capriuni: A photo of Pluto showing the planet's "heart" formation, with the words "I [heart] Science!" (pluto)
For those on the LJ side:

(Photo of Pluto, released 7-7-2015, showing the planet's distinctive "Heart" formation, completing the phrase "I [heart] Science!"
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1: How long do you think it'll be before this recent picture of Pluto (7-7-2015) gets turned into memes, macros, and icons everywhere?

{... give me an hour, maybe, at least for here? ;-)}

2: On this week's Radiolab (Wednesday), there was an interview with two men who are both completely blind (Audio -- sorry there's no transcript).

The man whose blindness developed gradually decided that to be fully present and connected to the world, he had to break himself of the habit of "Visualizing" anything, and to conceptualize the world entirely using his other four senses. Because to do otherwise would mean clinging to his memory of a world that doesn't exist anymore.

The man who lost his sight in a single, devastating, moment insisted that to retain your full humanity, you have to imagine a visual world, even if you have to work at it, because humans are visual creatures, full stop.

Yeah. You can probably guess which side of the argument I side with; I'd be more sympathetic to the second man, if he hadn't insisted what was true for him was true for 6,999,999,999 other people.

Anyway, it occurred to me afterward that, compared to blind people, we sighties really live in a 2-D world (well, 3-D, but that's only if you include "Time"). Compared to the actual space around us, the surfaces of our retinas are really, really, flat. After all, that's the only reason we can get away with trompe-loeil at all.

3. The weather is brain-meltingly hot and humid, here. So this item will only be two sentences long.

4. Doctor Who Series 9 will start September 19th! Permission to Squee? I still don't have any headphones or speakers, so I don't know how the official trailer sounds.

But:

Does it seem like Capaldi's hair is channeling the spirit of Doctor Four? Or is that just me? ;-)

5. Speaking of dates in the calender being closer than they appear, I don't think I'll be able to meet my self-imposed date for getting Monsters' Legacy: Disability, Culture and Identity self-published. I mean, maybe I could. But only if I worked a lot faster than I seem to be able to at the moment (*points to #3*), and only if I skipped getting the prose portions beta-read. And I don't want to skip that. *sigh*
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1: So, the other day, I was listening to a Radiolab episode about memory and forgetting. One host mentioned that recent neuroscience shows that each time we remember something, we're actually recreating it, rather than retrieving it, like something from a filing cabinet. And we change it slightly, so that memories we draw on frequently will diverge the most from so-called "actual fact" (he didn't use the phrase "so-called" -- that's mine). The other host said something like: "Gee, how depressing!"

I, dear Readers, disagree. Which pair of shoes would mean more to you? Is it the pair that you bought for a snazzy party, because they looked good, but you only wore once because they were uncomfortable, and they now sit pristine and shiny in their shoebox at the back of your closet? Or is it the pair that's scuffed, molded perfectly to your feet, and are now on their thirty-seventh set of laces because you've worn them everywhere?

Yeah. I see no reason why our memories should be any different.

2: Make-a-Flake, the virtual online paper snowflake maker, is still a thing that exists (for friends in the southern hemisphere, where it's winter, and friends in the northern hemisphere who are daydreaming of snow).

3: This video, from PBS Digital Studios, makes a very strong case for colonizing Venus instead of Mars.

4 (This one's about spiders, and has close-up pictures of them): Speaking of our extreme bias in favor of solid surfaces, I heard a report of this on the radio, this morning: Oceangoing Spiders Can use their Legs to Windsurf Across the Water.

Can you say: "Whee!"? ... I knew you could.

5: This one's gonna be the shortest, and therefore probably the most enigmatic, because I'm tired of typing, now.

Most discussions of Time refer to it as a "non-spatial dimension."

That bugs me.

We tend to think of our units of time as analogous to our units of distance: seconds to inches, minutes to feet, years to miles, etc. (excuse the American units). But what if they're actually analogous to degrees latitude and longitude? Wouldn't that help explain how gravity can bend space, and "speed up" and "slow down" time?
capriuni: "Random" in mixed fonts, with "Stuff" in French Script on a red label obscurring a common obscenity. (random)
(But I really like this icon).

