Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Going, going, gone
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
What do I know?
What do I know?, a marvelous quote by Montaigne, is one of my mantras along with Question everything, as per Einstein, as both statements encourage exploration without assuming anything, a concept first presented to the world by The Tao as change is the only constant in a reality we will never fully know.
In rediscovering Montaigne, one sees just how modern this person truly was. Influencer supreme, he was, in many ways, along with Thomas More, the first modern man as he looked at himself and the world with unvarnished eyes.
During his lifetime, Montaigne was admired more as a statesman than as an author. The tendency in his essays to digress into anecdotes and personal ruminations was seen as detrimental to proper style rather than as an innovation, and his declaration that, "I am myself the matter of my book", was viewed by his contemporaries as self-indulgent. In time, however, Montaigne came to be recognized as embodying, perhaps better than any other author of his time, the spirit of freely entertaining doubt that began to emerge at that time. He is most famously known for his skeptical remark, "Que sçay-je?" ("What do I know?", in Middle French; now rendered as Que sais-je? in modern French).
It gets better ...
His humanism finds expression in his Essais, a collection of a large number of short subjective essays on various topics published in 1580 that were inspired by his studies in the classics, especially by the works of Plutarch and Lucretius. Montaigne's stated goal was to describe humans, and especially himself, with utter frankness. Montaigne's writings are studied as literature and philosophy around the world.
Inspired by his consideration of the lives and ideals of the leading figures of his age, he finds the great variety and volatility of human nature to be its most basic features. He describes his own poor memory, his ability to solve problems and mediate conflicts without truly getting emotionally involved, his disdain for the human pursuit of lasting fame, and his attempts to detach himself from worldly things to prepare for his timely death. He writes about his disgust with the religious conflicts of his time. He believed that humans are not able to attain true certainty. The longest of his essays, Apology for Raymond Sebond, marking his adoption of Pyrrhonism, contains his famous motto, "What do I know?"
Saturday, April 24, 2021
Live fast, die young
Blue variable stars, bigger and immensely hotter than our sun, live fast and die young.
The mighty blue giant AG Carinae is not your normal star. One of the brightest stars in our Milky Way galaxy, AG Carinae is sizzling hot, shining with the brilliance of 1 million suns. You would need super sunscreen if you lived in the star’s vicinity. The star is up to 70 times heftier than our Sun and burning fuel at a ferocious rate.
Its opulence means that the mammoth star is living life in the fast lane. Pouring out so much energy takes a toll on the stellar behemoth. It is prone to convulsive fits, expanding in size like a hot air balloon and shedding its outer layers of material into space. One or more giant eruptions 10,000 years ago created the beautiful, expanding shell of dust and gas seen here. Stars like this one are rare: less than 50 reside in our local group of neighboring galaxies.
Friday, April 23, 2021
Crossing the Rubicon ...
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Black Hole Eye Candy
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Like spokes on a bicycle wheel ...
Which means ...
A biomechanical analysis of the intricate structure of the neck revealed that the spokelike filaments bolstered the vertebrae against the pressures of catching and carrying heavy prey. According to the team’s calculations, the addition of only 50 struts increased by 90 percent the weight that they could bear without buckling, enabling this particular specimen to carry loads of up to 24 pounds, which Ms. Williams called “really impressive.”
The Pterosaur, amazing flyer without question.
How many T-Rexes roamed planet earth?
T-Rex, poster child of dinos, roamed North America in pretty sizable numbers though the exact number remains elusive to say the least.
Before they were killed off by a meteor that hit Earth 66 million years ago, some 20,000 adults of the iconic ferocious dinosaur predator — Tyrannosaur rex — roamed North America at any given time, researchers have calculated.
Why it's hard.
Skeletal features can tell a lot about an animal. For example, someone looking at a human tooth could infer that it is suited for chewing both plants and meat, and the shape of the skeleton could yield an estimate of how fast a person can run. But the physical attributes cannot tell you how many people live in New York City.
For living species, John Damuth, a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, came up with a mathematical relationship, now known as Damuth’s law, between the average body mass of an animal and its expected population density.
The relationship is not universal but generally holds for large classes of animals like lizards or meat-eating mammals. So, for Tyrannosaurus rex, they had to not only plug in the weight of the dinosaur — about six tons, give or take a few — but also derive other numbers in the law.
Best guess ...
If the 20,000 number is correct, over the 2.4 million years that T. rex walked the Earth, there would have been a total of some 2.5 billion adults that ever lived.
But even Dr. Marshall thinks the 20,000 number is likely low. “It just seems inconceivable you can last a couple of million years with those few individuals,” he said. “You just need some horrible plague or something and you’re gone.”
He said he thought the population could have been tens of thousands or maybe 100,000 or 200,000. A large part of the uncertainty is that Damuth’s law is not absolute. Jaguars and spotted hyenas are both meat-eating mammals of similar size, but the population density of hyenas is some 50 times higher.
It least it's a smart guess, right? :) Awesome illustration of T -Rex without a doubt.
Friday, April 16, 2021
Thanatos & Eros ...
Freud conjured up Eros for life, Thanatos for death as these were the prime drivers of man's existence.
Sigmund Freud’s theory of drives evolved throughout the course of his life and work. He initially described a class of drives known as the life instincts and believed that these drives were responsible for much of our behavior.
Eventually, he came to believe that life instincts alone could not explain all human behavior. With the publication of his book Beyond the Pleasure Principal in 1920, Freud concluded that all instincts fall into one of two major classes: life instincts or death instincts.
But this isn't about Freud but rather about earth and what man is doing to her.
