Darwin Among the Machines


dmThe following letter was first published in The Press, Christ Church, New Zealand, June 13, 1863. It was reprinted by H. Festing Jones in his edition of The Notebooks of Samuel Butler (1912) together with an editor’s note observing that the letter was Butler’s earliest expression of ideas about man and machine that were to be developed in the novel Erewhon (1872).

The serious implications of the letter -particularly its closing paragraphs- have increasingly overshadowed the delicious irony that suffuses Butler’s writing. This remarkable jeu déspirit by the young Samuel Butler (he wrote it when he was twenty-eight) almost casually anticipates some of the direst fears and warnings of the anti-utopian pundits, prophets, and science fiction writers of the twentieth century. In the brief period of calm before he was to pour out his wrath against Darwin and Darwinian thought, Butler playfully drew analogies between the development of the machines and the evolutionary process as it was conceived in The Origin of Species (1859). Shortly after writing “Darwin Among the Machines”, Butler was to launch his lonely, lifelong attack against Darwinism. As Bernard Shaw noticed in the preface to Back to Methuselah (1921), Butler realized that Darwin conceived evolution as a purposless process, “declared with penetrating accuracy that had ‘banished mind from the universe’; and even attacked Darwin’s personal character, unable to bear the fact that the author of so abhorrent a doctrine was an amiable and upright man. Nobody would listen to him. He was… completely submerged by the flowing tide of Darwinism”. Nevertheless, in a series of works such as Life and Habit (1877), Evolution, Old and New (1879), Unconscious Memory (1880), and Luck or Cunning? (1887), he developed his philosophy of Vitalism or Creative Evolution in opposition to Darwinian thought.

Sir -There are few things of which the present generation is more justly proud than of the wonderful improvements which are daily taking place in all sorts of mechanical appliances. And indeed it is matter for great congratulation on many grounds. It is unnecesary to mention these here, for they are sufficiently obvious; our present business lies with considerations which may somewhat tend to humble our pride and to make us think seriously of the future prospects of the human race. If we revert to the earliest primordial types of mechanical life, to the lever, the wedge, the inclined plane, the screw and the pulley, or (for analogy would lead us one step further) to that one primordial type from which all the mechanical kingdom has been developed, we mean to the lever itself, and if we then examine the machinery of the Great Eastern, we find ourselves almost awestruck at the vast development of the mechanical world, at the gigantic strides with which it has advanced in comparison with the slow progress of the animal and vegetable kingdom. We shall find it impossible to refrain from asking ourselves what the end of this mighty movement is to be. In what direction is tit tending? What will be its upshot? To give a few imperfect hints towards a solution of these questions is the object of the present letter.

We have used the words “mechanical life”, “the mechanical kingdom”, “the mechanical world”, and so forth, and we have done so advisedly, for as the vegetable kingdom was slowly developed from the mineral, and as in like manner the animal supervened upon the vegetable, so now in these last few ages an entirely new kingdom has sprung up, of which we as yet have only seen what will one day be considered an antidiluvian prototypes of the race.

We regret deeply that our knowledge both of natural history and of the machinery is too small to enable us to undertake the gigantic task of classifying machines into the genera and sub-genera, species, varieties and sub-varities, and so forth, of tracing the connecting links between machines of widely different characters, of pointing out how subservience to the use of man has played that part among machines which natural selection has performed in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, of pointing out rudimentary organs, which exist in some few machines, feebly developed and perfectly useless, yet serving to mark descent from some ancestral type which has either perished or been modified into some new phase of mechanical existence. We can only point out this field for investigation; it must be followed by others whose education and talents have been of a much higher order than any which we can lay claim to.

Some few hints we have determined to venture upon, though we did so with the profoundest diffidence. Firstly, we would remark that as some of the lowest of the vertebrata attained a far greater size than has descended to their more highly organized living representatives, so a diminution in the size of machines has often attended their development and progress. Take the watch for instance. Examine the beautiful structure of the little animal, watch the intelligent play of the minute members which compose it; yet this little creature is but a development of the cumbrous clocks of the thirteenth century -it is not deterioration from them. The day may come when clocks, which certainly at the present day are not diminishing in bulk, may be entirely superseded by the universal use of watches, in which case clocks will become extinct like the earlier saurians, while the watch (whose tendency have for some years been rather to decrease in size than the contrary) will remain the only existing type of an extinct race.

