Sunday, 31 December 2006

Postetanic potentiation

Some processes in nervous tissue are essentially discontinuous in nature, others, like heat and carbon dioxide production, and positive after-potential, are cumulative; they tend to develop in some relation to the number of impulses carried, not infrequently to appear in measurable form only after a number of actions have been compressed into a limited time. In such conditions of activity not only are cumulative processes demonstrable in nerve, but indications of their influence may be found in the altered responsiveness of simple synaptic relays and of neuromuscular junctions. The usual sequel to a period of tetanic stimulation in junctional tissues is a more or less prolonged increase in the transmitted response to standard, iterative, but infrequently elicited pre-junctional nerve volleys into which train of volleys the tetanus has been interpolated (2, 7, 10, 11, 23, 35, etc.). The observed phenomena have been called post-tetanic facilitation, or post-tetanic potentiation; the latter designation is to be preferred. This article by Lloyd, 1949 describes this process (full access).

Visual system by Descartes

Figure 63 of De Homine (1662), by René Descartes. This figure shows how the light enters and makes images on the retina. The nervous pathway goes from the optic chiasma to the pineal gland. It moves toward the arm and induces the muscle contraction to project the arm onto the AC arrow.

Frogs lying

If you happen across a pond full of croaking green frogs, listen carefully. Some of them may be lying. A croak is how male green frogs tell other frogs how big they are. The bigger the male, the deeper the croak. The sound of a big male is enough to scare off other males from challenging him for his territory.
While most croaks are honest, some are not. Some small males lower their voices to make themselves sound bigger. Their big-bodied croaks intimidate frogs that would beat them in a fair fight.

Saturday, 30 December 2006

Giotto and the comet

Giotto di Bondone (Colle di Vespignano, near Florence 1267 January 8 - Florence 1337), better known simply as Giotto, was a Florentine painter and architect who is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to and developed the Italian Renaissance. Giotto's master work is the Arena Chapel cycle of the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua depicting the life of the Virgin and the passion of Christ completed around 1305. The scheme has 100 major scenes with the heavily sculptural figures set in compressed but naturalistic settings often using forced perspective devices. Famous panels in the series include the Adoration of the Magi (picture), in which a comet like Star of Bethlehem streaks across the sky and the Flight from Egypt in which Giotto broke many traditions for the depiction of the scene.
This fresco, painted sometime between 1304 and 1306, features an accurately represents a comet above the Nativity stable. The fresco's realistic potrayal strongly suggests that it was based on the artist's first-hand observation of the comet Halley during its appearance in the skies over Europe in Oct. 1301. Almost seven centuries later the spaceprobe "Giotto" from the European Space Agency, was designed to study Halley's Comet. On March, 13, 1986, Giotto approached at a 596 kilometer distance from Halley's nucleus and obtained our first direct images of a comet nucleus. Giotto's images showed the nucleus to be an irregular object, something like a potato, with dimensions 15 km long and up to 10 km wide (picture).

Monday, 25 December 2006

A pale blue dot

It was Carl Sagan's idea to turn Voyager's camera back toward the planet that launched the spacecraft in order to reveal to that planet's inhabitants their "true circumstance and condition". After much resistance, Dr. Sagan prevailed, and on February 14, 1990, from a distance of 6.4 billion kilometers , Voyager 1 captured this image of our Earth. Here the entire world fills only 0.12 pixel and appears as a tiny crescent of light.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate or your joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and distroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar", every "supreme leader", every saint and sinner, in the history of our species lived here -on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of a corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits that this distant image or our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsability to deal more kindly with one another , and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot , the only home we've ever known.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, Random House, 1994

Statue of Amun with features of Tutankhamun

Amun typically appears as a man wearing a tall, double-plumed headdress. His tall headdress is missing from this statue, but his crown bears traces of gilding. Amun wears the false beard of a deity, an elaborately beaded broad collar, and a short kilt decorated on the belt with a tyet-amulet, a symbol related both to the goddess Isis and to the ankh, the hieroglyph meaning “life”. The god also holds ankhs indicating his immortality. His hands, which have been intentionally cut back, may represent a deliberate alteration to allow the statue to fit into a shrine or a portable ceremonial boat used to carry it in processions.
Provenance unknown, possibly Thebes, late Dynasty 18-early Dynasty 19 (1332-1292 BCE), greywacke.

