Lavoisier is having none of your shit.
Heeeey so fun fact: the woman in that painting is Lavoisier’s wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, who not only acted as Lavoisier’s lab assistant but also translated English and Latin texts into French so he could read them. But she didn’t just translate, she pointed out errors in the chemistry in some of the texts. Her observations of these errors convinced Lavoisier to study combustion, which led to his discovery of oxygen. She was also critical to the publication of Lavoisier’s Elementary Treatise on Chemistry in 1789. She kept strict records of every experiment they conducted together and drew detailed diagrams of all their equipment. She also threw amazing parties and invited all the brightest minds in science so her husband could pick their brains. After Lavoisier was guillotined she secured all of his notebooks and equipment for posterity.
In short: NOBODY KICKS MADAME LAVOISIER OUT OF THE LAB.
Also, a side note: My historian husband-to-be pointed some things out to me about this painting. Notice that Madame Lavoisier is looking at the viewer, and all the light is on her, while Lavoisier himself is physically smaller than her, in shadow, and looking up to her in reverence. This isn’t a candid photograph- all of these choices are deliberate. The painting isn’t of Lavoisier- Madame Lavoisier is meant to be the central subject.
I can just imagine Lavoisier telling all his colleagues that his wife is really the one with all the clever ideas, and them patting him on the back and telling him he’s sweet for saying so.
I LOVE IT
As Virginia Hughes noted in a recent piece for National Geographic’s Phenomena blog, the most common depiction of a synapse (that communicating junction between two neurons) is pretty simple:
Signal molecules leave one neuron from that bulby thing, float across a gap, and are picked up by receptors on the other neuron. In this way, information is transmitted from cell to cell … and thinking is possible.
But thanks to a bunch of German scientists - we now have a much more complete and accurate picture. They’ve created the first scientifically accurate 3D model of a synaptic bouton (that bulby bit) complete with every protein and cytoskeletal element.
This effort has been made possible only by a collaboration of specialists in electron microscopy, super-resolution light microscopy (STED), mass spectrometry, and quantitative biochemistry.
says the press release. The model reveals a whole world of neuroscience waiting to be explored. Exciting stuff!
Credit: Benjamin G. Wilhelm, Sunit Mandad, Sven Truckenbrodt, Katharina Kröhnert, Christina Schäfer, Burkhard Rammner, Seong Joo Koo, Gala A. Claßen, Michael Krauss, Volker Haucke, Henning Urlaub, Silvio O. Rizzoli
In case you all missed it.
If you don’t know what it really looks like, you will think about it at an absurd level of simplicity
12-year-old invents Braille printer using Lego set
The Braigo printer cost its inventor about $350, making it more affordable than other Braille printers that can retail for more than $2,000.
And because I seriously side-eye this Western journalism trend of never crediting and NAMING the actual inventors in the headlines (especially when they’re young POC)
this inventor’s name is Shubham Banerjee, and he is making his glorious design completely open source, publishing it online FREE of charge! Just remember this kid’s name before some crusty old white dude “innovates” his design and takes all the credit.
Frozen Peas from SuckUK; a fantastic piece of design as metaphor (as well as a super convenient way to make a spherical ice “cube”.
Spherical ice cubes! People! This is amazing
One August afternoon, the two baby ospreys of that season took flight for the first time as I stood on the circular deck of my house watching the nest. All summer long, they had watched me on that deck as I watched them. To them, it must have looked like I was in my nest just as they were in theirs. On this particular afternoon, their maiden flight, they did a loop of my house and then headed straight at me with tremendous speed. My immediate impulse was to run for cover, since they could have ripped me apart with their powerful talons. But something held me to my ground. When they were within twenty feet of me, they suddenly veered upward and away. But before that dazzling and frightening vertical climb, for about half a second we made eye contact. Words cannot convey what was exchanged between us in that instant.
Would you have the courage to stand still, so you could make eye contact with a bird of prey?
Our universe is what it is simply because we are here. The situation can be likened to that of a group of intelligent fish who one day begin wondering why their world is completely filled with water. Many of the fish, the theorists, hope to prove that the cosmos necessarily has to be filled with water. For years, they put their minds to the task but can never quite seem to prove their assertion. Then a wizened group of fish postulates that maybe they are fooling themselves. Maybe, they suggest, there are many other worlds, some of them completely dry, some wet, and everything in between.
I apologize if this has been asked, but why does the placebo effect work?
For those who don’t know, the placebo effect is when an inert medical treatment—like a sugar pill—actually has a positive effect on a patient’s condition. People essentially trick themselves into becoming better simply because they believe they will.
