Face in the crowd, John Hallmén

(Reblogged from nevver)


Means of Reproduction, Svjetlana Tepavcevic

(Reblogged from nevver)

It exists in real life. At the Bronx Zoo.

(Source: griseus)

(Reblogged from physicsshiny)

Honey Badger Houdini - Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem - Natural World - BBC Two

Why the Adjunct System Hurts Students

"March 25, 2014, 1:45 pm

"I left Zenith University a little over two years ago, but every once in a while one of my former students hunts me down for a recommendation. Fortunately, I actually kept a lot of those letters I wrote, so in most cases it doesn’t take more than a nip and a tuck to bring one up to speed: “Since graduating with high honors in history, Jason has worked for SEIU and interned at the Smithsonian…..) I don’t mind, even though I now have new students to write for. Zenith paid me well over the years (ok, not always as well as I wanted, but still.) I think writing recommendations for former students is part of some cosmic bargain hammered out over twenty years of tears and snot, to paraphrase Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech, even though I now work somewhere else.

But if I had been an adjunct there? No way. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who taught at Zenith — as a post-doc, a per-course lecturer, a visitor — who also receive these requests, and I advise them to turn them down on principle, no matter how beloved the student. This reminds me that, for those of us who want to return academic employment to a state of fair play, that not only do we do very little to involve students in our struggle, too often we shield them from the consequences of an adjunctified academy.

Students, of course, have their own troubles, and we are reluctant to burden them further. They, and parents, are rightfully obsessed with the cost of higher education, the hours they work to pay for it, and the long-term consequences of the loans they must sign for to get the job they will need to pay the loans. As this report on graduate student debt from the New America Foundation points out, while 40% of federally-funded student loans are going to graduate credentialing, one in ten borrowers owes $153,000 or more, which includes money borrowed to finance a B.A.

So is it any wonder that these anxious people has either drunk the Kool-Aid sold by policymakers that full time faculty are too expensive; or, alternatively, that they simply have not noticed that faculty are increasingly made up of temporary, part-time, or per-course labor? In fact, I often found at Zenith that students had no idea what the difference was between tenure-track and other faculty; how jobs were defined by departments and administrators; why some majors were supported over others; or why a visitor hired to replace a faculty member on leave couldn’t stay when the tenure-track person returned.

Yet, students have a long and honorable history of organizing for social justice, and frankly, we ought to put ourselves on the table. This needs to begin with education, and students need to know that the adjunct system hurts them — not because adjuncts are under qualified — but because they are not paid to do the things students need to move them forward. This includes:

  • Writing letters of recommendation. Ideally, a letter comes not from a talented pedagogue from whom the student has taken one inspiring course, but from someone who has seen that student develop over time. “How long have you known this student?” is on nearly every recommendation form I have ever figured out. So is the question of what hierarchical “percentage” the student fits into, and what the comparison cohort is. Finally, not everyone goes straight to grad school: the adjunct who taught you today in Delaware could easily be in New Mexico next year with no forwarding address — or out of academia entirely.
  • Advising. I know, I know – it has become economically fashionable for colleges to hire professional advisors, or hire their own graduate students as advisors. I interviewed at one school a few years back that has put advisors in “pods” all over campus, so you can drop in and get advice whenever you like from a complete stranger who has never met you before. However, this isn’t about getting real advice. It is about credit counting, making sure that you have the requirements for your major, and all the core courses necessary for graduation. What it isn’t about is talking about how to develop a student’s intellectual interests, create bridges between majors that represent something more substantive than multiple credentials, create coursework that supports a capstone project, or point a student to the teachers who will be good mentors.
  • Academic support outside of class. Some adjuncts are required to have office hours for the small sum they are paid; a few are paid extra to meet with students; and the vast majority do not even have offices. Furthermore, many adjuncts teach far too many students in far too many places to do the careful review of written work that students need to become better writers and thinkers, much less spend the time reviewing early drafts of papers or help a group of students develop a digital project.

