Posts tagged with ‘nature’

Genius Made, Genius Born

Excerpt from David Shenk’sThe Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent and IQ via Delanceyplace:

The reality about Mozart turns out to be far more interesting and far less mysterious. His early achievements — while very impressive, to be sure — actually make good sense considering his extraordinary upbringing. And his later undeniable genius turns out to be a wonderful advertisement for the power of process. Mozart was bathed in music from well before his birth, and his childhood was quite unlike any other. His father, Leopold Mozart, was an intensely ambitious Austrian musician, composer, and teacher who had gained wide acclaim with the publication of the instruction book … Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing. For a while, Leopold had dreamed of being a great composer himself. But on becoming a father, he began to shift his ambitions away from his own unsatisfying career and onto his children — perhaps, in part, because his career had already hit a ceiling: he was vice-kapellmeister (assistant music director); the top spot would be unavailable for the foreseeable future.

Uniquely situated, and desperate to make some sort of lasting mark on music, Leopold began his family musical enterprise even before Wolfgang’s birth, focusing first on his daughter Nannerl. Leopold’s elaborate teaching method derived in part from the Italian instructor Giuseppe Tartini and included highly nuanced techniques…

…Then came Wolfgang. Four and a half years younger than his sister, the tiny boy got everything Nannerl got — only much earlier and even more intensively. Literally from his infancy, he was the classic younger sibling soaking up his big sister’s singular passion. As soon as he was able, he sat beside her at the harpsichord and mimicked notes that she played. Wolfgang’s first pings and plucks were just that. But with a fast-developing ear, deep curiosity and a tidal wave of family know-how, he was able to click into an accelerated process of development.

As Wolfgang became fascinated with playing music, his father became fascinated with his toddler son’s fascination — and was soon instructing him with an intensity that far eclipsed his efforts with Nannerl. Not only did Leopold openly give preferred attention to Wolfgang over his daughter; he also made a career-altering decision to more or less shrug off his official duties in order to build an even more promising career for his son. This was not a quixotic adventure. Leopold’s calculated decision made reasonable financial sense … Wolfgang’s youth made him a potentially lucrative attraction. … From the age of three, then, Wolfgang had an entire family driving him to excel with a powerful blend of instruction, encouragement, and constant practice. He was expected to be the pride and financial engine of the family, and he did not disappoint.

H/T: 3quarksdaily.

Just a Group of Snow Monkeys Enjoying a Japanese Hot Spring

Via Slate:

The relaxing sensation of soaking in an onsen—or Japanese hot spring—is so popular that even the country’s monkeys take part in the tradition. At Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley) Park just outside Nagano, snow monkeys soak in the hot springs on winter days and return to the forest at night.

Images: Snow Monkeys in Jigokudani Park, via Slate and Atlas Obscura. Select to embiggen.

Coder Quits Job And Moves Into Tent To Work on Startup

Thomas Backlund is a coder who quit his job and moved into a tent in the woods near Stockholm just so he could dedicate his full attention to his startup project, blockie.io. Backlund powers his laptop, external battery, and phone with two portable Brunton 62 Watt solar panels, and cooks his food on a Primus OmniLite stove. Backlund provides updates about his experience on his website.

So, what’s a coder’s motivation to move to a forest to work on a tech project?

Via Mashable

Not only does [living in a forest] give me the time to do this but it also gives me peace of mind.

I change my location about two times per week.

Computer, forest, batteries… unpractical? Maybe it would have been more rational to keep the apartment and just cut costs?

Well, rational and right do not always align.

I have no apartment, no job, no income. Still I’m exactly where I should be. I’m on my path. My gut feeling lets me know that.

I’m not exiting to a normal life until my startup has taken off. This is my big adventure. I’m not coming back empty-handed.

Backlund has been in the woods since March and there are no reports of his startup receiving any investors yet. 