The Rosetta Stone

What is the Rosetta Stone?
The Rosetta Stone is a stone with writing on it in two languages (Egyptian and Greek), using three scripts (hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek).
Why is it in three different scripts?
The Rosetta Stone is written in three scripts because when it was written, there were three scripts being used in Egypt.
The first was hieroglyphic which was the script used for important or religious documents.
Detail of hieroglyphic and demotic script on the Rosetta Stone
The second was demotic which was the common script of Egypt.
The third was Greek which was the language of the rulers of Egypt at that time.
The Rosetta Stone was written in all three scripts so that the priests, government officials and rulers of Egypt could read what it said.
When was the Rosetta Stone made?
The Rosetta Stone was carved in 196 B.C..
When was the Rosetta Stone found?
The Rosetta Stone was found in 1799.
Who found the Rosetta Stone?
The Rosetta Stone was found by French soldiers who were rebuilding a fort in Egypt.
Where was the Rosetta Stone found?
The Rosetta Stone was found in a small village in the Delta called Rosetta (Rashid).
Why is it called the Rosetta Stone?
It is called the Rosetta Stone because it was discovered in a town called Rosetta (Rashid).
What does the Rosetta Stone say?
The Rosetta Stone is a text written by a group of priests in Egypt to honour the Egyptian pharaoh. It lists all of the things that the pharaoh has done that are good for the priests and the people of Egypt.
Who deciphered hieroglyphs? Many people worked on deciphering hieroglyphs over several hundred years. However, the structure of the script was very difficult to work out.
After many years of studying the Rosetta Stone and other examples of ancient Egyptian writing, Jean-François Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs in 1822.
How did Champollion decipher hieroglyphs?
Champollion could read both Greek and coptic.
He was able to figure out what the seven demotic signs in coptic were. By looking at how these signs were used in coptic he was able to work out what they stood for. Then he began tracing these demotic signs back to hieroglyphic signs.
By working out what some hieroglyphs stood for, he could make educated guesses about what the other hieroglyphs stood for.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Proceedings of the trial against Galileo Galilei

Full access to the original proceedings of the trial against Galileo Galilei.
Rome, 1616‑1633. Paper volume, 338x225 mm, ff. 228: modern green cardboard binding, with a parchment back (View).

Earth from Space

pdf documents showing beautiful photos from Africa, Asia and Oceania from Space.

Earth from Space - Africa
Earth from Space - Asia and Oceania


Total sunlight and heat reflected from the Earth

Ships passing through the Panama Canal

Appearing in this Envisat radar image like shining jewels, ships pass from the man-made Lake Gatun through the Panama Canal across Central America.
The colour in this image is due to it being a multitemporal composite, made up of three Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) images acquired on different dates, with separate colours assigned to each acquisition to highlight differences between them: Red for 16 March, Green for 12 Jan and blue for 14 October 2004. The view was acquired in ASAR Image Mode Precision, with pixel sampling of 12.5 metres.

Satellite portrait of global plant growth will aid climate research

An ambitious ESA (European Space Agency) project to chart ten years in the life of the Earth's vegetation has reached a midway point, with participants and end-users having met to review progress so far. Harnessing many terabytes of satellite data, the GLOBCARBON project is intended to hone the accuracy of climate change forecasting. GLOBCARBON involves the development of a service to generate fully calibrated estimates of land products based on a variety of Earth Observation data, suitable for assimilation into sophisticated software simulations of the planet created by the global carbon modelling community.
The service is focused on the generation of various global estimates of aspects of terrestrial vegetation: the number, location and area of fire-affected land, known as Burnt Area Estimates (BAE), the area of green leaf exposed to incoming sunlight for photosynthesis, known as Leaf Area Index (LAI), the sunlight actually absorbed for photosynthesis, known as the Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (fAPAR) and the Vegetation Growth Cycle (VGC).