It’s not just about taking dummy pills; patients who are treated by a warm, caring practitioner seem to recover sooner from mild conditions strep throat and the common cold—which suggests they have a certain expectation that this person will make them better.
We’re not fully agreed on how, why, and when it works. It’s actually one of the strangest and least-understood phenomena in medicine. But studies have shown that when treated with placebos, our brains release pain-relieving opioids, which at least help along the healing process.
There are a few theories about why this happens:
- It’s all in the patient’s head, and their expectation that a treatment will help actually activates a physiological response
- It’s all in the patient’s body, which remembers how it felt after taking medication previously, so it automatically releases neurotransmitters that begin the healing process (sort of like conditioning: our body may be conditioned to react positively in medical situations)
- Or a mixture of both: expectation and conditioning
The effect is highly variable, and seems to work better for “subjective” cases (like simply reducing the feeling of pain) rather than “objective” cases (like reducing blood pressure).
Some fun facts about the placebo effect:
- It can still work even when you know it’s a placebo. Harvard researcher Dr. Ted Kaptchuk studied migraine-sufferers, and found that even the patients who knew they were taken a dummy pill still experienced pain relief
- The opposite of the placebo effect is the nocebo effect—when the patient is expecting a negative outcome, then their injury or illness may be negatively affected. A study in Italy gave what they claimed was lactose to patients, some of whom were lactose-intolerant. Even though the lactose wasn’t really lactose, 44% of those with the intolerance and 26% without it showed symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort.
- The shape, size, colour and branding of the pills subconsciously affect how well they work—yellow pills are “best” at treating depression, green are best at easing anxiety, and pills with brand names on them are more effective than blank ones.
- The effect seems to have become more “powerful” over the years. It was first documented in the late 1700s, but has become stronger and stronger up until the present day. This is likely due to social conditioning; humans are becoming more trusting of medicine.
So, to sum up: the placebo effect is weird, so I can’t give you a straight answer!
With every new discovery, we are given new mysteries.
What a wonderful world
Do animals and small creatures, like ants and spiders experience time differently than we do? Like is a day longer for an ant because they are smaller? Would one day for an ant feel the same as a month for us? because time, like hours, days and months are a human construct, but small creatures do still recognize changes in the day and seasons otherwise they wouldn’t prepare for winter. But how long is a day for an ant? How do small insects experience time?
Hey, what a fantastic question!
Everyone knows that animals experience time to some extent—I know my dog always seem to know when it’s time for dinner—but it’s thought that animals’ memories aren’t tied to the passing of time like human memories are. Humans live life linearly, and our ability to remember the order of past events and predict future events plays a large role in our perception of time. Animals, on the other hand, are believed to have a less “episodic” view of time, and live more in the moment.
Human time doesn’t have a lot of significance to animals, because they have no needs for clocks and hours and seconds, so it’s important to think about time in a different way. Perception of time isn’t only about remembering what events happened when, but it’s also linked to how quickly we can process the world around us.
There was a recent study (September 2013) published in Animal Behaviour that suggests that the speed at which creatures perceive time is linked to their metabolic rate. (See: how metabolic rate is linked to life span.) The researchers used a technique called “critical flicker fusion frequency”—basically, measuring the speed at which the eye can process light—and found a strong relationship between body size and how quickly the eye responds to changing visual information.
Small animals with fast metabolisms, like birds and insects, take in more information per unit of time. This means they experience time slower than larger animals with slower metabolisms, like turtles and elephants. They can actually perceive time as if it’s passing in slow motion, meaning they can observe movements and events on a finer timescale. This would definitely be an advantage in some situations, increasing their reaction times and allowing them to escape—like dodging bullets in The Matrix—from larger creatures who perceive time slower, and so might miss things smaller animals can spot rapidly.
Some of the fastest visual systems recorded by the researchers included golden mantled ground squirrels, starlings and pigeons.
As the lead author of the study, Kevin Healy, remarked: “We are beginning to understand that there is a whole world of detail out there that only some animals can perceive and it’s fascinating to think of how they might perceive the world differently to us.”
So there’s still a significant amount of study to be done, but it’s a really intriguing question, and it seems so far that differently-sized animals experience time—i.e., perceive events—on different time scales!
I used to wonder if ants looked at giant human legs and the arbitrary way in which a movement caused the annihilation of entire hordes and call human legs ‘god’. And make elaborate stories that removed the randomness of feet movement.