1) The dream I had this morning / through the night (it was one of the ones where I'm not sure whether each cycle through REM sleep were separate dreams, or just continuing "chapters" in one long dream) included (In order of descending complexity, incomplete):

Cut for those who don't care about dream rambles. )

  • My favorite part of the dream was that it had this musical number (yes, even dream riffs on the choreograhy) as a background theme throughout the whole thing (or nearly) which is now an earworm in my head (not that I mind):


2) Last night, I watched this video, which was posted back in January to mark the tenth anniversary of the probe Huygens landing on Saturn's moon Titan. I don't have any working earphones/speakers at the moment, so if the narration and/or background music is cringe-worthy, I apologize. But I was captivated without any sound at all; you can always mute. My favorite part is at the very beginning, where you see the Earth and Moon from Huygens' p.o.v., showing just how small the Earth is, how small the moon is, and how far away the moon really is. That's what it looks like "to scale;" good to remember:


3) Last evening, while I was having dinner, I watched a grey squirrel outside my kitchen window dig up (what I think was) an acorn and eat it -- hooray for springtime cliches (and dining companions)! BTW, squirrels don't bury their acorns because they're afraid of thieves. It's just that (contrary to Beatrix Potter illustrations) they do not have tiny kitchens with tiny stoves and tiny pots. Acorns fresh off the tree have too much tannin to be edible, but autumn rains, winter snows and spring thaws all work to leach the tannin out. This is how humans do it. The squirrel way takes longer, but seems so much much easier, I'd try that method, first, frankly.
capriuni: The 12th Doctor Clara, captioned: "Can I talk about Planets, now?" (Planets)
I originally posted (pretty much) this to [personal profile] dialecticdreamer's journal this morning -- this is slightly edited and expanded, since I've been thinking about it all day (and I've been meaning to post about it here, and kept forgetting):

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a Radiolab show on symmetry, and the second half (~25 minutes) of the hour was dedicated to mirror images: Mirror, Mirror. In the first part of that segment, it was pointed out that, in inanimate stuff (rocks, metals, etc) molecules are about 50-50% left- and right handed in orientation. But in every form of life we know of, ever, all molecules are left-handed.

The first thought that popped into my head was: "Ooh! Medusa!" Could it be that when a living thing looks on the face of Medusa, half the of all the the molecules in their body instantaneously "switch" to their mirror images? So that what was once a living, sentient, thing, is now an inert mass of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen? And could some creatures (oh, such as the Weeping Angels, perhaps, or the Gargoyles from that late, lamented, animated series) have some means of voluntary control over this, and thus switch from "Living" to "Stone" and back again? ...Not sure how surviving the stone state would work, exactly, but wood frogs managed to figure something out with regards to freezing, so...

And then, my brain quickly hopped from folklore/mythology/fantasy to science fiction, with a few more thoughts:

Is it the Left-handedness that's the magic key that turns on the Life light, or simply the uniformity? If it's uniformity, than it's likely that the life on half the planets in the universe is lethally toxic to life on the other half, and could go a long way toward explaining Fermi's Paradox -- the really technologically advanced species know this, and decide it's safer to STAY HOME. If so, that's a bummer for those of us who like to imagine our stories being true, someday, somewhere. But it's a massive lot happier than the usual explanation: they destroyed their environments, and killed themselves off in wars before ever developing space-travel (to which I say, BTW: "Anthropomorphize, much?").

Also: Which came first? Did inanimate "Stuff" become "Life," with its ~Will to Survive~, when a certain quorum of complex molecules all shared the same handedness, by random planetary coin flip? Or did the ~Will to Survive~ come first? In other words: though not "Will" as we Puny Humans conceive of it, was there -- is there, nonetheless -- something going on in certain particular amino acids that causes an active 'preference' for linking up with each other and 'rejecting' molecules that turn in the opposite direction?

If Stuff became life by planetary coin flip, then the chances are pretty high that half of all life is lethal to the other half.

