Category Archives: science

11.

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(in honor of all the recent space activity and a soon to arrive full moon – a repost from 2 years ago)

50th anniversary of the week of the Apollo 11 moon landing

I was 11

on the cusp of everything 

we went over

to my parents’ friends’ house

everyone was transfixed

air was electric

all gathered around the tv

watching

silent and awestruck

gobsmacked

as the first man walked on the moon

spoke his first words on the moon

 lots of emotion in the house

I ran to the window to look at the moon 

hoping I would see him up there

right in the middle of all of this

the hostess

left to go to the hospital

to have her baby

she named him neil

after that man on the moon.

“we ran as if to meet the moon.” 

― robert frost

image credit: Ann Arbor district library archives

think pink.

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Today in animals you might not believe are real (but are!): the pink fairy armadillo. This species (Chlamyphorus truncatus) grows to just about 6 inches long, making them the smallest armadillos in the world.

They are found only in central Argentina, and because they’re nocturnal and spend a lot of time burrowing underground, the elusive creatures are difficult to study. 

Like other armadillos, pink fairy armadillos have a shell (or carapace) but theirs is softer, thinner and more flexible. The shell’s color comes from blood vessels close to the surface.

source credit: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

“always be yourself unless you can be an armadillo,

then always be an armadillo.”

-author unknown

some animals are so unusual, it’s hard to believe they’re real.

what’s the most interesting/unusual animal you’ve ever encountered?

the music of spiders.

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spider music

The humble spider has always been well represented in the musical world, from Ziggy Stardust to the Who and Wilco. For too long, though, we’ve refused to let them relate their experiences to us more directly. That’s now changed, thanks to the work of scientists who are turning spiders’ vibration-based perceptions into music.

Vice recently profiled the work of MIT engineering professor Markus Buehler, who leads a team that’s working to translate web vibrations into sounds we can actually hear. The project uses “the physics of spiderwebs to assign audible tones to a given string’s unique tension and vibration” through a process called data sonification.

The resulting models can be explored through virtual reality software or listened to via examples recorded by Buehler and his collaborator Tomas Saraceno. The music created by manipulating the models is incredible—an eerie approximation of how spiders understand their environments.

Buehler says that the project’s goal is both to “expand how we generate sound in music and how we compose music” and to practically demonstrate how “for something like a spider, there’s a whole different way of experiencing the world.”

“Researchers say the project could eventually be used to reverse engineer spiders’ reality and communicate with the arachnids,” Vice explains, somewhat ominously. Buehler elaborates, saying that he’s planning to play AI-generated spider sounds to the creatures and “gauge [their] reactions.”

For more on Markus Buehler And The Spiders From Earth, read the full article.

 

“is there anything more beautiful and protective than the simple complexity of a spider’s web?”

-e.b. white, Charlotte’s Web

 

 

 

source credits: Reid McCarter, Michelle Bender, Vice

science for and with society.

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World Science Day for Peace and Development

Celebrated every November 10th, World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.

By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.

In 2020, the Day will be devoted to the theme of Science for and with society.

“ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge:

it is those who know little, and not those who know much,

who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

-charles darwin

Building peace in the minds of men and women

art and science.

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Opera house performs first post-lockdown concert for an all-plant audience

Next week, Barcelona’s Liceu opera house will emerge from its lockdown-induced siesta by throwing a concert to a rather unusual audience. The attendees will not need masks or gloves, nor will they be required to follow physical distancing rules.

However, they might like to take along a nice comfy pot and some water to prevent their roots from drying out as a string quartet serenades them, fittingly, with Puccini’s Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums).

A total of 2,292 plants will occupy the venue’s seats and listen to the opera house’s first post-lockdown concert when it reopens next Monday. Non-vegetal music fans will also be able to enjoy the performance as it will be live-streamed.

According to the Liceu’s artistic director Víctor García de Gomar, the Concert for the Biocene, played the by Uceli quartet, is intended to help us ponder the current state of the human condition and how, in lockdown, we have become “an audience deprived of the possibility of being an audience”.

For Eugenio Ampudia, the conceptual artist behind the concert, the project will serve to reflect what has happened across Spain and around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to retreat from shared public areas.

“At a time when an important part of humankind has shut itself up in enclosed spaces and been obliged to relinquish movement, nature has crept forward to occupy the spaces we have ceded,” said Ampudia.

After the concert, the plants will find themselves in a new home, with each one of them being donated to 2,292 health workers as thank you for their efforts over recent months.

“the first rule of opera is the first rule in life:

see to everything yourself.”

-nellie melba

 

photo and story credits: the optimist daily