In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Those who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them; if they do not expressly mention them, but prove attributes which are their results or definitions, it is not true that they tell us nothing about them. The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree.

Aristotle

(via scienceisbeauty)

I would argue that in modern times we have expanded our ideas of beauty beyond symmetry and order, for math can describe chaos just as aptly, but I like the sentiment, A.

(via jtotheizzoe)

dendroica:

Richard Feynman ‘The beauty of a flower’ by zenpencils on Tumblr

It’s also worth noting that there is some overlap between science and the visual arts in the form of scientific illustration, some of which involves a good deal of creativity. This doesn’t just go for science, either. Learning more about almost any subject can add new ways of appreciating it on both aesthetic and deeper levels.

expose-the-light:

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music." | Betrand Russell

(Source: nicconoh)

David Attenborough - Animal behaviour of the Australian bowerbird

Male Bowerbirds are clever and charismatic builders. They don’t actually build a nest, instead, they create beautiful structures and decorate them with objects that females might find amusing and attractive.

The objects range from different types of fruit neatly positioned around the carefully built folly to human made objects, stones or different coloured leaves.Each bowerbird population makes slightly different bowers. This is perhaps in response to the divergent tastes of females in the area.

When a female arrives to inspect the bower, the male struts and sings. If she likes what she sees, mating takes place. The female then flies off to build a nest nearby, leaving the male to convince another female to join in a romantic tryst.

(Source)

I am in awe of natural selection and these birds.

cotonblanc:

Award-winning musician Björk and legendary broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough have admired each other’s work for years but this is the first time they have discussed their mutual love of music and the natural world on screen.

When Björk met Attenborough

In the mid-18th century, the philosopher Edmund Burke hypothesised a connection between aesthetics and fear. In a similar vein, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke proclaimed: ‘beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror’. To put this association to the test, I, together with Kendall Eskine and Natalie Kacinik, psychologists at CUNY, recently conducted another experiment. First, we scared a subset of our respondents by showing them a startling film in which a zombie jumps out on a seemingly peaceful country road. Then we asked all of our subjects to evaluate some abstract, geometric paintings by El Lissitzky. Those subjects who had been startled found the paintings more stirring, inspiring, interesting, and moving. This link between art and fear relates to the spiritual dimension of wonder. Just as people report fear of God, great art can be overwhelming. It stops us in our tracks and demands worshipful attention.

confrontingbabble-on:

The Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign held up a mirror to reflect the extent of negative body image issues that many woman have (… see http://realbeautysketches.dove.com/ )

Dove then provide resources to help, at http://www.dove.ca/en/Social-Mission/Self-Esteem-Resources/

What came as a complete surprise, was when they then did the same survey on men…

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=T8Jiwo3u6Vo

This is really funny beause it’s so accurate. When I told some guys about the actual Dove Real Beauty Sketches video, they all assumed right away that the women would have exaggerated their own beauty (the opposite is true), because that’s what they would do. Seems like someone else has picked up on that irony.

choosechoice:

Dove hired a forensic artist to draw how women see themselves versus how others see them - the results are moving.

A little update: yesterday I brought this experiment up in conversation with several men. Just about every one of them assumed that the result would be the opposite; that the women would exaggerate their own beauty and that the self-descriptions would yield a much pretty image than the stranger’s description. I don’t think I’ve ever personally seen a clearer example of how men truly don’t understand women.

For more than 2,000 years, philosophers, mathematicians and artists have marveled at the unique properties of the “golden rectangle”: subtract a square from a golden rectangle, and what remains is another golden rectangle, and so on and so on — an infinite spiral. These so-called magical proportions (about 5 by 8) are common in the shapes of books, television sets and credit cards, and they provide the underlying structure for some of the most beloved designs in history: the facades of the Parthenon and Notre Dame, the face of the “Mona Lisa,” the Stradivarius violin and the original iPod.

Certain patterns also have universal appeal. Natural fractals — irregular, self-similar geometry — occur virtually everywhere in nature: in coastlines and riverways, in snowflakes and leaf veins, even in our own lungs. In recent years, physicists have found that people invariably prefer a certain mathematical density of fractals — not too thick, not too sparse. The theory is that this particular pattern echoes the shapes of trees, specifically the acacia, on the African savanna, the place stored in our genetic memory from the cradle of the human race.

To paraphrase one biologist, beauty is in the genes of the beholder — home is where the genome is.