MonthJune 2010

NASA Says There Could be Life on Titan


The Telegraph reports that NASA has discovered a dense atmosphere surrounding Titan, a moon of Saturn. “They suggest that life forms may have been breathing in the planet’s atmosphere and also feeding on its surface’s fuel.” Titan is too cold to support liquid water.

Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at Nasa Ames Research Centre, at Moffett Field, California who led the research, said: “We suggested hydrogen consumption because it’s the obvious gas for life to consume on Titan, similar to the way we consume oxygen on Earth.

“If these signs do turn out to be a sign of life, it would be doubly exciting because it would represent a second form of life independent from water-based life on Earth.”

Telegraph: Titan: Nasa scientists discover evidence ‘that alien life exists on Saturn’s moon’

Shhh, no one tell Stephen Hawking.

Alan Moore Documentary from 1987

YouTube playlist

JG Ballard: Warrior for Gaia?

Rushing to Paradise

A press release from the BL touting the news contained something that caught my eye. Listing Ballard’s achievements, the Library tells us he “predicted the rise of terrorism against tourists, the alienation of a society obsessed by new technology and ecological disasters such as the melting of the ice caps”.

It was echoed in a tweet, from the Library’s Head of Media Relations, Strategic Marketing and Communications Miki Lentin.

“Ecological crisis, technological fetishism…JG Ballard archive acquired by British Library”

Sort of like Mystic Meg, then.

But is this really true? While disasters recur in Ballard’s fiction, the reason they are so vivid, Shaun again reminds us, is “because it’s what we really wanted all along”. They weren’t ecological predictions, or warnings. They explored our desire for apocalypse. If they predicted anything, it was the media’s desire for eco-porn, and our thirst for the End Times.

The Register: JG Ballard: Warrior for Gaia?

Possible Origin for the Mad Scientist

Samuel Hahnemann

Jess Nevins posits a new possible origin for the mad scientist archetype. The following is from Christopher Smart’s 1745 poem “Temple of Dullness”

Next to her, mad Mathesis; her feet all bare,
Ungirt, untrimm’d, with loose neglected hair;
No foreign object can her thoughts disjoint;

Jess writes:

In this poem you’ve got: the phrase “mad Mathesis” (i.e., “mad science”); a scientist with “loose neglected hair” (and it’s de rigueur for mad scientists to have unkempt, wild hair); a scientist “arrogant and vain” (although numerous previous poems had assigned anti-religious scientists these qualities) (Smart is attacking anti-religious scientists here, not scientists as a whole–note his invocation of “great Newton”); and a scientist creating “trifling trinkets” and “gewgaw toys” (not a lot of distance from a mad scientist creating those to creating a death ray).

Jess Nevins: Possible Origin for the Mad Scientist

(Image is of Samuel Hahnemann, who wasn’t born until 1755)

Self-Control Is Exhaustible


Psychologists have discovered that self-control is an exhaustible resource. And I don’t mean self-control only in the sense of turning down cookies or alcohol, I mean a broader sense of self-supervision—any time you’re paying close attention to your actions, like when you’re having a tough conversation or trying to stay focused on a paper you’re writing. This helps to explain why, after a long hard day at the office, we’re more likely to snap at our spouses or have one drink too many—we’ve depleted our self-control.

And here’s why this matters for change: In almost all change situations, you’re substituting new, unfamiliar behaviors for old, comfortable ones, and that burns self-control. Let’s say I present a new morning routine to you that specifies how you’ll shower and brush your teeth. You’ll understand it and you might even agree with my process. But to pull it off, you’ll have to supervise yourself very carefully. Every fiber of your being will want to go back to the old way of doing things. Inevitably, you’ll slip. And if I were uncharitable, I’d see you going back to the old way and I’d say, You’re so lazy. Why can’t you just change?

Fast Company: Self-Control Is Exhaustible

Unfortunately, the blogger doesn’t cite what specific study or studies this refers to.

