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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BRAIN Initiative: Thoughts on Interim Report to the NIH

neurons reconstructed in eyewire, connectome

We stand on the verge of a great journey into the unknown—the interior terrain of thinking, feeling, perceiving, learning, deciding, and acting to achieve our goals—that lives within the human brain. These capacities are the essence of our minds and the aspects of being human that matter most to us. Remarkably, these powerful yet exquisitely nuanced capacities emerge from electrical and chemical interactions among roughly 100 billion nerve cells and glial cells that compose our brains. All human brains share basic anatomical circuits and synaptic interactions, but the precise pattern of connections and interactions are highly variable from person to person—and therein lies the source of the remarkable variation we see in human behavior, from the breathtaking dance of a ballerina, to the elegant craftsmanship of a master carpenter, to the shrewd judgment of an expert trader. Our brains make us who we are, enabling us to perceive beauty, teach our children, remember loved ones, react against injustice, learn from history, and imagine a different future.

Preamble, The Goals of the BRAIN Initiative

Today is my one year anniversary at MIT. I’ve grown as a person and learned more than I ever imagined. To celebrate, I read a 50+ page NIH report, which was surprisingly awe inspiring. Here are my thoughts.

On Sept 16, 2013, an advisory committee of prominent neuroscientists presented a report to the NIH Director outlining the goals and objectives of the BRAIN Initiative for FY 2014.

Before we proceed, Iet’s back up. My greatest passion in life is understanding consciousness; understanding how the brain yields a thinking, feeling human being. That’s why I’m at Seung Lab working on EyeWire, attempting to catalyze exponential progress advancing neuroscience from the unknown into the understood. How exciting, how chill-inducing to read that the greatest minds on minds of our generation are teaming up and calling for unprecedented action in this direction, progress backed with investment and goals for disruptive, interdisciplinary collaboration that “reconceives what it means to be an experimental neuroscientist.” (13)

The report outlines several themes and high-priority research areas for 2014:

  1. Generate a Census of Cell Types
  2. Create Structural Maps of the Brain
  3. Develop New Large-Scale Network Recording Capabilities
  4. Develop A Suite of Tools for Circuit Manipulation
  5. Link Neuronal Activity to Behavior
  6. Integrate Theory, Modeling, Statistics, and Computation with Experimentation
  7. Delineate Mechanisms Underlying Human Imaging Technologies
  8. Create Mechanisms to Enable Collection of Human Data
  9. Disseminate Knowledge and Training

I am particularly excited about, well, all of these but for the interest of time I’ll hone it down. First, let’s reflect on the fact that we don’t even know how many types of cells there are in our own heads..and how quickly that’s changing. A catalog of cell types would provide a framework for existing research and a foundation for future experiments. Like everything in this report, it’s extremely exciting.

Second. Create a structural map of the brain. The report calls for a movement “towards [mapping] a full connectome.” Oh yes. There are many layers of functional circuits in the brain, all of which are important to our broader understanding. Special emphasis is given to integrating scales in both time and space and creating platforms that “enable understanding of the relation between neural structure and function.” The report calls for “faster, less expensive, and scalable approaches” that will reveal how how neural dynamics relate to complex behavior. Crowd-sourcing is specifically mentioned in this section, which needless to say amps me up.

neuron branches, eyewire,

I’ll skip now to numbers 5 and 6, which read as a call for revolutionary cross-boundary collaboration among researchers to create integrative tools for creating enriched, multidimensional datasets that, for example, might integrate molecular, functional and connectomic information. The report indicates a preferences for involvement from fields outside neuroscience such as computer science, statistics, engineering, physics and theory (and even calls for new theoretical tools and techniques — a “brain based theory of higher functions is notably lacking.” hello, opportunity).

This is not the time to play is safe.

