Back in October, NYT columnist David Brooks asked his older readers (aged 70+) to send him "life reports." He wanted them to appraise their lives, in an effort to glean some life lessons for all of us to learn by. After receiving thousands of replies, he published his assessment of them a couple weeks ago, in two columns (Part 1: Nov 24, 2011; Part 2: Nov 28, 2011). He's also selected specific ones and published them on his blog. [more inside]
"...I'm here to present to you - not lectures that are part of some curriculum; but in fact, I've combed the universe for my favorite subjects, and I'm going to spend twelve lectures bringing those favorite subjects to you." Renowned astrophysicist and television host Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the various aspects of our universe in twelve separate half-hour long lectures (MLYT). [more inside]
Douglas Rushkoff examines how technology is changing us in “Life On The Virtual Frontier”; a fascinating episode of Frontline.
The Rhythm of Life is one of those songs that sort of embeds itself in your brain. Originally from Sweet Charity, it's a powerful beat that is able to transcend meaning, transformed by the medium... The original intent was a bit of a bohemian/hippie chant. The song sometimes was voiced by a congregation that appeared somewhat more innocent. Yin and yang, backwards.... it's meaning became something different altogether. Or, there's this...
Since 1988, the Center for Reproductive Rights has compiled a visual map of the laws regulating abortion throughout the world. Earlier this month, they released their 2011 Map in pdf and updated their online World Abortion Laws Map in a new interactive format which allows country comparisons and provides text of abortion laws for certain countries. (Via Good: Can I get an Abortion Here? The Abortion Rights Map of the World)
experienceproject and Is It Normal? invite and share people's stories of literally any life experience, from trivial to all-important, from people missing their dogs to procrastination, from experiences with LSD to stories of having given birth, and from being the other woman to belly button phobias, walking in circles while listening to music, and much more.
Joyce Carol Vincent, 38, died in her North London flat in 2003; her skeleton was found three years later, on the sofa; the television was still on, and a pile of unopened Christmas presents lay on the floor. The story was mentioned briefly in the press, but then forgotten. Now, filmmaker Carol Morley has tracked down and interviewed people who knew her before she retreated and reconstructed her story, all the more tragic because of the deceptively promising life it showed. [more inside]
Scientists have come closer to finding the common ancestor of all Earth life. The last common universal ancestor (LUCA) is an idea that goes back to Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species and whose existence is supported by the fact that all Earth life is based on DNA. But the tantalizing search is getting closer, primarily based on the question, "Which features of the archaea, bacteria and eukaryotes can be traced back to their common ancestor, LUCA?"
"Before I let go of my little boy, I needed to spend time with him. So I brought him home, and our journey began."
Martian Life's Last Stand in the Trenches? "Scientists have found water-bearing deposits on Mars that are out of step with what was happening elsewhere on the planet, raising the prospect that the sites could have hosted Martian life's last stand."
A year ago this August, 72 migrant workers -- 58 men and 14 women -- 'were on their way to the US border when they were murdered by a drug gang at a ranch in northern Mexico, in circumstances that remain unexplained. Since then, a group of Mexican journalists and writers have created' a "Day of the Dead-style Virtual Altar" Spanish-language website, 72migrantes.com, to commemorate each of the victims, some of whom have never been identified. The New York Review of Books has English translations of five of their profiles. [more inside]
From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeing — foreign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
"Three days after the September 11 attacks, reporters at The New York Times, armed with stacks of homemade missing-persons fliers, began interviewing friends and relatives of the missing and writing brief portraits of their lives to create “Portraits of Grief.” Not meant to be obituaries in any traditional sense, they were informal and impressionistic, often centered on a single story or idiosyncratic detail." As we near the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Times has revisited some of the people they interviewed back then, for Profiles Redrawn. [more inside]
Proust is a way for you and your family to share and preserve your stories, one question at a time. The site takes its name from the Proust Questionnaire. Stories can be viewed in several different ways and be set as private or public.
The Summer 2011 issue of Stanford Medicine Magazine is about "Surviving Survival": The Woman Who Fell To Earth / Khmer Rouge on Trial / A Kid Again / Her Stroke of Insight / RxErcise [more inside]
Apocalypse Now ... and Then - the timeline of Weird Al Yankovic
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest prospective study of mental and physical well-being ever conducted. For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been following 824 individuals through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Designer Laura Javier took ten of those cases and visualized them in the Elements of Happiness. [via flowingdata]
On May 7th, Robert Krulwich (of WNYC's RadioLab and accompanying NPR blog Krulwich Wonders) gave the commencement speech to Berkeley Journalism School’s Class of 2011 on the future of journalism. (Via) [more inside]
For their 43rd anniversary issue, New York Magazine chose "to explore, across time, one of the things that has most defined New York life for centuries and has become a unit of measurement for our successes and failures: The Apartment: A History of Vertical Living" / Sardine Life: What a century and a half of piled-up housing reveals about us. [more inside]
In his project A More Perfect Union, artist R. Luke Dubois aggregated language used in the profiles of 19 million single Americans on 21 dating sites. He then organized the data to create "dozens of insanely detailed city and state maps which tell a wonderfully rich story about who we are, or at least, who we claim to be." A Video about the project. (R. Luke Dubois, previously on MeFi.)
Could the three established domains of life - eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea - be joined by a fourth?
Being Alone. A good discussion on the upside of solitude, including cites to some research experiments. It's even on a single page.
Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth. The culmination of five years of field work, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups -- including many sights rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
Dr. Hoover has discovered evidence of microfossils similar to Cyanobacteria in freshly fractured slices of the interior surfaces of the Alais, Ivuna, and Orgueil CI1 carbonaceous meteorites. The scientist's conclusion is that the fossilized bacteria are not Earthly contaminants but are the fossilized remains of living organisms which lived in the parent bodies of these meteors, e.g. comets, moons, and other astral bodies. The implications are that life is everywhere, and that life on Earth may have come from other planets.