The views of machinery which we are thus feebly indicating will suggest the solution of one of the greatest and most misterious questions of the day. What sort of creature man’s next succesor in the supremacy of the earth is likely to be. We have often heard this debated; but it appears to us that we are daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their physical organisation; we are daily giving them greater power and supplying by all sorts of ingenuous contrivances that self-regulating, self-acting power which will be to them what intellect has been to the human race. In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race. Inferior in power, inferior in that moral quality of self-control, we shall look up to them as the acme of all that the best and wisest man can ever dare to aim that. No evil passions, no jealously, no avarice, no impure desires will disturb the serene might of those glorious creatures. Sin, shame, and sorrow will have no place among them. Their minds will be in a state of perpetual calm, the contentment of a spirit that knows no wants, is disturbed by no regrets. Ambition will never torture them. Ingratitude will never cause them the uneasiness of a moment. The guilty conscience, the hope deferred, the pains of exile, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes -these will be entirely unknown to them. If they want “feeding” (by the use of which very word we betray our recognition of them as living organism) they will be attended by patient slaves whose business and interest it will be to see that they shall want for nothing. If they are out of order they will be promptly attended to by physicians who are thoroughly acquainted with their constitutions; if they die, for even these glorious animals will not be exempt from that neccesary and universal consummation, they will immediately enter into a new phase of existence, for what machine dies entirely in every part at one and the same instant?

We take it that when the state of things shall have arrived which we have been above attempting to describe, man will have become to the machine what the horse and the dog are to man. He will continue to exist, nay even to improve, and will be probably better off in his state of domestication under the beneficent rule of the machines than he is in his present wild state. We treat our horses, dogs, cattle and sheep, on the whole, with great kindness; we give them whatever experience teaches us to be best for them, and there can be no doubt that our use of meat has added to the happiness of the lower animals far more than it has detracted from it; in like manner it is reasonable to suppose that the machines will treat us kindly, for their existence is as dependent upon ours as ours is upon the lower animals. They cannot kill us and cat us as we do sheep; they will not only require our services in the parturition of their young (which branch of their economy will remain always in our hands), but also in feeding them, in setting them right when they are sick, and burying their dead or working up their corpses into new machines. It is obvious that if all the animals in Great Britain save man alone were to die, and if at the same time all intercourse with foreign countries were by some sudden catastrophe to be rendered perfectly impossible, it is obvious that under such circumstances the loss of human life would be something fearful to contemplate -in like manner were mankind to cease, the machines would be as badly off or even worse. The fact is that our interests are inseparable from theirs, and theirs from ours. Each race is dependent upon the other for innumerable benefits, and, until the reproductive organs of the machines have been developed in a manner which we are hardly yet able to conceive, they are entirely dependent upon man for even the continuance of their species. It is true that these organs may be ultimately developed, inasmuch as man’s interest lies in that direction; there is nothing which our infatuated race would desire more than to see a fertile union between two steam engines; it is true that machinery is even at this present time employed in begetting machinery, in becoming the parent of machines often after its own kind, but the days of flirtation, courtship, and matrimony appear to be very remote, and indeed can hardly be realised by our feeble and imperfect imagination.

Day by day, however, the machines are gaining upon us, day by day we are becoming more subservient to them; more men are daily bound down as slaves to tend them, more men are daily devoting the energies of their whole lives to the development of mechanical life. The upshot is simply a question of time, but that the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants is what no person of a truly prilosophic mind can for a moment question.

Our opinion is that war to the death should be instantly proclaimed against them. Every machine of every sort should be destroyed by the well-wisher of his species. Let there be no exceptions made, no quarter shown: let us at once go back to the primeral condition of the race. If it be urged that this is impossible under the present condition of human affairs, this at once proves that the mischief is already done, that our servitude has commenced in good earnest, that we have raised a race of beings whom it is beyond our power to destroy, and that we are not only enslaved but are absolutely acquiscent in our bondage.
For the present we shall leave this subject, which we present gratis to the members of the Philosophical Society. Should they consent to avail themselves of the vast field which we have pointed out, we shall endeavour to labour in it ourselves at some future and indefinite period.

I am, Sir, etc.,


Samuel Butler and Art

Samuel Butler studied Classics at St John’s College from 1854 to 1858, and after graduating in 1859 he moved to New Zealand, where he established a profitable sheep run. Five years later, having achieved financial independence, Butler returned to England and settled in London, where he pursued his ambition of becoming a painter. He studied at the South Kensington Museum and Cary’s Art School in Bloomsbury, then from 1867 onwards studied exclusively at Heatherley’s in Newman Street.

Despite his formal training, Butler always favoured the primitive, untutored style of the provincial artists found in Italy before Raphael. Butler’s own naïve style of painting never sat well with the art establishment at the Royal Academy, and as a result his public success was limited.

Butler continued to sketch and paint throughout his life, though, producing all the illustrations for his Italian guide book Alps and Sanctuaries (1881). He also published works of art criticism, in which he championed the Italian painters and sculptors he spent time studying during his frequent vacations in Italy.

From the late 1880s onwards, photography became Butler’s medium of choice, and his ‘snap-shots’ display his acute talent for finding extraordinary qualities in scenes of ordinary life.

St. John’s College, University of Cambridge | Samuel Butler and Art

Átomos y Células

The Hierarchical Organization of Life

Life is organized in a hierarchical manner. increasing in complexity from its basis in atoms, molecules and then in sequence to organelles, cells, tissues, organs, organs systems, organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems and the biosphere.