Each one of these things, when adjuncts are substituted for full time faculty, threatens the educational outcomes for a student. Let me be clear — I am not saying that adjuncts are inherently worse or uncaring teachers, although they may become so, over time, as their burdens grow and they come to see students as part of the exploitation machine. Many adjuncts are better teachers than people holding down full-time jobs. Some have special expertise and don’t want to teach full-time, while others have incredibly creative teaching ideas drawn from different institutional settings, and many care deeply about their students.  Nor are adjuncts inherently less capable or caring as mentors and advisors, although over time, they will correctly learn to conserve their energy and commitment to others so that it corresponds to the lack of commitment made to them.

It is, however, time for full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty to begin to educate students to the moral problem of casual classroom labor, the false narrative that it is our salaries that put them in debt, and the obvious drawbacks that an exploited labor pool has for them. These are people, after all, who organize on behalf of campus janitors, who protest budget cuts, and who force their schools to buy local food, pay workers a living wage rather than a minimum wage and sell college gear made by fairly-paid workers.

Shouldn’t they know that some of the worst-treated workers in the university are at the front of the room?”

Kickstarter - 3D Printer Skull Kits: ‘Boneheads’ by

Cool! I need to get a 3D Printer!



Close-ups of butterfly wing scales! You should definitely click on these images to get the full detail.

I’ve paired each amazing close-up (by macro photographer Linden Gledhill) with an image of the corresponding butterfly or moth.  The featured lepidoptera* are (in order of appearance):

*Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes moths and butterflies) means “scaly wing.” The scales get their color not from pigment - but from microscopic structures that manipulate light.

The great science youtube channel “Smarter Every Day” has two videos on this very subject that I highly recommend:

The scales of a butterfly resemble the very flower petals they tend to alight on. Or the scales of a fish. Depends on how poetic you’re feeling.

Can’t wait to see the lepidoptera returning to the Perennial Garden for warmer months. —MN

(Reblogged from nybg)
(Reblogged from asapscience)

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Game Boy; Behold Its Awesome Power From 1989

I still have my original. It works 100% perfect.

"On April 21st, 1989, Nintendo released the Game Boy in Japan (it wouldn’t come out in America for another couple of months). As subtraction experts will tell you, that means today marks the 25th anniversary of the handheld gaming system. It also means we have an excuse to revel in nostalgia—It was a simpler time back then, back when men were men and games were boys.

To wit, check out this 1989 commercial for Game Boy, as well as “the OUTRAGEOUS new game, Tetris”:

That teen looked pretty thrilled to be in a fiery post-apocalyptic war zone. Also, what did the poor robot do to deserve being killed? He just wanted to play video games.

April 21, 2014 - 1:30pm" via Nick Greene on mentalflossr


The Astro Alphabet
By Ethan Siege

A is for Aurora, the Earth’s polar lights,
as the Sun’s hot electrons help color our nights.

B is for Black Hole, a star’s collapsed heart,
if you cross its horizon, you’ll never depart.

C is for Comet, with tails, ice, and dust,
a trip near the Sun makes skywatching a must!

D is for Dark Matter, the great cosmic glue
that holds clusters together, but not me and you!

E is for Eclipse, where the Moon, Earth and Sun
cast light-blocking shadows that can’t be outrun.

F is for Fusion, that powers the stars,
as nuclei join, their released light is ours!

G is for Galaxies, in groups and alone,
house billions of planets with lifeforms unknown.

H is for Hubble, for whom Earth’s no place;
a telescope like this belongs up in space.

I is for Ions, making nebulae glow;
as they find electrons, we capture the show.

J is for Jets, from a galaxy’s core,
if you feed them right, they’ll be active once more!

K is for Kepler, whose great laws of motion
keep planets on course in the great cosmic ocean.

L is for Libration, which makes our Moon rock,
it’s a trick of the orbit; it’s tidally locked!

M is for Meteors, which come in a shower,
if skies are just right, you’ll see hundreds an hour!

N is for Nebula, what forms when stars die,
this recycled fuel makes cosmic apple pie.

O is for Opaque, why the Milky Way’s dark,
these cosmic dust lanes make starlight appear stark!

P is for Pulsar, a spinning neutron star,
as the orbits tick by, we know just when we are.

