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Bees have encouraged mathematical speculation for two millennia, since classical scholars tried to explain the geometrically appealing shape of honeycombs. How do bees tackle complex problems that humans would express mathematically? In this series we’ll explore three situations where understanding the maths could help explain the uncanny instincts of bees.
Honeybees collect nectar from flowers and use it to produce honey, which they then store in honeycombs made of beeswax (in turn derived from honey). A question that has puzzled many inquiring minds across the ages is: why are honeycombs made of hexagonal cells?
The Roman scholar Varro, in his 1st century BC book-long poem De Agri Cultura (“On Agriculture”), briefly states
“Does not the chamber in the comb have six angles, the same number as the bee has feet? The geometricians prove that this hexagon inscribed in a circular figure encloses the greatest amount of space1.”
This quote is the earliest known source suggesting a link between the hexagonal shape of the honeycomb and a mathematical property of the hexagon, made more explicit a few centuries later by Pappus of Alexandria (sometimes considered to be the last Ancient Greek mathematician).
One of Akira Kurosawa’s many gifts was staging scenes in ways that were bold, simple and visual.
h/t The Awesomer.
US technology giant Apple has reported the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a public company.
Apple reported a net profit of $18bn (£11.8bn) in its fiscal first quarter, which tops the $15.9bn made by ExxonMobil in the second quarter of 2012, according to Standard and Poor’s.
Record sales of iPhones were behind the surge in profits.
Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the three months to 27 December – well ahead of most analysts’ expectations.
In a conference call with financial analysts Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said that demand for phones was “staggering”.
However, sales of the iPad continued to disappoint, falling by 22% in 2014 from a year earlier.
Apple quarterly results
(£11.8bn) – biggest ever by a public company
(£93bn) net cash reserves
- 74.5m number of iPhones sold
- 39.9% profit per product
- 22% fall in sales of iPads
Apple (Figures for three months to end December 2014)
Philosopher Slavoj Žižek argues that our current brand of global capitalism is quickly outgrowing democracy and that a divorce between the two is inevitable. This leads to an array of social and geopolitical concerns regarding the public commons. These problems include but are not limited to ecology, biogenetics, finance, neo-apartheid, crisis management, intellectual property rights, and personal freedom. Žižek touches on all these topics and more in this epic delivery of political and social theory.
Well people often ask me how can you be so stupid and still proclaim yourself a communist. What do you mean by this? Well, I have always to emphasize that first I am well aware that let’s call it like this – the twentieth century’s over. Which means all not only communists solution but all the big leftist projects of the twentieth century failed. Not only did Stalinist communism although there its failure is much more paradoxical.… Read the rest
In this video Christopher Russak and David Whitehead of Modern Knowledge give Luke some MMA lessons on how use the philosophy towards resistance.
Via We Are Change
Many of you may know Erik Martin from his time as Reddit’s General Manager. Little known fact: Erik also used to do some marketing for us here at disinformation. He’s a great guy and wants to help anyone who’s having some customer service problems, perhaps at America’s least popular company (Time Warner Cable). His new venture is called Assholes On Demand, and this is what they do:
… Read the rest
Assholes on Demand helps people navigate the confusing and frustrating world of customer service and get what you deserve. We’re caring and resourceful assholes* who will help you fight your battles. You’re not alone and you aren’t going crazy.
Assholes on Demand currently only accepts pro bono cases. We specialize in helping senior citizens, active duty military, and non-English speakers.
Republished with permission from Art Killing Apathy
“I have been a member of this committee for years and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable…”
You know that feeling you get when someone says something that is just so laughably absurd that you feel yourself stuck in this mental and emotional limbo between anger and hysterical laughter, typically settling somewhere in between; a murderous chuckle, perhaps.
Well, that’s the place my mind settled today at about 9:30am EST when McCain said those words about a group of activists, myself included. In a government run on logic, justice, freedom and honesty, McCain would have of course been directing those comments to the lizard-faced Kissinger. But alas, those four tenets are about as absent from these hearings as youth and common sense.
Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee (@SASCMajority) invited three dinosaur war criminals to testify on our National Security Strategy: Madeleine Albright, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger.… Read the rest
Micah Hanks at Mysterious Universe:
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The concept of alien life visiting Earth, particularly in ancient times to plant the seeds of knowledge amidst early human minds, has gone through a renaissance over the last few years. Every few decades, trends (including this one) will appear to go through short little bursts of revitalization, almost like mystery signals leaping from the otherwise desolate void of space, and calling to us with promises of things greater and more distant than ourselves or the knowledge we have attained.
While the concept of “ancient aliens” has been entertained by some of the brightest minds, the concept is generally attributed to–of all people–Carl Sagan, who posited as early as 1966 that what he called paleo-contact might account for knowledge brought to Earth by extraterrestrials, in a book he coauthored with astrophysicist I.S. Shklovski called Intelligent Life in the Universe. Earlier roots predating Sagan and Shklovski’s writing have been linked to H.
Do you remember Jimmy McMillan who famously ran for New York City Mayor with the slogan “The Rent Is Too Damn High!”? (Check out the movie DAMN!)
New Media Rockstars reports that he’s being evicted:
Jimmy McMillan, the politician who became a meme for his stance of “The rent is too damn high,” just got evicted from his New York apartment. But it wasn’t, according to Jimmy, because the rent was too high, but rather because it was too damn low. Jimmy, who lived in an apartment that charged $872 a month(!), claims his landlord evicted him because he wants to do away with rent-controlled properties and charge more. The landlord claims it’s because Jimmy’s primary residence is located elsewhere, which breaks the terms of the rental agreement…
[continues at New Media Rockstars]
… Read the rest
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing tantalizing clues in the quest to recreate neural structures in the laboratory. One of the primary goals of stem-cell research is to be able to replace damaged body parts with tissues grown from undifferentiated stem cells. For the nervous system, this is a particular challenge because not only do specific neurons need to be generated, but they must also be coaxed into connecting to each other in very specific ways.
RIKEN researchers have taken up this challenge, and the work published in Cell Reports details how sequentially applying several signaling molecules to three-dimensional cultures of human embryotic stem cells prompts the cells to differentiate into functioning cerebellar neurons that self-organize to form the proper dorsal/ventral patterning and multi-layer structure found in the natural developing cerebellum.