Tag Archives: ideas

Weather Forecasting Far Beyond and Close to home

Berndnaut-Smilde

Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus D’Aspremont, 2012

There is  a lot of talk on  a special kind of weather forecasting these last days fueled by Stephen Hawking and his recent paper published online about Black Holes titled “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes“, which as they say claims that Black Holes and their surrounding Event Horizon are not what we used to think they were. I hardly understand anything  in this field but I am always intrigued. So I wait for scientists who are good at popularizing scientific thought to translate to people like me what this is all about. Here is a comprehensive article from the New Scientist. But there is another point that makes me interested in this development and it has to do with the will and frankness quality needed in the ability to change your mind. If I am not mistaken it is the 3rd time Stephen Hawking is changing his mind about the nature of Black Holes. At first he said that there is no information escaping a Black Hole. Then, he admitted there was (and paid off a bet), and now he strikes with another proposal saying that there is no event horizon at all or singularity in a black hole. I may be sooo mistaken in what I say here I have understood so I will stop at this point. But still the main point is that he feels his understanding of the world, of his field of research is always in process, is always evolving, therefore defending his theory contrary to his results is absurd. I hope I can be open enough in my life to be able to change my mind so profoundly if that is what I should do for the sake of honesty.

960px-Black_Hole_Milkyway

Sticking on the weather issue though, earth weather, on a rainy day like today in Corfu, I share here links to the Nimbus series, by Berndnaut Smilde. Smilde is a Danish artist working around the idea of weather, among other things. He created this beautiful series of clouds in indoor spaces, temporary creations that result in lasting photographs.

Nimbus-by-Berndnaut-Smilde-yatzer-6

Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Green Room, 2013

Here is a short BBC video interview on how Berndnaut Smilde makes his clouds.

Watching this video and works reminded me of visiting Olafur Eliasson‘s ‘The Weather Project‘ some ten years ago at the Tate Modern.

Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, Tate Modern, 2003

Olafur Eliasson, photo from The Weather Project, Tate Modern, 2003

This was a massive work made of so little and it had an effect equivalent I guess to a common hallucination. In the grim London weather some lights, mirrors and misty smoke in the Turbine Hall created a warm and safe environment for us visitors, for us sun missing people, to agree that the sun was real and warm, and that the sunset hour was soothing and cosy.

The work was commissioned for the Unilever Series and presented in Tate Modern in 2003.  Ten years later they made a Remember The Weather Project project and here is a video about the idea and impact of this work.

The term Weather Forecasting for Black Holes sounds to me as literal and as metaphorical as the creation of mini clouds and sunset atmospheres on earthly indoor spaces. Hence the post. One is chosen for the qualities attributed to its scientific relevance while the others for their aesthetic resonance. All three though grow in the prosperous lands of Wonder.

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Yes, Yes, Yes

Henri Cartier-Bresso, photo by John Loengard

Henri Cartier-Bresson, photo by John Loengard

“Freedom for me is a strict frame, and inside that frame are all the variations possible.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

In a 1971 taped interview, rediscovered in 1991 at the International Center of Photography (New York) archives, Henri Cartier-Bresson talks a bit about his take on his photography. Simple and real. “Yes, yes, yes”, as he says echoing someone else…

cartier-bresson

“Poetry is the essence of everything, and it’s through deep contact with reality and living fully that you reach poetry. Very often I see photographers cultivating the strangeness or awkwardness of a scene, thinking it is poetry. No. Poetry is two elements which are suddenly conflict — a spark between two elements. But it’s given very seldom, and you can’t look for it. It’s like if you look for inspiration. No, it just comes by enriching yourself and living.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Sunset over Parikia, Paros

“These things have an unreal reality, like mermaids, difficult to hold. They exist, but the uses of language fail, because their substance is thinner and finer than words.”

“Such was life in the age of happiness”

Freya Stark in ‘Ionia: A Quest

(with a sunset over Parikia bay, Paros)

Freya Stark Quotes

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X: The known Origin of an Unknown Factor

This is a short, fun and informative TED talk by Terry Moore about the origin of the symbol ‘x’ as the representation of the unknown (or variable) in algebra. Reminding us, thus, that it is through its use in mathematics that we took the ‘x’ to commonly mean ‘an unspecified or unknown thing or person’ in our (use of) life.

I thought, this mention on the Oxford Dictionary was also interesting:

“the introduction of xy, and z as symbols of unknown quantities is due to Descartes (Géométrie, 1637), who took z as the first unknown and then proceeded backwards in the alphabet”

Oxford Online Dictionary definition, under its dictionary entry for ‘x’ as a noun.

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Stephen Fry: Living a Life

stephenfry

When I first went to England to study I was 18 years old, so discovering and exploring new territories was the norm. But one of the long lasting discoveries I made back then was the persona of Stephen Fry. This witty, versatile, erudite man could not really be anything other than British. A British of the modern world of course. I have to admit though that my instinctual appreciation of the man had a lot to do with his resemblance to Oscar Wilde. Seeing him on TV back then always made me feel that Wilde is still alive! When I found out that he was a good friend of Douglas Adams made me like him even more.