I love this. Neuroscience is due a bit of disruption; we need to bring in minds from different fields — fields that the authors of this report may not have even considered, such as design. I think crucial components will be identifying and communicating neuroscience’s biggest accomplishments, current state of knowledge and present/future hurdles to communities of talented individuals and organizations, many of which may be outside academia, who will develop and test innovative solutions to them. We may use tools like Kaggle or host Hackathons, challenging a burgeoning global developer community to create software that will help solve neuroscience’s biggest difficulties. I’ve come to realize that while techniques do cost a considerable amount of time, it seems that software and big data analysis are what’s really needed to increase technolgical and analytical throughput by 100-1000x, as the report calls for. One infamous case of analytic delay is that of Earl Miller’s Lab at MIT. The team spent 2 weeks collecting functional activity data and 2 years analyzing it. Damn. We need tools, better AI and brave collaborations on all neruoscientific fronts. This is one area I’m particularly interested in catalyzing.

Another interesting component of this research is an open call to create a neuroscience data reservoir where researchers can store and one day maybe even crowd-source analysis of their research findings, specifically image data. Seung Lab (my lab) has an interest in this, so stay tuned.

synapse in eyewire

A final point of interest is #9, the dissemination of knowledge and training. In the context of citizen science, which will likely play an increasingly important role in neuroscientific progress, we need to share best practices and methods through which labs can involve the general public in the scientific method. We are actively working on such toolkits and events. Ping me if you are interested in collaborating on this or any other area.

Finally, going back to the big picture (my favorite), I’d like to point out that the report specifically calls for research “composed with a specific eye toward eventual impact for humans” and that “encourages changes in the culture of neuroscience.”

The challenge is to map the circuits of the brain, measure the fluctuating patterns of electrical and chemical activity flowing within those circuits, and understand how their interplay creates our unique cognitive and behavioral capabilities.

Our ultimate goal is to understand our own brains.. to understand the circuits and patterns of neural activity that give rise to mental experience and behavior.

It’s a wonderful time to be alive. I’m honored to have the opportunity to play a leading role in the future of neuroscience through EyeWire and specifically Seung Lab at MIT.

for science eyewire black on yellow, for science, eyewire, brain, design

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Awesome Science GIFs

elephant toothpasteScience is awesome.

Thanks to the spectacular determination of human minds to explore, understand and play with the world around us, we’re in an unprecedented age of scientific discovery.

With 1.57×10^6 scientific papers published each year, one doesn’t stand a chance of absorbing all relevant new knowledge and interestingness until we get better at information digestion tools. Makes me imagine scientists submitting an infographic of their research with every publication. I’d love that.

Speaking of things I love, here’s one: chemical reaction GIFs, one of mankind’s finest internet creations.

Thanks to Stanford, we know a bit about the biological benefit of being awestruck (experiencing awesomeness is good for the brain and body).  The GIFs below give a jolt of awe — first because they’re novel and second because they entice one to ask ‘how does that work? why?’ and explore into a ‘random’ area of science, supplementing a new sense of ‘wow’ with a tidbit of knowledge. Useful? Perhaps not. Intellectually Invigorating? Definitely.

Foil Ship Floating

Sulphur hexafluoride

Foil ship floats in an aquarium of sulphur hexafluroide, a gas 6x denser than air. Here’s a cool deeper dive into sulphur hexafluoride sci from TEDxLondon (starts at 4:40).

Side note, breathing in sulphur hexafluoride lowers your voice to Bond villain status as Adam Savage of Mythbusters demonstrates:

Hot Nickel Ball vs Block of Ice

hit nickel versus ice

Mindfuck: Unmixing a Fluid

From New Scientist:

So how is this possible? When corn syrup – a viscous fluid – is mixed, friction dominates inertia and it maintains distinct layers when it flows. This behaviour can be predicted by its lowReynold’s number, a measure of how density, speed, and viscosity relate to each other. The phenomenon – called laminar flow – is exploited in many applications like ventilation systems and hydroelectric plants.

