Social Media Use in 2021 and the future of online platforms

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Vast sociological research in the U.S. shows thought-provoking statistics about the use of social media among different groups of people

One thing for sure – times are changing. The change is so rapid and globally simultaneous that it is hard to even imagine it let alone grasp it. The main character in today's events is called – Online Social Platforms. Less than 20 years ago, newspapers, radio, and television were the main sources of information for most of the population of our planet. Of course, there was the internet with various chat platforms, blogs, etc. but the true revolution in online social media started with the appearance of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and all the other social networks that we are already familiar with. That happened in the short period between 2004 and 2010. These platforms became the new world forum. They changed the way we communicate with each other, the methods we inform ourselves, and even our perception of the world and others. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine an urban scene without people staring at their smartphones, scrolling in some social platform, or reading yet another piece of information.

If we take the founding of Facebook in 2004 as a starting point of the Online Social Media Revolution, it is 17 years later when there are hundreds of different platforms and an ever-growing emergence of new ones on daily basis. This process is happening at such a frantic pace that a lot of younger people are already disliking Facebook or Twitter (which are considered old-fashioned) in favor of newer platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok.

Here you can read and give consideration to the new sociological research conducted by Pew Research Center – The Use of Social Media in 2021:


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Breakthrough discovery of 6 novel variants in CRISPR-Cas12a in plants, expanding genome engineering

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Discovery offers patentable tools to improve the efficiency of food production

The research of plant scientist Yiping Qi at the University of Maryland focuses on innovative genome editing and engineering techniques in plants, with the goal of improving the efficiency of food production. The results of this U.S. National Science Foundation-funded research, published in Nature Communications by Qi and colleagues, contribute six novel variants of CRISPR-Cas12a that have never before been proven in plants, testing them first in rice, a major global crop.


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Sunday Inspirational Quotes: Martin Luther King Jr.

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"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches


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Do you know who is the first celebrities’ photographer?

Photo credit: Nadar; by Wikipedia

Nadar

Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (6 April 1820 – 20 March 1910), was known by the pseudonym Nadar. He was a French caricaturist, journalist, novelist, balloonist, and proponent of heavier-than-air flight. However, he is most prominent as one of the first experimenter photographers and in 1858, the first person to take aerial photographs from a hot-air balloon. Interestingly, he was also the first who took photos underground while experimenting with artificial lights in the Catacombs of Paris.

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Thoughts to reflect on: T.S.Eliot

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The Rock

In 1934, T. S. Eliot, arguably the most prominent modernist poet, produced a play – The Rock – characterized by great allegorical, historical, and metaphysical complexity and eclecticism. Some of his most graceful religious poems derived from that text. Matter of fact, the project was part of a fund-raising contest for the collection of money for the construction of forty-five new churches. The interwar years were marked by considerable disillusionment of Christian morality and religious belief in general. The Diocese in London was worried that there is a decrease in worshiping communities in the suburbs and decided to issue an appeal for public funding. T. S. Eliot participated with his play and thus helped for the collection of at least 1,500 pounds, which would be around 107,308.0 pounds in today's currencies.

Later, the Choruses from the Rock were published as part of T. S. Eliot Collected Poems, 1909 – 1962.

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Happy Birthday, Internet!

Image credit: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

On this date, 52 years ago…

On the 7th of April, 1969, the first "request for comments," the so-called RFC documents, was published. This event set the scene for the appearance of the internet. It is considered a symbolic birth of the net for the reason that RFC documents opened the doors for researches, proposals, and different approaches, which often applied to the later internet technology. The engineers were now able to publicly kick around and generate new ideas for the future development of the net.

One interesting aspect of the RFC is that a unique serial number is issued for each document. An individual paper cannot be overwritten; rather, updates or corrections are submitted on a separate RFC. The result is an ongoing historical record of the evolution of internet standards.

As it usually happens with an event of such a great historical impact, there is another pretender for the birth date of the net – 1st of January, 1983. It was the day when the National Science Foundation's university network backbone became fully operational and it is also considered a forerunner of the World Wide Web.


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Found in space: Complex carbon-based molecules

Photo credit: NSF/Glen Langston

Discovery may offer clues to carbon's role in planet and star formation

Much of the carbon in space is believed to exist in the form of large molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. Since the 1980s, evidence has indicated that these molecules are abundant in space, but they have not been directly observed. Now, a team of U.S. National Science Foundation-funded researchers led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Brett McGuire has identified two distinctive PAHs in a patch of space called the Taurus Molecular Cloud.