His comedy, acting, articles and twitting allowed me (and everyone else, I guess) to see more of this man. I’m always interested in finding out what he is up to and what he has to say, because he comes across as a rational man, a humanist  and a refreshingly open person to new ideas and advancements, willing to include or try out new things with a kid’s apetite! In that sense it didn’t come as a huge surprise to me,  when I read on his Wikipedia page, that he was the 2nd person to ever buy a Macintosh in the UK, the 1st being Douglas Adams.

I follow him on twitter, which he updates constantly, and I regularly check his website, where all his activities are archived/included.

Here is a 31mins video where he shares with the world what he wishes he knew when he was 18. His view of life. Thank you Monique for bringing this video to my attention!

Kindness, he says, dwarfs all other virtues…

And a couple of Quotes ‘extracted’ from the video:

“Sharing the benefits of life is the benefit of life.”

Stephen Fry

“Authority comes from the validity of information.”

Stephen Fry

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The Vermeer Project

This post is a reblog from the Aegean Center blog about the  amazing Vermeer project that the amazing Jane Morris Pack is leading at the Aegean Center right now…
… When Curiosity is the exploratory force behind all understanding and advancement, be it in art, the sciences, in life….

 “Sitting in the dark, seeing the painterly vision of light causes nearly all to exclaim at its beauty.”

Jane Morris Pack

The Chronicle

Actual-Projected-Image-(flipped)Actual Projected Image in Camera Obscura (approx. 40×48 cm / 16×19 in)

by Jane Morris Pack

Have you ever painted upside down in the dark?

While visiting Rome this winter I had the opportunity to study several Vermeer paintings in the exhibit at the Quirinale.  They were part of a larger show called “Vermeer and The Golden Age of Dutch Art”  and although there were some other fine pieces in the exhibit, the Vermeers outshone the others. They seem to glow from within and the accuracy of the perceived space is extraordinary. Johannes Vermeer has captured modern interest not only for his dreamy women engaged in mundane tasks but also perhaps due to the mystery surrounding his life.  We know little about his training, his personal life or his methods.  I was intrigued by his use of the camera obscura, which seems to be an accepted fact among art historians…

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Celebrating a year of blogging – Celebrating science

The other day WordPress sent me a birthday note, reminding me it’s been one year this blog is up’n’running and it is meant to be growing not ageing.

I wanted to celebrate this anniversary and when I saw these following two videos yesterday, which I really enjoyed, I felt that they really  communicated what I want to be doing with this site, so sharing them here would be a very appropriate bday gift to the blog!  Because through science and entertainment they celebrate the human thought, science, art, cooperation, wonder, passion and enjoyment – which is all I want this blog to be a celebration of!

Then I thought that it might scare some of you away since they are both long videos… but my beautiful company at dinner last night was so enthusiastic hearing about them that I think they are right, I should share them here as a gift to all!

So what are these videos? They really are one video divided into two parts. They are the full recording of an event titled The Origins Stories that took place in the Arizona State University as part of its Origins Project. This event was a panel presentation and discussion on the storytelling of science by a bunch of very interesting people: Bill Nye (science educator), Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist), Richard Dawkins (evolutionary biologist), Brian Greene (theoretical physicist), Ira Flatow (science journalist), Neal Stephenson (popular science fiction writer), Tracy Day (executive director of the World Science Festival) and Lawrence Krauss (Origins Project director).

Their point was to communicate how exciting science can be and they are truly inspiring, lively, intelligent and fun to watch!

The first video is their short presentations and the second is the QA session that followed their presentation.

Fun fun fun! Enjoy them !!!

1. The Storytelling of Science (the presentations)

2. The Storytelling of Science (QA session)

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To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov Quote

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“The poet’s mind toils between substance and the void.
Every detail in high and low relief he seeks to perfect, so
that the form, although it may transcend the dictates of
compasses and ruler, shall be the paragon of resemblance to all
shapes and features imitated.”

Lu Chi’s Wen Fu
The Art of Writing

Quote from The Art of Writing

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Looking at how CERN is looking for Higgs

Excellent documentary by BBC on the research that goes on in CERN. Hearing people that either do research there or that their theories are being tried out in this mega-lab made me feel very appreciative of the commitment that has gone into CERN. A huge idea, a huge place, a huge cooperation existing in order to try out ideas (usually called ‘theories’).

This documentary was produced earlier this year, before CERN scientists announced that they have found something that could be the Higgs boson. But it is recent enough to give you the feeling that we are about to have news… and beyond that, it gave me an idea of how that huge organisation – (even logistically) on terms of research, budget, equipment and of course of scope – goes about trying to prove modern physics and mathematics.

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