See also: Self-control is contagious, study finds

(via Zards)

People with Negative Attitudes More Likely to Learn From Mistakes

negative attitude


This research focused on the relationship between negative emotionality and learning from errors. Specifically, negative emotionality was expected to impair learning from errors by decreasing motivation to learn. Perceived managerial intolerance of errors was hypothesized to increase negative emotionality, whereas emotional stability was proposed to decrease negative emotionality. All the hypotheses were tested in a laboratory simulation. Contrary to the prediction, a positive association was found between negative emotionality and motivation to learn. The effects of perceived managerial intolerance of errors and emotional stability on negative emotionality were as predicted. Moreover, exploratory data analyses were conducted at the level of specific negative emotions and revealed differentiated effects of specific negative emotions on learning from errors.

Barking up the wrong tree: Does a positive attitude make you more motivated to learn from your mistakes?

See Also:

Expressing negativity can improve relationships

Negativity can improve brainstorming

Technoccult posts tagged with “positive thinking”

(Photo by bark / CC)

Grant Morrison’s Indian Mythology Comic 18 Days, Interview and Preview

18 DAYS by Grant Morrison and Mukesh Singh

18 DAYS by Grant Morrison and Mukesh Singh

For the 18 Days version, we took the Mahabharata’s descriptions of vimanas and astras very literally as accounts of ancient advanced technology and created a vision of the battle at Kurukshetra which combines traditional images of the Mahabharata with a kind of Vedic sci-fi approach which adds a new freshness and modernity to the story. This version is less about trying to create a historically-accurate representation of conflict in ancient India and more about emphasising a timeless, universal and mythic vision that has as much to say about the world we live in today as it does about the past. The transmission of the Bhagavad Gita at the heart of the story opens the way for a metaphorical spiritual understanding of the conflict as the war between desire and duty, the material and the spiritual, that is fought every day by every human being.

The Gita, with its direct, no-nonsense guide to living in the odd universe we all share, is at the very heart of the story, in the sense that everything else revolves around that moment when Krishna lays it on the line for Arjuna.

Newsarama: Grant Morrison Wages War Using Indian Mythology for 18 DAYS

Neuromancer Movie to be Directed by Vincenzo Natali of Splice and Cube Fame

Sasha Grey

Seven Arts Pictures announced today that Vincenzo Natali (Splice, Cube) has been tapped to direct the upcoming motion picture adaptation of William Gibson’s seminal science fiction novel Neuromancer. Neuromancer is to be produced and financed in Canada by Prodigy Pictures in conjunction with Telefilm Canada. The film is expected to commence pre-production early next year in Toronto and has the full support of Telefilm Canada. The Company will continue to handle all sales of the picture.

Natali’s credits include Splice, starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, as well as the cult psychological thriller Cube. Splice was released in thousands of theaters nationwide by Warner Brothers last Friday following a sensational debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

Seven Arts Announces Vincenzo Natali to Direct Neuromancer

(via Cat Vincent)

No word whether Sasha Grey (pictured above) will reprise her role as Molly Millions, who she voiced in the New Museum in NYC Neuromancer performance thingy.

Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie Interview at Academic Alan Moore Conference, John Dee Opera Canceled

Alan Moore and his wife/collaborator Melinda Gebbie were interviewed at The University of Northampton’s Magus: Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Work of Alan Moore conference. Above is the first part. The rest is on this playlist.

During part 4 Moore says that he wrote about 1/3rd of the Gorillaz John Dee opera libretto, but the project has now been canceled. The good news is that the portion Moore finished will appear in the next issue of Strange Attractor. Moore says he began writing the libretto in good faith, without contract or pay, with an agreement from the Gorillaz that they would contribute a few pages to issue 3 of Dodgem Logic. Eventually, Moore found that no one else seemed to be working on the opera and more and more was expected of him – costume design, stage design ideas, etc. When the Gorillaz failed to deliver material for Dodgem Logic, Moore backed out of the project.

(via Arthur)

Also: Alan Moore promotional interview for Dodgem Logic # 3 (I’m sold!)

Our Alan Moore dossier

Romantic Partners Can Sense Each Other’s Emotions by Smell

punks in love

Close romantic partners unknowingly smell each other’s feelings of happiness, fear and sexual arousal, according to a study presented on May 29 at the Association for Psychological Science annual convention.

“Familiarity with a partner enhances detection of emotional cues in that person’s smell,” said Denise Chen, a psychologist at Rice University in Houston.

Science News: Making scents of a partner’s feelings

(Social Physicist)

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