Touching the untouched.

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Jellyfish are about 95% water, which makes them very difficult to study because most of the underwater tools available to marine biologists are clunky, heavy, and often shred jellyfish and other delicate creatures to pieces. A new ultra-soft gripper uses fettuccini-like ‘fingers’ inflated with water to gently grasp jellyfish and release them without harm, allowing scientists to safely interact with them in their own habitat. (1)

We touch things to experience them.

We see things to view them.

And what we see and touch is there. Never going away. Stable environment for scared little humans. Search the depth of your soul. It is what you don’t see that shapes your being. It is what you cannot touch that really touches you back. It is what you can touch that you cannot really touch. Because it is there only because of the things you can never touch.

Try to touch the cosmos…

Don’t be afraid.

It is afraid of you!

You are the raging abyss. Pouring out into existence.

Existence that should never be there in the first place.

Touch the cosmos!

Break it into pieces!

See?

You are still here…

Listening to music. Humans. Apes.

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Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

In the eternal search for understanding what makes us human, scientists found that our brains are more sensitive to pitch, the harmonic sounds we hear when listening to music, than our evolutionary relative the macaque monkey. The study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, highlights the promise of Sound Health, a joint project between the NIH and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that aims to understand the role of music in health.

“We found that a certain region of our brains has a stronger preference for sounds with pitch than macaque monkey brains,” said Bevil Conway, Ph.D., investigator in the NIH’s Intramural Research Program and a senior author of the study published in Nature Neuroscience. “The results raise the possibility that these sounds, which are embedded in speech and music, may have shaped the basic organization of the human brain.” (1)

Yes, we are the only ones listening to music.

Because our mind is never here.

We love traveling to the stars.

Only because we detest the Earth on which we were born.

We will learn one day.

When we reach the stars.

That those bright small dots we will see.

Is our home.

Which we have left a long time ago…

Asteroids. Death. Opportunities.

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Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

When the asteroid hit, dinosaurs weren’t the only ones that suffered. Clouds of ash blocked the sun and cooled the planet’s temperature, devastating plant life. But fungi, which decompose dead stuff, did well. So what happened to the lichens, which are made of a plant and fungus living together as one organism?

“We thought that lichens would be affected negatively, but in the three groups we looked at, they seized the chance and diversified rapidly,” says Jen-Pang Huang, the paper’s first author, a former postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum now at Academia Sinica in Taipei. “Some lichens grow sophisticated 3D structures like plant leaves, and these ones filled the niches of plants that died out.” (1)

Some die. Some live.

Should the first worry about living?

Should the latter worry about dying?

You are what you are.

You do what you do.

In the cosmos chess of existence, every move is valid.

For the game is fixed. And at the end, we will all go back to the beginning.

How can we do something we have not done already?

Dying. Only because we have lived.

Living. Only because we have died.

The chessboard. Look at the chessboard! This is the game!

Self-navigation…

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Human eyes are insensitive to polarized light and ultraviolet radiation, but that is not the case for ants, who use it to locate themselves in space. Cataglyphis desert ants in particular can cover several hundreds of meters in direct sunlight in the desert to find food, then return in a straight line to the nest, without getting lost. They cannot use pheromones: they come out when the temperature would burn the slightest drop. Their navigation talent relies on two pieces of information: the heading measured using a sort of “celestial compass” to orient themselves using the sky’s polarized light, and the distance covered, measured by simply counting steps and incorporating the rate of movement relative to the sun measured optically by their eyes. Distance and heading are the two fundamental pieces of information that, once combined, allow them to return smoothly to the nest.

AntBot, a robot designed by CNRS and Aix-Marseille University (AMU) researchers at ISM, copies the desert ants’ exceptional navigation capacities to navigate without the use of GPS. It is equipped with an optical compass used to determine its heading by means of polarized light, and by an optical movement sensor directed to the sun to measure the distance covered. Armed with this information, AntBot has been shown to be able, like the desert ants, to explore its environment and to return on its own to its base, with precision of up to 1 cm after having covered a total distance of 14 meters. (1)

Navigating without GPS. Walking on your own.

This is the way it was supposed to be.

Relying not on things outside.

But on yourself inside.

Finding not your way with the light of the Sun.

But sensing your path through darkness with the Moon.

Treading the dark forest of existence.

With the help of the light of death inside you.

Trace your footsteps back to where you started from.

How could you ever want to go anywhere?

Take a good look.

These are not your footsteps…

Imperfect evolution… Life without life…

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Photo by Hamid Tajik from Pexels

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!

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