Look Up in the Sky! It’s…Not What You Were Expecting

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Stunning Images of Your Heart

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In reality, heartstrings are just a tad different than those imagined in Brontë’s Jane Eyre:

“Because, he said, “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you – especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land some broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, – you’d forget me.” 

Although they’re not connected to another’s frame, these closeups show just how stunning our own heartstrings (tendons and blood vessels) can be. Especially when they’re working overtime to pump life & love all over the body.

Macro photo of the Chordae tendineae in h

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A Year Worth Living

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

– T.S. Eliot

sparkAs we reflect on another trip around the sun, let’s take stock of the all of the surprises and joys 2012 had to offer:

– Felix Baumgartner leaps from the edge of space and lands safely just a few minutes later.

– The Royal Shakespeare Company collaborated with international troupes for the World Shakespeare Festival featuring 37 productions, either of or inspired by the Bard’s plays,  in 37 different languages.

– People show immense compassion and prove the generosity of the human spirit post-Hurricane Sandy.

– Announcement made for a musicalisation of Pan’s Labyrinth coming to Broadway ASAP.

– Films break out into riskier territory and push the envelope with titles such as Cloud Atlas, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Looper, Les Miserables, and more

– The future is now. From DARPA’s cheetah robot which can run faster than any human, to Google View glasses hitting beta testing, to a woman being able to control a robotic arm merely using brain signals, we’re living in some incredibly fascinating times.

– Maryland, Maine, and Washington join the ranks of those states that have made equality a priority.

– No apocalypse! While many clamored on about the end times, my guess was that the Mayans were onto to something…just not what many feared. Sounds like rebirth is a rumblin’. Let’s hope 2013 allows for more awakening and understanding from all of us.

What do you hope to see in the new year? Wishing you all a beautiful new beginning.

Taking Painting By Numbers To a Whole New Level

This past weekend while exploring Portland (which is an awesome, fun and foodie city), I wandered around the Saturday Market and happened upon an artist whose work is the epitome of that fascinating intersection between art and science.

Sienna Morris specializes in Numberism, a term she coined to describe the way she draws with numbers. But the numbers she chooses are anything but arbitrary. Each subject comes to life through the  repetition of equations and numbers that give that thing the ability to exist in real life.

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“Fibonacci’s Snail” drawn with the Fibonacci’s Sequence to mathematically represent the Golden Spiral
The sequence starts in the center with “0” and continues along the shape of the spiral.
0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 377 610…

Schrodingers

“Schrödinger’s Cat” drawn with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

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Bio“Bioluminescene” where the fireflies abdomens are drawn with a chemical formula for their Bioluminescence, C13 H12 N2 O3 S2.
The light coming off the fireflies and bouncing off the jar is drawn with the speed of light, 299792458 meters per second.

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Drawn and shaded with only the numbers 1-12, marking the hours of the clock. 
Used Numberism technique to draw a moment with all four dimensions, including time
“Even if we choose to do nothing at all, we are still moving through time.”

Image Sources: Sienna Morris’ site 

5 Reasons to Celebrate Right Now

You will never be younger than you are at this very moment. Look at all that youth shining through! Cheer your ability to see, to understand, and to have those flashes of brilliance that you modestly try to downplay. You are so much wiser than you think.

You have access to the entire world from a single screen. If you’re reading this, you are among the few that are lucky enough to have an awesome techno-speed highway at their fingertips. Technology has pushed globalization into light speed and now we are only a click away from connecting with fresh faces from all around the world. When you stop and realize how incredible this is, it might just overwhelm you. Make a commitment to learn something about another culture and put together those pieces that spell out: “we aren’t all that different from one another.”

You’re living in some exciting times. We just found evidence of water on Mars. A high school student has developed potential cancer cures. The CERN scientists at the Large Hadron Collider found the “God particle” this year. We are on the brink on some unbelievable discoveries.

You are part of a community. Look around. Maybe it’s one other person, maybe it’s the locals around you. Maybe it’s a group you get together with once in a while, maybe it’s an online hub – no matter which way you slice it, you are a part of something bigger than yourself. If you feel alone, perhaps you’re not looking hard enough.  Remember that there are endless ways for us to connect. The first step is realizing that there are plenty of like-minded folks out there. You just have to be willing to be the first one to extend the hand.

