Friday, November 27, 2009

We Are All Connected

Thanks to Bosco Peters and his great blog for drawing my attention to this latest contribution from Carl Sagan and friends. If you liked "A Glorious Dawn," you're going to love this new video. Totally awesome...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gratitude: The Truth of Our Existence

This month's issue of the magazine, "Spirituality and Health," includes an article on gratitude - a perfect topic for Thanksgiving Day, it seems to me. Included in that article is a quote from philosopher Charles Eisenstein that struck me as exceedingly wise. I share it with you today as my Thanksgiving gift to you.

"We are born helpless infants, creatures of pure need with little resource to give, yet we are fed, we are protected, we are clothed and held and soothed, without having done anything to deserve it, without offering anything in exchange. This experience, common to everyone who has made it past childhood, informs our deepest spiritual intuitions. Our default state is gratitude: it is the truth of our existence."
Charles Eisenstein


And now...back to cooking! May your Thanksgiving be blessed with a feeling of gratitude.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nearly-Wordless Wednesday


Christmas Cactus? It's Not Even Thanksgiving Yet!

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, click here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spectacular Meteor Show Expected

The 2009 Leonid meteor shower is expected to reach peak intensity tomorrow. It should be a fantastic show, since tonight we have a new moon. This means a relatively dark sky early tomorrow morning when the Leonids are at their peak.

Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office predicts 20 - 30 meteors per hour over North America. Skywatchers in Asia will have an even better show, with perhaps 200 - 300 per hour observable.

The Leonid meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the stream of debris left by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The International Meteor Organization provides much more information for all you detail-oriented folks. This site provides practical information and tips for amateur meteor watchers like us.

We are expected to pass through the first wisp of the comet debris stream at 4:00 AM EST on Nov. 17. Set your alarm clock!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Self Organizing Flocks

This amazing video of a large flock of starlings making elaborate and intricate patterns in the sky above Denmark has been making the rounds on blogs and news sites lately:



Many of the bloggers pose the question: why do the birds do this? The answer actually lies in the physics of self-organizing systems.

Bird flocking is a well-known example of the self-organization phenomenon. No one bird is in charge, yet the flock as a whole organizes itself into beautiful patterns. Each bird takes note of its neighbor's position and direction of motion and adjusts accordingly, but nobody is the leader. No "head bird" tells the entire flock which way to go, yet they move as a unit.

Other videos of this phenomenon exist and it is sometimes the case that a predator is present. A hawk or other bird of prey could be present here as well, although it would be difficult to see it in such a large crowd of birds.

The predator's presence can explain what is causing the birds to fly around, rather than to sit quietly on the ground or in trees, but it cannot explain the intricate patterns that the starlings exhibit in their attempt to escape the predator. The theory of self-organizing systems is needed to understand the origin of these gorgeous patterns.

I have written about this phenomenon in earlier posts, since it applies to human behavior, too. Traffic and the movements of large crowds of pedestrians can be understood using this approach. It is not just birds who flock - people do, too!

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Friday the 13th!

What better way to celebrate such an auspicious day than with a fun video? Enjoy!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Complexity Simplified Wins Award!


I just heard from the folks at Science.org that Complexified Simplified has been chosen for a "Featured Blogger" award. I am always grateful for readers, but an award is even better!

Please check them out - looks like a new site, but could be promising.