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!

Blog of Social Sciences & Arts SSA blog gives you the opportunity to participate in discussions concerning the human spirit in all of its aspects and applications. The discourse crosses the imaginary border between Science and Art in order to obtain a new level of understanding the cultural phenomena. From Political Sciences, Economics and...

Blog of Social Sciences & Arts SSA blog gives you the opportunity to participate in discussions concerning the human spirit in all of its aspects and applications. The discourse crosses the imaginary border between Science and Art in order to obtain a new level of understanding the cultural phenomena. From Political Sciences, Economics and Psychology to Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Philosophy, Literature and Visual Art, here is the place to extend the scope of your own knowledge or to share your expert opinion.

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The Hidden Troves of Etymology

Credit: Gettyimages

What are the origins of the name Europe?

Often, we do not ask ourselves for the origins of words that we use on a daily basis. That is especially valid, for the most common ones like the names of days, months, and countries? That applies to the same degree when speaking about the continents although they are only seven. Today, we are going to take a look at a name we all have heard – Europe.

 We find it recorded first in a Homeric hymn to Apollo from 522 B.C.E. or earlier. It says: "Telphusa, here I am minded to make a glorious temple, an oracle for men, and hither they will always bring perfect hecatombs, both those who live in rich Peloponnesus and those of Europe and all the wave-washed isles, coming to seek oracles." 

But what are the etymological roots of the word? It is widely considered that, as above-mentioned, Europe derives from the Ancient Greek language. It consists of two morphemes: urys "wide" + ops "face," or "eye", literally "broad face," or "wide-gazing" as a suitable description of Europe's mainland and broad shoreline as seen from the shipboard perspective of the maritime Greeks.

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Thoughts to reflect on: Borges

Credit: Borges in 1979; Gettyimages

Jorge Luis Borges

1. "A writer - and, I believe, generally all persons - must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art."

2. "So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers."

3. "When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation."

4. "Heaven and hell seem out of proportion to me: the actions of men do not deserve so much."

5. "A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships."


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The Polish Nightmare Artist

Credit: Zdzisław Beksiński, 1996,  fot. Wojciech Druszcz / EAST NEWS.

Zdzisław Beksiński

When referring to dark, nightmarish artists, people often cite Giger, or Francis Bacon (the painter), and their alternative macabre perception of the world. The first with his frustrating fusion of body and machine, and the latter, with the permeating anxiety of his blurry expressionistic figures caught in their existential dreadful scream. Truly, two scary examples of fine art. However, today we are going to focus on one artist, which is maybe less known but certainly, he completes the atmosphere of horrifying artistic beauty - Zdzisław Beksiński (24 February 1929 – 21 February 2005). He was a Polish painter, photographer, and sculptor. He is mainly known for his dystopian surrealistic imagery of death, decay, fleshy skeletons, bleak deserts, apocalyptic architecture, and synthesis of bodies and objects. Although his pictures are depressing and dark, they evoke a state of contemplation and thoughts about the nature of life and how do we use our time on the planet, what is our attitude to each other. Critics are often seduced by the idea to interpret his art as a reflection of the turbulent ages that he lived in. However, Beksiński remained unrelenting in his conviction that his paintings don't need any words to dismantle their meaning. Furthermore, he even abstained from giving his pieces any title. They are rather dreamlike visions for visual perception and meditation.

Below you could take a look and decide for yourselves.

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Great Art Explained: Sandro Botticelli

Credit: Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (c. 1484–1486). tempera on canvas; via Wikipedia

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

One of the most popular and revolutionary paintings in the Western world. It aroused many debates and commentaries on what exactly is the meaning of it. Of course, on the surface, it is easy to discern the personages from the Greek Mythology – Zephyr, Aphrodite (Venus), Chloe (Flora), and the Horae of spring (or summer). Yet, what are their function here; what is the meaning of their gathering on the canvas of Botticelli; is there something more? The picture is not exactly a representation of an exact moment drawn from the imagination of ancient Greek mythology. It is rather second-level mythology (in Roland Bart's sense), created by Botticelli himself. Botticelli was deeply influenced by both Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, the Florentine champions of the Humanism, Gnostic and Neo-platonic philosophies, which thrived in the Medici's court. In that regard, his pieces were an Early form of Renaissance art and many symbols and philosophical concepts were embedded in them.


Below you can enjoy a video with one of the possible explanations of that mesmerizing and mystic painting.

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Ancient DNA reveals surprises about how early humans lived, traveled and interacted

Credit: Hora Rockshelter in Malawi, where excavations uncovered individuals analyzed in an ancient DNA study; Jacob Davis

New research provides evidence of demographic shifts in sub-Saharan Africa

A new analysis of human remains buried in African archaeological sites has produced the earliest DNA from the continent, telling a fascinating tale of how early humans lived, traveled and even found their significant others.

An interdisciplinary team of 44 researchers outlined its findings in a paper published in Nature. The scientists report findings from ancient DNA from six individuals buried in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia who lived between 18,000 and 5,000 years ago.

"This more than doubles the antiquity of reported ancient DNA data from sub-Saharan Africa," said David Reich of Harvard University, whose lab generated the data in the paper. "The study is particularly exciting as a collaboration of archaeologists and geneticists."

The study also reanalyzed published data from 28 individuals buried at sites across the continent, generating new data for 15 of them. The result was an unprecedented dataset of DNA from ancient African foragers -- people who hunted, gathered or fished. Their genetic legacy is difficult to reconstruct from present-day people because of the many population movements and mixtures that have occurred.

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