Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

by Sam Harris
October 6th, 2014

Via Brainpickings: "The human nervous system is plastic in a very important way — which means your experience of the world can be radically transformed. You are tending who you were yesterday by virtue of various habit patterns and physiological homeostasis and other things that are keeping you very recognizable to yourself, but it’s possible to have a very different experience… It’s possible to do it through a deliberate form of training, like meditation, and I think it’s crucial to do — because we all want to be as happy and as fulfilled and as free of pointless suffering as can possibly be. And all of our suffering, and all of our unhappiness, is a product of how our minds are in every moment. So if there’s a way to use the mind itself to improve one’s capacity for moment-to-moment wellbeing — which I’m convinced there is — then this should be potentially of interest to everybody. [...]

Waking Up, which you can sample further here, is a superb read in its entirety, quite possibly the best thing written on this ecosystem of spiritual subjects since Alan Watts’s treatise on the taboo against knowing who you really are."

Related: Introduction to Meditation: A Four-Part Series by Tara Brach

Filed under: Reading

We are listening

World's smallest microphone is just one molecule
October 5th, 2014

Via NewScientist: "The world's smallest microphone, made from a single molecule, is listening.
Smaller microphones can detect smaller vibrations. Yuxi Tian of Lund University in Sweden and his colleagues have taken this idea to extremes by embedding a molecule of dibenzoterrylene inside a crystal. When sound waves disturb the molecule, it vibrates, shifting the frequencies of light it absorbs. So by shining a laser into the crystal and watching for changes in absorption frequencies, the team can listen in on the sound it picks up.
One limitation is that the microphone only works at very low temperatures, because fluctuations from warm air would overwhelm the molecule. Still, the team hope that by refining the device, it could be used as an acoustic microscope to spot tiny motions in chemical and biological systems."

Filed under: Wunderkammer

How To Make Your Life Better...

...by sending five simple emails
September 14th, 2014

Via Barking Up The Wrong Tree:
"HAPPINESS– Every morning send a friend, family member or co-worker an email to say thanks for something.
JOB– At the end of the week, send your boss an email and sum up what you’ve accomplished.
GROWTH– Once a week email a potential mentor.
FRIENDSHIP– Email a good friend and make plans.
CAREER– Send an email to someone you know (but don’t know very well) and check in."

Plus, 3 Simple Things That Will Make You 10% Happier:
"One: Sit with your eyes closed and your back straight.
Two: Notice what it feels like when your breath comes in and when your breath goes out, try to bring your full attention to the feeling of your breath coming in and going out.
Third step is the biggie: Every time you try to do this, your mind is going to go crazy. You are going to start thinking about all sorts of stupid things like if you need a haircut, why you said that dumb thing to your boss, what’s for lunch, etc. Every time you notice that your mind is wandering, bring your attention back to your breath and begin again. This is going to happen over and over and over again and that is meditation.

It’s not easy. You will fail a million times but the failing and starting over is succeeding. So this isn’t like most things in your life where, like if you can’t get up on water skis, you can’t do it. Here the trying and starting again, trying and starting again, that’s the whole game."

Filed under: Wunderkammer

Nice And Slow

by Boy George
September 13th, 2014

It's time to breathe
Good morning Mr Lovebones, how you doing today?
Well I’m just like Patsy, I got my sparkle back again
I’ve been talking less, thinking more,
feel like I should hold you inside
No more watching from the sidelines,
I ain’t along for the ride, no sir
Well the wind might change while I'm talking to you
I feel a little faint getting too much truth
And nothing that I need to do
Take it nice and slow
Nice and slow
Morning Mr Darkness, stop all this running away
Will you be walking in a straight line,
now you know crime doesn’t pay
Your luck has changed, I got sweeter for you
I used to be a dreamer with my heart full of moon
Be careful not to speak too soon
Take it nice and slow
Nice and slow (take it take it)
And l walk down the street with a smile on my face
and my heart on my sleeve
Nice and slow
And if you really love me then show it don’t say it
It’s the only way to go
Nice and slow
See I learnt the hard way love is mundane
Love is just nice and slow 