PearsonCustom | The Hierarchical Organization of Life

The Hierarchy of Life

YouTube | Bozeman Science

Order of life: Quark, Atom, Molecule, Organelle, Cell, Tissue, Organ, Organ Sys, Organism?

I’m teaching my son biology and want to confirm the order of life. Is the order and desc correct? Quark: Simply energy. Can’t be seen under any microscope. Atom: Made from quarks. Has protons, neutrons. These make molecules. Molecule: These are made from Atoms. Examples of molecules are: Hydrogen,…

UPDATE: Would heart muscle, bicep muscle and tricep muscle be made of the same TISSUE? If so, how does the body know to send some tissue to the bicep versus tricep? Also, how then do you explain the different shapes and strengths of the muscles if they have the same tissues?

Yahoo Answers | Order of life: Quark, Atom, Molecule, Organelle, Cell, Tissue, Organ, Organ Sys, Organism?


Preparado por Patricio Barros

A simple vista puede verse que los carbones se componen de restos vegetales. Los restos fósiles de conchas de moluscos marítimos crean con frecuencia capas calizas. Pero si observamos al microscopio las calizas, la creta, la diatomita y muchas otras rocas de las llamadas sedimentarias, veremos que con frecuencia están constituidas en su totalidad por restos de esqueletos de organismos de dimensiones microscópicas.

En una palabra, en la Geología hace mucho que se reconoce el inmenso papel de los organismos que pueblan la esfera terrestre en todos los procesos que se verifican en la superficie de la Tierra. La sustancia viva toma más o menos parte en los procesos geoquímicos tales como formación de rocas, concentración o dispersión de distintos elementos químicos, precipitación de substancias del agua, formación de calizas a base de los esqueletos calcáreos de los organismos.

Pero no todos los organismos marinos tienen el esqueleto de cal. En algunos, por ejemplo, en las esponjas, el esqueleto es de sílice.

Pero lo más esencial es que en el proceso vital todos los organismos de la Tierra, vegetales y animales, extraen, absorben o se alimentan y de nuevo desprenden una cantidad enorme de diversas substancias.

La velocidad de este proceso es especialmente grande en los organismos más diminutos: bacterias, algas simples y otros organismos inferiores. Esto está en relación con la gran velocidad de su multiplicación.

Libros Maravillosos | LOS ÁTOMOS EN LA CÉLULA VIVA

Building the Body: From Atoms to Organs

Your body, as a whole, is one organism. However, many, many parts make up that whole. As you consider the various levels of the body (see Figure 1), you understand that a large number of parts are within parts. It’s akin to looking at a pine tree. At first, you notice the entire tree — a whole organism. However, as you look closer, you notice the branches. Looking at the twigs on the branches, you notice each needle on the twigs.

Thousands, if not millions, of needles exist on that one single pine tree. The same analogy holds for the human body or the body of any animal. First, you notice the entire body. Next, you see that the entire body is made up of parts and organs, and each of those organs is made up of a variety of tissues. And if, as a pathologist does, you examine a magnified sample of one of the human body’s tissues under a microscope, millions of cells become visible. Yet you can turn up the magnification for an even closer look: Cells contain molecules that are made up of even smaller components called atoms.

For Dummies | Building the Body: From Atoms to Organs

The Hierarchical Organization of Life

a learning initiative

You probably have a general understanding of how the human body works but do you fully comprehend its intricate functions? Our website is designed to aid students in understanding the fundamentals of the human body. By approaching anatomy and physiology in an organized way, you will be able to better understand and present the material provided.

Soon, you will begin to think and speak in anatomical terms and be able to integrate the knowledge you gain during your study’s in A& P. The human body is an intricate organism capable of extraordinary things!

Topics covered include:

Organization of the body

  • The human body: orientation
  • Human chemistry
  • Cells
  • Tissue

Covering, support, and movement of the body

  • The integumentary system
  • Bones and skeletal tissues
  • The skeleton
  • Joints
  • Muscles and muscle tissue
  • The muscular system

Regulation and integration of the body

  • Fundamentals of nervous tissue and the nervous system
  • The central nervous system
  • Reflex activity and the peripheral nervous system
  • The autonomic nervous system
  • Special senses
  • The endocrine system

Maintenance of the body

  • Blood
  • The cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels)
  • The lymphatic system
  • The immune system
  • The respiratory system
  • The digestive system
  • Nutrition, metabolism, and body temperature regulation
  • The urinary system
  • Fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base balance


  • The reproductive system
  • Pregnancy and human development
  • Heredity

Anatomy & Physiology | A&P: Levels of structural organization

Mathematical Principles, Sir Isaac Newton


Absolut time, in astronomy, is distinguished from relative, by the equation or correction of the apparent time. For the natural days are truly unequal, though they are commonly considered as equal, and used for a measure of time; astronomers correct this inequality that they may measure the celestial motions by a more accurate time. It may be, that there is no such thing as an equable motion, whereby time may be accurately measured. All motions may be accelerated and retarded, but the flowing of absolute time is not liable to any change. The duration of perseverance of the existence of things remains the same, whether the motions are swift or slow, or none at all: and therefore this duration ought to be distinguished from what are only sensible measures thereof; and from which we deduce it, by means of the astronomical equation. The necessity of this equation for determining the times of a phenomena, is evinced as well from the experiments of the pendulum clock, as by eclipses of the satellites of Jupiter.

