july 9

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Picasso

Scientists find ‘man’s remotest relative’ in lake sludge

After two decades of examining a microscopic algae-eater that lives in a lake in Norway, scientists on Thursday declared it to be one of the world’s oldest living organisms and man’s remotest relative.

After two decades of examining a microscopic algae-eater that lives in a lake in Norway, scientists on Thursday declared it to be one of the world’s oldest living organisms and man’s remotest relative.

The elusive, single-cell creature evolved about a billion years ago and did not fit in any of the known categories of living organisms — it was not an animal, plant, parasite, fungus or alga, they said.

“We have found an unknown branch of the tree of life that lives in this lake. It is unique!” University of Oslo researcher Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi said.

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On the Origins of the Arts

Rich and seemingly boundless as the creative arts seem to be, each is filtered through the narrow biological channels of human cognition. Our sensory world, what we can learn unaided about reality external to our bodies, is pitifully small. Our vision is limited to a tiny segment of the electromagnetic spectrum, where wave frequencies in their fullness range from gamma radiation at the upper end, downward to the ultralow frequency used in some specialized forms of communication. We see only a tiny bit in the middle of the whole, which we refer to as the “visual spectrum.” Our optical apparatus divides this accessible piece into the fuzzy divisions we call colors. Just beyond blue in frequency is ultraviolet, which insects can see but we cannot. Of the sound frequencies all around us we hear only a few. Bats orient with the echoes of ultrasound, at a frequency too high for our ears, and elephants communicate with grumbling at frequencies too low.

Tropical mormyrid fishes use electric pulses to orient and communicate in opaque murky water, having evolved to high efficiency a sensory modality entirely lacking in humans. Also, unfelt by us is Earth’s magnetic field, which is used by some kinds of migratory birds for orientation. Nor can we see the polarization of sunlight from patches of the sky that honeybees employ on cloudy days to guide them from their hives to flower beds and back.

Our greatest weakness, however, is our pitifully small sense of taste and smell. Over 99 percent of all living species, from microorganisms to animals, rely on chemical senses to find their way through the environment.

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Language affects half of what we see

BERKELEY – The language we speak affects half of what we see, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago.

Scholars have long debated whether our native language affects how we perceive reality – and whether speakers of different languages might therefore see the world differently. The idea that language affects perception is controversial, and results have conflicted.

A paper published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences supports the idea – but with a twist. The paper suggests for the first time that language affects perception in the right half of the visual field, but much less, if at all, in the left half.

The paper, “Whorf Hypothesis is Supported in the Right Visual Field but not in the Left,” is by Aubrey Gilbert, Richard Ivry and Paul Kay at UC Berkeley and Terry Regier at the University of Chicago.

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Listen or download Blowing Down That Old Dusty Road for free on Prostopleer


Listen or download Woody Guthrie Do Re Mi for free on Prostopleer


Listen or download This Land Is Your Land for free on Prostopleer

<PSo, what does ‘The Scream’ mean?

Tipped to reach a record price at auction next month, Edvard Munch’s painting is one of the world’s most recognisable and disturbing images

Petter Olsen, owner of ‘The Scream’ (1895), looks at the picture©Charlie Bibby

Petter Olsen, owner of ‘The Scream’ (1895), looks at the picture during its public viewing at Sotheby’s in London

Next month sees the sale at auction of one of the most famous works of art to come on to the open market. Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on May 2. It promises to be an eventful evening. The auction house has slapped its highest-ever estimate on the picture, hoping it will fetch at least $80m. It may even surpass the record for a work of art at auction, set at Christie’s New York two years ago when Pablo Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” was sold for $106.5m.

But there is something more significant at play here than just numbers. “The Scream” is one of the most disturbing images to come out of the history of modern art. It depicts a moment of psychic calamity, of shattered nerves. Munch intended, when he first created the image in 1893, to record “the modern life of the soul”; and what a fraught, anxiety-ridden vision it was. For decades his distorted vision was regarded as an eccentric by-way of expressionism, laden with Nordic gloom and unnecessary cosmic pessimism.

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Injuries brought about during the bombing of London

December 1936. “Secondhand store in Council Bluffs, Iowa.”

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