Filed under: Wunderkammer

New Vintage Porcelain Dishes Crawling with Hand-Painted Ants

by Evelyn Bracklow
September 13th, 2014

Via Colossal: "German artist Evelyn Bracklow of La Philie has created an entire new collection of ant-covered porcelain dishes and tableware since we first shared her work here early this year. Many of the new pieces are part of a unique partnership between the artist, Rijks Museum in the Netherlands, and Etsy. The pieces are hand-painted in Bracklow’s studio, signed, numbered and fired to 160 degrees. As unsettling as having insects permanently invading your dinnerware is, I can’t help but be enchanted by how perfectly crafted they are. You can see more of Bracklow’s recent work here."

Filed under: People

The Sound of Sorting

Audibilization and Visualization of Sorting Algorithms
September 6th, 2014

Via YouTube: "Sorts random shuffles of integers, with both speed and the number of items adapted to each algorithm's complexity. The algorithms are: selection sort, insertion sort, quick sort, merge sort, heap sort, radix sort (LSD), radix sort (MSD), std::sort (intro sort), std::stable_sort (adaptive merge sort), shell sort, bubble sort, cocktail shaker sort, gnome sort, bitonic sort and bogo sort (30 seconds of it)."

Via Panthema: "This web page presents my own demo program for sortings algorithms, called The Sound of Sorting, which both visualizes the algorithms internals and their operations, and generates sound effects from the values being compared. See below for YouTube videos created with the demo.

The demo is implemented using the cross-platform toolkits wxWidgets and SDL, can be executed on Windows, Linux and Mac, and runs in real time.

All of the sorting algorithms are implemented in the SortAlgo.cpp.

Since November 2013, there is also the SoS-CheatSheet.pdf, which contains pseudo-code of a small selection of the algorithms.

On 2013-10-24, the viral YouTube video infected the front page of my current employer: the Department of Informatics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), which is of course whom I originally made the demo program for. See the blog post about this occasion for another more technical description of the sorting demo program."

Thanks to Florian Zeeh!

Filed under: Visual Music

Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence

by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
September 5th, 2014

Via Harvard Business Review: "There seems to be wide support for the idea that we are living in an age of complexity, which implies that the world has never been more intricate. This idea is based on the rapid pace of technological changes, and the vast amount of information that we are generating (the two are related). Yet consider that philosophers like Leibniz (17th century) and Diderot (18th century) were already complaining about information overload. The 'horrible mass of books' they referred to may have represented only a tiny portion of what we know today, but much of what we know today will be equally insignificant to future generations.

In any event, the relative complexity of different eras is of little matter to the person who is simply struggling to cope with it in everyday life. So perhaps the right question is not Is this era more complex? but Why are some people more able to manage complexity? Although complexity is context-dependent, it is also determined by a person’s disposition. In particular, there are three key psychological qualities that enhance our ability to manage complexity:

1. […] higher levels of IQ enable people to learn and solve novel problems faster […]

2. […] individuals with higher EQ [emotional quotient] are less susceptible to stress and anxiety […]

3. […] People with higher CQ [curiosity quotient] are more inquisitive and open to new experiences […] they are generally more tolerant of ambiguity."

Filed under: Wunderkammer

Geometry Dash

More Visual Music games
August 13th, 2014

Via Wikipedia:"Geometry Dash is a 2013 mobile game, developed by Sweden-based developer Robert Topala, and also published by RobTop Games, which was founded by himself. It is a rhythm-based running game which has 16 levels currently, with each stage featuring unique background music. Although the player is not required to complete a level to advance to the next, they will often increase in difficulty. Other features of the game that exist in the latest versions is the level builder, map packs, user-created levels, secret coins, and a great variety of icons.
Topala also created a free version of the game, known simply as Geometry Dash Lite, which include the first 6 levels of full version up to now. This variant, excluding several features from the paid version, also does not feature level builder and user-created levels. Geometry Dash Lite has, however, been far more popular of a game in both the App Store and Play Store due to its pricing."