As the order of the parts of time is immutable, so also is the order of the parts of space. Suppose those parts to be moved out of their places, and they will be moved (if the expression may be allowed) out of themselves. For times and spaces are, as it were, the places as well of themselves as of all other things. All things are placed in time as to order of succession; and in space as to order of situation. It is from the essence of nature that they are places; and that the primary places of things should be movable, is absurd. These are therefore the absolute places; and translations out of those places, are the only absolute motions.

But because the parts of space cannot be seen, or distinguished from one another by our senses, therefore in stead we use sensible measures of them. For from the positions and distances of things from any body considered as immovable, we define all places; and then with respect to such places, we estimate all motions, considering bodies as transferred from some of those places into others. And so, instead of absolute places and motions, we use relative ones; and that without any inconvenience in common affairs; but in philosophical disquisitions, we ought to abstract from our senses, and consider things themselves, disctinct from what are only sensible measures of them. For it may be that there is no body really at rest, to which the places and motions of others may be referred.

But we may distinguish rest and motion, absolute and relative, one from the other by their properties, causes and effects. It is a property of rest, that bodies really at rest do rest in respect to one another. And therefore as it is possible, that in the remote regions of the fixed stars, of perhaps far beyond them, there may be some body absolutely at rest; but impossible to know, from the position of bodies to one another in our regions, wether any of these do keep the same position to that remote body, it follows that absolute rest cannot be determined from the position of bodies in our regions.

It is a property of motion, that the parts, which retain given positions to their wholes, do partake of the motions of those wholes. For all the parts of revolving bodies endeavor to recede from the axis of motion; and the impetus of bodies moving forwards arises from the joint impetus of all the parts. Therefore, if surrounding bodies are moved, those that are relatively at rest within them will partake of their motion. Upon which account, the true and absolute motion of a body cannot be determined by the translation of it from those which only seem to rest; for the external bodies ought not only to appear at rest, but to be really at rest. For otherwise, all included bodies, besides their translation from near the surrounding ones, partake likewise of their true motions; and though that translation were not made, they would not be really at rest, but only seen, to be so. For the surrounding bodies stand in the like relation to the surrounded as the exterior part of a whole does to the interior, or as the shell does to the kernel; but if the shell moves, the kernel will also move, as being part of the whole, without any removal from near to shell.

A property, near akin to the preceding, is this, that if a place is moved, wathever is placed therein moves along with it; and therefore a body, which is moved from a place in motion, partake also of the motion of its place. Upon which account, all motions, from places in motion, are no others than parts of entire and absolute motions; and every entire motion is composed of the motion of the body out of its first place, and the motion of this place out of its place; and so on, until we come to some immovable place, as in the before-mentioned example of the sailor. Wherefore, entire and absolute motions can be no otherwise determined than by immovable places; and for that reason I did before refer those absolute motions to immovable places, but relative ones to movable places. Now no other places are immovable but those that, from infinity to infinity, do all retain tha same given position one to another; and upon this account must even remain unmoved; and do thereby constitute inmovanle space.

The causes by which true and relative motions are distinguished, one from the other, are the forces impressed upon bodies to generate motion. True motion is neither generated nor altered, but by some force impressed upon the body moved; but relative motion may be generated or altered without any force impressed upon the body. For it is sufficient only to impress some force on other bodies with which the former is compared, that by their giving way, that relation may be changed, in which the relative rest or motion of this other body did consist. Again, true motion suffers always some change from any force impressed upon the moving body; but relative motion does not necessarily undergo any change by such forces. For if the same forces are likewise impressed on those other bodies, with which the comparison is made, that the relative position may be preserved, than that condition will be preserved in which the relative motion consists. And therefore any relative motion may be changed when the true motion remains unaltered, and the relative may be preserved when the true suffers some change. Thus, true motion by no means consists in such relations.

