Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Linguistics Washi Tape from Cognitive Surplus

February 26, 2023

Which came to Monica Macaulay yesterday, who reported on Facebook, “I’m confused, as always.” The stuff:

(#1) [caption:] Here’s an emerald green and canary yellow roll of Linguistics Washi Tape featuring an array of global alphabets

Several readers wondered what the market would be for such stuff, except for us linguists, and would any of us actually want it? Fair questions, but as it turns out, they pretty much apply to all of Cognitive Surplus’s products, which are simultaneously earnest, quirky, and intellectually lightweight. But some are great fun, and some are beautiful.

But what’s it all about, Alfie?


The drawing

January 4, 2023

Of me. Done by Max Vasilatos after a visit to me on 1/2. To make clay forms of items of mine for bronze casts — still to come — and share holiday carrot cake and commiserate over the pains and inabilities of our poor afflicted bodies, notably the weather-induced agony of our metal hip joints. But the drawing:

(#1) In my bathrobe, sitting in my home office


Protective coloration

November 18, 2022

(I am now afflicted by two separate medical conditions — neither of them life-threatening, but the two of them together absorbing most of my day — so this is a Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting. Real content, but a brief job of composition for me. I have not forgotten Zippy and his dots.)

Passed on to me by Jens Fiederer this morning, a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon I don’t recall having seen before:

(#1) Protective coloration saves lives


Booth, and two great-grand-Booths

November 4, 2022

(#1) Mrs. Ritterhouse, and her cat, mourn with us


Prof. Dr. Monica Elisabeth Zwicky

November 2, 2022

In academia, she’s noted for her research on sex determination in insects and her more recent career in training biology teachers; meanwhile, through her Zwicky father, she’s in the line of the sewing-thread Zwickys (going back to 1840 — made memorable through Donald Brun’s Zwicky-silk cat poster, Soie à coudre) and is now the CEO of the real-estate development firm that evolved from that enterprise.

Prof. Dr. Monica Elisabeth Zwicky (Professor of Developmental Biology, Department of Molecular Life Sciences, Univ. of Zurich [so listed on the English versions of its pages; it’s Zürich on the German pages]); photo from the Molecular Life Sciences website

The thumbnail sketch from this website:

Monica Zwicky was born to a Swedish mother and Swiss father in Zurich and grew up in Lausanne. She has two grown-up children, is in charge of training aspiring biology teachers and is an Adjunct Professor of MNF [die Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, the Faculty of Science, the larger division to which Molecular Life Sciences belongs]

This is then followed by an interview with her about her interest in natural science, her life as a woman in biology, her drive for independence and authority, and her recognition that the role of mentor and nurturer of students comes easily to her as an extension of her maternal role. It’s a complex and self-reflective piece, also something of a surprise on a Molecular Life Sciences site.


Phosphorus and Hesperus

June 2, 2021

(Folded into this posting there will be some discussion of male-male sexual acts, and paintings of these, so the posting isn’t suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

🐇🐇🐇 To greet the new month — Pride Month, though that’s no doubt an accident — my Facebook ads on 6/1, yesterday, included one new to me, for, offering giclee or canvas prints of Evelyn De Morgan’s 1882 painting Phosphorus and Hesperus:


An embodiment of complementarity: two half-brothers (sharing their mother, Eos), one (Phosphorus) lighter haired, eyes open, facing up, bearing a flaming torch aloft; one (Hesperus) darker haired, eyes closed, facing down, holding a cold torch pointing down; with their arms intertwined and their bodies aligned complementarily, in a 69, or sideways astrological Cancer, or yin-yang pattern (with Hesperus as yin, Phosphorus as yang).


A POPular cartoon

May 10, 2021

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from 5/4 (which was, appropriately, Star Wars Day):

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau), but here’s behavioral science + science fiction = behavioral science fiction. There’s something to be said about each of the contributing expressions.


Mind-Blowing Theories

April 21, 2021

Tom Gauld cartoons from New Scientist magazine, in a 2020 collection:


— with three cartoons that especially caught my interest. One  on science vs. journalism over de-extinction (already posted on this blog); one on the agony of Science Hell, the scene of eternal scientific mansplaining; and one on the adverbial literally understood literally (which then provides the title for the 2020 book).


A mammoth revival

April 19, 2021

Well, yes, it’s a big thing, or will be if it works, but the story here is about a proposal to revive — de-extinct seems to be the technical term — the woolly mammoth, à la Jurassic Park.

Dinosaurs, no; see the scientist in this wry cartoon by Tom Gauld (originally from New Scientist, then reprinted in You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack and in Department of Mind-Blowing Theories):


But woolly mammoths, sort of and maybe. And on that there’s recent news from Harvard (where is Tom Lehrer when we need him?).


Morning names: cavitation, Gwen Stefani

February 24, 2021

Morning names for yesterday (2/23). In both cases I found the names (one common, one proper) vaguely familiar but couldn’t recall actually having experienced the name in use (though obviously I must have, to have them pop up in my mind on awaking). I then made guesses about the referents of the names — and was well off the mark in both cases.