But:

If the "Will" came first, then it could be that complex intelligence is just as inevitable as complex organisms. The deliberate choices which are key to active problem solving are simply a natural extension of the molecular "choices" made by the proteins in our cells (Life=Survival=Evolution = Adaptation=Problem Solving). Also, if it really is "Something Special" baked into the amino acids floating out there in intergalactic space, maybe All. Life. Period is Left-handed. We'll say that's true, anyway, so our aliens can eat each other's food, and happily swap bodily fluids without worry.
capriuni: Matt Smith (11th Doctor) Thumbs Up (Absolutely!)
I heard this report on the NPR, yesterday morning, and I just had to share, 'cause I have a feeling that it would give several folks in my circles a bout of science-squee:

New Clock May End Time as We Know It (Audio with text article version of the same story):

(First Quote):
At the nearby University of Colorado Boulder is a clock even more precise than the one O'Brian watches over. The basement lab that holds it is pure chaos: Wires hang from the ceilings and sprawl across lab tables. Binder clips keep the lines bunched together.

In fact, this knot of wires and lasers actually is the clock. It's spread out on a giant table, parts of it wrapped in what appears to be tinfoil. Tinfoil?

"That's research grade tinfoil," says Travis Nicholson, a graduate student here at the JILA, a joint institute between NIST and CU-Boulder. Nicholson and his fellow graduate students run the clock day to day. Most of their time is spent fixing misbehaving lasers and dealing with the rats' nest of wires. ("I think half of them go nowhere," says graduate student Sara Campbell.)
(End Quote)

TARDIS interior, anyone? ;-)

(Second Quote)
"Scientists can make these clocks into exquisite devices for sensing a whole bunch of different things," O'Brian says. Their extraordinary sensitivity to gravity might allow them to map the interior of the earth, or help scientists find water and other resources underground.

A network of clocks in space might be used to detect gravitational waves from black holes and exploding stars.

They could change our view of the universe.

They just may not be able to tell us the time.
(end quote)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Spurred on by my frustration with how the most recent episode of "Doctor Who" depicted trees in a forest as insentient lumps of useless wood, I went on a Google search this morning for quotes on plant intelligence, and I found this article from The New Yorker: The Intelligent Plant: scientists debate a new way of understanding flora.

It's long, but it's peppered with cartoons. But in any case, here are a few of my favorite quotes:

First quote:

Indeed, I found more consensus on the underlying science than I expected. Even Clifford Slayman, the Yale biologist who signed the 2007 letter dismissing plant neurobiology, is willing to acknowledge that, although he doesn’t think plants possess intelligence, he does believe they are capable of “intelligent behavior,” in the same way that bees and ants are. In an e-mail exchange, Slayman made a point of underlining this distinction: “We do not know what constitutes intelligence, only what we can observe and judge as intelligent behavior.” He defined “intelligent behavior” as “the ability to adapt to changing circumstances” and noted that it “must always be measured relative to a particular environment.” Humans may or may not be intrinsically more intelligent than cats, he wrote, but when a cat is confronted with a mouse its behavior is likely to be demonstrably more intelligent.

Second:

I asked Mancuso if he thought that a plant decides in the same way we might choose at a deli between a Reuben or lox and bagels.

“Yes, in the same way,” Mancuso wrote back, though he indicated that he had no idea what a Reuben was. “Just put ammonium nitrate in the place of Reuben sandwich (whatever it is) and phosphate instead of salmon, and the roots will make a decision.” But isn’t the root responding simply to the net flow of certain chemicals? “I’m afraid our brain makes decisions in the same exact way.”

Third:

Why would a plant care about Mozart?” the late ethnobotanist Tim Plowman would reply when asked about the wonders catalogued in “The Secret Life of Plants.” “And even if it did, why should that impress us? They can eat light, isn’t that enough?”

