The Beautiful Brain

Site of the week! (a non-recurring weekly feature on

The Beautiful Brain

The Beautiful Brain explores the latest findings from the ever-growing field of neuroscience through monthly podcasts, essays, reviews, galleries and more, with particular attention to the dialogue between the arts and sciences. The site illuminates important new questions about creativity, the mind of the artist, and the mind of the observer that modern neuroscience is helping us to answer, or at least to provide part of an answer. Instances where art seeks to answer questions of a traditionally scientific nature are also of great interest, and for that reason you will hear from artists as well as scientists on The Beautiful Brain.

Their most recent post: “Exquisite Data: a Review of Cajal’s Butterflies of the Soul” is completely RAD.

I recently worked on plopping in a new WordPress theme, various voodoo, and awesomification:


North Atlantic Conveyor Belt Collapse [weather hurts]


…apparently the North Atlantic Conveyor belt has collapsed. That’s the only thing that makes living in Europe possible. There was a lot of buzz about this in 2003-2004 (I think) when a DoD report was released warning that such an event was possible, even likely, as a result of global warming. Those stories were clear and vitually unanimous that such a collapse would lead to a near-instant ice age for most of Europe. The fact that Ireland (and the rest of Europe) is having its coldest winter in a hundred years makes this a true emergency to evaluate. (read more at Mike Ruppert)

The collapse of the North Atlantic Conveyor belt was thought to have caused a cold period 1,300 years long known as the Younger Dryas during the Pleistocene period. We may be seeing the beginning of a new cold cycle–a rapid decrease in temperature affecting Europe that could begin as soon as May.

Odds of being the victim of an airborne terrorist attack: 1 in 10,408,947

Nate Silver, the hero of statistics made famous by the past two elections has the following computation regarding airplane safety in light of recent inept terrorists:

There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

via Fivethirtyeight

Actuarial Escape Velocity, a definition

Actuarial escape velocity: Actuarial escape velocity occurs when … life expectancy increases faster than one year per one year of research. (via)

In other words, this is the moment when science has reached the point where one can be kept alive indefinitely. The ‘Maximum Life Foundation‘ says that the 30 and under crowd will see that day. Scared yet?

Possible? Consider ‘The Methuselah Flies,’ who lived about 3x longer than they would normally had they not been genetically altered.

See: Rose, M. R., H. B. Passananti, and M. Matos, eds. 2004. Methuselah flies: A case study in the evolution of aging. World Scientific Publishing, Singapore.