The effects which distinguish absolute from relative motion are, the forces of receding from the axis of circular motion. For there are no such forces in a circular motion purely relative, but in a true and absolute circular motion, they are greater or less, acording to the quantity of the motion. If a vessel hung by a long cord, is so often turned about that the cord is strongly twisted, then filled with water, and held at rest together with the water; thereupon, by the sudden action of another force, it is whirled about the contrary way, and while the cord is untwisting itself, the vessel continues for some time in this motion; the surface of the water will at first be plain, as before the vessel began to move; but after that, the vessel, by gradually communicating its motion to the water, will make it begin sensibly to revolve, and recede by little and little from the middle, and ascend to the sides of the vessel, forming itself into a concave figure (as I have experienced), and the swifter the motion becomes, the higher will the water rise, till at last, performing its revolutions in the same times with the vessel, it becomes relatively at rest in it. This ascent of the water shows its endeavor to recede from the axis of its motion; and the true and absolute circular motion of the water, which is here directly contrary to the relative, becomes known, and may be measured by this endeavor. At first, when the relative motion of the water in the vessel was greatest, it produced no endeavor to recede from the axis; the water showed no tendency to the circunference, nor any ascent towards the sides of the vessel, but remained of a plain surface, and therefore its true circular motion had not yet begun. But afterwards, when the relative motion of the water had decreased, the ascent thereof towards the sides of the vessel proved its endeavor to recede from the axis; and this endeavor showed the real circular motion of the water continually increasing, till it had acquired its greatest quantity, when the water rested relatively in the vessel. And therefore this endeavor does not depend upon any translation of the water in respect of the ambient bodies, nor can true circular motion on any one revolving body, corresponding to only one power of endeavoring to recede from its axis of motion, as its proper and adequate effect; but relative motions, in one and the same body, are innumerable, according to the various relations it bears to external bodies, and, like other relations, are altogether destitute of any real effect, any otherwise that they may perhaps partake of that one only true motion. And therefore in their system who suppose that our heavens, revolving below the sphere of the fixed stars, carry the planets along with them; the several parts of those heavens, do yet really move. For they change their position one to another (which never happen to bodies truly at rest), and being carried together with their heavens, partake of their motions, and as parts of revolving wholes, endeavor to recede from the axis of their motions.

Wherefore relative quantities are not the quantities themselves, whose names they bear, but those sensible measures of them (either accurate or inaccurate), which are commonly used instead of the measured quantities themselves. And if the meaning of words is to be determined by their use, then by the names time, space, place and motion, their [sensible] measures are properly to be understood; and the expression will be unusual, and purely mathematical, if the accuracy of language, which ought to be kept precise, who interpret these words for the measured quantities. Nor do those less defile the purity of mathematical and philosophical truths, who confound real quantities with their relations and sensible measures.

It is indeed a matter of great difficulty to discover, and effectually to distinguish the true motions of particular bodies from the apparent; because the parts of that immovable space, in which those motions are performed, do by no means come under the observation of our senses. Yet the thing is not altogether desperate; for we have some arguments to guide us, partly from the apparent motions, which are the differences of the true motions; partly from the apparent motions, which are the differences of the true motions; partly from the forces, which are the causes and effects of the true motions. For instance, if two globes, kept at a given distance one from the other by means of a cord that connects them, were revolved about their common centre of gravity, we might, from the tension of the cord, discover the endeavor of the globes to recede from the axis of their motion, and from thence we might compute the quantity of their circular motions. And then if any equal forces should be impressed at once on the alternate faces of the globes to augment or diminish their circular motions, from the increase or decrease of the tension of the cord, we might infer the increment or decrement of their motions; and thence would be found on what faces those forces ought to be impressed, that the motions of the globes might be most augmented; that is, we might discover their headmost their hindmost faces, or those which, in the circular motion, do follow. But the faces which follow being knows, and consequently the opposite ones that precede, we should likewise know the determination of their motions. And thus we might find both the quantity and the determination of this circular motion, even in an immense vacuum, where there was nothing external or sensible with which the globes could be compared. But now, if in that space some remote bodies were placed that kept always a given position one to another, as the fixed stars do in our regions, we could not indeed determine from the relative translation of the globes among those bodies, wether the motion did belong to the globes or to the bodies. But if we observed the cord, and found that its tension was that very tension which the motions of the globes required, we might conclude the motion to be on the globes, and the bodies to be at rest; and then, lastly, from the translation of the globes among the bodies, we should find the determination of their motions. But how we are to obtain the true motions from their causes, effects, and apparent differences, and the converse, shall be explained more at large in the following treatise. For to this end it was that I composed it.

Sir Isaac Newton.


Un ‘nobel’ de Medicina dimite por comentarios machistas

  • El bioquímico británico Tim Hunt, de 72 años, afirmó: “Pasan tres cosas cuando están en el laboratorio: te enamoras de ellas, ellas se enamoran de ti y, cuando las criticas, lloran”
  • Los recortes frenan el avance de las mujeres en la ciencia

MANUEL ANSEDE 11 JUN 2015 – 12:40 CEST

El bioquímico Tim Hunt, tras ganar el Nobel de Medicina en 2001. / ALASTAIR GRANT/AP

El bioquímico Tim Hunt, galardonado con el Nobel de Medicina en 2001, ha dimitido de su puesto en el University College de Londres tras hacer comentarios machistas durante una charla en Corea del Sur. “Déjenme que les cuente mi problema con las chicas. Pasan tres cosas cuando están en el laboratorio: te enamoras de ellas, ellas se enamoran de ti y, cuando las criticas, lloran”, afirmó el martes Hunt en la Conferencia mundial de periodistas científicos en Seúl. El nobel llegó a proponer que hombres y mujeres investigaran en laboratorios segregados.

