Category Archives: Science

Leonardo’s Brain: What a Posthumous “Brain Scan” Six Centuries Later Reveals about the Source of Da Vinci’s Creativity

Using a wealth of available information from Leonardo’s notebooks, various biographical resources, and some well-reasoned speculation, Shlain sets out to perform a “posthumous brain scan” seeking to illuminate the unique wiring of Da Vinci’s brain and how it explains his unparalleled creativity.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/17/leonardos-brain-leonard-shlain/

WHAT IF YOUR CLOTHES WERE SMART ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THE WEATHER OR YOUR EMOTIONS?

KnitX is a set of functional textiles computationally-integrated with digital knitting. The use of active and electronic fibers in the design enables garment and interior fabrics that dynamically respond to gesture and sunlight, change their appearance, and provide thermoregulation…

What if your clothes were smart enough to understand the weather or your emotions?

How to Live with Our Human Limitations: Physicist Brian Greene Reads and Reflects on Rilke’s Profoundest Elegy

from “THE NINTH ELEGY”
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Why, if it could begin as laurel, and be spent so,
this space of Being, a little darker than all
the surrounding green, with little waves at the edge
of every leaf (like a breeze’s smile)—: why then
have to be human — and shunning destiny
long for destiny?…

https://www.brainpickings.org/2020/12/25/brian-greene-rilke/

Life, Technology and Meaning

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Rather a grander title than this post. I’ve been so busy the last three weeks that time to ruminate has suffered. So today I integrate some of the exterior into the interior – sort of like what sleep ostensibly does to our daily experiences each evening.

Writing aside, my Twitter connections have fed so much material around the themes that I follow that the tide has pretty much swept the beach clean. Some reading, a lot of “archive and get to later” and even more “wow, that was interesting and maybe I can follow up.” The whole area of so-called “emerging technologies” across the broad human spectrum has been simultaneously wondering and haunting.

Biotech has been of hot interest of late – so many drugs and technologies evolving at a such a rapid pace. “Kill switches” in GMO’s actualize at least one movie plot whose name now escapes me. The whole nascent realm of synthetic biology is fascinating as is the related areas around genomics. Two films I’ve seen recently, “One Sense” and “The Last Days,” both European rather than American, artfully touch on related ideas in differing styles. “One Sense” in particular, with its storyline of gradual sensory loss until only the afflicted’s sense of touch remains, strikes a nerve around the whole idea of feeling my collective humanity.

“Wearables” – whether bracelets, watches, Google Glass-style eyewear, or VR goggles continue the technological march into our “quantified selves” and our layering of increasing virtual realities and data across our physical sensory worlds. More data, but not yet so useful until contextualized, or analyzed, or tied through social media or some form of internet-of-things into a larger collective framework. Whatever I may think about it, it has to be absorbed (or disavowed if so inclined).

I find the swiftly evolving technological expertise in China and other Asian nation markets astonishing as technology once developed and exported primarily for western consumption is increasingly funneled into its own home markets. Xiaomi, Alibaba, Malaysian startups – not to mention Japan’s cultural technology integration – seem but glimpses of the future, an Asian singularity racing to an unrealized future all its own.

Futurists, disruptive insights and technologies, innovations, clean energy technologies are just a few others recently streaming across my internal monitor.

Tying it all together, for me, is the other half of the equation – how to use new technologies in ethical  and people-affirming ways. Our much-stained history isn’t particularly encouraging, and yet some things seem more encouraging now than at any time in the past.

I’ve seen reiterated recently that our technological advances serve our philosophies/worldviews. (And vice versa, these same mental model constructs determine what technologies we develop in an often closed loop.) And so the intense competition among philosophies, ideologies, theologies and so forth is at least of equal, if not of more, import than our technologies.

Quick, and off-the-cuff, but oh so interesting these days…wonder, both positive and negative, at this world around.