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Michael Morgan
There is no spoon
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My eldest son and I visited the Star Wars Identities exhibition at the O2 today. Well worth a visit to see some of the original props and costumes from the films.
Star Wars
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Homo sapiens is a very moody species. Even though sadness and bad moods have always been part of the human experience, we now live in an age that ignores or devalues these feelings.

In our culture, normal human emotions like temporary sadness are often treated as disorders. Manipulative advertising, marketing and self-help industries claim happiness should be ours for the asking. Yet bad moods remain an essential part of the normal range of moods we regularly experience.

Feeling sad or in a bad mood helps us to better focus on the situation we find ourselves in, and so increases our ability to monitor and successfully respond to more demanding situations.

These findings suggest the unrelenting pursuit of happiness may often be self-defeating. A more balanced assessment of the costs and benefits of good and bad moods is long overdue.

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Turin & Glaurung

A dramatic interpretation of one of the most iconic scenes from The Silmarillion.
"Turin and Glaurung" is an incredible traditional painting with an amazing amount of detail and sense of scale.

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I believe that Adora would approve. Probably. Maybe. 
"More than 100 golem-inspired artworks are on display at Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme in Paris."

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Best. News. Ever.

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We are not predisposed to handle quantitative distinctions adroitly. In the absence of the cultural traditions that infuse our lives with numbers from infancy, we would all struggle with even basic quantitative distinctions.

Number words and written numerals transform our quantitative reasoning as they are coaxed into our cognitive experience by our parents, peers and school teachers. The process seems so normal that we sometimes think of it as a natural part of growing up, but it is not.

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Our experiments showed that when methane-rich liquids mix with ethane-rich ones — for example from a heavy rain, or when runoff from a methane river mixes into an ethane-rich lake — the nitrogen is less able to stay in solution,” said Michael Malaska of JPL. This release of nitrogen is called exsolution. It can occur when the seasons change on Titan, and the seas of methane and ethane experience a slight warming.

Thanks to this work on nitrogen’s solubility, we’re now confident that bubbles could indeed form in the seas, and in fact may be more abundant than we’d expected,” said Jason Hofgartner of JPL, a co-author of the study who also works on Cassini’s radar team. These nitrogen bubbles would be very reflective, which explains why Cassini was able to see them.

I don't know about anyone else, but I think that the proposal to send a robotic submarine to explore the oceans of Titan is one of the most ambitious and intriguing ideas that I've come across.

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Earth, framed by Saturn's rings and photographed by Cassini. Reminds me of the Pale Blue Dot.

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Saturn's ice-crusted moon Enceladus may now be the single best place to go to look for life beyond Earth.

Cassini’s chemistry analysis strongly suggests the Enceladean seafloor has hot fluid vents - places that on Earth are known to teem with life.

As brilliant as the probe's instruments are, they were never designed to make a direct life detection at the bright white moon. This would need a whole new class of spectrometers. A proposal is being put together to fly them in 2026.

Nine years doesn't seem all that long to wait for the answer to one of life's most fundamental questions. And, if there is extra-terrestrial life in our solar system, I strongly suspect that Enceladus is where we'll find it first.

P.S. I know it's 2017 and we're not supposed to talk like this any more, but it doesn't hurt that Enceladus is stunningly beautiful. 

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As the article says, this isn't about the rights and wrongs of the case itself, but about the fact that only those with deep pockets have the opportunity to assert their legal rights.

It is shocking to discover that even in a case where the court is having to decide a matter that is literally a choice between life and death, there is no legal aid. But it is only the most shocking of a long list of areas where it is no longer possible to get state help to challenge a perceived injustice: the list includes housing, welfare, debt, immigration, medical negligence and family law cases, unless they involve domestic violence.

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