Fourth (and last, for now... This paragraph made me a little teary-eyed):

The pattern of nutrient traffic showed how “mother trees” were using the network to nourish shaded seedlings, including their offspring—which the trees can apparently recognize as kin—until they’re tall enough to reach the light. And, in a striking example of interspecies coöperation, Simard found that fir trees were using the fungal web to trade nutrients with paper-bark birch trees over the course of the season. The evergreen species will tide over the deciduous one when it has sugars to spare, and then call in the debt later in the season. For the forest community, the value of this coöperative underground economy appears to be better over-all health, more total photosynthesis, and greater resilience in the face of disturbance.
capriuni: Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor in a street scene, with a handwritten 12 (12)
In my previous post, I wrote:

The more I see of Moffat's writing, the more I'm convinced he's an Epicurean philosopher -- and not in the "Iron Chef" sort of way. I approve.

And I realized that, although I was familiar with some of the basic ideas of Epicurean thought, it's been a long time since I've read any words actually ascribed to him or his followers. So I went a-hunting. And here are the passages that made me go: "A-Hah! Yes!" [/voice=Eleventh Doctor] in my head:

(From Letter to Menoeceus. [this is the bit that I'm reminded of most by Moffat's writings])

  • The wise man does not deprecate life nor does he fear the cessation of life. The thought of life is no offense to him, nor is the cessation of life regarded as an evil. And even as men choose of food not merely and simply the larger portion, but the more pleasant, so the wise seek to enjoy the time which is most pleasant and not merely that which is longest.


  • Bits that made me o_O, considering he was a contemporary of Alaxander the Great, rather than Isaac Newton )
    capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
    Thanks to my searching out clips and trailers for that PBS Nova episode I wrote about the other day, this hour-and-a-half long film showed up in my YouTube recommendations: Alien Planet. It's basically a sci-fi tale thinly disguised as a documentary -- peppered with interview clips of astrophysicists and paleobiologists, to lend credence to the events of the story. But the disguise is so thin, it might as well have been bought at dollar store, the afternoon of Halloween.

    I get the feeling that the film's creators started with ideas about the sorts of alien creatures they wanted to render in CGI, and then scrambled to figure out what sort of planetary environment would give rise to such creatures (a few of the experts said something to the effect of: "[Creature X] is one I find rather surprising, but I suppose it's possible, if Y and Z..."). Which seems the wrong way 'round, to me. But it's still more creative and in-depth, in terms of imagining widely populated and diverse ecosystems, than any imagined alien planet I can remember from our current pop culture. And it was a fun way to lose misplace ninety-four minutes, if you have the time to spare. So I thought I'd rec it.

    BTW, the film was made in 2012, and it's mentioned in one of those clips that 2014 will be the big year for discovering new exoplanets. IIRC, two new (separate) programs dedicated to searching for Earthlike exoplanets will start up later this summer.

    So: Yay!
    capriuni: Matt Smith (11th Doctor) Thumbs Up (Absolutely!)
    I was going to wait until we were closer to the actual start, but that was before I committed to being preoccupied by Other Ideas in July... So, to get all those distracting Fannish!Thoughts (or some of the biggest ones) out of my head, I'll just put this here:

    Regeneration Ramblings, cut for length )

    [ETA: More thoughts, that I don't really want to create a whole new entry for]

    Not specifically Doctor Who, but some closely related stuff:

    You know how, in popular science documentaries about Einstein and spacetime, at some point the presenter will say: "Although there's nothing in the laws of physics that says travel backward through time is impossible, how come, if it were possible, we never see time travelers from the future?

    I heard that again the other day, in that Brian Greene Nova episode I linked to... And it occurred to me that these script writers don't think like fiction writers. Or they could easily come up with reasons why, even if it were possible, it would not be popular.

    I mean, if you think dealing with security screenings just to travel from one continent to another on the same day are a hassle, imagine the restrictions and special clearances you'd have to get to go back in time. Not only would governments be paranoid about rebel factions trying to rewrite history, you'd have centers for disease control in a panic, too. What if a time traveler went back in time and brought back a deadly virus, and restarted a plague epidemic?!

    So Yeah... I don't think time travel will ever be a touristy lark. There may be a few highly specialized, and trained professionals. But they'd also be well-trained to be invisible to the natives....
    ---

    And, just for fun: Here's a bit of interplanetary science news, including a bit about a new tool for directly viewing exoplanets (at least, ones about the size of Jupiter): The First Star Within a Star.