Candy Chang is a public installation artist, designer, urban planner and 2011 TED Senior Fellow based in New Orleans. Her Civic Center creates projects that try to "make cities more comfortable", and encourage residents to envision alternate urban realities: "I Wish This Was...." (site) / The NYC Street Vendor Guide / "Before I Die... In NOLA" / The Restroom Map Notepad / The Sexy Trees of the Marigny 2011 Calendar / The Neighbor Doorknob-Hanger / A Nice Place for a Tree and Post-It Notes for Neighbors. (Via). [more inside]
Salon.com's "Real Families" section features personal essays about modern family life submitted by their readers. [more inside]
Short Film: The Secret Life of a Suitcase. [SL]
Big Coach in the Little Gym Scott Lang was 41 years old when he died last month. He was not married. He had no children. He spent almost all of his adult life as the basketball coach at La Roche College, a tiny Division III school in the north hills just above Pittsburgh.
You are in a warm, dark, comfortable place. This has been your place since you became aware that you are alive. It's almost time to enter a different world now. In 1986, Activision published a roleplaying computer game called Alter Ego. Unlike the action and fantasy titles that ruled the day, this game simulated the course of a single ordinary life. Beginning at birth, players navigated a series of vignettes: learning to crawl, reacting to strangers, getting a first haircut. The outcome of each scenario subtly influenced one's path, and with every choice players slowly progressed through infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Graphically minimalist -- one's lifestream is represented by simple icons, and the scenarios are all text -- the game was nevertheless engaging, describing the world in a playful, good-natured tone tinged by darkness and melancholy. And it had quite a pedigree; developer and psychology PhD Peter Favaro interviewed hundreds of people on their most memorable life experiences to generate the game's 1,200 pages of material. Unfortunately for Dr. Favaro, the game didn't sell very well. But it lives on through the web -- PlayAlterEgo.com offers a full copy of the game free to play in your browser, and the same port is available as a $5 app for iPhone and Android. More: Port discussion group - Wishlist - Vintage review - Original game manual (text or scans)
For their January 2011 "Meaning of Life" issue, Esquire has relaunched their "What I've Learned" online archive featuring "wisdom and damn good advice from more than a dozen years" of 300+ celebrity interviews. Plus a video starring Daniella Ruah, of the show NCIS: Los Angeles, lip-synching advice from the archive: The Greatest Things Ever Said. (Video) [more inside]
Dmitar Sasselov is an astrophysicist, Director of the Origins of Life Initiative at Harvard and a co-investigator of the Kepler space telescope project to find Earth-like planets around the Cygnus constellation and discover extraterrestrial life. But no matter how successful the Kepler project may be, it still won't answer the most fundamental questions of astrobiology: How diverse is life in the universe? If alien life exists, will it have Earthly DNA and proteins? Or will it run on something else? So Dr. Sasselov has decided to collaborate with two synthetic biologists, asking them to create a life form based on mirror-image versions of what we know as the essential building blocks of living things on Earth. [more inside]
“NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST (11am PST) on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.” Watch it HERE live. [more inside]
Life of a woman. Bare, simple line drawings. Many open to interpretation.
When a person graduates high school as one of the top students, all sorts of grand predictions are made for the person's future. But how many of them end up doing the things predicted of them? The Buffalo News did a feature in 2007 on what the top students in the Buffalo area from 1987 ended up doing after high school. Some of them have done remarkable things, while others have made their mark in smaller ways, all are interesting in their own way.
The International Conservation Photography Awards is the creation of Seattle, Washington-based photographer Art Wolfe: "We wanted to provide a platform from which photographers both amateur and professional alike could showcase their work in a very prestigious way. We love the idea of championing the cause of preservation and nature through the medium of photography." Winning imagery from the 2010 awards can be viewed in person at the Burke Museum in Seattle, or online here, which includes excellent slideshows of wildlife, underwater life and distinguished photographs (requires Flash support).
A functional self-replicator has been designed for Conway's game of life. The deceptively simple automata 'Conway's game of life' is a model system that illustrates how simple 'physics' can give rise to incredibly complex phenomena. Although a menagerie of existing patterns have been discovered/engineered that display a variety of interesting behavior (eg here), there are also many unanswered questions about what is possible within the simulation. Recently, life-enthusiast mscibing succeeded in designing a universal constructor pattern that is capable of building a functional copy of itself. Its execution can be viewed directly (though it takes a while!) using Golly, a sweet, open-source app for viewing life simulations, as well as other cellular automata.
How to be cool? How to stay calm? How to have better conversations? How to make love last? The School of Life is a place to step back and think intelligently about these and other concerns. [more inside]
Past Thinking about Earth-Like Planets and Life [pdf], presenting a brief history of thought on finding extraterrestrial life-like phenomena, is the first chapter of James Kasting's new book, How to Find a Habitable Planet. He participated in a discussion on BBC's The Forum.
First there was Ida, the first molecule to self-replicate. (that's one hypothesis, anyway.) From Ida, eventually, came the Last Universal Common Ancestor, or Luca. The first substance to store information about itself in the form of a genetic code. Luca may be the form of Life from which all Life has evolved.
Albert Einstein died 55 years ago, on April 18, 1955, of heart failure at the age of 76. His funeral and cremation were intensely private affairs. Only one person, LIFE photographer Ralph Morse, managed to capture the events of the day Einstein died.
Meet three new species of Loricifera, the first multicellular forms of life found that can live entirely without oxygen (figures and full article, PDF). [more inside]