Seeing beyond what you see…

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With a new photo-analyzing computer program, a photographer can take a picture of something that’s not even in frame.

The system analyzes light that’s reflected off matte surfaces, such as walls, to discern out-of-sight images, similar to the way a periscope mirror reveals what’s around a corner. Whereas other techniques for spotting out-of-sight objects require expensive, specialist optical equipment (SN: 1/9/16, p. 15), the new program can render a rough, full-color reconstruction of a hidden scene using a single snapshot captured with an ordinary digital camera.

Electrical engineer Vivek Goyal and colleagues at Boston University tested their system by displaying images on an LCD monitor facing a wall. In between the two, the researchers placed an object that blocked some of the light emanating from the monitor, casting shadows on the wall. (In this case, Goyal’s team used a rectangular panel, but an obscuring object of any size or shape would do.)

Both the light that reaches the wall and the shadowing created by the intervening object contain clues about the LCD display. And the program is able to reconstruct the image with very good accuracy. (1)

Seeing beyond what we can see.

That is the only way to see that we do not see nothing else but… everything.

The cosmos is One. Casting shadows everywhere.

Take a close look and you will see the light.

In the shadow of that bird.

In the shadow of the child playing.

Your whole life is a shadow.

Cast by being under the false sun of existence…

Take a close look and you will see the light.

Not outside of the shadow.

But in it…

When? Where? (Why?)

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In a UCI study, participants sat with their heads inside a high-resolution fMRI scanner while watching a TV show and then viewing still frames from the episode, one at a time.

The researchers found that when subjects had more precise answers to questions about what time certain events occurred, they activated a brain network involving the lateral entorhinal cortex and the perirhinal cortex. The team had previously shown that these regions, which surround the hippocampus, are associated with memories of objects or items but not their spatial location.

“Space and time have always been intricately linked, and the common wisdom in our field was that the mechanisms involved in one probably supported the other as well,” added Maria Montchal, a graduate student in Yassa’s lab who led the research. “But our results suggest otherwise.” (1)

Trying to remember then when.

Without caring about the where.

But nothing of these matters.

Because no matter how precisely we recall where or when something happened in the vast dark forest of existence, we will still not be able to answer a much more fundamental question: How did we get in that forest in the first place?

In a cosmos with time, there is no forest.

Nothing but a constantly changing set of beings.

Changing to show that there is nothing to change.

What a weird cosmos…

In a world of change, time has meaning.

But in a world of change nothing is real.

Feel the breeze…

Without any trees to linger in the air…

Time cannot flow.

And without a breeze blowing between the trees…

There are no trees.

Feel the breeze…

Don’t try to explain.

Just…

Feel the breeze…

The third eye… Light… Darkness…

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Just like land plants, algae use sunlight as an energy source. Many green algae actively move in the water; they can approach the light or move away from it. For this they use special sensors (photoreceptors) with which they perceive light.

The decades-long search for these light sensors led to a first success in 2002: Georg Nagel, at the time at Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt/M, and collaborators discovered and characterized two so-called channelrhodopsins in algae. These ion channels absorb light, then open up and transport ions. They were named after the visual pigments of humans and animals, the rhodopsins.

Now a third “eye” in algae is known: Researchers discovered a new light sensor with unexpected properties. The new photoreceptor is not activated by light but inhibited. It is a guanylyl cyclase which is an enzyme that synthesizes the important messenger cGMP. When exposed to light, cGMP production is severely reduced, leading to a reduced cGMP concentration – and that’s exactly what happens in the human eye as soon as the rhodopsins there absorb light. (1)

See too much light.

And your eyes will close.

It is darkness you seek.

So that your eyes open.

For only in the dead of the night, can you detect brightness…

Only there, standing alone in the complete absence of any source of light, can you realize that the only thing emitting light in this cosmos is you… And this knowledge will be the darkest knowledge you will ever have.

Cherish that knowledge.

And never seek light outside you.

If you do, you will find it.

And the whole cosmos will instantly fall into darkness…

Imperfect evolution… Life without life…

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The pinnacle of beauty to most people is a symmetrical face, one without any major left-right differences. But for blind Mexican cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus), asymmetry may be a lifesaver. That’s because their lopsided skulls may help them feel their way along dark cave walls – similar to a person navigating by touch in the dark. That behavior, presented here this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, suggests being a little “off” can have evolutionary benefits.

Lots of cave dwellers are a bit unbalanced. Cave fish tend to have one eye that is larger than the other, for example, and cave crickets have different size antennae. Some researchers wondered whether left-right differences might help these creatures get around.

They scanned the skulls of A. mexicanus fish from three caves in Mexico. Their computerized tomography scans revealed most fish skulls bent slightly to the left, giving the right side of their faces slightly more exposure. Other tests showed these fish tended to drift along the right-hand side of cave walls, presumably using the larger side of their faces to feel their way in the dark. (1)

We have learned that evolution makes things more suitable for survival. And we tend to connect this with perfection. Perfection of mechanisms, perfection of structure, perfection of function. It is this perfection which causes life.

But could it be that we are misled?

Blinded by the light, could it be that we are heading towards the dark?

We like to see order as the foundation of existence. Enchanted by it, we fail to notice that this gift always leads to death.

We like to see perfection as the foundation of life. Mesmerized by it, we fail to see that it is imperfection which leads to life.

It is only the imperfect beings which will live longer.

Do not envy them.

Take a good look.

They are crying in the darkness…

Feel the dark walls of existence around you.

They cry out silently…

Life is not about living!

Plants interacting… Cosmos crying silent…

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For people, and many other animals, family matters. Consider how many jobs go to relatives. Or how an ant will ruthlessly attack intruder ants but rescue injured, closely related nestmates. There are good evolutionary reasons to aid relatives, after all. Now, it seems, family feelings may stir in plants as well.

A Canadian biologist planted the seed of the idea more than a decade ago, but many plant biologists regarded it as heretical—plants lack the nervous systems that enable animals to recognize kin, so how can they know their relatives? But with a series of recent findings, the notion that plants really do care for their most genetically close peers—in a quiet, plant-y way—is taking root.

Some species constrain how far their roots spread, others change how many flowers they produce, and a few tilt or shift their leaves to minimize shading of neighboring plants, favoring related individuals. The new work may have a practical side. In September 2018, a team in China reported that rice planted with kin grows better, a finding that suggested family ties can be exploited to improve crop yields. “It seems anytime anyone looks for it, they find a kin effect,” says André Kessler, a chemical ecologist at Cornell University. (1)

Inside the dark forest of existence, a tree grows.

Up to the sky, away from earth. To reach the stars.

Not upwards. But next to each other.

A new tree. Another one. And another…

A forest made of individuals. All living together.

Existing only because the tree next to them does.

Humans breathing silently. Inside the woods.

They are here now. Only because the trees are.

In a vast empty forest full of life.

Only the emptiness of existence can make us laugh.

Dream of a world with no forests.

And all the butterflies will go away…

Inside the sunny forest of life.

A tall tree falls with a loud bang.

Silently…