Tag Archives: science

Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Sam Brownback with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009.


This legislation works to ensure that our society recognizes the dignity and sacredness of human life.

Creating human-animal hybrids, which permanently alter the genetic makeup of an organism, will challenge the very definition of what it means to be human and is a violation of human dignity and a grave injustice.

This legislation is both philosophical and practical as it has a direct bearing upon the very essence of what it means to be human, and it draws a bright line with respect to how far we can go in attempting to create new creatures made with genes from both humans and animals.(Brownback)


The Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act would ban the creation of human-animal hybrids. Human-animal hybrids are defined as those part-human, part-animal creatures, which are created in laboratories, and blur the line between species. The bill is modest in scope and only affects efforts to blur the genetic lines between animals and humans. It does not preclude the use of animals or humans in legitimate research or health care where genetic material is not passed on to future generations, such as the use of a porcine heart valve in a human patient or the use of a lab rat with human diseases to develop treatments.

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The question is:

What is there exactly, that those politicians are so scared of?

What is that protected and inalienable: dignity and sacredness of human life – that human dignity – they are ready to fight for?

Just take away all the religious and – yes – philosophical life-jacket out of their reasoning…what we are left with?

A common, yet never -to -be -admitted fear of a pandemonium of being truly ‘human’ with the messed-up animal DNA?…


How is it then – are we so frail in our human identity, are we so insecure in it that we have to ban all the attempts of disturbing that ‘sacred’ purity of the dominating species?

But – if there is any system, any reality which knows only one ‘correct’ answer, only one possible scenario – is it not yet another case (or possibility, at least) of an intellectual, spiritual and – factual – dictatorship?

To dictate one and only solution to a highly intricate problem/phenomenon – this is all what this sort of politics are about…

What are they so scared of? What are we so scared of?

Ourselves?…



Human World – Sensation (1)

SENSATION
A term commonly used to refer to the subjective experience resulting from stimulation of a sense organ, for instance, a sensation of warm, sour, or green. As a general scientific category, the study of sensation is the study of the operation of the senses. Sense receptors are the means by which information presented as one form of energy, for example, light, is converted to information in the form used by the nervous system, that is, impulses traveling along nerve fibers.

Each sense has mechanisms and characteristics peculiar to itself, but all display the phenomena of absolute threshold, differential threshold, and adaptation. Not until sufficient stimulation impinges on a receptor can the presence of a stimulus be detected. The quantity of stimulation required is known as the absolute threshold. Not until a sufficient change occurs in some aspect of a stimulus can the change be detected. The magnitude of the change required is called the differential threshold. Under steady stimulation there is a decrease in sensitivity of the corresponding sense, as indicated by a shift in the absolute threshold and in the magnitude of sensation. After the stimulation ceases, sensitivity increases. An obvious example of visual adaptation occurs when one goes from bright to dim surroundings or vice versa.

With fairly good accuracy humans can localize visual objects, sounds, and cutaneous contacts and can discriminate the spatial orientation of the body and its members. With rather poor accuracy humans can localize many of the stimuli originating within the body.

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World of human sensation popularized.

Discovery documentaries: 1st  part of 48 series. Double click to access all the material.


Human vs. Animal (3)

Captivating. Stirring. Uncanny. Bewitching. Bone-chilling.

Nature is genius even or – especially – when it goes wrong…

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Materials shown for educational and inspirational purposes. Double-click on vids to access their original upload and to learn about the authors.


New toys of a dirty boy – Eric Fischl

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A gifted boy with dirty imagination is back.

Eric Fischl (b. 1948, NY) has apparently abandoned his flamboyant yuppies and bad boys lost in their hedonistic activities on daddies’ yachts and in flashy apartments. Or rather – he grew up with them, since the new characters of his painted stories are middle- aged couples, lost again, yet in thoughts more than in purely sensual stimulants.

In 2002 the painter has staged and directed few episodes of a very contemporary drama, he hired actors and then extensively photographed them in a home-like setting; then he painted a series of works based on their performance there. So-called “Krefeld Project” (from then name of a place in Germany) has been accomplished.

As the portrayed relationship goes deeper and stranger, so the paint on the surface of canvas dissolves and disintegrates. Identity of the examined individuals goes to pieces (or rather – layers) with it. They are every-and-any-of-us, white, heterosexual, ‘normal’, inhabiting a modern-looking, comfortable space.