The way that I’ve begun to think about the economics of civilisations now hinges on two concepts I call Thanatos and Eros. I’ve taken these from Freud, because economics needed something like them, but doesn’t have one. Freud meant them to represent a person’s death drive and “libido,” or life force. I mean them in this way: what is a civilisation’s life-giving — or life destroying — potential and level?
We need to begin thinking in such a way for a very simple reason. Three to five decades of mounting catastrophe are now coming our way. The 2030s will be the decade of climate catastrophe, as global warming heats the planet to temperatures unseen for millions of years. The 2040s will be the decade of the Long Goodbye, as mass extinction reaches levels not seen for millions of years. And the 2050s will be the decade of the Great Collapse, when the planet’s ecologies finally implode — for good. And along the way, our civilisation is going to break down in catastrophic ways, as it already is. You can see how unprepared we are — look at what just one year of a minor league calamity, Covid, has done. Now imagine what happens as all that, fire, flood, plague, intensifies.
Orthodox economics tells us that the most productive things on planet earth are…us. We make computers and cars and rockets and so forth. Productivity is the lodestar of an economy. By it, we mean: are we making things that are useful to others, and if so, how much? A computer is more productive than an abacus precisely because it is more useful — you can do more with it. Our economies are more productive not just because they make more stuff, but because that stuff is more useful.
But all that elides — avoids — a very simple question. Useful to whom? The insects and bees and forests and rivers don’t care about our computers and cars and batteries and so forth.
Our civilization is only productive for us.
Read the rest of umair haque's piece as he's right without question.
And the beat goes on ...
Raindrops keep falling on my head :)
It might already be too late ...
The Gulf Stream — one of Earth's major climate-regulating ocean currents — is moving slower than it has in thousands of years, a new study suggests. Human-induced climate change is largely to blame.
This "unprecedented" slowdown could impact weather patterns and sea levels on both sides of the Atlantic, the researchers found. And it only looks poised to worsen over the coming decades if climate change continues unabated. Indeed, if global warming persists at its current pace, the Gulf Stream could pass a critical "tipping point" by the year 2100, lead study author Levke Caesar, a climatologist at Maynooth University in Ireland, said, potentially causing the current to grind to a halt, regardless of the climate.
"If the Gulf Stream crosses its tipping point, it will continue to weaken even if we have managed to stop global warming," Caesar told Live Science. "Afterwards, it will slow down by a lot, coming close to a complete shutdown of the circulation."
We are already baked in for at least a 2 - 2.5f degree temperature rise. Can nations get their act together to prevent a possible ecological collapse capable of ending complex life on earth with an increase to 3 or god knows what temperature rise? One never knows, do one?
The Gulf Stream (red line in the center) impacts weather on both sides of the Atlantic. (Image credit: RedAndr/ NOAA/ CC 4.0
One last shot however ...
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Music of the 8 legged kind :)
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Less is more
The extra thinking was not in vain. When it came time to fund the construction of Orff’s winning design, her plan to subtract paid off. The plan quickly attracted more than $20 million in federal grants, $7 million from the state of Kentucky, and $12 million from local sources. With funding secured, Lexington’s physical transformation commenced in early 2020.
Problem solving ...
Monday, April 12, 2021
Out, out, brief candle!
A naked mole rat is pictured at the University of Rochester January 31, 2018. J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester
The poster child for longevity is the naked mole rat as said rodent, unlike his above ground cousins, lives for 30+ years due to unique body chemistry researchers are trying to leverage in order to increase the life spans of us rubes.
Gorbunova traces much of the hardiness of the mole rats to an abundance of hyaluronic acid, a major component of skin that is involved in tissue regeneration. Although mice and humans also have hyaluronic acid, the tissues of naked mole rats are "saturated with it," says Gorbunova. In addition to having strong antioxidant properties, and others that seem to attenuate the destructive consequences of the chronic, widespread inflammation that often accumulates with age, the abundance of hyaluronan also seems to prevent the growth of malignant cancer cells.
"Hyaluronan is a very nice story because we can see the possibility of translating it to humans," Gorbunova says. "We have it, but we don't have a lot of it, so I think there is room for improvement. We can find ways to increase our own levels of hyaluronan."
It gets better
To Gorbunova, the differences between the mouse and naked mole rat are easily explained by evolution—their respective adaptations are geared toward increasing their chances of reproductive success. "For a mouse, the best strategy to have more progeny is to be very, very prolific very quickly because then somebody's going to eat it, and it just doesn't have a chance to live longer," she explains. "The naked mole rat lives underground and has very few predators. And they breed until very late in life. So they would evolve the mechanism to allow them to live longer and to breathe as long as possible just because they can. No one is there to eat them. And the longer they live the more progeny they have."
Billions are being spent to find the fountain of youth using age and not disease as start point as aging leads to diseases like cancer and cardiovascular without question.
The same logic applies to humans—and it also explains why our bodies fall apart. Diseases of aging, many gerontologists now argue, are the natural consequence of the advances in modern lifespan, which now extends decades past reproductive age, and thus has not been subject to the same exquisitely efficient evolutionary sculpting that might increase our odds of surviving them. "If you put this work in an evolutionary perspective, we were not supposed to live that long," says Gerard Karsenty, who chairs the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center. "Aging is an invention of mankind. No animal species has successfully cheated its own body—cheated nature—except mankind. Elephants may live for 100 years but they lived for 100 years a million years ago. Humans have outsmarted their own body."
Truer words never spoken. Read the detailed Newsweek piece to see why this statement rings true.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,