FJP: Maybe this Backlund fellow is onto something. After all, studies show that nature resets our minds and bodies and makes us more focused. Maybe we should all be creating our technology-based masterpieces in the woods or on a mountain top. I think I’ll start with a balcony, though. Baby steps. - Krissy

Images: Backlund’s personal photos from his website

World’s largest natural sound archive now fully digital and fully online. →

Via cornelluniversity:

“In terms of speed and the breadth of material now accessible to anyone in the world, this is really revolutionary,” says audio curator Greg Budney, describing a major milestone just achieved by the Macaulay Library archive at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All archived analog recordings in the collection, going back to 1929, have now been digitized and can be heard at www.MacaulayLibrary.org

…It took archivists a dozen years to complete the monumental task. The collection contains nearly 150,000 digital audio recordings equaling more than 10 terabytes of data with a total run time of 7,513 hours. About 9,000 species are represented. There’s an emphasis on birds, but the collection also includes sounds of whales, elephants, frogs, primates and more.

Robot Records Fish Farts

Researchers hoping to better understand fish distributions by recording the sounds they make have picked up something unusual: barely-audible, cricket-like noises they think could be nighttime fish farts. The team programmed a torpedo-shaped robot called a glider to head out to sea from Tampa Bay and back, running up and down the water column in a saw-tooth pattern, sampling ocean sounds for 25 seconds every 5 minutes. The glider also recorded location data and measured seawater temperature, salinity, and depth over the course of 1 week. By comparing the grunts and whistles on their recordings to known fish calls, University of South Florida researchers found red grouper (shown, Epinephelus morio) and toadfishes (Opsanus spp.) were the most frequent fish sounds recorded, the team reports this month in Marine Ecology Progress Series. These fish produced sounds throughout the day and night, mostly deeper than 40 meters. The probable farts were recorded shallower than 40 meters, and were most likely a group of fish, including menhadenand herring, releasing gas from an internal buoyancy organ called a swim bladder. By mapping these sounds, the researchers hope to get a better picture of species distributions and likely spawning areas—important information for management and conservation efforts. 

Robot Records Fish Farts

Researchers hoping to better understand fish distributions by recording the sounds they make have picked up something unusual: barely-audible, cricket-like noises they think could be nighttime fish farts. The team programmed a torpedo-shaped robot called a glider to head out to sea from Tampa Bay and back, running up and down the water column in a saw-tooth pattern, sampling ocean sounds for 25 seconds every 5 minutes. The glider also recorded location data and measured seawater temperature, salinity, and depth over the course of 1 week. By comparing the grunts and whistles on their recordings to known fish calls, University of South Florida researchers found red grouper (shown, Epinephelus morio) and toadfishes (Opsanus spp.) were the most frequent fish sounds recorded, the team reports this month in Marine Ecology Progress Series. These fish produced sounds throughout the day and night, mostly deeper than 40 meters. The probable farts were recorded shallower than 40 meters, and were most likely a group of fish, including menhadenand herring, releasing gas from an internal buoyancy organ called a swim bladder. By mapping these sounds, the researchers hope to get a better picture of species distributions and likely spawning areas—important information for management and conservation efforts. 

Stars
Click to embiggen.
Image: Stars above the dome of La Silla Observatory in Chile via the LA Times Framework Blog.

Stars

Click to embiggen.

Image: Stars above the dome of La Silla Observatory in Chile via the LA Times Framework Blog.


Well, hello.
Image: A young golden snub-nosed monkey in China’s Qinling Mountains. Cyril Ruoso via the BBC.

Well, hello.

Image: A young golden snub-nosed monkey in China’s Qinling Mountains. Cyril Ruoso via the BBC.