unmix a fluidSulfuric Acid on a Wet Sponge

sulfuric acid on a sponge

Meissner Effect

Superconductors work as, when cooled to a certain point, they lose all electrical resistance. This near absolute zero temperature causes atoms to cease random vibrations, thereby allowing un-impeded flow for its electrons and a total loss of electrical resistance. The Meissner effect is a common property of these zero electrical resistant superconductors. It works because the magnet’s magnetic field cannot penetrate the superconductor, causing its lines of force to be expelled back at it. This has the effect of creating a mirror-image of the magnet within the superconductor and, through the expelled lines of force it is creating, causes itself to levitate.

learn more

Meissner Effect Science GIF

Elephant Toothpaste

Hydrogen peroxide catalyzed by potassium iodide results in a foamy reaction as hydrogen peroxide decomoses rapidly into hydrogen and oxygen.

hydrogen peroxide catalyzed by hydrogen potassium iodide GIF

elephant toothpaste GIF

water drop hydrophobiaFinally, a Superhydrophobic Surface Coating.

Water droplets on a superhydrophobic surface are close to spherical, allowing beads to glide off a surface with almost no surface friction.

superhydrophobic coating

GIFs curated from Chemical Reaction GIF Subreddit discovered via It’s Okay To Be Smart.

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Live Broadcast from the Shoulders of Giants or How (Funny) Videos Augment Science Communication

In the past week, over 10,000 people have joined EyeWire, a citizen science neuron mapping game from Seung Lab at MIT.

I’m about 8 weeks new in this wonderful lab and have started mixing things up a bit. What do typical researchers do on a daily basis? Who knows! They’re spectacular and secretive creatures. Seung Lab is not so secretive. Dev ninjas have even started doing spontaneous video sessions (who knew you could catch a ninja on video?!) and our whole team hosted a G+ hangout during a Christmas party, which might have included copious amounts of alcohol, dancing and wouldn’t have been complete without popping champagne. Our cameras are locked and loaded — charged and mic’d up. Don’t you love it when scientists have personality (yea that’s a GIF of Sebastian dancing created by EyeWirer Dylan Holtz), a sense of humor and are willing to share it with the world? I sure as hell do. I think it makes science more attractive and accessible, which is, in the words of brewery Sam Adams, always a good decision.

As you can see, we take science — but not ourselves —  seriously here.

i dont always pretend to be a scientist but when I do it's on EyeWire.org

That was created by EyeWirer Adam Brabant.

Seriously, though, Why EyeWire? You could read this post….or watch the video below.

We interviewed Harvard’s Joshua Sanes (a legend among neuroscientists.. though admittedly I did not know this chap until I learned he discovered a new cell, which made me wonder: if the EyeWire community discovers new cells, do they get to name them?  If I have anything to say about it, new cells will not be called “Junctional Adhesion Molecule B” Cells. No, no. I’d opt for the “epic” neuron so that people come to know us as the Discoverers of Epic).

A little EyeWire Tutorial:

A fun video we made when I Fucking Love Science + Reddit crashed EyeWire on Tuesday:

More videos are coming, including action-packed theatrical trailers, ultramicrotome drama, and dancing (lots of dancing) from Sebastian. Oh yea, and educational productions. After all, we do want to create a smarter world. I leave you with this: Sebastian goes Gangnam style. Created by Seung Lab’s great Spaniard postdoc Ignacio aka Nacho.

“Discover what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest,” Herman Hesse.

Want more examples of rad science videos making a splash? Check out

ASAP Science | Dr. Carin Bondar’s Wild Sex (Biology Series) | TED-Ed

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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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#lifebonus

What makes you excited to be alive?

Open-ended questions like the one above light me up.   I personally love it when people lay out the ideas they are passionate about and then explore how and why those ideas matter.  Would you like to be asked “What’s the most curious thing you have discovered recently?” more often?  I would. Hopefully this post will inspire you to surprise someone with a delightful chance to share who they are and enlighten you in the process. It’s relatively easy: ask a good question.

About 48 hours ago I sent the following email to a few friends:

Hey!  I hope you’re well!  This is for fun/how I’ve decided to keep Friday Fresh.

