize that it would permanently fracture society if we cripple free speech to silence Nazis. The problem now isn’t recognizing an overt enemy but a more subtle one. We are vulnerable on our left flank to the idea that all cultures are at least equal; and that any culture that has suffered insult or injury from the west at large deserves to have a say in our own. The welcoming tolerance of pluralistic cultures must be maintained, yet for it to be maintained it must have limits.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: “We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.”
In other words, it ought to take a matter nearing our imminent destruction to make us consider hitting the pause button on freedom of speech, not the first complaint raised against it.