24 December 2006

“Infuse thy passions with levity,” said the young man in my dream.

Seek your life mission, choosing that area in which your abilities and insights are most likely to make a definitive contribution to future human welfare.

Then pursue your work with child-like joy and playful abandon, as if it were purely for your own gratification and had no larger consequence.

~ Josh Mitteldorf

23 December 2006

Nanobes’ are far smaller than bacteria, perhaps too small to contain DNA.  Until this week, there was a lone Australian geologist who claimed to have observed them.  Now, they have been reported in a mainstream Science Magazine article.  The work comes from the UC Berkeley laboratory of Jillian Banfield

The significance of nanobes is that they are too small to house the usual machinery for translating DNA into RNA and proteins; hence they may be relics from an era so early that life had not yet invented DNA.

“It has not escaped our attention that if the average cell size estimated from TEM observations is accurate, the ARMAN cells have volumes of <0.006 µm3..., making them smaller than any other known cellular life form....If future work demonstrates that ARMAN cells are viable and have cell volumes of <0.006 µm3, it may be necessary to reconsider existing paradigms for the minimum requirements for life.” – Jillian Banfield

22 December 2006

“We who are alive in this moment didn’t build these walls, nor did we ignite the fury that has smoldered for eons and hurls itself at us now as a burning question.  But we have inherited the urgent necessity of answering it, and possibly we will succeed...

“It would require the deepest possible shift of our hearts to live in this world of fundamental animosity and devote ourselves not to the escalating exertion to kill, but rather, to lulling animosity to sleep.  Modern humanity may not be up to the challenge.  Modern humanity may not have a choice”

~ from Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

21 December 2006

Better to cuddle with skunks than to go it alone.  Turns out, female skunks huddle together to get through the winter months, while most males succumb to the cold and hibernate instead.  Males that huddle and cuddle do better than their brothers who don’t.

Lessons for the emotional and physical wellbeing of humans have not yet been derived by scientists, but perhaps we can help them. 

Article from EurekAlert, summarizing Yeen Ten Hwang, et al. Energetic consequences and ecological significance of heterothermy and social thermoregulation in striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: 80:1 (2007).

20 December 2006

The Miserere by Renaissance composer Gregorio Allegri can be a transforming experience, when you are quiet and receptive.  In the 18th Century, the Pope sought to reserve the experience for on-site visitors to the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.  One copy of the sheet music was well-guarded within the Cathedral, and it was not permitted to be copied. 

A fourteen-year-old boy came to the Vatican, heard the music once and wrote it out complete from memory when he got home.  He was Wolfgang Mozart, and the version performed today is his transcription.  


19 December 2006

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

~ Maya Angelou 

18 December 2006


Paul Klee, born this day in 1879