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Quotes to reflect on: Roland Barthes

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Language and Love

Roland Barthes is one of the most important think-tanks in Linguistics, Humanities, Literature, Cinema, and Post-Modern thought. As he perceived it, Language itself is the most crucial part of the body of our understanding of the world's phenomena. Language is not only a living organism but a corporeal part of our consciousness. We feel, touch, love, or hate, we fathom the depths of the Universe and experience our lives through our language. Our words and the meaning we attach to them have the possibility to literally create or disintegrate reality. So, don't underestimate what you daily utter or write or read or hear. It's what pushes up or down the evolution of our linguistic body, of our future as a species. Mind your words. For, what defines human being the most is language. And language could be love. Love and language - the greatest inventions of all times.

"Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. The emotion derives from a double contact: on the one hand, a whole activity of discourse discreetly, indirectly focuses upon a single signified, which is "I desire you," and releases, nourishes, ramifies it to the point of explosion (language experiences orgasm upon touching itself); on the other hand, I enwrap the other in my words, I caress, brush against, talk up this contact, I extend myself to make the commentary to which I submit the relation endure.

Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments


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N₂O - Where Science Meets Fun

Image credit: Joachim Verhagen

The Science of Fun

Here is another portion of Science Jokes. Being serious about your job is one of the most important spices of success. But the ability to have a good laugh about it, it's a priceless gift. Enjoy the following lines and never forget to entertain your imagination.  After all, it's Friday!

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The Father of Modern Sculpture

Image credit: Portrait of Auguste Rodin, John Singer Sargent, 1884; Wikipedia

Auguste Rodin

The French sculptor François Auguste René Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917) is considered the founder of modern sculpture as we know it today. He is one of the most famous artists both in the visual arts and intellectual worlds. Although he took classic sculpture education his first notable work Man with the Broken Nose (1863-4) was already a major deviation from the traditional view of the French Salon and caused great controversy and dispute. Rodin is highly appreciated as one of the most talented masters of both clay and bronze figures who demonstrated a unique and original model of these materials with complex forms, elaborated contrast of concavity and convexity, and a deep understanding of the play of lights and reflections.

His Art provoked a lot of discourses among the traditionalist. On the one hand, Rodin was a meticulous craftsman who was able to produce detailed precise rendering and on the other hand, he refused to follow the pieces of advice of the Salon and developed a new "classic" that cut off the threads of the dogmatic traditional views on sculpture. As opposed to the seeking of perfection, balance, completeness, and amplified beauty, the sculptor was now emphasizing the inner expressiveness of the subject matter, of the material itself, as well as the aesthetics of the ugliness, incompleteness, fragmentation, and naturalism. In his book Art: Conversations with Paul Gsell, he goes even furthermore saying that often the uglier something appears in Nature, the more beautiful it could be in the form of Art. Rodin abandoned the traditional use of mythology and allegories to convey the inner meanings of the represented subject and put the accent on the physicality and the individual unique features. He wasn't only an artist but a great thinker, who produced seminal writings on aesthetics and kept communication with some of the most influential intellectuals of his time.

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Scientists image magnetic fields at the edge of M87's black hole

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Event Horizon Telescope reveals a new view of the M87 galaxy's center

Event Horizon Telescope scientists, who produced the first image of a black hole, have revealed a new view of the massive object at the center of the M87 galaxy, showing how it looks in polarized light.


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Sunday inspirational quote: Sir Fred Hoyle

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Life cannot have had a random beginning…

Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 - 2001) was an astronomer, who was famous for his bold and provocative stances on scientific matters. He was a prominent theoretician and a great contributor to the field of stellar nucleosynthesis. In opposition to Big Bang Theory, which he denied to be valid, he was a proponent of steady-state theory. The latter is the one that claims that no matter that the universe is expanding it remain with approximately the same density and it is constantly creating new stars, galaxies and to say it more general matter in order to keep the balance.

Except for being an incredibly talented scientist, Fred Hoyle was really witty with throwing maxims at the audience. As he once said:

"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."

Just to remind us that Science is limited as all other human endeavors and there are truths, which we are not or still not able to explore. Maybe we would be more accurate if we take scientific axioms as the best explanations so far instead of general truths. As Sir Hoyle said – Life cannot have had a random beginning – because random is just another concept that we often use for higher states of order that we haven't understood yet or is still lying ahead of us, not yet discovered.

So, keep away from dogmatism and expand your knowledge and perception of the innate meaning of the Universe. Because to not accept total randomness doesn't mean that your fall into the vicious circle of determinism but that you haven't closed your eyes for the ever-present signs of reason in the creation of both micro and macro cosmos.


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What is Romanticism?

