One star’s ash is another sun’s treasure

we are all made of star dust, stardust, we are stardust, great quote, milky way, galaxy quote, milky way quote, star dust quote, star stuff,

A friend just shared a quote from Victor Tenbaum:

The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up the nebulae, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are star stuff.

We can all use a little more reason to come together these days, so let’s add to this.

Beyond rote burning, stars fuse atoms, creating the heavier elements – without them, we would live in a universe of hydrogen with a dash of helium. Atoms in your body like calcium and carbon and oxygen (all those larger that the smallest atoms, H and He) are only created in stars.

And even farther: elements heavier than iron are too large to be made by nuclear fusion as occurs in the core of a large star. They’re only made when a star reaches the end of its life and explodes into a supernova, a galactic blast of so much concentrated energy and heat that it creates the rest of the heavier elements in the periodic table.

 

They then float around in nebular clouds for billions of years, eventually condensing to form new stars, with little planets orbiting them. Some of those planets are rich in water and are juuuust the right distance away from the sun. Some also have metal cores that make magnetic fields that conveniently deflect incoming solar wind, which would otherwise sweep away an atmosphere. An atmosphere like the one we have on Earth, that over time formed a bubble within which turbulent volcanic eruptions finally subsided, giving rise to a stable climate where complicated configurations of stardust atoms formed into molecules like amino acids and RNA and lipid bilayers and eventually…

 

You!  You evolved from the largest explosions in the universe.

 

From a cacophony, the elegant complexity of life, and eventually humanity, emerges. Damn wonderful.

 

PS: “On average, a supernova will occur about once every 50 years in our galaxy, the Milky Way.” – NASA says. Our sun is one of ~100 billion stars in it.
Cassieopea, supernova, remnant
Cassiopeia, a supernova remnant. NASA

 

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What does the world look like through the eyes of a neuroscientist?

connectome project

How does the world look through the eyes of neuroscience?

Paul King of the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at UC Berkeley sums up his perspective in 7 points on Quora:

1. Body image is dynamic and flexible.
2. Perceptual reality is entirely generated by our brain.
3. We see the world in narrow disjoint fragments.
4. Our behavior is mostly automatic.
5. Our brain can fool itself in really strange ways.
6. Neurons are really slow.
7. Consciousness can be subdivided.

Read the full answer on the EyeWire Blog.

Image courtesy of the Laboratory of NeuroImaging at UCLA and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH, Consortium of the Human Connectome Project.

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See the World Differently with Beautiful Photomicrography

Before you read this, pause and look at your hand.  Imagine that you could see ten, one hundred, a thousand times higher resolution.  What would your hand look like?  What world the world look like?

Photomicrography, the science of imaging through microscopes, is a window into an exotic world.

To illustrate the beautiful new perspectives made possible by advanced imaging technology, I’ve compiled some exquisite images from Nikon Small World.  Can you identify them? You’re doing well if you get even one correct. Answers are at the bottom of this post.

1.

cricket tongue

2.

tapeworm head

3.

compound shrimp eye

4.

red ink mixed with acid, heated

5.

feather of a dove

6.

"fruit fly eye"

7.

"marine diatom"

8.

"moth wing"

9.

"crystallized mix of resorcinal, methylene blue and sulphur"

10.

"fossilized shells"

11.

"soap bubbles"

12.

"wrinkled photoresist"

13.

"actin bundles" image

14.

"cup fern longitudinal section" image

15.

"water crystal" image

16.

"bird of paradise seed"

17.

"Butterfly egg on pink powderpuff bud"

18.

microchip

19.

sand magnified 4x

20.

"mushroom gills"

Answers:

1. Cricket tongue by Christian Gautier

2. Head of a tapeworm by Vigar Zaman

3. Shrimp eye by John Douglass

4. Red ink mixed with acid, heated by Carlos Jimenez Perez

5. Feather of a dove by Leonard Cannone

6. Fruit fly eye by Guichuan Huo

7. Marine diatom by Wim Van Egmond

8. Moth wing by Charles Krebs

9. Crystallized mix of resorcinal, methylene blue and sulphur by John Hart

10. Fossilized shells by Wim van Egmond

11. Soap bubbles by Viktor Syorka

12. Wrinkled photoresist by Pedro Barrios-Perez (what is a photoresist?)

13. Actin bundles by Dennis Breitsprecher

14. Cup fern, longitudinal rhizome section by Stephen Lowry

15. Water crystal by Raul Gonzalez

16. Bird of paradise (plant) seed by Viktor Syorka

17. Butterfly egg on pink powderpuff bud by David Millard

18. Microchip by Alfred Paseika

19. Sand by Yanping Wang

20. Mushroom gills by Charles Krebs

A few more awesome images that may surprise you:

Pollen grains by Shirley Owens

Lysine by Nikolai Vsevolodov

Small intestine of mouse by Paul Appleton

All images sourced from Nikon’s Small World.