You have so much. If you have three meals a day and a safe place to sleep at night, you are already living someone else’s dream. Add a job into the mix? A computer? A supportive family? Whatever it is you think you may be lacking, chances are you already have a mountain’s worth of abundance in another area of your life. If you are always focusing on keeping up with the Joneses, how will you be able to cherish the wealth that you already have in your life…the kind that others perhaps never knew they were missing? Everyone has different definitions of happiness. But most of them start with gratefulness. Say thanks for a handful of things you’ve forgotten about recently, and watch how it transforms the day ahead.

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On Creating a Monster or a Masterpiece

Every once in a while, a show comes along that prods at you in ways that make the production linger in your mind long after the bows. One such piece is the National Theatre’s version of Frankenstein.

Had the absolute pleasure of catching a screening yesterday and haven’t stopped gushing about it since. The production was immaculate on a number of levels – brilliant direction by Danny Boyle, powerful adaption of the original Mary Shelley text, and some of the best scenic and lighting design I’ve ever seen. But the reason why this show’s now making its second tour in movie theatres after a sold out run over in London is thanks to the two leading men, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, who alternate the role of the Creature and the Creator, Dr. Frankenstein, each night.

The play gives rise to the all important question of creation.

The Creature, although a rough piecemeal of a man visually, is an apt and accomplished leaner, quickly gaining a deep understanding of philosophy as well as the foibles of man.  He serves as an example of the possibility inherent in creation, but illustrates that without proper guidance a “work of genius” can take control of its creator. It reminds us of the responsibility each of us have to that which we create – be it children, art, relationships – and offers stark warnings of the result of neglect.

Frankenstein’s experiments with human life also take on new context in our age of biomedical advancements in stem cells and cloning. It subtly highlights the discussions surrounding how we can manifest life through scientific achievement, and asks us again to be accountable for our choices. It seems to suggest that the difference between re-imagining and meddling with human life is in the hands of those creating. To be flippant with our achievements may spell out a precarious future.

We are what we create, and what we create in turn helps to shape us. May you continue to guide all that you create until it is fully formed.

Because Lots of Things Were Impossible Before Someone Tried to Do Them

A little roundup of the internet’s finest wild horses for your Monday:

Thought it was too late to learn a language? Looks like we can pick up that foreign tongue post-13 after all.

Just think! Never breathing, ever again!

Brilliantly done. It’s things like this that make you know you’ve lost a good one. When choosing actors to play you, Nora Ephron gives a very convincing argument for Meryl Streep.

Kids are fantastic. Louis C.K.’s sound like wry comics in the making.

Had no idea that the process was this extensive. Just how one gets cast in a Cirque du Soleil show.

Oh yes. Are you ready to be happy yet? How about now?

Image by Andrey Pavlov. 

Almost Better than the Real Thing

Our culture gives great weight to authenticity. We are constantly reminded to “be true to ourselves” and to “be original” – whether we choose to heed this advice is up to us. In the case of fine art, we want to know a piece’s history, its origin. It’s what differentiates the multimillion dollar gallery painting from the one that never makes it out of the garage.

But who are we really to decide what marks one for fame and the other for obscurity?

In a new Oxford study, a set of researchers set out to explore how much of out perception of “great art” is tied to seeing a famous name grace the museum placard beside the work.

Their research experiment was relatively simple: 14 subjects were placed in an fMRI machine and told the following:

In this experiment you will see a sequence of 50 Rembrandt paintings. Before each image appears, an audio prompt will announce whether the upcoming painting is ‘authentic’ or a ‘copy.’ A blank screen will appear for a few seconds after each image to allow you to relax your gaze.

But of course there’s no experiment unless they shake it up some. The scientists told half of the participants that the authentic Rembrandts were actually forgeries and vice versa.

The results blew them away. They discovered that there was no detectable difference in the response of visual areas to Rembrandt and “look-alikes.”  All of the paintings garnered identical sensory responses.

However, what is interesting is that the scientists were able to pinpoint brain activity that occurred whenever a painting was said to be a real Rembrandt.  When this happened,  “subjects showed a spike in activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a chunk of brain just behind the eyes that is often associated with perceptions of reward, pleasure and monetary gain.” This orbitofrontal response happened even when a forgery was labeled a true Rembrandt – suggesting that the quality of the art itself mattered significantly less than the name attached.

All this to say that great art can be found in more places than you think. The finest painter in the world may not have made it to the galleries yet. The best show on earth may not be on Broadway with the highest ticket price. The world’s best musician may be scrambling for rent this month and busking in the streets to help make a few bucks.

So look around. Keep your eyes peeled and courageously decide who the most inspirational artists are for you. Then support them passionately. Who knows, you may end up with one of their works before they start selling for $3 million a pop.

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