• Science
  • Invisible But Felt

    From Astronomy Picture of the Day: Milky Way over Erupting Volcano (Photo: Sergio Montúfar) Explanation: The view was worth the trip. Battling high winds, cold temperatures, and low oxygen, the trek to near the top of the volcano Santa Maria in Guatemala — while carrying sensitive camera equipment — was lonely and difficult. Once set […]

  • Books
  • It’s a Multiverse

    Detailed views of some recent paintings that I hope suggest a layered and complex reality *** Science has always wrestled with the idea of an immaterial will, or agency, at work in the universe, and for centuries it was thought to be expressed through the “laws of nature.” God might be dead, but he rules […]

  • Art Making
  • Nowists United

    Joi Ito, my favorite nowist The selection of Joi Ito as Director of the MIT Media Lab in 2011 was a departure from the norm. A former nightclub DJ and college dropout turned venture capitalist, Ito is a selfmade entrepreneur, visionary, “adventure capitalist”, tech guru. In recent interviews, Ito has shared his approach to innovation […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Useless Beauty

    Who needs a peacock’s tail when you can build this for your lady love? The bower created by a male bowerbird. David Rothenberg is a jazz musician and a professor of philosophy. He has written a number of books, several of them focused on the interface between natural sounds (like the songs of birds and […]

  • Nature
  • In Search of the Minor Exceptions

    Only one tree in my Brookline neighborhood is hosting a playful colony of shell-like parasols My last post elicited several provocative comments and instigated a number of compelling conversations over the last few days. As a result I have continued to sit with several of ideas presented in The Tree, by John Fowles. It is […]

  • Science
  • Winter Light Parsed (Or Not)

    Winter light in Amory Park, Brookline MA James Elkins is a tireless advocate for seeing—not just looking, but seeing. A professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, Elkins writes books about art that anyone, artist or otherwise, will find compelling. His books (there are nearly 20) range from How to Use Your Eyes, Pictures and […]

  • Science
  • Choice and Meaning

    Remember the jam experiment? Actually it was the work of Sheena Iyengar, a psychologist who convinced a luxury food store in Menlo Park to test customer responses to jam samples. Sometimes there were 6 choices, other times 24. What Iyengar discovered was that lots of options drew more shoppers over to the display, but after […]

  • Science
  • Practice, With Frequent Failures

    Research continues in a pursuit of the how, why and where of who we are. A new book, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong, by David Shenk is reviewed by Annie Murphy Paul in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. And for […]

  • Science
  • Analytical vs Creative: Pick One

    According to the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, sexual fantasizing improves analytical skills. But daydreaming about love impacts your creativity. This sounds downright Jill Bolte Taylor-esque. Left hemisphere versus right. Melinda Wenner of Scientific American goes into more depth. Previous research suggests that our problem-solving abilities change depending on our states of mind and that […]

  • Science
  • Science of the Subtle

    Another note in keeping with the theme of Science: It works, bitches (see the posting below): The New Scientist has also reported on research into the “smell” of fear. While the article focuses on particular research testing “stress sweat” and the brain’s reaction to it, don’t we all have our own personal experience of the […]