A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

“The 3 x F trio” is performing at SGEM Florence Conference

Welcome to Florence – the live museum of the Renaissance

From 24-26 of May, Art Meets Science at Centro Congressi Auditorium al Duomo- Firenze. The synergy of Arts and Humanities, presented in one unique event - Extended Scientific Sessions "The Magic of the Renaissance", part of the SWS International Scientific Conferences on Arts and Humanities. The sessions are organized by the SWS International Society of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Art, with the kind support of many Universities and Academies of Sciences.

Continue reading
  25 Hits

Social connections influence brain structures of rhesus macaques

2Credit: Lauren JN Brent; A grooming chain of adult female rhesus macaques on an island off the coast of Puerto Rico
Number of grooming partners predicts the size of certain brain areas

What's the link between social life and brain structure? A team of researchers is one step closer to understanding that connection for rhesus macaques.

In work published in Science Advances, the scientists found that for these nonhuman primates, the number of social connections predicted the size of key groups of neurons and other tissue in parts of the brain responsible for empathy and social decision making.

The researchers determined that in macaques with more grooming partners, the mid-superior temporal sulcus and ventral-dysgranular insula were larger. They found no such link between brain structure and other variables like social status. The research was supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Continue reading
  26 Hits

On this date, 1685 years ago

Credit: The head of Emperor Constantine I statue in Rome; Gettyimages

The Roman Emperor Constantine I was baptized

On this date in 337, on his deathbed, Emperor Constantine the Great became the first Roman emperor to be officially baptized in the Christian church. He practiced Christianity his whole life, supported church activities, and helped Christianity to become a worldwide spread religion. 

Some scholars argue that his conversion was should be regarded as a politically motivated act. Constantine likely foresaw the power that Christianity will bring to the Empire and decided to legalize it throughout the Empire by being baptized. He also made one of his largest contributions to the faith by summoning the Councils of Arles (314) and Nicaea (325), which guided church doctrine for centuries afterward.


  52 Hits

Editor’s Pick: Roland Barthes

Credit: French Philosopher Roland Barthes, Paris, 9th June 1978; Gettyimages

A Lover's Discourse: Fragments

"Am I in love? --yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn't wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover's fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits."

Continue reading
  53 Hits

Money Killed Art. Here's how we take it back​

Credit: Gettyimages

Art is Dead

Western Culture holds a particular proneness to metaphysical killings. First, it was God, then the Meaning, the Self, later on, the Author, and now we are aiming at Art. However, each time a new God, Meaning, or Self has been summoned up from the old ones. It appears that such dynamics are part of our tradition and are symbolically represented by the archetype of the Phoenix, forever resurrecting, back from its ashes. If we search for the sources of these revolutionary movements in history, we could trace them back to ancient Greece's shift from mythological thinking to Philosophy, or even before that in Mesopotamian and Egyptian periodical movements from one Supreme God to another.

Continue reading
  52 Hits

Helping social innovators scale up in size and impact

Credit: Gettyimages

New perspectives for social organisations

Even with brilliant, original ideas, social innovators are often limited by funding and skills shortages when it comes to scaling up. A new Horizon Europe call is opening on May 12 2022 to set up a European Social Innovation Catalyst Fund that will help social innovators grow their ideas.

Social innovators find new ways to look at long-standing social problems.

As an example, most approaches to homelessness focus on issues like emergency accommodation, drug addiction or mental health services. It's only when a homeless person has passed through systems like these that permanent housing might be considered.

Continue reading
  61 Hits

Method reduces plastic bottles to basic components suitable for reuse

Credit: Radulf del Maresme

Metal-organic framework used to degrade plastics

Discarded plastic bottles abound. Simple and effective methods to recycle, repurpose or reuse the omnipresent debris do not. Chemists at Northwestern University, partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, have demonstrated that a new material referred to as a metal-organic framework -- or MOF -- can function as a stable and selective catalyst for breaking down polyester-based plastic into terephthalic acid, a chemical used in manufacturing. The method requires nothing more than the plastic debris, hydrogen and the MOF catalyst.

"We can do a lot better than starting from scratch when making plastic bottles," said Omar Farha, corresponding author of the study. "Our process is much cleaner."