Worldwide leaf area index (LAI)

Ozone forecasts

Explore planet Earth in near-real time

Have you ever wanted to track natural events in progress, such as fires, floods and volcanic eruptions, or simply explore the planet through the eyes of a satellite? ESA has created a website, MIRAVI, which gives access to the most recently acquired images from the world’s largest Earth Observation satellite, Envisat. MIRAVI, short for MERIS Images RApid VIsualisation, tracks Envisat around the globe, generates images from the raw data collected by Envisat’s optical instrument, MERIS, and provides them online within two hours. MIRAVI is free and requires no registration (Go).

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Peering into the Heart of the Crab Nebula

In the year 1054 A.D., Chinese astronomers were startled by the appearance of a new star, so bright that it was visible in broad daylight for several weeks. Today, the Crab Nebula is visible at the site of the "Guest Star." Located about 6,500 light-years from Earth, the Crab Nebula is the remnant of a star that began its life with about 10 times the mass of our own Sun. Its life ended on July 4, 1054 when it exploded as a supernova. In this image, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has zoomed in on the center of the Crab to reveal its structure with unprecedented detail. The Crab Nebula data were obtained by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 in 1995. Images taken with five different color filters have been combined to construct this new false-color picture. Resembling an abstract painting by Jackson Pollack, the image shows ragged shards of gas that are expanding away from the explosion site at over 3 million miles per hour. The core of the star has survived the explosion as a pulsar, visible in the Hubble image as the lower of the two moderately bright stars to the upper left of center. The pulsar is a neutron star that spins on its axis 30 times a second. It heats its surroundings, creating the ghostly diffuse bluish-green glowing gas cloud in its vicinity, including a blue arc just to its right. The colorful network of filaments is the material from the outer layers of the star that was expelled during the explosion. The picture is somewhat deceptive in that the filaments appear to be close to the pulsar. In reality, the yellowish green filaments toward the bottom of the image are closer to us, and approaching at some 300 miles per second. The orange and pink filaments toward the top of the picture include material behind the pulsar, rushing away from us at similar speeds. The various colors in the picture arise from different chemical elements in the expanding gas, including hydrogen (orange), nitrogen (red), sulfur (pink), and oxygen (green). The shades of color represent variations in the temperature and density of the gas, as well as changes in the elemental composition.

Hubble Reopens Eye on the Universe

In its first glimpse of the heavens following the successful December 1999 servicing mission, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a majestic view of a planetary nebula, the glowing remains of a dying, Sun-like star. This stellar relic, first spied by William Herschel in 1787, is nicknamed the "Eskimo" Nebula (NGC 2392) because, when viewed through ground-based telescopes, it resembles a face surrounded by a fur parka. In this Hubble telescope image, the "parka" is really a disk of material embellished with a ring of comet-shaped objects, with their tails streaming away from the central, dying star. The Eskimo's "face" also contains some fascinating details. Although this bright central region resembles a ball of twine, it is, in reality, a bubble of material being blown into space by the central star's intense "wind" of high-speed material. In this photo, one bubble lies in front of the other, obscuring part of the second lobe. Scientists believe that a ring of dense material around the star's equator, ejected during its red giant phase, created the nebula's shape. The bubbles are not smooth like balloons but have filaments of denser matter. Each bubble is about 1 light-year long and about half a light-year wide. Scientists are still puzzled about the origin of the comet-shaped features in the "parka." One possible explanation is that these objects formed from a collision of slow-and fast-moving gases. The Eskimo Nebula is about 5,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Gemini. The picture was taken Jan. 10 and 11, 2000, with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The nebula's glowing gases produce the colors in this image: nitrogen (red), hydrogen (green), oxygen (blue), and helium (violet).

World Wind

World Wind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there.Virtually visit any place in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps, or along the African Sahara (download).

