21 October 2013

Monday miscellany

Check out the sound sculptures of Swiss artist Zimoun (I came across one on itsnicethat.com, a blog with many fascinating posts, but you can see more elsewhere, eg here) -

still from Zimoun: 97 polysiloxane hoses ...
Also from itsnicethat.com, these tree forts by Patrick Dougherty -

A video about the work of Kew's Herbarium and the evolution of plants -

Using our imaginations should be obligatory, says Neil Gaiman in this year's The Reading Agency lecture - read it all on theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/. "Our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming." Literate people read fiction; fiction is the gateway drug to reading, and once you discover that reading is pleasurable, you're on to reading everything. Anything that children enjoy will move them up the reading ladder into literacy; there's no such thing as a bad book for children, he says. Also, fiction builds empathy, allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals - and it shows that the world can be different. (That's why China has lifted the ban on science fiction - to encourage innovative thinking.) Treating libraries as a shelf of books is to miss the point - they are about more than that. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg; libraries help people navigate the information world, giving everyone equal access. Without literacy and numeracy, people are more easily lied to and misled. Our responsibilities to the future include the obligation to read for pleasure, to support libraries, to read aloud to our children, to use the language - and writers' obligations go beyond this - but we all have an obligation to daydream, and to make things beautiful.

Witches Head nebula, photographed by David Malin (via)

"The Witch’s Head nebula [IC2118] is 800 light years away from Earth in the constellation
of Epidanus. As the colloquial name suggests, this heavenly dust storm has
the pointed nose and crooked chin of a fairytale crone. In reality the nebula is quite blue,
glowing in light reflected from the super-giant star, Rigel. "

supervoid - an area of space empty of rich superclusters (galaxies). Voids were first discovered in 1978. "Voids appear to correlate with the observed temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), due to the Sachs–Wolfe effect [says wikipedia]. Colder regions correlate with voids, whereas hotter regions correlate with filaments, because of gravitational redshifting. As the Sachs-Wolfe effect is only significant if the Universe is dominated by radiation or dark energy, the existence of voids is significant in providing physical evidence for dark energy." Wow ... physical evidence for dark energy!

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