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Whoa! #lifebonus

About a month ago I shared #lifebonus, the first installment of an ongoing series designed to incite surprise and discovery in life.  Or at least my inbox.  Today, here is another round.

On Friday, the following Facebook status went live while a more personal email went out to a few friends:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subject: Life Challenge

Are you having an awesome day?  Yes?!  Yes.

This week’s Life Challenge:

Share something that made you say “woah!!! ..but is it too geeky to share?”
Due Sunday at noon, or earlier if you’re an intellectual baller.
Response could be a great article from 3 years ago or a photo you saw yesterday or a crazy fresh resource, such as

AskNature.org

Browse nature’s solutions to challenges such as network cooperation (think interwoven trees and UV protection from bacteria), physical integrity (think bones and trees) or mechanical energy (think spider legs using hydraulic lift and how honeybees fly).  Browse around. You’ll be surprised how exciting it is.  Covert learning.

via Nicholas Sykes at TEDxSummit

Cheers, have a wonderful weekend and take three deep breaths right now (seriously it’s good for your biochemistry). I’ll blog some replies and send out a post on Monday so that your week will start out with a little bit of epic.  And if you are curious for more Wow!Geek discoveries, let me know and I will be happy to share a few more.

Amy

Try this with your friends.

Who knows what you might discover?  I do.

The scale of the universe.

History meets Quora and Reddit:

Ask about any era of history and get answers from professional historians!

Keep in mind that this forum is for asking questions about what did happen, not what could have happened had something gone differently. For those types of questions, check out /r/historicalwhatif

Images from the Boston Globe Big Picture‘s Earth Day Gallery.

Science and Tech

Rockets that breathe.  SABRE engines “use atmospheric oxygen in the combustion process.  The engine achieves this with its two modes of operation: its air-breathing and conventional rocket capabilities.”

 

Magnetic Fields light up ‘GPS’ neurons. Findings allow scientists to infer that birds, like compasses, can determine both direction and relative position.  Importantly, this research adds to evidence “showing how single brain cells can record multiple properties or complex qualities in a simple way.”

Get your own Galaxy Cube (image right). 80,000 stars from the Milky Way laser etched into glass. As seen in Design for a Living World.

Philosophy

12 Things you should be able to say about yourself:

1. I am following my heart and intuition.
2. I am proud of myself.
3. I am making a difference
4. I am happy and grateful.
5.I am growing into the best version of me.
6. I am making my time count.
7. I am honest with myself.
8. I am good to those I care about.
9. I know what unconditional love feels like.
10. I have forgiven those who once hurt me.
11. I take full accountability for my life.
12. I have no regrets.

Awesome tapes from Africa:  “music you won’t easily find anywhere else—except, perhaps in its region of origin.”

Popularity data:

Curious world!

At Wikipedia, it always interesting to see traffic on various articles, Some are constant while others are “One-Day-Hero” articles, receiving 1million views in one day, and that’s it – nothing after that.  The world acts in curious ways.

Here is an example: Google Launched Zipper Doodle few days back on Gideon_Sundbäck‘s B’Day. (Click here to see the doodle) You can see his article received 1m+ views on that day, and almost negligible traffic today.

For me, its something interesting, how the mind works and how someone [or something] gets popular overnight, and then is again forgotten over the next few days.

I hope this post contains something cool for you to think about.  The way I see it, your mind is a world. You are a wold abundant with resources like intelligence, stories, experiences, perspectives, curiosity..  Your self resources can be – and I think are best when – shared.

Be creative in your pursuit of extraordinary interactions.  Send out a Life Challenge or other playful yet serious opportunity with which friends can spice their minds.  Think of it as a game.

What should I send out next week?  I love discovering innovations and ideas you are passionate about.

Finally, this last image came as a Life Challenge response, too.  What does it mean to be happy, anyway?

In the words of my friend Carlos,

“Love this!  Nothing is too geeky, Amy.”

I concur.  Bring on the geek.

 

 

Thanks to Marconi Pereria, Rio de Janeiro; Antonella Broglia, Madrid; Will Sterling, Nashville TN; Mosab Abulkhair, Amman Jordan; Cody Marx Bailey, Austin Texas; Ramy Nassar, Waterloo Canada; Terry Pollard, Oxford UK; Kevin McClure, Birmingham Alabama; Shreenath Regunathan, San Francisco California; Philip Kovacs, Huntsville Alabama; Chris Palmer, Huntsville Alabama;  Kat Haber, Vail Colorado; Hugo Schotman, Zurich Switzerland; Abhishek Suryawanshi, Pune India; Nicholas Sykes, Doha Qatar.