Mapping Boarder Disputes
Via Nature:

Clashes at sea. Disputed borders. It is not the usual stuff of science. But researchers and scientific journals are being pulled into long-simmering border disputes between China and its neighbours. Confrontations involving research vessels are raising tensions in the region, while the Chinese government is being accused of using its scientists’ publications to promote the country’s territorial claims…
The battle is… spilling over to the pages of scientific journals. Critics say that Chinese researchers are trying to make their country’s possession of the South China Sea a fait accompli by routinely using maps that show its extended marine boundaries. For example, a 2010 review of the impacts of climate change on water resources and agriculture in China, published in Nature, included a map with an inserted area that implied that most of the South China Sea was part of China.
Last month, in an online posting that was also sent to Nature and other journals, 57 Vietnamese scientists, engineers and other professionals living around the world complained about the use of such maps. The letter laments the Chinese government’s use of “‘back door’ tactics”, and argues that it is “using your magazine/journal as a means to legitimize such [a] one-sided and biased map”. A map that appeared in a review of Chinese demography published in Science provoked similar criticism. Science responded with an Editor’s Note stating that the journal “does not have a position with regard to jurisdictional claims” but that it is “reviewing our map acceptance procedures to ensure that in the future Science does not appear to endorse or take a position on territorial/jurisdictional disputes”.

See also, Uncharted Territory.
Image: Disputed territory in the South China Sea. Source UNCLOS/CIA via Nature.

Mapping Boarder Disputes

Via Nature:

Clashes at sea. Disputed borders. It is not the usual stuff of science. But researchers and scientific journals are being pulled into long-simmering border disputes between China and its neighbours. Confrontations involving research vessels are raising tensions in the region, while the Chinese government is being accused of using its scientists’ publications to promote the country’s territorial claims…

The battle is… spilling over to the pages of scientific journals. Critics say that Chinese researchers are trying to make their country’s possession of the South China Sea a fait accompli by routinely using maps that show its extended marine boundaries. For example, a 2010 review of the impacts of climate change on water resources and agriculture in China, published in Nature, included a map with an inserted area that implied that most of the South China Sea was part of China.

Last month, in an online posting that was also sent to Nature and other journals, 57 Vietnamese scientists, engineers and other professionals living around the world complained about the use of such maps. The letter laments the Chinese government’s use of “‘back door’ tactics”, and argues that it is “using your magazine/journal as a means to legitimize such [a] one-sided and biased map”. A map that appeared in a review of Chinese demography published in Science provoked similar criticism. Science responded with an Editor’s Note stating that the journal “does not have a position with regard to jurisdictional claims” but that it is “reviewing our map acceptance procedures to ensure that in the future Science does not appear to endorse or take a position on territorial/jurisdictional disputes”.

See also, Uncharted Territory.

Image: Disputed territory in the South China Sea. Source UNCLOS/CIA via Nature.

nationalpost:

Photos of the dayA crowd of tourists run away as a tidal bore breaks through the dam by the Qiangtang River in Haining, China, Aug. 31, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images)

FJP: YIKES!

nationalpost:

Photos of the day
A crowd of tourists run away as a tidal bore breaks through the dam by the Qiangtang River in Haining, China, Aug. 31, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images)

FJP: YIKES!

Wrangell–St. Elias National Park Death Valley Canyonlands National Park

US National Parks from Space

Wired pulls together a collection of NASA images to show what US national parks look like from space.

Above: Wrangell–St. Elias National Park (Alaska), Death Valley (California/Nevada), Canyonlands National Park (Utah).

Monkey See, Monkey Do
Via The Daily Mail:

To capture the perfect wildlife image, you usually have to be in exactly the right place at precisely the right time.
But in this instance, David Slater wasn’t there at all and he still got a result.
Visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, award-winning photographer Mr Slater left his camera unattended for a while.
It soon attracted the attention of an inquisitive female from a local group of crested black macaque monkeys, known for their intelligence and dexterity.
Fascinated by her reflection in the lens, she then somehow managed to start the camera. The upshot: A splendid self-portrait.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Via The Daily Mail:

To capture the perfect wildlife image, you usually have to be in exactly the right place at precisely the right time.

But in this instance, David Slater wasn’t there at all and he still got a result.

Visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, award-winning photographer Mr Slater left his camera unattended for a while.

It soon attracted the attention of an inquisitive female from a local group of crested black macaque monkeys, known for their intelligence and dexterity.

Fascinated by her reflection in the lens, she then somehow managed to start the camera. The upshot: A splendid self-portrait.