The Brain in a Vat

The Brain in a Vat thought-experiment is most commonly used to illustrate global or Cartesian skepticism. You are told to imagine the possibility that at this very moment you are actually a brain hooked up to a sophisticated computer program that can perfectly simulate experiences of the outside world. Here is the skeptical argument. If you cannot now be sure that you are not a brain in a vat, then you cannot rule out the possibility that all of your beliefs about the external world are false. Or, to put it in terms of knowledge claims, we can construct the following skeptical argument. Let “P” stand for any belief or claim about the external world, say, that snow is white.
If I know that P, then I know that I am not a brain in a vat
I do not know that I am not a brain in a vat
Thus, I do not know that P.
The Brain in a Vat Argument is usually taken to be a modern version of René Descartes' argument (in the Meditations on First Philosophy) that centers on the possibility of an evil demon who systematically deceives us. The hypothesis has been the premise behind the movie The Matrix, in which the entire human race has been placed into giant vats and fed a virtual reality at the hands of malignant artificial intelligence (our own creations, of course).
One of the ways some modern philosophers have tried to refute global skepticism is by showing that the Brain in a Vat scenario is not possible. In his Reason, Truth and History (1981), Hilary Putnam first presented the argument that we cannot be brains in a vat, which has since given rise to a large discussion with repercussions for the realism debate and for central theses in the philosophy of language and mind. As we shall see, however, it remains far from clear how exactly Putnam’s argument should be taken and what it actually proves

The Global Consciousness Project

The Global Consciousness Project, also called the EGG Project, is an international and multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists, engineers, artists and others. This website introduces methods and technology and empirical results in one section, and presents interpretations and applications in another. The purpose of this project is to examine subtle correlations that appear to reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. The scientific work is careful, but it is at the margins of our understanding (view).

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Test your memory

The National Memory Test is created and run by ABC Science Online and the Department of Education, Science and Training in Australia (Take the test).

Search For Your Ancestors

Would you like to know about your ancestors? Just search in the largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world (Search).

Earth from above

The "Earth from above Project" makes possible to draw up a true portrait of our planet which unceasingly continues to be updated. The web invites each one to reflect on engagement in favour of the sustainable development. The legends hich accompany the images inform the reader of the exposures the Earth seen on the sky of the alarming ecological evolutions (Visit the Menu and search by country).

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Brain development

The embryonic and fetal brains of all mammals develop in similar ways. The embryonic spinal cord develops along common sequences and patterns. The nervous system emerges from a simple elongated tube of cells, called the notochord. The head (cranial) end of the embryonic tube expands and differentiates more robustly (than does the spinal end) into several clusters of cells which emerge as the forebrain (telencephalon and diencephalon), midbrain (mesencephalon) and hindbrain (metencephalon and myelencephalon) portions.
Please, compare to brain evolution.

Brain circuitry

This diagram illustrates the principle that brain circuits travel up and down the neuroaxis, from one side of the brain to the other, as well as back and forth between many different brain components at several levels within the forebrain, thalamus, hypothalamus, midbrain, medulla, cerebellum and spinal cord.
Why is it important to learn how brains are constructed?
For a brain to perform all the functions that it must do, it must: 1. Detect and locate the great variety of stimulus types, sources, and happenings in the environment; 2. Make sense of all these sensory events; 3. Respond to all these features by expressing an elaborate behavioral repertoire; and 4. Make judgments, learn, and think about all these things.
Over the last 50 years, a great number of neuronal cell groups, circuits and connections have been identified and named in the several different regions of the brain. In addition, the functions of these different nuclei and circuits have been identified. Moreover, the neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms by which these circuits operated to produce and enable them to function effectively have begun to be clarified. But much remains to be done, and in the next two decades, it is estimated that modern technology will provide ever greater insight as to how the circuits of the brain perform the functions that they do.

The Stroop effect

Say aloud the ink colour of each word.How quickly can you do it? did you slow down?
When the name and the ink colour are different, most people slow down.
When you try to say the ink colour, you cannot avoid reading the word. If the two bits of information conflict, your brain struggles to work out what the correct answer is, and it takes longer.
This test is very sensitive to subtle changes in brain function. Lack of sleep, fatigue, minor brain injury and high altitudes will all increase the time it takes to do the test. The test has even been used on Everest expeditions to see how altitudes are affecting different people.
This is called ‘The Stroop effect’ and was discovered in 1935 by John Ridley Stroop.

An apparition?

Stare at the blue dots while you count slowly to 30.
Now close your eyes and tilt your head back. A circle of light will slowly appear. Focus on it, and look into it. What do you see?
Try this again, but look at a white wall after 30 seconds.
Do you still see it?