    Enjoy!
    capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (question)
    A couple of years ago, on an episode of Nova, I heard/saw one of the clearest explanations of:

    a) Why faster motion through Space means slower motion through Time, and vice-versa. And
    b) How/Why it's helpful to think of Time as a dimension that runs, in some way, perpendicular to Space.

    To summarize: the analogy was made to driving in a car at a fixed speed in a straight line (the example given was 60 mph). If you're traveling due North, then all of your progress will be northerly. But if you turn onto a Northwest direction, your northerly progress will slow down, even though you're still driving at 60 mph. And if you drive due West, your northerly progress will cease. And Time is linked to Space in the same way as North is linked to West.*

    Okay. I get that (I think). However (and here comes my question) -- that very same program, during the opening credits, shows the familiar "fabric of space as a rubber sheet warped by the force of gravity" visualization. As I understand it (at least, as that visualization shows it) that warping (also?) occurs in a direction perpendicular to Space...

    So is the curvature of Space, by the way of Gravity, synonymous with "time"? Or is "Space," itself, four dimensions, with Time being a fifth dimension? In other words, did Anthony Coburn, in writing the script for An Unearthly Child, express the nature of Spacetime more accurately than 99.99% of all the popular science writers (aiming to be properly educational) in the 50+ years since?

    BTW, later in that same episode, they bring up the old saw about time travel back to the past: "If Time can flow in two directions, how come we never see entropy run in reverse?" Well, it's reported in this video that maybe we have, back in 2006.

    *(I couldn't find this as a brief clip, but I did find the entire episode online. The explanation/visualization starts here, and runs for about a minute. The full discussion of this phenomenon lasts about four(ish) minutes; the full episode is 56 minutes).
    capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
    1. A professor gets the news that makes him cry with joy:


    2. Two different professors explain things more slowly, with the caveat "If this is confirmed..."


    3. A certain science-fiction writer/geek of some renown, has fun with the general idea:
    capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
    Based on the likes/dislikes and comments on this thing, it seems like a song you'll either love or hate.

    ...I side with the former.



    The video has closed captions, but they go out of sync about two-thirds of the way through, so here they are behind a cut: LYRICS )
    capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Storyteller)
    And maybe making a YouTube video of it, so it will be archived where people maybe can see it.

    And I have this notion (vague memory, perhaps) of a psychological study that showed that, no matter how much personal experience we have with something, we tend not to pay attention to it as "counting" until we see it reflected back at us in a story (on the news, or in books, or in TV shows, whatever).

    And I'd like to include that Idea in the video, but... if it's something I made up (figured out, observed, whatever) I'd rather not present it as a "Fact" (just a personal observation) If it did appear in a study, I'd like to be able to say which one, or where I came across it (if not actually provide a link to an online article).

    But I can't remember enough of the context to do a Web search...

    ...In other news, I drank some coffee too late in the day, for me, and it's now half-past two am, and I'm more awake than I was at two pm...

    Oh, dear...
    capriuni: photo of a roe deer yearling, with text: "The real world is magic enough" (unicorn-real)
    Around about half an hour before sunset, there was one of those sudden bursts of thunderstorm. I looked out the window, and realized the rain was coming through a cloud on one side of my house, but the sun was still out on the other side of my house...

    Did a quick calculation, and realized the angle of the sun was low enough that I might actually be able to see a real rainbow (the ones made with pocket prisms don't count, sorry).

    Looked out the window opposite the sun... And at first, I was disappointed (I was looking relatively close to the horizon -- over the roofs of houses across the the street from my cul-de-sac). But then, I looked a little higher... and sure enough: a nice, broad, rainbow!

    \o/

    It was kinda faint looking, 'cause it was up against hazy clouds, instead of a clearer sky, but: yup! It was right out the window Science told me it should be!

