others in pursuit…

Brain Pickings
I am in no way affiliated with Brain Pickings or its founder, Maria Popova, but I admire both Tremendously.

When The Only Choices One Can Make Are Small

05/22/2015

Sunset takes place over the span of a single year in the fictional South American country of Anchuria, after a military coup has installed Generallisimo Miraflores as the country’s president and a populist revolt is established in response. Unfortunately, the majority of the population—including two of the game’s characters, an African-American engineer-turned-housekeeper named Angela Burnes and her employer, a wealthy art collector named Gabriel Ortega—are caught in the middle of this budding civil war. The third character in this story is the apartment that serves as the game’s stage: a massive, modernist penthouse that constantly changes as paintings, books, furniture, and statues are added or removed while flowers bloom, glass breaks, and the tendrils of a desperate regime reach their way inside to disturb both the building and its inhabitants.

Indeed, Sunset is defined by the many tiny, almost petty decisions available to the player. But, to paraphrase Anthony Hopkins in The Lion in Winter, when the only choices one can make are small, they matter.

Source: Sunset is a game of small details and uneasy questions – Kill Screen – Videogame Arts & Culture.

Lighting The Brain: Karl Deisseroth and the optogenetics breakthrough.

05/22/2015

Deisseroth graduated from high school at sixteen and won a scholarship to Harvard, where he planned to major in creative writing. Instead, he ended up getting a degree in biochemistry, and was admitted, at the age of twenty, to Stanford’s combined M.D. and Ph.D. program. Motivated by a desire to better understand human nature, he decided to pursue his Ph.D. in neuroscience. “I didn’t come in by asking, ‘How many bits per second can flow through a pathway?’ ” he says. “I came in—maybe from the literature exposure—wanting to know where feeling came from. How you could be uplifted by words. How imagination worked.”

He opened a spiral-bound notebook and began to fill pages with words and sketches, ideas for what he called an “endoskeleton” that would “digest away” the fats and the water. “The resulting structure can be studied in unprecedented detail,” he wrote. The idea became CLARITY, an acronym for “Clear Lipid-exchanged Anatomically Rigid Imaging/immunostaining-compatible Tissue hYdrogel.” CLARITY is Deisseroth’s second great contribution to neuroscience—a method for rendering cadaver brains completely transparent, save for the perfectly intact cells and nerve fibres.

Source: The Optogenetics Breakthrough – The New Yorker

The Bugs in Our Mindware

05/15/2015

Want to make your employees be more creative? Expose them to the Apple logo. And avoid exposing them to the IBM logo.

It’s also helpful for creativity to put your employees in a green or blue environment (and avoid red at all costs). Want to get lots of hits on a dating website? In your profile photo, wear a red shirt, or at least put a red border around the picture. Want to get taxpayers to support education bond issues? Lobby to make schools the primary voting location. Want to get the voters to outlaw late-term abortion? Try to make churches the main voting venue.

Source: The Bugs in Our Mindware: Many obstacles lie on the path to rational thought.

A Wealth of Strange Sea Creatures

05/14/2015

Laetmaster spectabilis, last seen by humans 130 years ago. (Image: Courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Océano Profundo 2015: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs.)

Last month, a ship called the Okeanos Explorer traveled to the waters just off the coast of Puerto Rico and Virgin Island, and sent its remote-operating vehicles down into the crevasses of the Caribbean Basin. […] And in that deep, dark crevass, the team found a wealth of strange sea creatures. “A lot of the animals we saw were really unfamiliar to experts back on shore,” Andrea Quattrini, a science co-lead on the project, told Quartz.

Source: Found: Mysterious and Unnamed Sea Creatures | Atlas Obscura

Nanoscale Semiconductors Offer a New Approach to Artificial Photosynthesis

05/14/2015

This is the first working example of such a direct interface between bacteria and semiconducting materials for artificial photosynthesis, says Yang. He and his colleagues demonstrated that the system could make butanol, a polymer used in biodegradable plastics, and three pharmaceutical precursors. It could in principle be used to make many other products, including chemicals that are valuable in relatively small volumes […] The new system is about as efficient as natural photosynthesis at using the energy in sunlight, says Yang.

Source: Nanoscale Semiconductors Offer a New Approach to Artificial Photosynthesis | MIT Technology Review

Ólafur Arnalds and Alice Sara Ott: The Chopin Project

05/13/2015

At times, one can hear the instrumentalists rustling through their papers, mixing in with palpable breaths and creaks of the piano and retro recording equipment that craft this illusion to become much more than simply makeshift. The deliberation that the two instrumentalists had placed into the creation of The Chopin Project being as human as it possibly could be brings a feeling of organic life to the record that simply isn’t heard of much in recording, period, any longer, let alone in a classical setting.

Source: Ólafur Arnalds and Alice Sara Ott: The Chopin Project | PopMatters

Direct link to album on Spotify: The Chopin Project

The Buffett Formula

05/13/2015

Eventually finding and reading productive material became second nature, a habit. As he began his investing career, he would read even more, hitting 600, 750, even 1,000 pages a day.

Combs discovered that Buffett’s formula worked, giving him more knowledge that helped him with what became his primary job — seeking the truth about potential investments.

Source: The Buffett Formula

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