Astronomers have long been looking into the vast universe in hopes of discovering alien civilisations. But for a planet to have life, liquid water must be present. The likelihood of that scenario has seemed impossible to calculate because it has been the assumption that planets like Earth got their water by chance when a large ice asteroid hit the planet.
Now, researchers from the GLOBE Institute at the University of Copenhagen have published an eye-opening study, indicating that water may be present during the very formation of a planet. According to the study’s calculations, this is true for both Earth, Venus and Mars.
“All our data suggest that water was part of Earth’s building blocks, right from the beginning. And because the water molecule is frequently occurring, there is a reasonable probability that it applies to all planets in the Milky Way. The decisive point for whether liquid water is present is the distance of the planet from its star,” says Professor Anders Johansen from the Centre for Star and Planet Formation who has led the study that is published in the journal Science Advances.
Using a computer model, Anders Johansen and his team have calculated how quickly planets are formed, and from which building blocks. The study indicates that it was millimeter-sized dust particles of ice and carbon—which are known to orbit around all young stars in the Milky Way—that 4.5 billion years ago accreted in the formation of what would later become Earth.
Walking is one of the simplest and most strategic things you can do for yourself. It takes little preparation, minimal effort, no special equipment, and it can contract or expand to fit the exact amount of time you have available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a single bout of moderate-to vigorous activity (including walking) can improve our sleep, thinking, and learning, while reducing symptoms of anxiety. When we go for a walk, we perform better on tests of memory and attention; our brain cells build new connections, staving off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age; we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down; and our attention is left to meander and observe, helping us generate new ideas and to have strokes of insight.
As if to compensate for all those months of cancelled exhibitions and closed galleries, the past season offered a notably diverse assortment of shows, albeit with restrictions for safety. Painting dominated, from the explicit and politically charged to cerebral abstraction, and a lot in between. The fall began with the brilliant Black, Texas-based Trenton Doyle Hancock’s “Something American,” at James Cohan’s two Downtown locations, a frighteningly relevant double header pillorying many of our current difficulties through metaphors both fierce and comic. On the Lower East Side, Hancock showed ink on paper drawings from an ongoing graphic novel about the Moundverse, a mythological world that pits evil Vegans, threatening policemen, and other villains against such good guys as Torpedo Boy, the artist’s disarmingly tubby superhero alter ego. We followed the panels of the current chapter, savoring Hancock’s loaded, lucid drawings and wondering what would happen next.
The 19th-century whale hunt was a brutal business, awash with blubber, blood, and the cruel destruction of life. But between the frantic calls of “there she blows!”, there was plenty of time for creation too. Jessica Boyall explores the rich vein of illustration running through the logbooks and journals of Nantucket whalers.
The objective of this study is to determine whether middle-aged adults prescribed a low carbohydrate-high fat (LCHF) or low fat (LF) diet would have greater loss of central fat and to determine whether the insulin resistance (IR) affects intervention response. A total of 50 participants (52.3 ± 10.7 years old; 36.6 ± 7.4 kg/m2 BMI; 82% female) were prescribed either a LCHF diet (n = 32, carbohydrate: protein: fat of 5%:30%:65% without calorie restriction), or LF diet (n = 18, 63%:13–23%: 10–25% with calorie restriction of total energy expenditure—500 kcal) for 15 weeks. Central and regional body composition changes from dual-x-ray absorptiometry and serum measures were compared using paired t-tests and ANCOVA with paired contrasts. IR was defined as homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR) > 2.6. Compared to the LF group, the LCHF group lost more android (15.6 ± 11.2% vs. 8.3 ± 8.1%, p < 0.01) and visceral fat (18.5 ± 22.2% vs. 5.1 ± 15.8%, p < 0.05). Those with IR lost more android and visceral fat on the LCHF verses LF group (p < 0.05). Therefore, the clinical prescription to a LCHF diet may be an optimal strategy to reduce disease risk in middle-aged adults, particularly those with IR.
It is commonplace for people to think that Plato or Socrates was firmly against art. This idea is not unfounded. It stems from Plato’s Republic, where the Greek philosopher argued that poets would not be admitted in his idea society.