Reply inline and I will subsequently send fresh shit from my end.  It’s important to note that when you successfully answer these challenges you, friend, get a life bonus!!  Seriously, it will make your day rock.

– Most interesting thing you’ve discovered in the past 10 days (if it’s too hard to choose, share up to 3)
– Most beautiful image/video from past month
– Best meal or food from the past month
– Did you learn a new word in the past month?  Share.  If not, go find one.
– Funniest/most entertaining.  “Find out what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest” -Herman Hesse
That’s all.  You have 48 hours to reply.  Good luck!
For fun/inbox entertainment
Amy
This is more than inbox entertainment.  I think it actually helps me get to know a person along the lines of what’s important and how he or she spends free time.   What matters to you?
“Such as are your constant thoughts, such will be the character of your mind” Marcus Aurelius
From here on out, this post is crowd-sourced.  Every video, image, link, quote and fact was “recruited” by the above email.    I hope you enjoy this fresh broad collective perspective that materialized over the weekend.
  • Most Beautiful Image/Video

Creative tech

a story for tomorrow

Rediscovered classic

que bella

there and back: space

NASA releases epic panorama of night sky made from 18,000 images.

  • Most interesting thing you’ve learned/discovered

Nat Geo’s Friday Fact: A hurricane weighs as much as 160 million rhinos!

exp.lore.com

How to divide a square equally into 5 parts.

“Triggered by Brené Brown’s talk about shame I discovered some things about myself.
I discovered that fears and insecurities can be layered and that if you’ve successfully stripped away one layer you may discover another one underneath.
Unfortunately, I am not always aware which fears and insecurities I really have.”

“That the technology for taking a blood sugar reading on an iPhone is being developed.”

ChronoZoom beta is out!

Sexually rejected mice turn to booze.

“Offer a male fruit fly a choice between food soaked in alcohol and its nonalcoholic equivalent, and his decision will depend on whether he’s mated recently or been rejected by a female. Flies that have been given the cold shoulder are more likely to go for the booze, researchers have found. It’s the first discovery, in fruit flies, of a social interaction that influences future behavior.”

Wild lions up close with the Beetle Cam.

Shark teeth are essentially modified scales and evolved from skin, not bones (right, sharks are cartilaginous; they don’t have bones).

“No matter how much you plan, you’ll always face something totally unexpected.”

True.  Perspective on embracing the unanticipated with delight from a different person:

“I have no idea where I’m going, I’m totally conflicted and I’ve never been happier or more flipped out.”

  • New words

awesomeness 

bitumen – the pronunciation is awesome. It’s a synonym for asphalt.

buckram – 1. A coarse cotton fabric heavily sized with glue, used for stiffening garments and in bookbinding. 2. Archaic Rigid formality

coqui – teeny nocturnal frog 

dongleflump – “not sure about a new word but I make lots up, like this one.” Define for yourself, world!

entelechy -In the philosophy of Aristotle, the condition of a thing whose essence is fully realized

LTE – (4G phone network) means Long Term Evolution

pedantic – overly concerned with minute details or formalisms

plumbeo- (Spanish word)  sad, slow, opaque.  “It is like the colour of the sky in winter.”

sycophant – A person who acts obsequiously toward someone in order to gain advantage; a servile flatterer.

wish – “I had forgotten what it meant.  I know now.”

What is the last new word you learned?

  • Best recent nomnoms

I ate fruit roll-ups with a girl I had just net a few days before, she looked at me and smiled and I felt like a teenager.

mom’s chicken pot pie; a private restaurant in Bogota, Columbia; Portuguese food: Rice with octopus and red wine; dinner with Hans Rosling on Wednesday; sukiyaki; Silk City Diner pork tacos; pork chop at vinotinis; fish tacos at Tacombi NYC; some beef mince thing at a party (I have no idea what it was); oven roasted Red Drum fish fillet with kai lan; butternut squash, pasta and a preserved lemon saffron sauce; dinner at an Australian restaurant near Amsterdam; Brenda’s soul food; dinner in Philly two weekends ago on a pitstop before I came home to Switzerland.

