Tag Archives | Life

Making Everyday Objects Deadly: The Art of the Shiv

ShivI've also heard them called shanks, the word itself, "shiv" or "shank," intuitively sounds like their intended use, further relayed with these photos from this article by William Drenttel in Design Observer:
A shiv is a weapon crafted from the limited resources of a prisoner's closed world. Crudely constructed from such things as spoons, shoelaces and upholstery tacks, shivs lie somewhere between the graceful and the grotesque. They're primitive, too — like outsider art, but produced deep on the inside. The individual parts that make up a shiv tend to be everyday objects, innocent things furtively reconstituted as lethal weapons. Each design choice is essential, but what's particularly notable is that shivs, at their core, are not so much evocations of minimalism as they are symbols of survivalism. A shiv is all about masked utility: it's an innocuous object with improbably toxic intent (whether used to attack others or to protect oneself...)
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Microbes Found Preadapted for Life in Space

Space MicrobesVia the Daily Galaxy (some have been unable to get this link, here is the cached version):

Microbes born on Earth are already pre-adapted for journeying through space, living in space, and not just surviving but flourishing in radioactive environments where they are continually exposed to radiation by ions similar to what might be encountered in a nebular cloud.

In 1958, physicists discovered clouds of bacteria, ranging from two million bacteria per cm3 and over 1 billion per quart, thriving in pools of radioactive waste directly exposed to ionizing radiation and radiation levels millions of times greater than could have ever before been experienced on this plane.

The world’s first artificial nuclear reactor was not even built until 1942. Prior to the 1945, poisonous pools of radioactive waste did not even exist on Earth. And yet, over a dozen different species of microbe have inherited the genes which enable them to survive conditions which for the previous 4.5 billion years could have only been experienced in space.

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Scientists Seek To Create Inorganic Life

_55308642_inorganicgraphic464Scientists in Scotland are attempting to dramatically expand our concept of what we consider “alive” by creating entities that reproduce and evolve, but are made out of non-carbon-based materials. Can plastic truly live? If it displayed the same characteristics that we normally attribute to living things, would it somehow seem “fake”? Via the BBC:

All life on earth is based on organic biology – in the form of carbon compounds – but the inorganic world is considered to be inanimate.

A team from Glasgow University has demonstrated a new way of making inorganic chemical cells. The aim is to create self-replicating, evolving inorganic cells which could be used in medicine and chemistry. The project is being led by Professor Lee Cronin from the university’s College of Science and Engineering.

He said: “What we are trying do is create self-replicating, evolving, inorganic cells that would essentially be alive. You could call it inorganic biology.”

Researchers say the cells, which can also store electricity, could potentially be used in all sorts of applications in medicine, as sensors or to confine chemical reactions.

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life Advice Column

6-2008-04-dr-martin-luther-king-jrCould history’s greatest minds help you with your mundane daily problems? Perhaps not.

From 1957 to 1958, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. penned “Advice for the Living”, a feature for Ebony magazine in which he answered readers’ questions on everything from the atom bomb to capital punishment to dating and how to catch a nice young man. (Make sure you have the “radiating personality, a pleasant disposition, and that feminine charm
which every man admires.”)

King recommends playing gospel music rather than rock, as rock ‘n’ roll “so often plunges men’s minds into degrading and immoral depths”. He tells how to gain self confidence. His admirable strategy of love and passive resistance seems to function a bit strangely when put to use in situations such as when a friend hits you on the head with an iron pole.

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Observations on Atheism

CyclopsSo the question has been raised to atheists: if life is the product of random chance and there is no divine authority and life is ultimately what you make it, then why do you care what people believe one way or another? Specifically in regard to a belief in God.

One response to the question is commentary on monotheism’s Apocalyptic “literalists” — people who sincerely want to see the world end and are actively trying to bring about its destruction.

Atheists see it as their moral duty to attack the root of such beliefs — which just happens to be belief in God. And it’s fair to say this is all part of the Atheistic consensus.

So atheists are literally trying to save the world … delusions of grandeur, anyone?

Time and time again I can’t help but notice the parallels between atheists and religious types: the bitter hostility towards anyone who doesn’t just choke down their ideology; the inconsistent belief system and subsequent rationalizations that sidestep the issue by exploiting our human emotions.… Read the rest

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Number Of Species On Earth Estimated At 8.7 Million

SpeciesEver wonder how many species are sharing this Earth? Apparently it’s 8.7 million, give or take a few. This takes into account the few thousand plant or marine species we haven’t discovered yet or documented. Via Physorg:

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.

Announced today by Census of Marine Life scientists, the figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates. Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere between 3 million and 100 million.

Furthermore, the study, published today by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

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NASA: Building Blocks Of DNA Come From Space

delightfulsWill Mormonism’s creation theory of the seed of humanity arriving on Earth from a distant planet turn out to be proved totally true? Geekosystem writes:

NASA researchers studying meteorites have found that they contain several of the components needed to make DNA on Earth. The discovery provides support for the idea that the building blocks for DNA were likely created in space, and carried to Earth on objects, like meteorites, that crashed into the planet’s surface. According to the theory, the ready-made DNA parts could have then assembled under Earth’s early conditions to create the first DNA.

The researchers, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, found adenine and guanine — two of the nucleobases needed to make DNA (the other two are thymine and cytosine, which were not found) — on meteorite samples. Additionally, the samples showed the presence of three molecules that are similar to nucleobases, but do not have a biological role on Earth: Purine, 2.6-diaminopurine, and 6.8-diaminopurine.

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To Start Life Anew, Thais ‘Practice’ Death

Via Reuters:
For those facing a run of bad luck and wanting to start things over, one Thai temple has an unusual solution: "rehearse" death with a mock funeral, including lying down in a coffin. Pram Manee temple in Nakorn Nayok province, 107 km northeast of Bangkok, holds two of the rituals every day: at exactly 9:09 a.m. and 1:09 p.m., since the number nine is believed by Thais to bring good luck. Participants in a recent ritual stood in front of their designated coffins, holding flowers and praying for bad luck to go away, then asked to receive good luck. All had paid 180 baht ($6) for the flowers, a white sheet and "merit set" — a collection of necessities sometimes including toothpaste, toothbrushes and food — to be offered to monks, and the promise of a better life ...
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How The Universe (Something) Appeared From Nothing (Video)

Granted this video is a promo for the New Scientist's recent issue on "existence", it's pretty interesting, if you are OK with incomplete answers. (Figuring out how the universe got so large is still a serious head-scratcher.) My takeaway after watching this, is if "something" is not really that different from "nothing" (according to our human perception) then, well, there is still much to ponder ...
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Honor Your Loved One’s Memory By Firing Away

Shotgun ShellVia Neatorama:
If you’d like to go out with a bang, Holy Smoke LLC offers to pack your cremated ashes (or those of your loved ones) into ammunition cartridges. You tell them the caliber or gauge, ship the remains to them, and they’ll load the cartridges: Once the caliber, gauge and other ammunition parameters have been selected, we will ask you (by way of your funeral service provider) to send approximately one pound of the decadent's ash to us. Upon receiving the ashes our professional and reverent staff will place a measured portion of ash into each shot-shell or cartridge.[...] Our return shipment to the sender will be the finished ammunition, boxed in available labeled ammunition boxes. We also offer mantle-worthy wooden carriers with engraved name plates. Your return shipment will also include any unused ash in a separate, labeled container.
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