    Sometimes, there are benefits to going through life with a storm cloud of your own...
    capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
    A bulleted list:

  • A couple weeks ago (or so), heard about a study (Via BBC Radio) of people who are born Deaf: that their sense of touch is much more sensitive than that of people born hearing -- to such the extent that variations in vibrations influence how they interpret what they see. Apparently, the parts of the temporal lobe that process sound for Hearing folks, switch over to interpreting touch, instead.

    My take-away: 1) Makes sense (unintentional pun is unintentional), especially since the auditory center is already built for interpreting vibrations [through the air], the shift to interpreting touch would be tiny. 2) On Planet Eyeth, a "hearing" child would be considered "touch impaired," since it would be much harder for them to sense people trying to get their attention by stamping on the floor, etc., because the section of the brain best designed for that is distracted by noises, instead of the vibrations that have cultural meaning and purpose for communication.

  • Once again, I watched a Nova ScienceNow program titled "What makes us human?" And once again, there was special focus on spoken language (see above), and walking upright on two legs... (sigh). And there was another episode I am making a point not to watch, about "What the future holds" because a centerpiece segment is all about fancy robot legs that let paralyzed people walk with crutches, and thus, appear more normal... And that's the really important thing, isn't it, above all else?

    Grr. in my grumpiness around the inherent ableism in all aspects of this perennial question, my answer is this: "What makes us 'human' is the human genome." Humans are no more unique on this planet than dolphins are unique, or squid, or maple trees, or ... And really: "What makes us human?" is euphemistic-- the unspoken (honest) question is: "What gives us the right to claim ownership of everything (animate or otherwise) we can touch?" The honest answer is, perhaps, "Nothing." But we (as a species) secretly, and unironically, believe that "Might makes Right," and so keep searching for that one secret ingredient in the formula that gives us the right to have the might: perhaps it's speech, or walking upright, or tool-making, or question-asking, or government bureaucracies, or religion, or morality... and so, when we look closer, and see those attributes in other species (or even in those species of humans besides us that have died out), a tone of panic and rationalization enters the narrative.

  • Speaking of which, I am growing sick and tired of the meme (in the non-Internet sense) that Homo Sapiens must be somehow superior to the Neanderthal, because we're still here and they've died out... Um, yeah. The Neanderthals lived successfully in Europe for roughly 300,000 years before "dying out." So far, modern humans have only colonized Europe for about 30,000 years. I'd say it's still a bit early yet for us to go around boasting that we're doing so much better. Come back to me with that argument in 200,000 years.

  • On the "Pet Health" episode of a local radio talk show today, the subject was Wolf-dogs, and why it's such a bad idea to try and breed them and keep them as pets. And the point was made that dogs are not wolves -- that "domestication" has created a very different beast, not only with different temperaments, but different digestive systems, and different brain wiring.

    The most common "domestication narrative" goes something like this:

    1) Wolves have a range of temperaments from fearful, to aggressive, to curious and calm...

    2) Wolves who had fearful or aggressive temperaments ran away from human settlements. But the the curious and calm wolves hung around human settlements, picking out food from our garbage heaps, thus increasing their chances to survive and breed.

    3) Over successive generations, this divergence in populations gave rise to a different and brand new animal -- the "dog," that wants to be our best friend...

    My answer to that is:

    A) Well, humans come with a range of temperaments, too, from fearful to aggressive, to curious and calm.

    B) Humans who are fearful or aggressive would have either run away or thrown rocks when wolves approached, looking for scraps. But the calm, curious humans might have held out their hands to be sniffed, and even ventured to offer an ear-scritch or belly rub. Thus having the wolves around to bark a warning when strangers or predators approached, and also to help sniff out prey when we go hunting, thus increasing human chances to survive and breed.

    C) Over successive generations, this divergence in populations gave rise to a different and brand new kind of Homo Sapiens -- the mensch, that wants to live in close proximity with large numbers of family and neighbors, and to settle down and start farming and building cities; our current phenotype hasn't changed as much as the wolf's to Labrador has, but I bet our brain wiring has.

    In other words, humans and dogs domesticated each other...

