Jul 19, 2010


Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

More reasons to appreciate the inestimable genius of da Vinci:

The enigmatic smile remains a mystery, but French scientists say they have cracked a few secrets of the "Mona Lisa." French researchers studied seven of the Louvre Museum's Leonardo da Vinci paintings, including the "Mona Lisa," to analyze the master's use of successive ultrathin layers of paint and glaze - a technique that gave his works their dreamy quality.

Specialists from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety. Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers, or about half the thickness of a human hair, researcher Philippe Walter said Friday.

Similar research reported last fall turned up Mona Lisa's eyebrows.

Pascal Cotte said Leonardo built the painting up in layers, the last being a special glaze whose optical properties increased the illusion of a three-dimensional face. Above the glaze Leonardo painted details such as the eyebrows.

Cotte said: "That could explain why the eyebrows have disappeared – they have faded because of chemical reactions or they have been cleaned off."

Physicists still searching for God particle as rumors of Higgs boson discovery prove false:

A spokesman for the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory told the Telegraph: "The rumour of evidence for the Higgs boson is just that: a rumour, with no factual basis.

"Beyond that, we don't comment on rumours."

Earlier, the laboratory's Twitter feed said: "Let's settle this: the rumors spread by one fame-seeking blogger are just rumors. That's it."

The rumours had been flying around the internet since a physicist and blogger, Tommaso Dorigo of the University of Padua, said that in a blog post that he had heard "two different, possibly independent sources" claiming that an experiment at the Tevatron had found convincing evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson.

There is new evidence that plants have intelligence. Some of us have always thought so.

Plants are able to "remember" and "react" to information contained in light, according to researchers.

Plants, scientists say, transmit information about light intensity and quality from leaf to leaf in a very similar way to our own nervous systems.

Excellent write-up of the very real, very frightening prospect of a Carrington Event:

Over the past thirty years, Kappenman has accumulated a vast and compelling body of evidence indicating that sooner or later a major blast of EMP (electromagnetic pulse) from the Sun, a space weather Katrina, will knock out the electrical power grid and bring society to its knees.

"Historically large storms have a potential to cause power grid blackouts and transformer damage of unprecedented proportions. An event that could incapacitate the network for a long time could be one of the largest natural disasters we could face," he declares. A bluff, friendly man, half science nerd, half overgrown farm boy, Kappenman insists that solar EMP blasts the size of those that occurred in 1859 (before society was electrified) and 1921(before the power grid had developed to the point where it played any significant role) would today result in large-scale blackouts lasting for months or years.

. . .

"Electric power is modern society's cornerstone technology, the technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend... Collateral effects of a longer-term outage [such as would almost certainly result from a massive space weather event] would likely include, for example, disruption of the transportation, communication, banking, and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration. The resulting loss of services for a significant period of time in even one region of the country could affect the entire nation and have international impact as well," says the NAS report.

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