Brain evolution

Evidence of brain evolution can be seen in various fields of biology, such as paleontology, ethology, behavioral biology, cognitive psychology, molecular biology and genetics.
Please, compare to brain development.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Silos Apocalypse

This spectacular manuscript of Beatus of Liébana’s commentary on the Apocalypse survives in near perfect condition from the first decade of the 12th century. It was copied and illuminated in the Spanish monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos at a time when the monastery’s scriptorium was producing its finest work. Painted in brilliant colours and embellished with gold and silver leaf, its 106 striking miniatures illustrate the most extraordinary scenes in the Christian Bible - a triumph of artistic vision.
Its beauty and excellent state of preservation would alone make this an important manuscript. But there is more besides. It also contains one of the oldest Christian maps of the world. The map presents a picture of the Mediterranean world virtually unchanged since the 8th century, which in turn reflected an even older world view inherited from Roman times.
The map was intended to show the routes taken by the Christian missions of the early saints. East is at the top of the map, rather than the right as in modern maps. Adam and Eve are portrayed against a dark green background representing the verdant Garden of Eden. Beyond the Red Sea is a hint of an undiscovered fourth continent that some ancient thinkers – among them, Pliny, the first-century Roman writer – had suggested must exist in order to balance the known land masses of Europe, Asia and Africa.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006


This white-legged damselfly posed one May evening for more than an hour on symmetrically crossed grasses. It seemed as transfixed by the photographer as he was by it. ‘After a couple of photos from a distance,’ says Theo, ‘I crept closer and closer, trying not to make any unexpected movements. An hour or so and many shots later, I was really close. But it still maintained eye contact while I fired off shot after shot.’ The resulting detail reveals not only its beautiful colours but also its spiked hair and ‘goatee’ beard, together with its armoury of sensory leg bristles.

Ghost frog

Many species of frog in Costa Rica have disappeared over the past couple of decades, probably a combination of a deadly fungus and the stresses of climate change. Ghost glass frogs are still relatively widespread, but are difficult to find. Edwin’s guide hadn’t seen one for a year, and so the discovery was even more exciting than the mountain lion footprints in the mud nearby. ‘I stood in a stream to get as close as I could,’ says Edwin. ‘The frog remained motionless as I took its portrait, completely confident in its ability to morph into the plant it was attached to.’ Ghost glass frogs get their name from the transparent skin on their bellies through which you can see their organs and even their circulating blood.

Evolution can't explain the soul

This large, double-page article is full of sensational quotes designed to engage readers. The article is from The World Magazine, 19 November 1910 (page 7). The headline reads: 'Prof. Wallace, Who Formulated the Darwinian theory fifty years ago, now rejects it. There was, he claims, a subsequent act of creation that gave to man a spirit or soul... ...the difference between man and animals is unbridgeable.' This is extremely interesting as Wallace strongly defended 'Darwinian evolution' but increasingly, due to his spiritualist beliefs, felt he could not relate natural selection to human evolution. The article is richly illustrated with Wallace's portrait, and a biblical scene depicting Adam and Eve.

The earliest dated European astrolabe

The astrolabe is a multi-functional instrument which enables the user to perform such diverse tasks as timekeeping at day and night, surveying, determining latitude, and casting horoscopes.
Geoffrey Chaucer (about 1342-1400), better known for his Canterbury Tales, also wrote a treatise on the astrolabe which was widely disseminated. The type of astrolabe he described matches the features of this instrument, with its distinctive Y-shaped rete, a dog's head as a star-pointer for Sirius (known as the dog-star), and other star-pointers in the shape of birds. The frame around the circumference has a dragon's head and tail respectively at the ends.
Three of the saints mentioned in the calendrical list on the back are of particular English significance, and one of the latitude plates is marked for Oxford, while the others are laid out for Jerusalem, 'Babilonie', Rome, Montpellier, and Paris.