    And here's the outlier (but maybe even it's not entirely an outlier):

  • A bit ago (sometime between the New Year and now), I stumbled across this video from the Vlogbrothers Channel, wherein Hank Green discusses the cultural phenomenon of superhero creation: Superhero Creation Myths. His thesis is that each generation creates supernatural beings out of the things we fear and are fascinated by: sex, violence, disease {he didn't mention, but I will: demons/angels/Fey}, etc.

    And that got me thinking about the abortive attempt I made, in 2010, to create my own comic book hero. I, too, gave "Gabriel" an origin rooted in my own fear, fascination, and disgust. This particular plot bunny was "mothered" by Christopher Reeve's address to the 1996 Democratic Convention (where the only option presented to improve the quality of life for disabled people is to cure all disabilities, ever, forever), and it was "fathered" by my desire to see a superhero universe where the disabled superhero was a member of an active and interconnected disabled community (instead of being the only disabled person to ever appear on the pages [hello Oracle and Daredevil]). And it also, for plot-driving reasons had a healthy dose of gene-splicing and worldwide Space conflicts over energy resources, and issues of poverty and privilege, and yeah...

    But anyway, the kick-off for my story was a meteorite crashing to Earth, and from that crash, discoveries of new metal alloys that spark a boom in non-petroleum based fuels (and the advances in science in that arena lead to advances in science in the "cure 'all' disabilities" arena -- only really just 'cure all the disabilities we know about, now'), which leads to fighting over resources in the asteroid belt the way we now fight and go to war over oil.

    So-- all the meteoroid news this last couple of weeks got me thinking about my story again, and maybe it would be more plausible to have the asteroid-hunting element part of the plot come in the nearer future than I'd set it in my original idea...

    transcript of video below the cut )
  • capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
    And, I think I figured something out: The supposed "Special trait" that separates Modern Homo Sapiens from all other species of human, and non-human animals?

    It's an obsessive psychological need to be separate from all other species of humans, and non-human animals. ...In other words, it's our bigotry. :-/

    On the other hand, the conclusion voiced at the end of the episode (from one of the scientists interviewed) is that Neanderthals "disappeared" because they interbred with the Homo Sapiens who migrated into Europe, and got genetically absorbed (and the Neanderthal genes we [Europeans] inherited are the ones that control our immune systems). So that offers some hope that we really can "Make Love, Not War."

    Peace forever, Baby!
    capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
    This past July, I just about mainlined on YouTube videos about the Higgs Boson. And I discovered something (for me, anyway): didn't matter if I understood what they were saying -- listening to physicists talk about their particular field of study makes me feel as happy and calm as listening to a lullaby ...

    'Cause the message is pretty much the same as a lullaby: The universe is a beautiful place, it's governed by laws that keep whole thing in one piece; the more we learn about it, the more beautiful it appears, and there will always be more to learn. And even if I don't understand the meaning of the words they use, their joy in their work comes through in their voices.

    I really like the YouTube Channels by Brady Haran: Numberphile (Maths) SixtySymbols (physics) and Periodic Table of Videos (Chemistry). He basically walks around the University of Nottingham with a video camera, and asks professors to talk about their subjects. So you get the profs when they're relaxed and just playing around and being their geeky selves.

    So far, this man (Professor Ed Copeland) is one of my go-to people for when I need cheering up. Just look at how easily he smiles, and how there are default crinkles in the corner of his eyes (how you know the smiles are genuine -- can fake everything about a smile, except that). It's almost more of an effort for him to keep a straight face. Here he is talking about wormholes:



    He obviously loves the universe, and most of the people in it.
    capriuni: "This calls for CAKE" with plate and fork (Cake!)
    That I wanted to weep for joy...

    Or, it could be just one of those days.

    But anyway, good video (the guy who makes these patters away as though the scripts were written by W. S. Gilbert).

    Link to the blog which has the video, a full text of the script, for those who can't watch video, and a bonus LOL .gif from NASA of Eris, wearing shades, and the caption: "Y Dwarf -- Chillin' in Space" (God, I love NASA -- such geeks!).

    http://cgpgrey.squarespace.com/blog/is-pluto-a-planet.html

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