Continue reading
  9876 Hits

Inspirational Quotes

Credit: Gettyimages

Science is Inspiration

1."Let's say intelligence is your ability to compose poetry, symphonies, do art, math and science. Chimps can't do any of that, yet we share 99 percent DNA. Everything that we are, that distinguishes us from chimps, emerges from that one-percent difference."
Neil deGrasse Tyson

2. "Every brilliant experiment, like every great work of art, starts with an act of imagination."
Jonah Lehrer

3. "Above all, don't fear difficult moments. The best comes from them."
Rita Levi-Montalcini
Continue reading
  12813 Hits

The Hidden Troves of Etymology

Credit: Gettyimages

What does paradigm mean?

Nowadays, we use the word paradigm with a very specialized meaning – to denote a given school of thought, way of thinking, or tendency. A bit more formal definition could be - "Logical or conceptual structure or pattern, which serves as a form, example of thought within a given sphere of experience or scientific field." Once again, we could see how a word could develop quite subtle and distinct connotations. But where does paradigm come from and how come it was given such a specified meaning?

Continue reading
  19089 Hits

Finding the missing links of black hole astronomy

Credit: Two black holes circling around each other before they merge and form a bigger one; Gettyimages

A deeper understanding of black holes could revolutionise our understanding of physics, but their mysterious nature makes them difficult to observe.

The weirdness exhibited by black holes boggles the mind. Formed when a star burns all its nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravitation, black holes are such oddities that at one time, even Einstein didn't think they were possible.

They are regions in space with such intense gravitation that not even light escapes their pull. Once magnificent shining stars burn out and shrink to a relatively tiny husk, all their mass is concentrated in a small space. Imagine our Sun with its diameter of roughly 1.4 million kilometres shrinking to a black hole the size of a small city just six kilometres across. This compactness gives black holes immense gravitational pull.

Continue reading
  41004 Hits

Editor’s pick: Thomas S. Kuhn

Credit: Gettyimages

Paradigm Shift

If we dive into the chronicles of History of Science, we can easily notice that each Scientific Revolution came after a substantial crisis in the established traditions. Major cultural shifts like the transitions from mythological to philosophical mind, from Judaism to Christianity, from Newtonian to Quantum Physics were always part of bigger social changes that gradually induced a switch in people's worldviews. The inhumane exploitation of laborers instigated the need for the formation of the Human Rights Codex but also new and more efficient technologies and devices. The latter brought about the necessity of improved power sources, which now led us to the fearsome levels of Global Pollution and Warming – the biggest environmental catastrophe since the beginning of Written History. Nowadays, we undergo a global shift in the way we treat and see Nature and other species as part of it. The time has come for a Green Revolution – the new paradigm.

Continue reading
  20901 Hits

Questions No One Knows the Answers to

Credit: Gettyimages

Stay Curious

We presume generally presume that all questions have their answers. If you can't find an answer, well, you should try harder and really dive into the topic you are searching in. At least, that is the popular belief spread among the academies and universities around the world. Otherwise, why should we even try to pose questions? Nevertheless, there are tons of questions that no one can answer and we face them every day. However, there is another way to look at this paradoxical situation. Maybe it is not necessary that each question has only one right answer.

Continue reading
  23467 Hits

Genomic time machine in the sea

Credit: Red barrel sponges, pictured here, harbor dense, diverse microbial communities; Sabrina Pankey

From sponge's microbiome, scientists gain insights into the evolutionary past

Sponges in coral reefs, less flashy than their coral neighbors but important to the overall health of reefs, are among the earliest animals on the planet.

New research by University of New Hampshire scientists and their colleagues, peers into coral reef ecosystems with a novel approach to understanding the complex evolution of sponges and the microbes that live in symbiosis with them.

With this "genomic time machine," researchers can predict aspects of reef and ocean ecosystems over hundreds of millions of years of dramatic evolutionary change. The U.S. National Science Foundation-supported results are published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Continue reading
  31203 Hits

Ozone may be heating the planet more than we realize

Credit: NASA

Ozone in the atmosphere found to have weakened one of Earth's main cooling mechanisms

Ozone may be weakening one of Earth's most important cooling mechanisms, making it a more significant greenhouse gas than previously thought, researchers have found.

A new study has revealed that changes in ozone levels in the upper and lower atmosphere were responsible for almost a third of the warming seen in ocean waters bordering Antarctica in the second half of the 20th century.

The deep and rapid warming in the Southern Ocean affects its role as one of the main regions for soaking up excess heat as the planet warms.

Most of this warming was the result of ozone increases in the lower atmosphere. Ozone -- one of the main components of smog -- is already a hazardous pollutant, but the research shows it may also play a significant role in driving climate change in the coming years.

