Oh honey, that’s just how old houses are. They settle. They sometimes creak or groan, or quietly weep, or demand blood sacrifice in voices that sounds like the fluttering wings of a thousand moths. It’s just the house settling. For whatever it can get. Go back to sleep.
Tali Sharot: The optimism bias (by TEDtalksDirector)
Optimism Bias: Our tendency to overestimate the likelihood of experiencing good events in our lives, and underestimate out likelihood of bad events.
Have you ever woken up from a particularly pleasant dream and found that it happened to make the rest of your day a little bit better. Like the dream was so good that you just walked around the rest of the day with a hop to your step. It’s almost indescribable in that you…
I can honestly say this has never happened to me as I never have happy dreams. Not sure why.
Ancient campfires led to the rise of storytelling
Sometime about 400,000 years ago, humans learned to fully control fire. This breakthrough radically changed our diets, because we could now cook food, but did it transform our culture as well? A study of evening campfire conversations by the Ju/’hoan people of Namibia and Botswana (pictured above) suggests that by extending the day, fire allowed people to unleash their imaginations and tell stories, rather than merely focus on mundane topics. Back in the 1970s, University of Utah anthropologist Polly Wiessner, well known for her work on the social networks of the Ju/’hoan Bushmen (also known as the !Kung), took detailed notes on 174 of their day and nighttime conversations. At that time, the Ju/’hoan still lived as hunter-gatherers, although that is no longer the case today; they now live in villages and have taken up farming.
Wiessner returned in 1998, 2005, and 2013 to discuss these old conversations with the Bushmen and get help with translating them. As she reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, whereas daytime talk was focused almost entirely on economic issues, land rights, and complaints about other people, 81% of the firelight conversation was devoted to telling stories, including tales about people from other Ju/’hoan communities. Wiessner suggests that campfires allowed human ancestors to expand their minds in a similar way and also solidified social networks. “Stories told by firelight put listeners on the same emotional wavelength,” she writes in the paper, and “elicited understanding, trust, and sympathy.” Wiessner adds that fire still serves that purpose today: “The power of the flame is reproduced in our homes through fireplaces and candles.”
Marie Curie on curiosity, wonder, and the spirit of adventure in science – a wonderful remembrance by her daughter.
Around 1956, M.C. Escher explored the concept of representing infinity on a two-dimensional plane. Discussions with Canadian mathematician H.S.M. Coxeter inspired Escher’s interest in hyperbolic tessellations, which are regular tilings of a hyperbolic plane. Escher’s wood engravings Circle Limit I–IV demonstrate this concept. In 1959, Coxeter published his finding that these works were extraordinarily accurate: “Escher got it absolutely right to the millimeter.”
Hyperbolic planes are difficult to explain. In fact, hyperbolic geometry is an extremely huge topic. Many visualizations of hyperbolic planes have been discovered (including the circle limits afore mentioned). Taking Circle Limit III for example (the one with the fishes), here is the gist of what these artworks have to do with hyperbolic geometry:
- The number of fishes within a distance of n from the center rises exponentially.
- The fishes have equal hyperbolic area. Yes, the tiny fishes on the very edge of the circle are the same size as the fishes in the center (on an actual hyperbolic plane, anyway).
- So, the area of a ball of radius n must rise exponentially in n.