At the heart of matter... is glue, or rather gluons binding the quarks that make up protons and neutrons which make up all physical matter. The glue of the gluons is called the strong nuclear force, one of the four fundamental forces of the universe and the strongest of them all. The weakest is the force of gravitation, which is a great glue that connects and binds all the physical objects of the universe, orchestrating the grand symphony of the galaxies. Glue is everywhere, without glue we are nowhere. Glue is that substance which keeps things from falling apart, and as such becomes the ultimate metaphor for God, that supreme force which ever upholds the integrity of existence.

This blog is a little homage to the God of glue, who is simply a metaphor for the endless creativity of our wonderful, adhesive and cohesive universe, which is simply a manifestation of the infinite wisdom of the Godhead, which is simply the head of God's being — this being being none other than this infinitely wonderful universe, which nonetheless could simply be a dream in the mind of God! A slightly sticky situation there! Got glue?

The Ice Cages Melt



The World Without Us

—Alan Weisman—

(Chapter 16: Our Geologic Record)





180 miles northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada: a very round hole half a mile wide and 1,000 feet deep. A dried-up lake.




North of the 60th parallel, Canada contains more lakes than the rest of the world combined. Nearly half of Northwest Territories isn't land at all, but water.




Ice ages gouged cavities into which ice-bergs dropped when the glaciers retreated. When they melted, these earthen kettles filled with fossil water...




Evaporation is slow in cold climates, little more precipitation falls here than in the Sahara.





But: as the permafrost thaws around these kettles, glacial water held in place by frozen soil for thousands of years is seeping away.





In the Eocene, today's lichen-covered tundra was coniferous forest.





One of the oldest mammal species on Earth still lives here, a Pleistocene relic that managed to survive because it was extraordinarily equipped to brave weather that ice-age humans preferred to escape: the musk ox.





The pelage of the musk ox, known in Inuit as qiviut, is the warmest organic fiber known. It makes them impervious to cold but became their downfall when they were all but exterminated by hunters in the early 20th century who sold their hides in Europe.





If too much of the permafrost is undone, it would thaw deeply buried ice that forms crystalline cages around methane molecules.





 An estimated 400 billion tons of frozen methane deposits, known as clathrates, lie a few thousand feet beneath the tundra, and even more are found beneath the world's oceans.





That very-deep-freeze natural gas is estimated to equal all known conventional gas and oil reserves. But it is so dispersed no one has come up with an economical way to mine it.





If it all floats away once the ice cages melt, that much methane might ratchet global warming to levels unknown since the Permian extinction, 250 million years ago.       





Cognitive Psychology


Mind Hacks: Tips & Tricks for Using Your Brain

— Tom Stafford, Matt Webb —

(Chapter 1: Inside the Brain)





It's never entirely true to say, "This bit of the brain is solely responsible for function X."




Small, isolated strokes can deactivate very specific brain regions... Seeing what these people can no longer do in these pathological cases, provides good clues into the functions of those regions of the brain.




Our decision-making systems are assembled from neurons rather than silicon. We're not software running on hardware. The two are one and the same.




Cognitive psychology is the psychology of the basic mental processes — things like perception, attention, memory, language, decision-making. It asks the question, "What are the fundamental operations on which mind is based?"    





We can use neuroimaging (EEG, PET, MRI) to look inside the head at the brain, to inform how we think the brain runs the algorithms that make up the mind.





Experimental psychologists have spent more than a hundred years refining methods for getting insight into how the mind works without messing with the insides, what we call cognitive psychology.





What cognitive psychology basically tries to do: reverse engineering the basic functions of the mind by manipulating the inputs and looking at the results.





Small things have big effects and sometime big changes in circumstance can produce little obvious difference in how we respond.





People aren't consistent in the same way software or machines usually are. Two sources of variability are noise and learning.





We don't automatically respond in the same way to the same stimulus every time. This sometimes happens for no apparent reason, and we call this randomness noise.





The very act of responding first time around creates feedback that informs our response pattern for the next time... almost all actions affect future processing.





The rigor and precision of the methods developed by cognitive psychology are still vital, but now they can be used in tandem with methods to give insight into the underlying brains structure and processes that are supporting the phenomenon being investigated.







Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

- Neil deGrasse Tyson–

(Chapter 1: Coming to Our Senses)





Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science. — Edwin P. Hubble (1889 - 1953), The Nature of Science




What, if anything, lies beyond our senses? Does there exist a way of knowing that transcends our biological interfaces with the environment?




The persistent failures of controlled, double-blind experiments to support the claims of parapsychology suggest that what's going on is nonsense rather than sixth sense.




The honing of our senses from birth through childhood allows us, as adults, to pass judgment on events and phenomena in our lives, declaring whether they "make sense."





Problem is: hardly any scientific discoveries of the past century flowed from the direct application of our five senses. They flowed from the direct application of sense-transcendent mathematics and hardware.





As a consequence: the average person, relativity, particle physics, and 10-dimensional string theory make no sense. Include in the list, black holes, worm holes, and the big bang.





A newer and higher level of "common sense" enables a scientist to think creatively and to pass judgment in the unfamiliar underworld of the atom or in the mind-bending domain of higher-dimensional space.





... there are realities existing apart from our sense-perceptions... these realities are of greater value for us than the richest treasures of the world of experience. —Max Planck (1931)





Q: If you can't smell the carbon monoxide, then how do you know it's there?

A: You drop dead.






If the sole measure of what's out there flows from your five senses then a precarious life awaits you.




Discovering new ways of knowing has always heralded new windows on the universe that tap into our growing list of nonbiological senses.




As we technologically evolve into supersentient beings, a new level of majesty and complexity in the universe reveals itself to us.








Turn Left at Orion: A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope

—and How to Find Them


—Guy Consolmagno, Dan M. Davis, Karen Kotash Sepp,

Anne Drogin, Mary Lynn Skirvin—

(Seasonal Objects: Spring)




Galaxies are the basic units of the universe.




After the universe was created it seems to have fragmented into discrete lumps of matter, each with enough mass to make billions of stars.




A lump would condense into a galaxy, with a cloud of globular clusters swarming erratically around the galactic center, and a disk of stars orbiting the center.





Galaxies come in three general forms: elliptical galaxies, irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies.       





Elliptical galaxies look like large, somewhat flattened globular clusters (a collection of tens of thousands of stars in a ball within the galaxy).





In spiral galaxies, stars are organized into two or more arms that twist around their galactic center. Spirals are the most beautiful of galaxies.






The Whirlpool Galaxy, and our own Milky Way are examples of spiral galaxies.

The Whirlpool's companion may be an elliptical galaxy.





Galaxies are observed to be clumped together into clusters, which may be anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of galaxies, each tied by the gravity of others into a cloud moving together through space.       





Andromeda and its companions, the Triangulum Galaxy, and the Milky Way and its companions (the Magellanic Clouds) are all part of the Local Group. The galaxies in Ursa Major and in Leo are examples of members of other groups.





 All the clusters appear to be moving away from each other, implying that they are the fragments of the Big Bang that took place some twelve to fifteen thousand billion years ago.




The clusters themselves are associated into clusters of clusters called superclusters.




We don't know whether these superclusters are independent entities, like raisins in a pudding, or connected together like the stuff in a sponge around “bubbles” of empty space.