Plato seemed to believe that art’s mimesis of reality can only corrupt men and weaken their capacity for rational thought. Thus, in a society where the philosophers will rule and the rulers philosophize, art would have no place. This is a thesis that has received a lot of criticism and not without a good reason.
However, Plato’s philosophy of art is not as coherent as we might think. In fact, Plato discussed art in some of his other works exploring different ideas and from different perspectives. Still, Plato’s Ion is the only dialogue dealing exclusively with art, and more specifically poetry.
Ion is listed amongst Plato’s early dialogues and offers seemingly contradictory ideas to those presented in the Republic. Whereas in the Republic artists are tricksters, imitating reality without capturing its essence and always presenting corrupt images of the truth, in Ion things are different. Plato’s Ion seems to imply that the artist, and more specifically the poet, is a vessel for the god to reveal a truth, but more on that later.
Collecting books poses several different problems. Those are not just of a technical and economical nature, but specifically of a personal nature. For it can happen at a certain moment that one starts to wonder whether it is strictly necessary to own all those books. As it is quite easy to borrow most books from a library. And how rare are the books that we read twice or more! One could say this of novels especially. It appears that it is not necessary to own a collection of books, when we only want to read the books, or of books that we only read. Once one specializes in a certain science, things change: it is then necessary to at any moment have to one’s disposal certain standard works in the field of that science. Collecting standard and reference books then brings few personal problems with it…
Taking a regular afternoon nap may be linked to better mental agility, a study has found. Researchers found sleeping in the afternoon was associated with better locational awareness, verbal fluency and working memory in an ageing Chinese population.
The study, published in online journal General Psychiatry, examined the sleep patterns of 2,214 healthy people aged 60 and over in several large cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. Of those who took part in the study, 1,534 took a regular afternoon nap of between five minutes and two hours, while 680 did not.
Participants in the study were asked how often they napped during the week, with answers ranging from once a week to every day. The average length of nighttime sleep was around 6.5 hours in both groups, though no information was taken on the specific duration or timing of the naps taken.
The relation between Science (what we can explain) and Art (what we can’t) has long been acknowledged and while every science contains an artistic part, every art form also needs a bit of science. Among all scientific disciplines, programming holds a special place for two reasons. First, the artistic part is not only undeniable but also essential. Second, and much like in a purely artistic discipline, the act of programming is driven partly by the notion of aesthetics: the pleasure we have in creating beautiful things.
Even though the importance of aesthetics in the act of programming is now unquestioned, more could still be written on the subject. The field called “psychology of programming” focuses on the cognitive aspects of the activity, with the goal of improving the productivity of programmers. While many scientists have emphasized their concern for aesthetics and the impact it has on their activity, few computer scientists have actually written about their thought process while programming.
A man wakes up one morning to find himself slowly transforming into a living hybrid of meat and scrap metal; he dreams of being sodomised by a woman with a snakelike, strap-on phallus. Clandestine experiments of sensory depravation and mental torture unleash psychic powers in test subjects, prompting them to explode into showers of black pus or tear the flesh off each other’s bodies in a sexual frenzy. Meanwhile, a hysterical cyborg sex-slave runs amok through busy streets whilst electrically charged demi-gods battle for supremacy on the rooftops above. This is cyberpunk, Japanese style: a brief filmmaking movement that erupted from the Japanese underground to garner international attention in the late 1980s.
When my student said, “I am hopeless because the state of the planet is hopeless,” she believed that to be true, and I felt sad for her suffering. But I also saw her statement as an example of just how taken for granted and powerful the mindset of doom and gloom is. She described both her hopelessness and the hopeless state of the planet as nonnegotiable fixed facts—as reality.
The vast scale, complexity, urgency, and destructive power of biodiversity loss, climate change, and countless other issues are real. Yet assuming a fatalistic perspective and positioning hopelessness as a foregone conclusion is not reality. It is a mindset, and it’s a widespread and debilitating one. It not only undermines positive change, it squashes the belief that anything good could possibly happen.