Here is a beautiful pairing of a galaxy and an open cluster, right along the plane of the milky way
NGC 6946, (also known as the Fireworks Galaxy, Arp 29, and Caldwell 12), is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 22.5 million light-years away, in the constellations Cepheus and Cygnus. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 9, 1798. NGC 6946 is highly obscured by interstellar matter of the Milky Way galaxy, as it is quite close to the galactic plane.
GE is building the next generation of jet engines for the world’s fleet of commercial aircraft. These intelligent machines employ optimized architecture and technologies to produce outstanding fuel efficiency and power output.
As a New Zealander I thought it was high time I posted some archaeology a bit closer to home.
A very important Pacific archaeological site located on the south eastern coast of Raiatea, French Polynesia -the Taputapuatea Marae.
For those of you who don’t know, a marae is a sacred religious gathering place in Polynesian societies. This particular marae was already established by 1000 AD, and was once known as the religious centre and central temple of Eastern Polynesia. Here, people such as priests and navigators would meet to share knowledge and preform sacrifices to the gods.
Member of the Moari iwi Te Rangi Hīroa (anthropologist, politician), upon visiting the site in 1929 was overcome with grief due to the state of the once great marae, and consequently wrote:
I had made my pilgrimage to Taputapu-atea, but the dead could not speak to me. It was sad to the verge of tears. I felt a profound regret, a regret for — I knew not what. Was it for the beating of the temple drums or the shouting of the populace as the king was raised on high? Was it for the human sacrifices of olden times? It was for none of these individually but for something at the back of them all, some living spirit and divine courage that existed in ancient times of which Taputapu-atea was a mute symbol. It was something that we Polynesians have lost and cannot find, something that we yearn for and cannot recreate. The background in which that spirit was engendered has changed beyond recovery. The bleak wind of oblivion had swept over Opoa. Foreign weeds grew over the untended courtyard, and stones had fallen from the sacred altar of Taputapu-atea. The gods had long ago departed.
(ref: D. Hanlon, Voyaging Through the Contemporary Pacific)
Fortunately, as of 1994, the archaeological remains of Taputapuatea has been restored, and is currently being pushed to become a recognized United Nations World Heritage site.
Photos courtesy & taken by Pierre Lesage.
“Within Two Worlds depicts an alternate perspective by giving us the illusion of times movement, signifying a beginning and end within a world of constant contradiction. It appears you are traveling in the midst of a dream, half-sleeping, half-waking, and touching the arch connecting heaven and earth.”
Tom Beddard (aka subblue) has been responsible for some of the most fascinating work being done with fractals. His totally mesmerizing video of fractal shapes morphing into one another was one of the first things I posted on this blog.
In his series Fabergé Fractals he has created digitally generated objects with designs as intricate as the eggs they’re named after.
Beddard on his work:
The 3D fractals are generated by iterative formulas whereby the output of one iteration forms the input for the next. The formulas effectively fold, scale, rotate or flip space. They are truly fractal in the fact that more and more detail can be revealed the closer to the surface you travel.
The fascinating aspect is where combinations of parameters can combine to create structural “resonances” of extraordinary detail and beauty—sometimes naturally organic and other times perfectly geometric. But then like a chaotic system it can completely disappear with the smallest perturbation.
Check this LiveScience article that weighs in on the current and overall technical complications with creating a digital human brain:
. The brain isn’t a computer
Perhaps scientists could build computers that are like brains, but brains don’t run like computers. Humans have a tendency to compare the brain to the most advanced machinery of the day, said developmental neurobiologist Douglas Fields, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Though our best analogy is a computer right now, “it’s humbling to realize the brain may not work like that at all,” Fields added.
The brain, in part, communicates through electrical impulses, but it’s a biological organ made of billions of cells, and cells are essentially just “bags of seawater,” Fields said. The brain has no wires, no digital code and no programs. Even if scientists could aptly use the analogy of computer code, they wouldn’t know what language the brain was written in.
. Scientists need better technology
Kristen Harris, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, slipped into a computer analogy herself, saying that researchers tend to think a single brain cell has the equivalent power of a laptop. That’s just one way of illustrating the daunting complexity of the processes at work in each individual cell.
Scientists have been able to look at the connections between individual neurons in amazing detail, but only by way of a painstaking process. They finely slice neural tissue, scan hundreds of those slices under an electron microscope, and then put those slices back together again in a computer reconstruction, explained Murray Shanahan, a professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London.
To repeat that process for an entire brain would take lifetimes using current technology. And to get an idea of the average brain, scientists would have to compare these trillions of connections across many different brains.
“The big challenge is giving me — the scientist — the tools to do that analysis at a faster level,” Harris said. She added that physicists and engineers might be able to help scientists scale up, and she is hopeful the BRAIN initiative will spur such collaboration.
. It’s not all about neurons
Even if newer machines could efficiently map all of the trillions of neuron connections in the brain, scientists would still have to decipher what all of those links mean for human consciousness and behavior.
What’s more, neurons only make up 15 percent of the cells in the brain, Fields said. The other cells are called glia, which is the Greek word for “glue.” It was long thought that these cells provided structural and nutritional support for the neurons, but Fields said glia might be involved in vital background communication in the brain that’s neither electric nor synaptic.
Scientists have detected changes in glial cells in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, Fields said. A 2011 study found abnormalities in glial cells known as astrocytes in the brains of depressed people who had committed suicide. Fields also pointed out the neurons in Einstein’s brain were not remarkable, but his glial cells were bigger and more complicated than those found in an average brain.
. The brain is part of a bigger body
The brain is constantly responding to input from the rest of the body. Studying the brain in an isolated way inherently ignores the signals coming in through those pathways, warned Gregory Wheeler, a logician, philosopher and computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University.
“Brains evolved in order to make the body move around in the world,” Wheeler said. Instead of modeling the brain in a disembodied way, scientists should put it in a body — a robot body, that is.
There are already some examples of the kind of machine Wheeler has in mind. He showed the audience a video of Shrewbot, a robot modeled after the Etruscan pygmy shrew created by researchers at the Bristol Robotics Lab in the United Kingdom. The signals coming in from the robot’s sensitive “whiskers” influence its next moves.