Turquoise mosaic of a double-headed serpent

This ornament was probably worn on ceremonial occasions as a pectoral (an ornament worn on the chest). It is carved in wood and covered with turquoise mosaic. The eye sockets were probably inlaid with iron pyrites and shell. Red and white shell was used to add details to the nose and mouth of both serpent heads. The mosaic work covers both sides of the serpents' heads.The serpent played a very important role in Aztec religion. It is associated with several gods such as Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent), Xiuhcoatl (Fire Serpent), Mixcoatl (Cloud Serpent) or Coatlicue (She of the Serpent Skirt), the mother of the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. The word for serpent in Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs, is coatl.The word coatl is also part of many place names, such as Coatepec ('the hill of the serpents'). Coatepec is the birthplace of the god Huitzilopochtli, the principal Aztec god, thus one of the most important places in Aztec mythology. Serpents were also used as architectural elements. For example, a wall of serpents (coatepantli) was used to mark out sacred spaces within a ceremonial area. At the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, such a wall surrounded part of the Great Temple, which was the ritual focus for the entire city.

Leonardo da Vinci Notebook.

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest thinkers of his age and this notebook shows the breadth of his interests. It is one of several notebooks put together from loose papers after Leonardo’s death. His intention seems to have been to compose a treatise on mechanics, although it covers a multitude of topics. The text, in Italian, is in Leonardo's characteristic 'mirror writing', written left-handed and from right to left. The manuscript was probably acquired by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1586-1646).
See the genius's personal notebook!
This aplication uses Turning the Pages™ and Shockwave plug-in, which can be downloaded from the Adobe website, to simulate the action of turning the pages of a real book. The volumes may not open if you block popups on your computer.

Egyptian mummy mask

The ancient Egyptians performed mumification to transform the bodies of the dead into dwellings for the ba (spirit) in the afterlife. The seventy-day process purged the corpse of fluids that cause decay and endowed it with the attributes of gods such as Osiris and Ra, who had the power to renew human life eternally.An important part of the mummy was a helmet-like mask, which was placed over the head of the linen-wrapped body. Its youthful features were not intended as a likeness of the deceased, but projected an idealized image for their existence in the afterlife.This example has many of the typical features of these masks. It is made of cartonnage, a lightweight material formed from layers of linen coated with plaster. The gilded skin and the wig symbolize the wearer's divine status - the gods had flesh of gold and hair of the blue mineral lapis lazuli. The ornamental collar and the gilded winged scarab beetle on the top of the head promoted the resurrection of the deceased. Lastly, a spell from the Coffin Texts linked the mask's anatomy to that of powerful gods: 'Your forehead is that of Anubis, the nape of your neck is that of Horus, your locks of hair are those of Ptah-Sokar....' The mask also provided physical protection and could act as a substitute should the mummy's head lost or damaged.
Late 1st century BC-early 1st century ADFrom Abydos, Egypt (Greco-Roman Period).

Cupid finding Psyche

Edward Burne-Jones, Cupid finding Psyche, a watercolour
England, AD 1866A design for Earthly Paradise. This drawing was one of the designs that Burne-Jones made for a vast project to illustrate William Morris's Earthly Paradise (six volumes of which were eventually published between 1868 and 1870). This daunting scheme, begun in 1865, was abandoned when Morris could not find a typeface that would do justice to the illustrations. Around fifty of the designs were cut as woodblocks by Morris, but it was not until he took over all aspects of book production with the Kelmscott Press that he was able to find satisfactory design solutions for such ambitious work.The deep, intense colour in this work is typical of Burne-Jones' heavily-worked watercolours, to which he added areas of thicker, more opaque bodycolour. The facial types are similar to those of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but the soft-focus, generalised details are unique to Burne-Jones. He produced at least five versions of this subject and later a series of paintings telling the whole story of Cupid and Psyche for the earl of Carlisle (now Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery).Jealous of Psyche's beauty, Venus sent Cupid to destroy her, but he fell in love with the sleeping princess. Cupid, who could visit Psyche only under the cover of darkness, represents love, and Psyche represents the longing of the human soul.