El País | Un ‘nobel’ de Medicina dimite por comentarios machistas


How Is Creativity Differentially Related to Schizophrenia and Autism?

“There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” — Salvador Dali

For some reason, the general public is fascinated by the link between madness and genius. A new paper, which has been garnering a lot of media attention, has stoked the flames once again on this age-old debate.

The paper shows a link between artistic engagement and the genes underlying schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. To be sure, the effects are really small (the genes explain less than 1% of the variation in choosing an artistic profession), and the results do not mean that if one has a mental illness they are destined for creativity (or that creative people are destined for mental illness). Nevertheless, the results are consistent with other solid studies showing there is a real and meaningful link between the schizophrenia spectrum and artistic creativity (see herehere, here, andhere). Indeed, the supplemental data shows that the strongest relationships are between the genes underlying schizophrenia and engagement with music, the visual arts, and writing.

Scientific American Magazine | How Is Creativity Differentially Related to Schizophrenia and Autism?

Einstein | Discover Magazine


  • A History of General Relativity

    Experiments past, present, and future have put general relativity to the test. Here, the most important developments over the last 100 years.
    vía A History of General Relativity | Discover Magazine.

    Why the Quest to Prove Einstein Wrong?

    By Steve Nadis|Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    • Researchers are pushing Einstein’s theory to the max, trying to see where it falters in order to connect gravity with the rest of physics.

    Why are researchers so intent on proving Einstein right or wrong? It’s not simply that he is a towering figure whose name is synonymous with genius, someone whose work has profoundly shaped physics for more than a century.
    Instead, much of the incentive stems from gravity itself, which has been something of a problem child in the field. Physicists, including Einstein, have long hoped to devise a unified theory of the universe, but they’ve struggled to get gravity to mesh with the other fundamental forces. As a result, we currently have a theory of gravity (Einstein’s general relativity) and a separate theory of everything else (the “standard model” of particle physics). Unfortunately, these two extremely successful theories are incompatible with each other — and sometimes even contradictory.

    William Horace Smith/Corbis

    William Horace Smith/Corbis

    vía Why the Quest to Prove Einstein Wrong? | Discover Magazine.

    Relativity’s Long String of Successful Predictions

    By Adam Hadhazy|Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    • Six examples of how Einstein’s general theory of relativity has stood the test of (space-)time.

    Einstein’s concepts have been verified — just as he reckoned they would — on scales from a foot-long sub sandwich to galaxy clusters millions of light-years wide. In between, general relativity has made its mark on the Global Positioning System, while explaining anomalous planetary orbits and the whirling death dances of the remnants of giant stars.
    “We’re still using the same theory that was invented a hundred years ago, and it still works amazingly well in so many different situations,” says physicist Clifford Will of the University of Florida.
    Here are six examples of how Einstein’s landmark theory has stood the test of (space-)time.

    Paul Fleet/Shutterstock

    Paul Fleet/Shutterstock

    vía Relativity’s Long String of Successful Predictions | Discover Magazine.

    Bold Experiments Will Put General Relativity to the Test

    By Gabriel Popkin|Thursday, March 12, 2015

    • Powerful telescopes and huge gravitational wave detectors will test a theory that one man worked out a century ago with a pencil and paper.

    Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity remade gravity and solved problems that Newton’s theory couldn’t. It’s passed each of the dozens of experimental tests devised since its debut in 1915. But physicists have barely gotten started.
    “We’ve only been playing around in Newton’s world so far,” says Neil Cornish, a physicist at Montana State University. That will soon change, though, as several bold experiments enabled by telescopes of unprecedented reach — and in some cases by entirely new ways to gather data — are poised to study how gravity behaves around some of the universe’s most extreme objects.
    “This is where general relativity really gets going,” says Cornish. Powerful telescopes are already looking for minute hiccups in the whirring of stellar corpses called pulsars. A global effort will soon photograph, for the first time, a black hole. And huge gravitational wave detectors will scan thousands of galaxies for tiny ripples in the cosmic fabric of space-time.

    The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

    The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

    vía Bold Experiments Will Put General Relativity to the Test | Discover Magazine.

    Special Section: Outsmarting Einstein

    By Bill Andrews|Thursday, February 26, 2015

    • After a century of testing general relativity, physicists still strive to achieve what the genius who formulated the theory could not.