Image credit: Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1819; Wikipedia

A short introduction to Romanticism

We have all heard the words romantic, romance, Romanticism and we have all used them. But what actually they mean, and where do they come from? Do they necessarily refer to some mawkish and sentimental story, or there is something more? If you try to search on the web for information about it, you could spend hours reading tons of it and if you are really keen to know about it go for it. However, it isn't such a bad idea to get a bit more familiar with the subject matter before you invest your time in vast research. What you will find here is a brief but useful explanation of the 19th-century movement with a touch of subjectivity. Just like a romantic author would do. The rest is up to you!


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On this date, 214 years ago…

Image credit: Slaves cutting the sugar cane on the Island of Antigua, 1823; unsplash.com; British Library


The formal end of the slave trade in the British Empire

The Committee for Abolition of the Slave Trade, which was formed in 1787, was among the first unions in Britain that organized opposition to slavery in the Empire. Another 20 years passed before they formed a large group of supporters in the British parliament. They gathered around the idea that slavery is a despicable act against humanity and Christian morals.

One of the greatest proponents of anti-slavery ideals was William Wilberforce. More and more MPs in the House of Commons were advocating more humanistic views and expressed deep indignation against the slavery trade. Finally, on 23 February 1807, the House of Commons passed the bill with the striking vote majority of 283 to 16, and one month later, on 25 March 1807, King George III signed the bill and it became law.

However, the slave trade continued in some of the more remote countries, which were part of the Empire. It was around 1833 when British Empire completely outlawed the abhorrent practices of slavery and human trade.

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Chip delivers COVID-19 test results on a phone

A new chip delivers COVID-19 test results in 55 minutes or less. Photo Credit: Jeff Fitlow

Programmed magnetic nanobeads enable diagnostic device

COVID-19 can be diagnosed in 55 minutes or less with the help of programmed magnetic nanobeads and a diagnostic tool that plugs into an off-the-shelf cellphone, according to Rice University engineers.

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Sunday inspirational quotes: Leibniz

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz ( 1646 –1716) was one of the most prominent polymaths of the 17th century Enlightenment. He was a notable mathematician, logician, and philosopher, who was representative of the tradition of rationalism. Leibniz developed the ideas of differential and integral calculus independently of Isaac Newton. He was also one of the most important inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. Leibniz is often cited as one of the greatest proponents of optimism although frequently misinterpreted. Arguably, his best-known thought: "This is the best of all possible worlds" is widely misunderstood. When Leibniz claims that the way the world is created is the best, he doesn't exclude all evil, unfair, and amoral aspects of human nature and society like a man who suffers from daltonism and can't see the whole spectrum of the world's phenomena. The statement actually says the opposite. The universe with all its imperfections and distortions is, indeed, in perfect balance because it sustains existence. All that seems chaotic to us is just a higher level of order. We can't possibly conceive even the idea of a better universe because it exceeds our mental capacity. Therefore, the world as we know it is the best we can imagine. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that we should accept its flaws but that we shall embrace its natural harmony. 

Enjoy the best of all possible Sundays!


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Streams more vulnerable to stressors such as climate change than previously thought

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Scientists develop a new way of gathering data about streams fed by groundwater

Water is constantly on the move: through the air, through waterways, and underground. Life depends on a consistent supply of water, and details about its journey are necessary for understanding and managing this important resource.

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Quotes to reflect on: Joseph Cambell

Photo credit:   Joseph Campbell Foundation (jcf.org)

A thinker with thousand faces

"People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


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On this day, 56 years ago…

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The first spacewalk

Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov stepped out of the Voskhod 3KD capsule, becoming the first man ever to walk in space. His spacewalk continued for 12 minutes and 9 seconds and it was part of the Voskhod 2 mission. The event was originally planned to take place a year earlier on Voskhod 1 mission but it was canceled. Leonov famously exited the spacecraft just days before the U.S. intended to launch their first two-man spaceship thus the Soviet Union managed to win this particular part of the well-known Space Race.

The historical moment when Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov stepped out of the spacecraft on 18 March, 1965. Photo credit: gettyimages.com

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Easter Island Heads mystery revealed

Photo credit:  Photo Credit: Ian Sewell - IanAndWendy.com Photo gallery from Easter Island; under CC BY 2.5

Easter Island Heads are actually full-length statues

It would be a surprise if you haven't heard about the Easter Island Heads. These are among the most famous sculptures in the world. If by any chance you haven't, now you will get familiar with the massive figures or moai. Moreover, as it was discovered, their name is actually misleading because as a team of archaeologists at UCLA have found out the well-known monoliths are not only busts but whole bodies buried in the ground.


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