Q is for Quasar, a great radio source,
accelerating matter with little remorse.

R is for Rings, all gas giants possess them,
even one found in another sun’s system!

S is for Spacetime, which curves due to matter,
this Universe-fabric can bend but won’t shatter!

T is for Tides, caused by gravity’s tune,
our oceans bulge out from the Sun and the Moon.

U is the Universe, our goal’s understanding,
with billions of galaxies, as spacetime’s expanding!

V is for Virgo, our nearest great cluster,
with thousands of galaxies, it’s a gut-buster!

W is for Wavelength, the energies of light,
that tell us what atoms are in stars just from sight!

X is for X-rays, high-energy light,
where bursts of new stars show an ionized might.

Y is the Year, where we orbit our Sun,
each planet’s is different; the Earth’s is just one.

Z is for Zenith, so gaze up at the sky!
The Universe is here; let’s learn what, how and why.

Source: Starts With A Bang!
Image credit: Galaxy Zoo’s writing tool

(Reblogged from sagansense)

Scientists Reconstruct Impact Crater of Asteroid 4X Bigger than Dino-Killer

Asteroid FI

by on April 13, 2014

"Just be glad that you live in this particular chapter of life’s history on Earth. Be glad that you weren’t around when the asteroid that formed the Chicxulub crater hit and be really, really, really glad you weren’t around when one about 4X as big plopped down well before that. About 3.26 billion years ago, a 57km wide asteroid smacked the earth traveling 72,000 kph and created a crater that would have measured 500km wide. Since no actual crater of this geological puncture wound remains, scientists have recreated what the impact site may have looked like for the first time.

Asteroid IP 1

The sizes of the Chicxulub crater asteroid (the one thought to have caused the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event) and the much larger asteroid that touched down 3.26 billion years ago as compared to an oddly lush and forested Mount Everest. (American Geophysical Union)

Life on Earth sprouted at around 3.8 billion years ago, which would mean it was still in its elementary stages by the time this asteroid hit. Upon impact, the top layers of the ocean would have immediately boiled and the air would have become incredibly hot and dusty. Talk about a rough childhood. But in the words of chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm “life – uh – finds a way.” When all those wimpy life forms who couldn’t weather an asteroid impact died off, the remaining survivors must have evolved to fill their niches, continuing the march towards later periods of truly rich biodiversity.

Asteroid IP 2

The comparative size of each asteroid’s crater compared with Hawaii’s big island. (American Geophysical Union)

It’s probably a good thing those primitive life forms hadn’t developed brains at this point in the Earth’s history, because it was a pretty terrifying time to be alive. Asteroid impacts were thought to be relatively common, and the monster in question here would have set off a hell storm of tsunamis and 10.8 magnitude earthquakes. However, the massive impact may have set another geological phenomenon in motion as well – plate tectonics. At present, the convection of the Earth’s hot liquid mantle moves the plates of the earth around, but the planet may have needed a massive impact event to shake up the crust and get that process started. According to Simon Redfern at the University of Cambridge, “Even with a hot mantle you would need something to destabilise the crust.”

We’re all lucky to live a in a relatively impact-free era of the earth’s history. How do you like the odds of it staying that way in your lifetime? Express your terror in the comment section below. For more on how we might be able to prevent an asteroid impact from a way, way smaller asteroid than this one, check out this How-To for nuking an asteroid. “

Via the nerdist

Astrologers were greatly impressed, and misled, by what they believed to be confirming evidence—so much so that they were quite unimpressed by any unfavorable evidence. Moreover, by making their interpretations and prophecies sufficiently vague they were able to explain away anything that might have been a refutation of the theory had the theory and the prophecies been more precise. In order to escape falsification they destroyed the testability of their theory. It is a typical soothsayer’s trick to predict things so vaguely that the predictions can hardly fail: that they become irrefutable.

Karl Popper (Curd, Martin, and J. A. Cover. Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, p. 7-8. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998. Print.)

image…and by “all”…we mean, everything you need to know about religion and pseudoscience.

(via sagansense)

(Source: academicatheism)

(Reblogged from sagansense)