Artist Fabian Oefner enjoys capturing both art and science in his work. In his latest series, “Orchid”, the blossom-like images are the result of splashes. He layered multiple colors of paint, ending with a top layer of black or white, then dropped a sphere into the paint. The images show how the colors mix and rebound, a delicate splash crown seen from above. The liquid sheet thickens at the rim and breaks up into ligaments from the instability of the crown’s edge. It makes for a remarkable demonstration of the effects of momentum and surface tension. Several of Oefner’s previous collections have appeared on FYFD (1, 2, 3). (Photo credit: F. Oefner)
Quantum Suicide and Immortality
It attempts to distinguish between the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics and the Everett many-worlds interpretation by means of a variation of the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, from the cat's point of view. Quantum immortality refers to the subjective experience of surviving quantum suicide regardless of the odds.
Quantum Suicide involves a life-terminating device and a device that measures the spin value of protons. Every 10 seconds, the spin value of a fresh proton is measured. Conditioned upon that quantum bit, the weapon is either deployed, killing the experimenter, or it makes an audible "click" and the experimenter survives. The theories are distinctive from the point of view of the experimenter only; their predictions are otherwise identical.
The probability of surviving the first iteration of the experiment is 50%, under both interpretations, as given by the squared norm of the wavefunction. At the start of the second iteration, if the Copenhagen interpretation is true, the wavefunction has already collapsed, so if the experimenter is already dead, there's a 0% chance of survival. However, if the many-worlds interpretation is true, a superposition of the live experimenter necessarily exists, regardless of how many iterations or how improbable the outcome. Barring life after death, it is not possible for the experimenter to experience having been killed, thus the only possible experience is one of having survived every iteration.
Spider Wasps - Pompilidae
If this whole natural history museum thing doesn’t work out for me, at least I’ll have enough inspirational fuel to write an alarmingly high number of science fiction novels. Case in point: the spider wasps of the family Pompilidae, an enormous family of wasps that contains over 5,000 species that all share the same nightmare-inducing behavior.
The lone adult spider wasp will seek out a spider - often times much larger than itself - and paralyze it via venom from its stinger. It then drags the still-living arachnid to a nest, like the specially constructed hut built by the mud dauber pictured above. The wasp will lay an egg directly on the paralyzed spider, which needs to remain alive to continue providing nutrition - but completely unable to move or scream or free itself - to sustain the wasp larvae after it hatches and as it develops.
So imagine being this poor spider, probably aware of what is going on to whatever level of consciousness you can assign a spider, trapped in an inescapable prison and doomed to having its life slowly drained from it by a greedy ectoparasitoid like the victim of a vampiric horror story.
Have a great Monday!
Even awesomer: HYPERPARSITES! I can see the bad Sy Fy movie now…
Awesome collection photos. Amazingly well-preserved larval mud-case. Terrifying creatures, but totally fascinating.
The human brain, its nervous projections, layers, and cortical blood vessels
Though we’re probably subconsciously aware of our brains on a day-to-day basis, most of us generally don’t pay much direct attention to them. Of course, lots can go wrong in the mind, resulting in mental illness, physical illness, and in the worst cases, death.
But aside from everything that can go wrong in the brain, did you know that the mind, despite being only 2% of the average body mass, uses almost 25% of the oxygen we consume, and over 70% of the glucose we ingest? It’s a tiny organ, but it manages almost everything outside of the parasympathetic nervous system, and it requires a relatively high energy input (especially compared to other organs in the body) just to function on a daily basis.
The cells in the brain require, on average, twice as much pure energy as other cells, just to function, and when you’re focusing hard on a big paper, or trying to brainstorm and be creative, your mind is in overdrive! Even if you haven’t moved in two hours, if you’re focusing hard on an essay and coming up with lots of great ideas, your lunch isn’t going to last long, with what your brain is demanding.
Since it’s not a muscle, and you’re not necessarily doing anything physical when you think, it can be hard to believe that the brain needs so much energy.
However, the cerebellum, and especially the frontal and prefrontal cortices (where our personality and “creative minds” exist, for the most part) demand more energy than our stomachs, livers, spleens, and kidneys combined! Depending on how your brain is wired, that fact can make it extremely exhausting to deal with other people, as you’re engaging your prefrontal cortex to a high degree. Thinking hard and being creative can sap your energy, too - that’s why I always had an apple or banana to eat midway through my morning courses!
Standard procedure for work preparation:
1. Open skull.
2. Remove brain.
3. Go to work.
4. Replace brain with coffee.
Math! You are gorgeous.
You’re gonna want to hit the full screen button on this one.
Good luck ever viewing the world the same way, ever again!
Bonus: If you liked this, then you’ll love Nikki Graziano’s Found Functions photo series
“You read any Greek myths, puppy? The one about the gorgon Medusa, particularly? I used to wonder what could be so terrible that you couldn’t survive even looking at it.
Until I got a little older and I figured out the obvious answer.
- The Unwritten (Vol. 1), Mike Carey & Peter Gross