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Mars orbiter catches pic of Curiosity on its way down! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

The simple and sheer amazingness of this picture cannot be overstated. Here we have a picture taken by a camera on board a space probe that’s been orbiting Mars for six years, reset and re-aimed by programmers hundreds of millions of kilometers away using math and science pioneered centuries ago, so that it could catch the fleeting view of another machine we humans flung across space, traveling hundreds of million of kilometers to another world at mind-bending speeds, only to gently – and perfectly – touch down on the surface mere minutes later.

The news these days is filled with polarization, with hate, with fear, with ignorance. But while these feelings are a part of us, and always will be, they neither dominate nor define us. Not if we don’t let them. When we reach, when we explore, when we’re curious – that’s when we’re at our best. We can learn about the world around us, the Universe around us. It doesn’t divide us, or separate us, or create artificial and wholly made-up barriers between us. As we saw on Twitter, at New York Times Square where hundreds of people watched the landing live, and all over the world: science and exploration bind us together. Science makes the world a better place, and it makes us better people.

via Mars orbiter catches pic of Curiosity on its way down! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine.

Purely awesome.

Brittany Wenger, 17, Wins Google Science Fair Grand Prize For Breast Cancer Diagnosis App

The Grand Prize winner of the science fair, for good reason, was a 17-year-old from Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Combining the fields of biology and computer science, Wenger wrote an app that helps doctors diagnose breast cancer, according to the description of her project on Google.

The type of computer program, called a “neural network,” was designed by Wenger to mimic the human brain: Give it a massive amount of information (in this case, 7.6 million trials), and the artificial “brain” will learn to detect complex patterns and make diagnostic calls on breast cancer. Her program used data from “fine needle aspirates,” a minimally invasive procedure that, unfortunately, is often one of the least precise diagnosis processes, according to Fox News. But Wenger is helping change that, as her program correctly identifies 99 percent of malignant tumors.

via Brittany Wenger, 17, Wins Google Science Fair Grand Prize For Breast Cancer Diagnosis App.

Very amazing and inspiring science projects from teenagers. See Brittany’s winning project here.

The Positive Power of Negative Thinking – NYTimes.com

Though much of this research is new, the essential insight isn’t. Ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers understood the need to balance the positive with the negative, optimism with pessimism, a striving for success and security with an openness to failure and uncertainty. The Stoics recommended “the premeditation of evils,” or deliberately visualizing the worst-case scenario. This tends to reduce anxiety about the future: when you soberly picture how badly things could go in reality, you usually conclude that you could cope. Besides, they noted, imagining that you might lose the relationships and possessions you currently enjoy increases your gratitude for having them now. Positive thinking, by contrast, always leans into the future, ignoring present pleasures.

via The Positive Power of Negative Thinking – NYTimes.com.

(This is how San Jose gets into the New York Times. Just sayin’)

Zimoun

Cool sound sculptures, many made with motors and objects that collide to sound like wind and rain (and storms and crickets and a million other things that come to mind), and look like they would be fascinating to experience and see in real life. Every installation makes me wonder how Zimoun thought of and developed it.

The video is long but worth watching to get the whole experience of sound, motion, and environment (as opposed to just looking through the installation photos on the website). Each piece is unique but together they have a particular style, so the overall video is very enjoyable to watch.

“Using simple and functional components, Zimoun builds architecturally-minded platforms of sound. Exploring mechanical rhythm and flow in prepared systems, his installations incorporate commonplace industrial objects. In an obsessive display of simple and functional materials, these works articulate a tension between the orderly patterns of Modernism and the chaotic forces of life. Carrying an emotional depth, the acoustic hum of natural phenomena in Zimoun’s minimalist constructions effortlessly reverberates.”

Source, Video

On the Albright Institute at Wellesley

Highly recommended reading:

However, the way Wellesley has chosen to alleviate these anxieties is problematic for its identity as a liberal arts college. Wellesley has chosen to brand itself as an incubator – or a “laboratory,” as the Albright Institute describes itself – for women to develop the skills and confidence to succeed in a “man’s world.” While this goal might appear banal, if not laudable, to the majority of Wellesley students and alumnae, it induces a troubling temporal shift: a Wellesley education isn’t important for what happens while you experience it but for what happens after you graduate.  Our motto – “women who will make a difference in the world” – emphasizes the future, who you will become, and what type of career you will have, all while pushing out of sight the true joy of academia: learning in the moment and for its own sake.

This, this, this. THIS. I wish I could bold and underline it.

I’ve been really appreciating the writing and topics coming out of the Wellesley Underground lately. They’ve all been relevant and necessary ideas, stories, and arguments that aren’t represented in most other Wellesley-related outlets. This one really struck a chord, though, especially as the Albright Institute for Global Affairs was announced and quickly became a sort of darling program while I was there.

I think certain types of people fall through the cracks at Wellesley, which originally and counterintuitively seems like the sort of place that would help those who fall through the cracks. It could be that there just aren’t many of those, but even though that assumption isn’t true, would that make them any less worthy of being there? Or any less interesting as human beings? There is a definite and constant undercurrent of inequality across the spectrum of campus life, culture, and structure. Not just in the more commonly discussed senses of inequality, such as racism or sexism, but also, as well-put in this article, in the matters of providing a thorough liberal arts education. Catering to all camps of students, and maybe also those who aren’t sure of which camp their in – by not pushing them in any one direction, and pressuring them to think in a closed-minded way. To not remove options, choices, and opportunities for questioning. I came there for the experience of an education, but I left disappointed in many ways, though Wellesley gave me an unforgettable and often amazing four years. I remember that I was excited for the idea of possibly applying to the Institute when they first announced it, and then two things happened: I learned what it was operating on and for, and I realized that I would never be accepted because I was not, and never will be, who they’re looking for.

Source: The Problem with the Albright Institute by Hailey Huget