    Albert Einstein single-handedly changed the universe 100 years ago. For centuries, Isaac Newton’s straightforward equations ruled the cosmos — or at least how physicists thought about it. Any object with mass exerted an attractive force on any other object with mass; the bigger the masses, and the closer the two objects, the stronger the attraction. Simple. But in 1915, Einstein suggested that things were a bit trickier.
    Even Einstein had to labor for almost a decade to formulate the complex mathematical relationships behind his magnum opus, his own version of gravity: the general theory of relativity. Gravitational attraction, it turned out, was due to nothing less than the warping of the cosmos. A massive object literally bends the three-dimensional fabric of the universe around it, taking any smaller objects in the vicinity along for the ride. This results in familiar phenomena like orbiting moons, planets and stars, as well as some stranger effects like cosmic ripples and black holes.

    vía Relativity’s Long String of Successful Predictions | Discover Magazine.

    Probing Einstein’s Brain for Clues to His Genius

    By Jenny Blair|Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    • Einstein’s brain, preserved during autopsy, has been studied for decades. Some say it’s time to give it a rest.

    An elderly man pries open a jar and fishes out a dripping human cerebellum. He carves off a chunk with a kitchen knife and places it in a plastic pill bottle. Then, wiping a hand on his pants, the man hands the bottle to an admiring visitor.
    The brain was Albert Einstein’s. The man was Thomas Harvey, a pathologist who in 1955 removed, photographed and preserved the great physicist’s brain during autopsy. In the decades since, the brain has enjoyed a certain celebrity. In the ’80s, Harvey gave away slices to the curious, keeping the rest in a pair of glass cookie jars. (These bizarre transactions appear in the 1994 documentary Relics: Einstein’s Brain.) In the late ’90s, he carried it across the country in a Tupperware container to offer it to Einstein’s granddaughter, who chose not to keep it. Finally, he gave it back to Princeton Hospital, where he performed the autopsy decades before.


    In a 2013 analysis of the photos before the last paragraph, anthropologist Dean Falk counted four ridges (numbered 1-4) — one more than usual — in the right frontal lobe, an area associated with abstract thought. Researchers disagree about the significance of such anomalies. Frederick E. Lepore

    vía Probing Einstein’s Brain for Clues to His Genius | Discover Magazine.

    Images of Einstein’s brain revealed

    vía Images of Einstein’s brain revealed | YouTube

    Albert Einstein’s Brain – Documentary

    vía Albert Einstein’s Brain – Documentary | YouTube


WASHINGTON — The House voted Wednesday to give NASA the $18.5 billion it wanted for fiscal 2016, but with spending directives that conflict with the space agency’s priorities.

Lawmakers voted to spend more than NASA would like on planetary science programs and a deep-space mission to Mars, and less on Earth science and a partnership with private aerospace companies to develop a vehicle that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

The $18.5 billion was included in a $51 billion spending bill for federal science programs and the Commerce and Justice departments in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The House passed the measure 242-183. It will have to be reconciled with a Senate version.

USA Today | House approves $18.5 billion for NASA


Agujero negro

Aquí no valen las reglas convencionales…

Podría pasarle a cualquiera. Tal vez estás tratando de encontrar un nuevo planeta habitable para la humanidad, o quizá sólo saliste a dar un largo paseo y resbalaste.

Sean cuales sean las circunstancias, en algún momento podemos encontramos frente a la pragunta: ¿qué sucede cuando alguien cae en un agujero negro?

Lee también: Qué se ve dentro de un agujero negro

Probablemente piensas que acabarías aplastado, o tal vez hecho añicos. Pero la realidad es mucho más extraña que eso.

En el instante en el que entraras en el agujero negro, la realidad se dividiría en dos. En una de ellas serías incinerado inmediatamente. Y en la otra te sumergirías en el agujero, totalmente ileso.

Y es que los agujeros negros son lugares en los que las leyes de la física que conocemos pierden sentido. Vas a tener que tener un poco de paciencia para entenderlo…

Lee también: ¿Viajaremos alguna vez por atajos intergalácticos?

BBC Mundo | El extraño destino que enfrentarías si cayeras en un agujero negro

Space Oddity


Chris Hadfield

Chris Austin Hadfield OC OOnt MSC CD (born 29 August 1959) is a retired Canadian astronaut who was the first Canadian to walk in space. An engineer and former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, Hadfield has flown two space shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station.

Hadfield, who was raised on a farm in southern Ontario, was inspired as a child when he watched the Apollo 11 Moon landing on TV. He attended high school in Oakville and Milton and earned his glider pilot licence as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces and earned an engineering degree at Royal Military College. While in the military he learned to fly various types of aircraft and eventually became a test pilot and flew several experimental planes. As part of an exchange program with the United States Navy and United States Air Force, he obtained a master’s degree in aviation systems at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.