Via Cult of Mac: "His quirky, rhythm-based running game, a $1.99 gem called Geometry Dash, went on to own the App Store, crawling in less than a year from total obscurity to the top of the paid iPhone charts. 'Word of mouth,' says Topala, explaining his game’s monumental success. 'It’s as simple and frightening as that.'
As it happens, word of mouth may be an understatement. The super-addictive Geometry Dash has become an iOS superstar and is now spreading to other platforms like Android and Windows Phone. All told, Topala says the game has been downloaded more than 20 million times, across both paid and non-paid versions.
So what’s his secret?
For starters, we’re in the midst of a golden age for independent game developers in the iOS App Store. One of the big advantages of the platform is the level of interaction it allows between the coders who make games and the people who play them. For example, most indie devs are more than happy to strike up in-depth conversations with players — something almost unheard of in the world of AAA games, the classification given to those titles with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion (think Grand Theft Auto V or Mass Effect).

Topala wisely took things to the next level. While most indie developers go no further than soliciting feedback about features that gamers would like to see in future versions, with Geometry Dash Topala fully embraced the idea of letting his game be driven by its players. He created a level editor mode that lets users create and share their own levels of the hit game. More than 500,000 such custom stages exist now.
'The amount of user-generated content is insane, and the quality of many levels is truly amazing,' he says."

Thanks to Stephanie von Fragstein!

Filed under: Visual Music

Is mathematics absolute?

Is it possible that an alien civilization has completely different mathematics than ours?
August 3rd, 2014

Via Robert Walker: "This is an area of maths (use of sets or infinity or both) - that for us is full of paradoxes - such as Russell's paradox, various Cantor's paradoxes, the Banach Tarski paradox etc.

Some say the paradoxes have been solved.

Yes our maths is elegant in a way, and if you follow the rules carefully you don't get any contradictions (at least as far as we know).

But, if you look at those rules from a philosophically unattached standpoint you may get a different impression.

Modern set theory with
–The puzzling impossibility of counting many fundamental things in mathematics - as in - ordering them into an unending list.
–Yet everything "interesting" can be counted. Ratios, finite decimals, square roots, more generally, solutions to polynomial and trig equations - everything like that can be counted easily.
–If you haven't come across this before, see Impossibility of counting most mathematical objects by Robert Walker (just a short summary I did, linking to the material on the subject)."

Related: Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity by David Foster Wallace.

Filed under: Wunderkammer

Of Mitochondria and Men

Why Brain Death is Not the Death of the Human Organism as a Whole
July 22nd, 2014

Via Social Science Research Network: "Death is a phenomenon that resists simple explanation. While the cardiopulmonary criterion of death has been used for centuries, in most nations (including the US and Canada) brain death has also been accepted since 1968 as a second legal criterion, held to be biologically equivalent to bodily death. This equivalence has been argued to derive either from the brain’s control over body functions or from the brain’s work against entropy, with a dead brain thereby producing a dead body. Subsequently, some have found these claims wanting. An alternative body-centered view, based on the functioning of the body’s mitochondria, is that in brain death, only the brain is dead, while the body may not necessarily be. Mitochondria are cellular organelles descended from ancient bacteria, symbiotically providing energy for entropy-resistance and sharing control over life processes. All of death’s features – its universality, oxygen-dependence, inevitability, link with aging, irreversibility, and association with disintegration and decay – may be explained as logical side-effects of mitochondrial failure. Yet the role of mitochondria in human life and death has been overlooked for over four decades in the legal and bioethical literature, which has focused instead on processes at the whole-organism level. Challenges remain however: if brain death and bodily death are not biologically equivalent, this may prove problematic for organ donation’s “dead donor rule,” which requires organs to be transplanted only from the bodies of dead consenting donors, not from those who are still dying. Nevertheless, brain death could be retained as a legal fiction satisfying the dead donor rule, which would allow its societal benefits to persist. Of fundamental importance is the principle that future patients be adequately informed regarding brain death, in order to ensure legally valid, informed consent for organ donation."