Catching up with friends and sharing stories and challenging each other to think critically on a wide range of topics.

  • funny+entertaining

“Went to my grandmothers 80th birthday party, which for most 80 year olds means a nice little party with family and friends. Now for my grandmother, who happens to be the owner of 4 Gentleman’s clubs in NYC..her friends are well interesting.”

Demoreel for visual effects studio The Mill

“If camping outside is so great, then why are all of the bugs trying to get into my house. “- Jim Gaffigan

When was the last time you got this excited when you heard a new song? 🙂

“My kids listening to Toy Dolls”

Where’s _why?

Portraits imagining a baby’s future profession.

Books on Amazon:

That is all.  John Hodgman

The Fan“, Eric Bogosian (comedy)

  • anything else?

“48 days until I graduate from Penn State. No sure exactly what’s going to happen in the next 48, but I know it’s going to be crazy.”

What are you doing with the next 48 days of your life?

Try something different.  Do new.  Ask open-ended questions.  Instigate surprise.  Play.  Explore the world and minds around you. And feel free to answer the questions below or post your own question in the comments section.  Or tweet interestingnesses with the hash tag #lifebonus to @amyleerobinson.

– Most interesting thing you’ve discovered in the past 10 days (if it’s too hard to choose, share up to 3)
– Most beautiful image/video from past month
– Best meal or food from the past month
– Did you learn a new word in the past month?  Share.  If not, go find one.
– Funniest/most entertaining.  “Find out what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest” -Herman Hesse

Kudos to Antonella Broglia (Madrid), Jon Yeo (Melbourne), John Eberhart (Huntsville, USA), Dave Lim (Singapore), Marconi Pereria (Rio de Janeiro), Lisa Nicole Bell (Los Angeles), Steve Garaguilo (Zurich), Hugo Schotman (Zurich), Evan Grant (London),  Brad Garland (Huntsville), Philip Kovacs (Huntsville), Dylan Finelli (Boston), Zach Zimbler (Penn State), Lionel Felix (Austin TX), Dan Jacob (Toronto), Shreenath Regunathan (San Francisco), and Sean Gourley (San Francisco).  This post is friend-sourced.

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What are you passionate about?

Yesterday I was asked “what are you passionate about?”  Refreshing.  And told to answer in 100 words or less.  Interesting challenge.

This question in the TEDGlobal application catechism caught my attention.  At first I scoffed.  How can I capture my zest in 100 words..I need a thousand, ten thousand.. and then I began to write. 

Scoff turns to intrigue as I realize this is a conversation with a quiet comrade, not a monologue.  Who am I, what fuels me is the question.  Introduce, don’t preach.  Outline my horizon.

I think high and wide and a hurricane of vocabulary in strange grammatical structure erupts from my brain.   Thoughts of thousands of words melt into hundreds, then dozens.  This challenge poises an opportunity for precise creative thinking.  As I progress in my answer I am captured by the notion that my initial reaction has morphed into a beautiful realization. 

I used the 100 words to create a chromosome of passion.  This is an outline of me, not the complete expression.  In this attempt to densely pack  myself into 100 words I found, surprisingly, that my passion required just four.  And I am delighted to share them with you.

Question:  What are you passionate about?

“Curiosity.  Endless exploration and perpetual discovery. History, etymology, literature (Seneca, Voltaire, Nietzsche+), scientific theory, travel, the human mind…My greatest curiosity is consciousness and how “I” exists.  I am obsessed with systems and complexity. Interdisciplinarity fuels my revelry in reality’s infinite variety.  Bilateral symmetry, philharmonic sound, fractals, posture, creativity, the wild..adamantly I focus and refocus my perception of the world and myself.  A dynamic innovative mind am I who lives for both the unexpected surprise and long developed accomplishment. In 100 words I need but four to tell you:  My passion is life.”

We should all be asked this more frequently.  Have a go, what are you passionate about?

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