Yet, there is that unsettling, heavy air that lingers, much like in D. Lynch’s movies. Sexually charged atmosphere is rendered beautifully in peachy, golden light; a viewer is faced with everyday scenes of great intimacy… But it’s hardly yet another “Casablanca” – nobody is going to make a life-saving sacrifice here. A couple plays enjoyable roles in their cushy world, just like many of us do. They may stay this way for years or leave each other next day, to find another apartment with fresh towels and soft robes, to create a new illusion of communication and sense with another human being. Like many of us – middle-class, Caucasian, modern – would do…

Leaving all these complex (always highly individualized) readings of Fischl’s work, there is no way to miss his technical mastery (best appreciated, obviously, in details), which he had managed to gain over the years and displays in his recent paintings. He virtually doesn’t ‘paint’ mechanically speaking – he seems to project his thoughts seamlessly on canvas, like dreams project upon consciousness without any conscious effort or even a will. Fluid yet fractured, complex yet straightforward, intimate yet sunk in itself – the life, the world, the people of our age. We – our – selves… A lesson from a grown-up dirty boy?

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One can appreciate E. Fischl paintings from the “Krefeld Project” in the National Museum of Krakow, Poland till the end of August 2009. To see my article on the exhibition there: here. To see more detailed photos and descriptions: here.


One particularly high-brow inspiration…

Royal Society (of Science) site is a goldmine of wonder, high-quality information and an inspiration. It’s made and kept going with passion, flair and open-mindedness – it’s inviting and educating to all… as opposed to some of the elitist, obscure sites (also blogs), which tend to draw clear lines between the ‘patrons’ and the ‘folk’…

Here are some of the Society ‘s propositions (present and ongoing) designed with the concern for the general public, to promote the culture of using minds actively and creatively:

Summer Science Exhibition 2009 (30 June – 4 July) – featuring some cutting edge, pioneering research from UK, great opportunity to meet projects and minds behind them.

The New Alchemy: Rutherford and the Atom (1 December 2008 – 26 June 2009) – What is the world made of?
Philosophers and scientists have tried to answer this question for centuries. In 1911 Ernest Rutherford FRS made an important leap forward, unveiling an atomic model in which electrons orbit a central nucleus.
This exhibition celebrates Rutherford’s achievements and traces the history of the atom from the ancient world to the sub-atomic age…

Culture Evolves (28 – 30 June 2010) – The capacity for culture is a product of biological evolution – yet culture itself can also evolve, generating cultural phylogenies. This highly interdisciplinary joint meeting with the British Academy will address new discoveries and controversies illuminating these phenomena, from the roots of culture in the animal kingdom to human, cultural evolutionary trees and the cognitive adaptations shaping our special cultural nature.

One can also listen to talks/discussions/lectures recorded in the recent years and featuring the life -sharing of thoughts/concepts by excellent academics. Here is an example (to make a little self-indulgent remark): Dublin-based psychiatrist – M. Fitzgerald speaks about links between autism and creativity – (talks from September 2008) – and it’s great to sense his personality, wit, and the concern behind his ideas, so well-know from different publications.

Well, one can only admire and be stimulated by that intensely humane spirit of generous sharing and intelligent inclusiveness, continuous striving for a development and excellency, as well as the great sense of the public service. All of these qualities not so often, unfortunately, to be encountered in the art-world today…



Multiverse (M) Theory and a tower of tortoises…

Featured above is the first of five parts of the BBC documentary: “Parallel Universes”. So-called ‘M’ (Multiverse) Theory in physics has been circulating in the air for some time now. Being still a big gamble and a hypothesis per se – one can be actually surprised that is being served by the BBC as a sort of a new ‘Decalogue’ to believe in…

To state my point of view – I’m quite impressed (who wouldn’t be…) – the sheer visionary power, actual and theoretical potential and imaginative flair of this new-born piece of science is simply entrancing. Einstein’s biggest dream of constructing the Theory of Everything – at once beautiful and working, seems to live on and evolve in interesting, unforeseen directions.

At the same time I have in mind the funniest first few sentences of a great scientific book, I’ve ever read. Stephen Hawking in his “A Brief History of Time” starts his explanations from an anecdote:

After Bernard Russell finished his proud lecture on the spherical nature of the Universe, he had to face a point of view of a little old lady, who said: This is all rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on a back of a giant tortoise. Russell asked with a superior smile: But what is the tortoise standing on? And the little old lady replied: You are very clever, young man… But it’s the turtles all the way down!

And Hawking challenges us further in his uniquely reachable, crystal-like prose (actually, it’s so casually understated, that I remember double checking, if my book was an original “Hawking” and not the simplified version):

Most people would find the picture of our universe as an infinite tower of tortoises rather ridiculous, but why do we think we know better? What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? (…) Some of the recent, breakthrough answers may seem as obvious as the earth orbiting the sun – or perhaps as ridiculous as a tower of tortoises…Only time (whenever it may be) will tell.

