Nature

[box]This post originally appeared on the FTMF.info planning blog.[/box]

In this post, let’s explore the link between the twin worlds of microbiology and creative thought, drawing inspiration from three brilliant scientific discoveries. Labcoats on, people!

1. Sponges

If a sea sponge (phylum porifera) is forced through a sieve to disintegrate it down to its cellular level, those cells, if left alone, will recombine into a sponge again:

Lesson: some ideas only make sense as a whole – passing them through a ‘sieve test’ can reveal whether they were ever meant to be, while others may naturally merge together.

2. Slime Molds

A single-celled slime mold (physarum polycephalum) can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu – and all this without a brain or nervous system:

Lesson: deploy resources efficiently – really smart solutions often arise naturally, yet knowing what’s best still requires lots of prior research. But hey, if a slime mold can do it…

3. Artificial Jellyfish

Scientists have created an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart:

Lesson: even the most difficult concept can be somehow ‘brought to life’ – be it in a new context, through the addition of a couple of key ingredients, or sheer appliance of science!

Fifth World Problems

If you’ve ever had the feeling “same shit, higher dimension”, I’m sure you’d fit right in on Fifth World Problems, a subreddit in the key of  First World Problems, and a place for extradimensional beings to air their cosmic gripes.

I got 99 problems but a 4D hypercube ain't one

Most of the submissions and their respective commentary are childish lunacy, but among the smarter entries lie some fascinating thought experiments. I find myself stretching for a scientifically reasoned solution, if only I weren’t so limited by my inferior human mind!

Equally silly and clever, here are some of my favourites for your delectation and amusement:

  • My membrane girlfriend and I didn’t use protection when we collided and now we’re going to have a universe. I’m not ready to be a deity but my family is pro-existence. What do I do?
  • Minutes have stopped accumulating as hours. It’s now 4:237 PM and my boss still won’t let me punch out 🙁
  • I forgot my admin password and now my memories are read-only.
  • I hired a möbius stripper for a party but she finished her act with her clothes still on and I can’t get a refund.
  • My neutrinos were caught speeding, now my insurance is going up √-17 %
  • I am the very thing I am typing and am terrified that submitting myself will result in a collapse of my consciousness.
  • I was unwittingly assigned to be controlled by a modulation wheel. Now I sound like dubstep.
  • I forced the alive and dead versions of Schrödinger’s cat to mate. The resultant offspring has enslaved my family.
  • I accidntally dstroyd a prtty important lttr.
  • I commissioned an artist to paint me a fractal and I think he is just trying to milk this project out for more payment. Will he ever be done?

Any favourites of your own? Or any solutions, even? Post them over at Fifth World Problems or let’s talk them out in the comments.

Coffee Too Hot To Handle? Try These

Coffee Joulies are a new invention that reduces and sustains the temperature of hot drinks, while looking pretty awesome in the process. Their inventors are “two Daves” from New Jersey, who have engineered, prototyped, and produced their first run of units over the last eight months.

They claim that Coffee Joulies are “miniature thermodynamic heat storage devices” which appear to function via some kind of endothermic/exothermic reaction:

They absorb excess thermal energy when the coffee is initially poured too hot to drink, cooling your coffee down to a drinkable temperature three times faster. Once your coffee reaches the right temperature the beans release that stored thermal energy back into the coffee, keeping it in the optimal temperature range twice as long.

They have proven results, too:

And the beans themselves look really cool:

Thanks to Tom Allen for the link – reckon I might try to get a hold of some!

30 Day Song Challenge – Week One

A few of my mates are doing this viral challenge thing on Facebook right now, and because it’s a pretty cool idea, I’d like to join in. However, not wishing to clog up any newsfeeds, I’ve decided to post my music selections up on the blog. Posts like this will pop up once a week until 30 days are up.

Expand the box below to see the full list of musical challenges covered.

[toggle title_open=”Hide all 30 Day Song Challenges” title_closed=”Show all 30 Day Song Challenges” hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”default”]

Day 1: your favorite song
Day 2: your least favorite song
Day 3: a song that makes you happy
Day 4: a song that makes you sad
Day 5: a song that reminds you of someone
Day 6: a song that reminds you of somewhere
Day 7: a song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 8: a song that you know all the words to
Day 9: a song that you can dance to
Day 10: a song that makes you fall asleep
Day 11: a song from your favorite band
Day 12: a song from a band you hate
Day 13: a song that is a guilty pleasure
Day 14: a song that no one would expect you to love
Day 15: a song that describes you
Day 16: a song that you used to love but now hate
Day 17: a song that you hear often on the radio
Day 18: a song that you wish you heard on the radio
Day 19: a song from your favorite album
Day 20: a song that you listen to when you’re angry
Day 21: a song that you listen to when you’re happy
Day 22: a song that you listen to when you’re sad
Day 23: a song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 24: a song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 25: a song that makes you laugh
Day 26: a song that you can play on an instrument
Day 27: a song that you wish you could play
Day 28: a song that makes you feel guilty
Day 29: a song from your childhood
Day 30: your favorite song at this time last year
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Day 1: your favorite song

Nightmares On Wax – Les Nuits

This was my wake-up alarm music for years, now it’s firmly lodged in my brain.

[hr]

Day 2: your least favorite song

The Black Eyed Peas – Just Can’t Get Enough

I respect BEP for their innovative use of digital in crafting an image, but their music is becoming too ‘lowest common denominator’.

[hr]

Day 3: a song that makes you happy

Only Child – Space Disco

Excuse the shit video, but check the groove. It’ll put a smile on your face.

[hr]

Day 4: a song that makes you sad

Tosca – My First

It doesn’t actually make me feel sad, but all of Tosca’s music is quite sombre (and excellent).

[hr]

Day 5: a song that reminds you of someone

Chase & Status – Blind Faith

This song reminds me of the very lovely Sarah. On an unrelated note, very awesome video.

There you have it. Tune in next week for more of the good stuff, and perhaps join me by posting a link to your own responses in the comments below. Would also love to hear your thoughts on these tunes!

Web Discoveries for July 17th

These are my del.icio.us links for July 17th

Web Discoveries for June 24th

These are my del.icio.us links for June 24th