EssentialstheDiagonal is a personal blog by Mike Gerra, skeptic, technologist, psychologist, artist, humanist, collector of grand, eclectic ideas.theDiagonal blog connects the dots across multiple disciplines for inquisitive, objective and critical thinkers, exploring the vertices of big science, disruptive innovation, global sustainability, illuminating literature and leftfield art. It is on this diagonal that creativity thrives, big ideas take flight and reason triumphs.
Monthly Archives: January 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Charles Darwin would have turned 200 in 2009, the same year his book On the Origin of Species celebrated its 150th anniversary. Today, with the perspective of time, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection looks as impressive as ever. In fact, the double anniversary year saw progress on fronts that Darwin could never have anticipated, bringing new insights into the origin of life—a topic that contributed to his panic attacks, heart palpitations, and, as he wrote, “for 25 years extreme spasmodic daily and nightly flatulence.” One can only dream of what riches await in the biology textbooks of 2159....read more
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Whereas in postmodernism, being was left in a free-floating fabric of emotional intensities, in contemporary culture the existence of the self is affirmed through the network. Kazys Varnelis discusses what this means for the democratic public sphere.
Not all at once but rather slowly, in fits and starts, a new societal condition is emerging: network culture. As digital computing matures and meshes with increasingly mobile networking technology, society is also changing, undergoing a cultural shift. Just as modernism and postmodernism served as crucial heuristic devices in their day, studying network culture as a historical phenomenon allows us to better understand broader sociocultural trends and structures, to give duration and temporality to our own, ahistorical time....read more
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
As his friends flocked to social networks like Facebook and MySpace, Alessandro Acquisti, an associate professor of information technology at Carnegie Mellon University, worried about the downside of all this online sharing. “The personal information is not particularly sensitive, but what happens when you combine those pieces together?” he asks. “You can come up with something that is much more sensitive than the individual pieces.”...read more
Sunday, January 10, 2010
From The New York Times:
THERE was a chill in the morning air in 2005 when dozens of artists from China, Europe and North America emerged from their red-brick studios here to find the police blocking the gates to Suojiacun, their compound on the city’s outskirts. They were told that the village of about 100 illegally built structures was to be demolished, and were given two hours to pack.
By noon bulldozers were smashing the walls of several studios, revealing ripped-apart canvases and half-glazed clay vases lying in the rubble. But then the machines ceased their pulverizing, and the police dispersed, leaving most of the buildings unscathed. It was not the first time the authorities had threatened to evict these artists, nor would it be the last. But it was still frightening....read more
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Black holes are finally winning some respect. After long regarding them as agents of destruction or dismissing them as mere by-products of galaxies and stars, scientists are recalibrating their thinking. Now it seems that black holes debuted in a constructive role and appeared unexpectedly soon after the Big Bang. “Several years ago, nobody imagined that there were such monsters in the early universe,” says Penn State astrophysicist Yuexing Li. “Now we see that black holes were essential in creating the universe’s modern structure.”...read more