Is the enchanting ‘M’ Theory that tower of tortoises, or is it the Holy-Grail of science finally found? I can’t assess it scientifically, but from an artistic point of view this concept of physics alone dwarfs a big chunk of the conceptual and postmodern ‘philosophy’ as formed and portrayed by artists – actually, it makes it appear as intellectually ‘lazy’ or simply pretentious, lacking in the visionary impact and, recently, quite impotent to generate any sustainable, innovative ideas… A. Einstein defending fiercely his freedom of imagination, which is ‘more important than knowledge’ (as he stated), S. Hawking or Michio Kaku – the devil’s advocate of ‘M’ Theory – they all present themselves as being much more, in much profound way… artists than many professionals within the fine art field I can think about…

Around 4.26 minute of the video presented  Michio Kaku beautifully dances on ice  talking about his childhood dream to take part in Einstein’s quest to link and explain everything in the universe… what an evocative metaphor of both – an artist and scientist condition…  Being a visionary and a dreamer, yet a risk-taker and a skillful performer at the same time… Sliding on the thin ice, exposed and vulnerable, yet – pushing the laws of physics in order to find even greater sense, balance and beauty…

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The remaining parts of the documentary:  (2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atiLNT… , (3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4UVYq… , (4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73hkF1… , (5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW3OJO…

Thank you “kellyneill” from Youtube for making this available to all of us.



Chaos Theory, Fractals and the complexity of existence…

I’ve promised you few notes on “Fractal Ontology”. Well, here they go…

The term bridges philosophical notion of ‘ontology’ -(Greek meaning: ‘theory/science of being’) with the phenomenon of ‘fractals’ taken from the natural sciences and maths. Going deeper – ‘fractals’ originate from the Chaos Theory, and this is where one probably should start all the explanations.

Chaos Theory is a dark horse of contemporary science. Two hundred years ago  it would be unthinkable – Newtonian perfectly organized world-view, with its deliciously logical mechanics, was too strong to allow any serious benefit of a doubt.  A hundred years ago Einstein’s genius abolished the rule of determinism, reductionism and objective knowledge in science – his contribution was so revolutionary and complex that it hasn’t been fully digested yet; practically, one can easy predict, that our 21st century would be a completely different fairy-tale if it wasn’t for that one man and his theories…

The ‘scandal’ of Chaos in science had started to develop in maths (with regular experiments being conducted in 1920s onwards), then had been followed by physics, chemistry and biology  – where scientists observed irregularities, even randomness in the dynamics of systems considered as ‘ordered’ by the traditional views. From various chemical reactions in micro and macro-cosmos to weather and climate – universe has started to display itself as – in fact – infinite chaos, rather than the absolute order, as humankind was keen to believe for ages.

In natural world, there have always existed structures and phenomena, which proved to be impossible to describe by traditional Euclidean geometry or Newtonian dynamics… Mountains ranges, clouds, coastlines, crystals, lightning, blood vessels –  boundless, captivatingly beautiful, unpredictable in its evolution though fairly self-similar, they generate themselves forever expanding accordingly to the rules, which cannot be completely captured or explained, simply because they’re no definite rules… Epitomes of Life per se – the face of Nature in its most primordial, creative and self-sustaining structure… These are FRACTALS – children of the organized chaos of the Universe. Yet “chaos” here doesn’t simply mean ‘anarchy’ but ‘a higher order’ – out of confusion and complexity life emerges as a functioning organism, it may be unpredictable and extremely sensitive to any stimulants – yet – it displays that innate tendency to form into patterns and structures – it fosters and commands order despite of all forces that act against it.

Fragmented, ‘broken’, complex, inexhaustible – this is the ‘fractal’ theory of existence (transplanting scientific concepts on the philosophical field). One of those very few examples where the nature of the human thought and the nature of the physical world interweave so closely and creatively.

Focusing on the creativity- ‘fractal’ world-view belongs to the oldest, most pre-thought, deeply spiritual as the example from the ancient “Book of Kells” (above) shows. There are many symbols and primitive art images created by ancient civilizations, which show their intuitive reading of nature as fragmented, ‘fractured’.

Picasso’s portrait of A. Vollard (above), just like many cubists works from its analytical period picture the fractal vision of reality – looks like art preceded science in its practical applications of the Chaos and Fractal Theory (though calling it with different names)… In many abstract and abstract expressionist works, from P. Klee and J. Pollock to postmodern works (look above -work from the “Fractal Gallery”), often digitally generated one can easily noticed how that chaotic, ‘broken’, non-linear (as opposed to ‘classical’ ordered) representation of reality prevails presenting itself with innovative spirit, confidence and haunting beauty.

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Note: Due to the immense complexity of the issues presented and the brief nature of blogging, one cannot consider this article as ‘informative’ in a scientific sense (due to simplifications and the fragmented outlook). Its intent is mainly that of promoting science and its theories. Care will be taken in my further research to develop this, here introduced, art-science affinity concept. Extended information on fractals can be found online – here are some of the links: FractalOntologyWikipedia, Chaos Intro, EnchantedMind and many more…


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