Filed under: Wunderkammer

Games, not games

I love my Mountain
July 20st, 2014

David O'Reilly's work is outstanding and now he has created a wonderful game.

Via The Atlantic: "Once one has witnessed events such as this in Mountain, its messages become ever more urgent and disorienting. I cannot tell if my life is going in circles or if I am making any progress, it tells me one morning. Later, as I’ve zoomed out into space amidst a snowstorm, it laments, Why am I alone? During a ruddy, overcast dusk it opines, If I ever see another thing like me, will it like me?

As time wears on, I get the sense that my mountain’s existential angst is intensifying. How long have I been here? it asks. Or, I can do whatever I want! it declares. Or Things are coming together, it opines. And forebodingly, as dawn’s rosy fingers break yet again, Here is another day. How many days do I have?

These interjections seem too anthropocentric to make sense for a game in which 'you are mountain.' If a mountain could talk, would it express existential doubt and dread? Would it play the Woody Allen neurotic, the Prufrock twerp content to let earthly waste accumulate upon it without objection? At this stage, the player has a choice: to dismiss Mountain as a curious, boring conceit, or to treat it as something more serious."

Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!

Related: I also very much enjoy the games by Tale of Tales.
Check out their blog.

Thanks to Tim Fehske!

Filed under: Wunderkammer

Quantum state may be a real thing

July 8th, 2014

Via Ars Technica: "At the very heart of quantum mechanics lies a monster waiting to consume unwary minds. This monster goes by the name The Nature of Reality. The greatest of physicists have taken one look into its mouth, saw the size of its teeth, and were consumed. Niels Bohr denied the existence of the monster after he nonchalantly (and very quietly) exited the monster's lair muttering 'shut up and calculate.' Einstein caught a glimpse of the teeth and fainted. He was reportedly rescued by Erwin Schrödinger at great personal risk, but neither really recovered from their encounter with the beast."