Gorilla picture

Henrik Gronvold was one of the great bird artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He illustrated some of the great bird books of the period. This unusual oil-painting of a Gorilla, successfully conveys the strength and size of the animal and is a fine example of Gronvold’s work

Calligraphy painting, 'loyalty'

Stylised rendering of the Chinese character 'zhong' meaning loyalty. A calligraphic painting, incorporating a prawn and a bamboo tree. From a set of eight paintings depicting the 'eight Confucian virtues'.
Title of Work: Munjado/Character paintings

The Fall and the Expulsion

Upper part of drawing. A winged sepent, with a maiden's head, guides Eve's hand, holding an apple to her mouth; Adam eats the apple. Below, they leave the enclosed garden, symbol of Paradise, as the angel drives the pair through the gate. They are protesting, and hiding their nakedness with fig leaves. As Adam descends the steps, a thorn, an allusion to sin's fruit, wounds his knee
Title of Work: Holkham Bible Picture Book

Buddha as an elephant

Burmese Buddhists told stories of the Buddha's former lives. Here he is shown in an incarnation as an elephant.
Title of Work: Jataka tales (Episodes from the Lives of the Buddha).

Sunday, 10 December 2006

Vesalius's stunning 16th century anatomy

Would you like to leaf through Humani corporis fabrica by Vesalius? (Go)

This aplication uses Turning the Pages™ and Shockwave plug-in, which can be downloaded from the Adobe website, to simulate the action of turning the pages of a real book. The volumes may not open if you block popups on your computer.

How did humans start talking?

Scientists disagree over how human language arose. Some think that our human ancestors started talking as soon as their brains became large and sophisticated enough. Others think that language evolved slowly, from the gestures and sounds used by our earlier ape-like ancestors. To test whether present-day apes have the ability to communicate using language, researchers have tried teaching them different kinds of language.

When did humans start talking?

Human language probably started to develop around 100,000 years ago. Before then, human jaws, mouths and voice boxes were the wrong shape to form words. Some scientists think that all human languages arose from a common language spoken by our ancestors in Africa. There are over 5000 different languages in the world today, although over 90 per cent of these are nearly extinct.


Human beings are the great communicators of the animal world. They are the only living creatures that use language - words or symbols that represent objects, actions, qualities, feelings and ideas. Other animals communicate in much less complex ways.


Everyone feels happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, disgust and anger at some time - these are the six basic emotions. There are over 600 words in English to describe them and we use 42 muscles in our faces to express them.

How does our brain work?

Our brain is the hub of your nervous system. It is made up of 100 billion nerve cells - about the same as the number of trees in the Amazon rainforest. Each cell is connected to around 10,000 others. So the total number of connections in our brain is the same as the number of leaves in the rainforest - about 1000 trillion.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Instructions of use

Wellcome to "Smash your brain"
This is a free website devoted to boost and expand your mind.
By frequently exploring this web you´ll be placed on different points of view to reflect on life and universe. "From reality to wisdom and back to reality" is our motto.

We strongly recommend to focus on some few items more than having a quick look at several topics.
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Use of this Web Site is subject to these terms and conditions. By using this Web Site you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions which form a binding contract between you and The Brain Community. Certain parts of this Web Site may be subject to registration and additional terms and conditions which will be made available for you to read at the time of registration. Unless otherwise indicated, this Web Site and its contents are the property of The Brain Community. The copyright in the material contained on this Web Site belongs to its authors or its licensors. The trademarks appearing on this Web Site are protected by the laws of England and international trademark laws.
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In no event shall The Brain Community or its employees, agents, suppliers, or contractors be liable for any damages of any nature, including without limitation any consequential loss, loss of income or profit, loss of or damage to property, claims of third parties, or any other loss, cost, claim or expense of any kind or character arising out of or in connection with the use of this Web Site, its content or any Web Site with which it is linked. This exclusion and limitation only applies to the extent permitted by law and does not apply to liability for death or personal injury caused by the negligence of The Brain Community, its employees, agents, suppliers or contractorsThe Brain Community reserves the right to change these terms and conditions by posting changes on this page of the Web Site and you will be deemed to have accepted such changes if you use this Web Site after "Smash your brain" has published the amended terms and conditions on this page of the Web Site.Certain parts of this Web Site may contain advertising. Fundación de Neurociencieas is not responsible for the content of any advertising material or any errors or inaccuracy in any advertising or sponsorship, which is the responsibility of the advertiser. These terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with European Laws.

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