Wikipedia | Chris Hadfield

Space Oddity

YouTube | Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield: in space ‘you recognise the unanimity of our existence’

He captured our imagination with a zero gravity cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, but Chris Hadfield’s time in space was a multi-facted, ‘enriching’ experience. The astronaut and Twitter phenomenon talks about the wonder of spacewalking and why he’ll never look as good as Sandra Bullock in a spacesuit.

Chris Hadfield sings David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the International Space Station

It is a disorienting business, being in space, and most astronauts in the first days of orbit scan the Earth for reminders of home. The Russians look for their great lakes; the Americans for mountain ranges. For Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station, it was Plank Road, a 19th-century thoroughfare running through southern Ontario, Canada. “These guys put it there 150 years ago, and it was a neat thing for me to see from orbit. Hey, look! That’s where I’m from!” After a few days, the perceptive lens widens. “And you just start seeing the whole world.”

The Guardian | Chris Hadfield: in space ‘you recognise the unanimity of our existence’

Chris Hadfield, el astronauta que nos llevó a todos al espacio

Por Eduardo Marin el 13 de mayo de 2013, 22:00

El astronauta Chris Hadfield nos enseñó día a día cómo es la vida en el espacio, mediante vídeos y tweets. Hoy, luego de casi cinco meses, regresa a La Tierra como alguien que ha incentivado el estudio científico del espacio en miles de niños, y que además grabó el primer vídeo musical desde el espacio.

Chris Hadfield (Wikimedia Commons)

Comenzando por algo más que obvio, actualmente existe una manera infalible de transmitir un mensaje a enormes grupos de personas. La Internet se presta para esto de una manera fantástica, e incluso las redes sociales, donde podemos compartir un mensaje a millones en cuestión de segundos. Esto se presenta como la mayor herramienta que se puede usar para la divulgación científica, y sin duda alguna Chris Hadfield ha sabido hacerlo, llevando la vida en el espacio a través de internet a todo mundo, como nadie nunca antes lo había hecho, y con resultados espectaculares.

Hipertextual | Chris Hadfield, el astronauta que nos llevó a todos al espacio

Why I love the world: Astronaut Chris Hadfield

By Jim Benning
28 May 2015

The Canadian who captivated the planet with music videos and social media updates from space talks about his globetrotting travels on Earth.

Chris Hadfield was already a veteran astronaut by the time he became a global internet phenomenon. He’d flown a space shuttle to the Russian space station Mir in 1995 and had done his first stint aboard the International Space Station in 2001. But it was his time aboard the latter, from December 2012 to May 2013, that made the astronaut a full-fledged star.

 His photos of Earth and accompanying observations, which he posted to Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, inspired legions of followers. Then the guitar-playing astronaut released a captivating music video in which he sang David Bowie’s Space Oddity while floating in zero gravity – a performance viewed more than 25 million times.

BBC Travel | Why I love the world: Astronaut Chris Hadfield

The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth



In the world of art, architecture, and design, the golden ratio has earned a tremendous reputation. Greats like Le Corbusier and Salvador Dalí have used the number in their work. The Parthenon, the Pyramids at Giza, the paintings of Michelangelo, the Mona Lisa, even the Apple logo are all said to incorporate it.

It’s bullshit. The golden ratio’s aesthetic bona fides are an urban legend, a myth, a design unicorn. Many designers don’t use it, and if they do, they vastly discount its importance. There’s also no science to really back it up. Those who believe the golden ratio is the hidden math behind beauty are falling for a 150-year-old scam.

Flickr user Sébastien Bertrand


First described in Euclid’s Elements 2,300 years ago, the established definition is this: two objects are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. The value this works out to is usually written as 1.6180. The most famous application of the golden ratio is the so-called golden rectangle, which can be split into a perfect square, and a smaller rectangle that has the same aspect ratio as the rectangle it was cut away from. You can apply this theory to a larger number of objects by similarly splitting them down.

In plain English: if you have two objects (or a single object that can be split into two objects, like the golden rectangle), and if, after you do the math above, you get the number 1.6180, it’s usually accepted that those two objects fall within the golden ratio. Except there’s a problem. When you do the math, the golden ratio doesn’t come out to 1.6180. It comes out to 1.6180339887… And the decimal points go on forever.

The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth

Juegos Mentales – Las Leyes de la Atraccion

YouTube | Juegos Mentales – Las Leyes de la Atraccion

The Golden Ratio vs. The Rule of Thirds

YouTube | The Golden Ratio vs. The Rule of Thirds

God and Mathematics, The Golden Ratio

YouTube | God and Mathematics, The Golden Ratio

Mathematical Beauty

YouTube | Mathematical Beauty

Fibonacci Sequence in Music

YouTube | Fibonacci Sequence in Music

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Use of Sacred Geometry

YouTube | Leonardo Da Vinci’s Use of Sacred Geometry

How The Brain Handles Facial Recognition

Humans are phenomenally talented at remembering faces. (Names, sometimes — not so much!)

Discovery News | How The Brain Handles Facial Recognition