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The TEDy Awards

Chris Anderson on the TEDGlobal 2010 stage. afromusing Flickr

The future is a beautiful progression when seen through the lens of TED.  From cognitive neuroscience to middle eastern stand up comedy, the range of ideas worth spreading knows no bounds.   Nor does the way we audience members choose to convey our interpretation of the conference to the rest of the world.

It is my humble opinion that no description does justice to such human immensity as experienced at TEDGlobal.  How then to expresses the grandiose of thought..  Bright lights and a red (TED) carpet.

I give you The TEDys.

We start off with a bang.  The triumvirate.  Technology, Entertainment, and Design.

  • TECHNOLOGY.  Tan Le, Co-found of Emotiv‘s EPOC, a device that unfolds the cortical structure of the user’s brain to read what he or she is thinking.  Watch the jaw dropping demonstration.
  • ENTERTAINMENT.  Maz Jobrani.  This headliner in the former Axis of Evil Comedy Tour dazzles with jokes that unite the middle east with the rest of the world through the most connective medium of them all:  laughter.
  • DESIGN.  John Hardy.  Co-founder of Bali’s Green School, a soon to be off-the-grid holistic and sustainability education center featuring one of the world’s largest bamboo structures and one of only two hydro-vortex power turbines (that generates 8,000 watts of electricity daily).  Our future is in the minds of our offspring.
  • Runner Up.  Eben Bayer.  Co-inventor of Ecocradle and Greensulate: organic, compostable packaging and insulation, respectively, that is literally grown from agriwaste.
  • Runner Up.  Iain Hutchinson.  Founder of Saving Faces with the Facial Surgery Research Foundation, an organization that furthers the bounds of facial research and restores underprivelaged patients’ sense of well being through reconstructive surgery.  See the gallery here.
  • BEST SCREENPLAY.  David McCandless.  Leave it to David to incite oohs and ahhs with the statistics of health supplements (below) or a breakdown of multi-billion dollar expenditures.  Infographics are the wave of the future, making data not only more exciting, but easier to interpret by “combining the language of the eye with the language of the mind”.

  • MOST INSPIRING / MS CONGENIALITY.  Jessica Jackley.  Founder of Kiva, the microlending powerhouse that to date has linked entrepreneuers with lenders to the amount of $150 million (on loans averaging $200 each).  Check out Profounder, her newest venture.  Jessica’s passion to help her fellow man is nothing short of legendary; visible through the tears she shed on stage under her fervent declaration that “life is beautiful.”
  • PERSPECTIVE.  Chris Anderson.  Curator of TED.  Chris spreads the idea of “crowd accelerated innovation.”  The next global community is a matrix of teachers and students that is bounded only by its capacity to integrate great ideas into new discovery and creation.  Interesting.  See this post.
  • RETHINK.  Conrad Wolfram.  Remember those math courses where calculators were banned?  Conrad proposes an overhaul of mathematics, refining both the order and manner that schools impart information.  Scrap tradition and re-frame the future.
  • GREEN.  Johan Rockstrom.  Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Johan informs and inspires us to make a difference in this crunch time for the climate.  The next decade is an exciting and challenging opportunity for great minds to create the solutions that will shape the future of our world.
  • GIANT.  Stephen Berlin Johnson.  An idea is an evolution.  The “eureka” represents a process, a collaboration and influx of thoughts and inputs over time.  “Chance favors the connected mind.”  Cheers.
  • HONORABLE MENTIONS.
  • Tom Chatfield.  Virtuality is Dazzling.
  • Sheena Iyengar.  Choice isn’t always the optimal option.  Watch the TEDtalk here.
  • Eric Berlow.  Ordered networks encourage us to look at the nature of our questions.
  • Sugata Mitra.  Children function as self-teaching systems.
  • Joseph Nye.  Multi-polar global challenges are best surmounted with soft power.

CLASS FAVORITES (a bit of fun)

  • Best Dressed.   David Rowan.  Editor of WIRED.  Sunny Bates.  Networker extraordinaire, social crème brulée.
  • Visual Delight.  Jamil Abu-Wardeh. Producer of middle eastern comedy, including Axis of Evil Tour.  Elif Safak.  Writer, global citizen. Watch her TEDtalk here.
  • Stage Presence.  Anne Lennox.  Recording artist, social and political activist.
  • Triple Latte Energy.  Rives.  Poet, host of TEDActive, energy bomb.  June Cohen. Executive producer of TED Media, host of TEDUniversity, wit and smiles galore.  Sunny Bates.
  • Best Dancer.  Peter Eigen.  Founder, Transparency International.  Exposer of international bribery and champion of anti-corruption; great at the Tango.

Who would you give a TEDy?

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