Continue reading
  20771 Hits

Smaller than a grain of sand, phytoplankton are key to aquatic health

Credit: Phytoplankton under the microscope; Gettyimages

Scientists are inching closer to revealing the elusive mechanisms that tiny marine species activate to transform organic contaminants in water into less toxic chemicals.

Cup sea water in your hands and you will be holding a bustling world of single-cell organisms – thousands of them.

Much like creatures of an undersea metropolis, microscopic photosynthetic microbes – phytoplankton – quietly float through the ocean, enhancing water quality. As the foundation for the ocean ecosystem, phytoplankton work tirelessly to fuel marine food webs and consume large amounts of carbon dioxide on scales equivalent to forests. But this is not all they can do! These tiny plants may turn organic contaminants into less toxic chemicals.

Sounds simple, but it's not. The processes involved remain elusive.

Continue reading
  31486 Hits

Editor’s pick: Jacques Lacan

Credit: lithub.com

Excerpt from Transference (1960-61)

"The hand that extends toward the fruit, the rose, or the log that suddenly bursts into flames – its gesture of reaching, drawing close, or stirring up is closely related to the ripening of the fruit, the beauty of the flower, and the blazing of the log. If, in the movement of reaching, drawing, or stirring, the hand goes far enough toward the object that another hand comes out of the fruit, flower, or log and extends toward your hand – and at that moment your hand freezes in the closed plenitude of the fruit, in the open plenitude of the flower, or in the explosion of a log which bursts into flames – then what is produced is love."


  23127 Hits

How much of what you see is a hallucination?

Credit: Gettyimages

What is a hallucination?

Has it ever happened to you to see something, which you are totally aware doesn't actually exist materially? Maybe you have heard a song that is not written yet, or have smelled an odor that is not present around you at the moment. Well, that is not so terrifying as it seems. In fact, it happens more often than one might think. It's like a dream but you aren't asleep. Moreover, it is not necessary that you have taken some medication or that you are experiencing some mental disorder. It's just a hallucination and it is part of human brain activities. Traditionally, hallucination is seen as a result of psychological malfunction or drug consumption but recent scientific researches reveal that it is a much more complex and natural phenomenon than we have reckoned before.

Continue reading
  20121 Hits

Rewriting the history books: Why the Vikings left Greenland

Credit: Lake 578 in southern Greenland, where the research was conducted; photo by Raymond Bradley
Increasing aridity contributed to the Norse abandonment of settlements in the 15th century

One of the great mysteries of late medieval history is why the Norse, who established successful settlements in southern Greenland in 985, abandoned them in the early 15th century.

The consensus view has long been that the colder temperatures of the Little Ice Age helped make the colonies unsustainable. However, new research, led by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and published in Science Advances, upends that theory. It wasn't dropping temperatures that helped drive the Norse from Greenland, but drought. The research was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Continue reading
  28874 Hits

Thoughts to reflect on

Credit: Gettyimages

Sociology

1. Human nature is complex. Even if we do have inclinations toward violence, we also have an inclination to empathy, cooperation, to self-control.
- Steven Pinker

2. The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.
- Pierre Bourdieu

3. There are no passengers on the spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
- Marshall McLuhan

4. The word 'right' should be excluded from political language, as the word 'cause' from the language of philosophy.
- Auguste Comte
Continue reading
  21700 Hits

Science is Wisdom

Credit: Gettyimages

5 scientific quotes about life

1. I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

- Isaac Newton

2. Life cannot have had a random beginning ... The trouble is that there are about 2000 enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10^40,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.

- Fred Hoyle

Continue reading
  43867 Hits

SSA Recent Posts

24 May 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Welcome to Florence – the live museum of the Renaissance From 24-26 of May, Art Meets Science at Centro Congressi Auditorium al Duomo- Firenze. The synergy of Arts and Humanities, presented in one unique event - Extended Scientific Sessions "The Magi...
25 Hits
23 May 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
2Credit: Lauren JN Brent; A grooming chain of adult female rhesus macaques on an island off the coast of Puerto Rico Number of grooming partners predicts the size of certain brain areas What's the link between social life and brain structure? A team ...
26 Hits
21 May 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: French Philosopher Roland Barthes, Paris, 9th June 1978; Gettyimages A Lover's Discourse: Fragments "Am I in love? --yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn't wait; I try to b...
53 Hits