Filed under: Wunderkammer

70 of the Most Useful Websites on the Internet

by Johnny Webber
June 28th, 2014

Via Daily Zen List:
"1. netflixroulette.net — Find something random to watch on Netflix.
2. pintsinthesun.co.uk — Find somewhere to drink a pint in the sun.
3. gfycat.com — Upload your gifs.
4. youconvertit.com — Convert documents.
5. ninite.com — Download all the free software you want at the same time.
6. squirt.io — Speed read the web one word at a time.
7. shouldiremoveit.com — Find out which applications you should remove from your computer.
8. avoidhumans.com — Find places to go in public that are not crowded.
9. keybr.com — Practice your touch typing.
10. oldversion.com — Get old versions of software.
11. readability-score.com — Find out how readable text is.
12. deadmansswitch.net — Have emails sent when you die.
13. mint.com — Budget your money.
14. roadtrippers.com — Plan your route with the best lodging and attractions.
15. duckduckgo.com — A search engine that is not following you.
16. padmapper.com — Maps out possible apartments/homes that fit your criteria.
17. zillow.com — Another great source for finding your next home.
18. printfriendly.com — Make any webpage print friendly.
19. printwhatyoulike.com — Print precisely what you want from any webpage.
20. privnote.com — Write a note to someone that will self-destruct after they read it.
21. freecycle.org — A network of people giving away free stuff in their towns.
22. couchsurfing.org — Crash on someone’s couch anywhere in the world.
23. recipepuppy.com — Search for recipes based on the ingredients you have.
24. pipl.com — A search engine for finding people.
25. charitynavigator.org — Evaluates various charities.
26. newsmap.jp — Popular news headlines.
27. radioreference.com — Listen to radio channels across the nation.
28. jimmyr.com — Link aggregator.
29. wolframalpha.com — A computational knowledge engine.
30. heavens-above.com — Follow satellites and constellations.
31. whatismyip.com — Figure out you I.P. address.
32. spreeder.com — Improve reading speed and comprehension.
33. simplynoise.com — Listen to white noise.
34. camelcamelcamel.com — Tracks prices for any product.
35. ptable.com — An interactive periodic table.
36. retailmenot.com — Find coupons for just about anything.
37. searchtempest.com — Search all of craigslist with one search.
38. join.me — Peek in on somebody’s computer screen.
39. thistothat.com — Find out the best way to glue this to that.
40. woorank.com — Find out what your website is missing, how you can improve it, and how to make Google recognize it better.
41. scribblemaps.com — Draw on maps then share them with friends.
42. mailvu.com — Video email.
43. rhymer.com — Online rhyming dictionary.
44. homestyler.com — Design your dream home.
45. wetransfer.com — An easy way to send big files.
46. pastebin.com — A place to paste text.
47. idlekeyboard.com — Make it sound like you are hard at work.
48. dropbox.com — Backup your sensitive document online.
49. seatguru.com — Find out where the best seats are on your plane flight.
50. unlistmy.info — Find out which websites store data about you, and tell them to unlist your info.
51. twofoods.com — Compare two foods..
52. gasbuddy.com — Find local gas prices.
53. sleepyti.me — Plan out your sleep schedule better.
54. ripetrack.com — Find out when certain fruits are ripe .
55. compassionpit.com — Talk out your problems with others, or help others yourself.
56. paperbackswap.com — Swap books with others.
57. swole.me — Plan out your meals better.
58. weatherspark.com — A graphical look at the weather.
59. network-tools.com — Various network tools.
60. amazon.com — The best place to buy things online.
61. writecheck.com — Correct grammar and check for plagiarism.
62. wakerupper.com — Send yourself a wake-up call.
63. pcpartpicker.com — Plan out your next PC build.
64. nophonetrees.com — Talk to an actual person instead of a machine when you call customer service.
65. loads.in — Find out how long it takes websites to load.
66. calorieking.com — Find nutrition information on various foods.
67. manualslib.com — A database of PDF manuals for various products.
68. eatthismuch.com — Create meal plans to meet your nutrition targets.
69. keepmeout.com — Lock yourself out of time wasting websites.
70. glassdoor.com — Research what it is like to work with certain companies."

Filed under: Wunderkammer

An Occult History of the Television Set

by Geoff Manaugh
June 24th, 2014

Via BLDGBLOG: "The origin of the television set was heavily shrouded in both spiritualism and the occult, Stefan Andriopoulos writes in his new book Ghostly Apparitions. In fact, as its very name implies, the television was first conceived as a technical device for seeing at a distance: like the telephone (speaking at a distance) and telescope (viewing at a distance), the television was intended as an almost magical box through which we could watch distant events unfold, a kind of technological crystal ball."

Thanks to Chris Harvey!

Filed under: Wunderkammer

Cooperation with Schlingensief's Opera Village

Learn from Africa
June 7th, 2014

As a result of my enthusiasm and initiative and in collaboration with Christin Richter (Festspielhaus Afrika), the cooperation agreement between the African Opera Village and the Robert Schumann School of Music and Media, Düsseldorf has now been signed by its president, Prof. Raimund Wippermann, its chancellor, Dr. Cathrin Müller-Brosch, and Christoph Schlingensief's wife and executive director of Festspielhaus Afrika gGmbH, Aino Laberenz.

Festspielhaus Afrika gGmbH, a non-profit public limited company, was founded in 2009 by Christoph Schlingensief with its headquarters in Berlin. Its aim is to strengthen the exchange of information between Europe and Africa incorporating artistic and scientific means, an exchange that has taken shape with the construction of an Opera Village in Burkina Faso. Festpielhaus Afrika gGmbH thereby follows a holistic concept, in which everyday life, art and science work together and open up new directions. It initiated the African Opera Village, runs construction contracts and coordinates the project progress.

As a first project under this cooperation agreement, Nico Neteler, Audio and Video student at the Institute For Music And Media, as part of his Bachelor thesis, is setting up the sound studio in the African Opera Village in Burkina Faso. For the project he will be living and working with his team members on location from October to December 2014.

Filed under: Project Archive > Research