R. D. Laing, Knots (1970)


There is something I don’t know
that I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is that I don’t know,
and yet am supposed to know,
and I feel I look stupid
if I seem both not to know it
and not to know what it is I don’t know.
Therefore I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-racking
since I don’t know what I must pretend to know.
Therefore I pretend to know everything.

I feel you know what I am supposed to know
but you can’t tell me what it is
because you don’t know that I don’t know what it is.

You may know what I don’t know, but not
that I don’t know it,
and I can’t tell you. So you will have to tell me everything.

R.D. Laing: Wikipedia, Knots, another excerpt of Knots

See also Gregory Bateson’s double bind theory (Wikipedia; article)

Images 1 and 2: Living pluteus larva of the sea biscuit Clypeaster subdepressus under polarized light microscopy. Only the skeleton remains visible. Photos by Bruno C. Vellutini (Wikimedia; Flickr); cc-by-sa

Image 3: Pluteus larva via ccNeLaS

Image 4: Developing pluteus larva. Via Wikimedia. Public domain

Image 5: Sea urchin development tattoo via The Loom

Caption: “Greetings! Here’s a pic of my science tat. I studied sea urchin development for my dissertation. Upon completion 2 yrs ago, I awarded myself this tat for my academic achievement. The tat is of a sea urchin egg, 2 cell embryo, blastula, gastrula, prism stage and pluteus larval stage. Or as my friend’s say, an orange developing into an Alien face-grabber.”

Actinotroch of Phoronis vancouverensis

From Invertebrate Embryology blog

Caption: “These pictures are stacks of confocal images of two different actinotroch larvae of the horseshoe worm Phoronis vancouverensis (Phylum Phoronida). P. vancouverensis is a rather inconspicuous phoronid which lives in small (a few centimeters long) muddy tubes in clumps, attached to some sort of hard substratum (a rock, a floating dock) often in somewhat muddy surroundings. This species broods its larvae in the crown of tentacles, called the lophophore. I gently shook the larvae out of the lophophore of an adult and prepared them for confocal microscopy with my students while teaching the Comparative Embryology course at the Friday Harbor Labs in the Summer 2007.

We preserved the larvae and stained them with fluorescent phallodin (a toxin, derived from the deathcap mushroom Amanita phalloides), which binds to filamentous actin. Muscles are highlighted because they are full of actin, a protein which enables cellular contractility. So, most of what you see on these pictures are muscle fibers. There is also quite a bit of actin in the cell cortex (the region of the cytoplasm adjacent to the plasma membrane). So, the outlines of epidermal cells are often also labeled with phalloidin.”


Ross Lovegrove for Lasvit: Nodules

Using glass as an optical reservoir, the Nodules are handmade spherical lenses fused together in the making process to harness the natural physics of the material. A fiber optic light source delivers an intense white light from a remote point so that the relationship between the stem and Nodule is minimized and mysterious. The unique installations rise from the floor in clusters.


In the ocean, many forces compete in driving convection, including the temperature and salinity of the water. In the laboratory, it’s possible to mimic these characteristics of oceanic circulation using two different fluids driven by temperature and concentration differences. Recently, researchers were exploring this problem—with the added twist of tilting the fluids ~1 degree—when they discovered a surprising result. After an extended time, the convection self-organized into alternating parallel columns of ascending (dark) and descending (light) fluid. The researchers nicknamed this behavior super-highway convection. Read more about it here or in their paper. (Video credit: F. Croccolo et al; submitted by A. Vailati)


For such tiny animals, Syllidae really get around.

These polychaete worms, most only a few millimeters long, are found from the intertidal to the deep sea. The over 200 species of Syllids, and potentially many more not yet recognized, are keeping some molecular biologists very busy. 133 species from 5 continents have DNA barcodes already, and our colleagues at the Moorea Biocode project just keep finding more, just waiting to be identified, or classified as new species.

More Syllids from Moorea here.

(via: Encyclopedia of Life)

When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.

Niels Bohr 

In his first meeting with Werner Heisenberg in early summer 1920, in response to questions on the nature of language, as reported in Discussions about Language (1933); quoted in Defense Implications of International Indeterminacy (1972) by Robert J. Pranger, p. 11, and Theorizing Modernism : Essays in Critical Theory (1993) by Steve Giles, p. 28


The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

Quote in context:

“For instance, the scientific article may say, “The radioactive phosphorus content of the cerebrum of the rat decreases to one-half in a period of two weeks.” Now what does that mean? It means that the phosphorus that is in the brain of a rat — and also in mine, and yours — is not the same phosphorus as it was two weeks ago. It means the atoms that are in the brain are being replaced: the ones that were there before have gone away. So what is this mind of ours: what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week’s potatoes! They now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago — a mind which has long ago been replaced. To note that the thing I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance, that is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of the brain to be replaced by other atoms. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.”

Richard Feynman, “The Value of Science” (speech at NAS meeting, 1955)
reprinted in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short
Works of Richard P. Feynman
 (Jeffrey Robbins, ed., 1999)

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Quote in context: 

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

— Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,”  Leaves of Grass (1891)


Did you know that the phrase “and sing myself” didn’t appear in the 1855 version?

Black Hawk Rotor Vortex Wake

“Aft view of the UH-60 helicopter rotor detatched eddy simulation showing the 3D nature of the vortex wake. Note the separated flow leaving the centerbody in the middle of the image, and the uneven wake separation due to the blade motion.

Investigator: Neal Chaderjian, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Ca
Visualization: Tim Sandstrom, NASA/ Ames

More info available here: www.nas.nasa.gov/SC12/demos/demo1.html

Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NASA_Supercomp ”


Animated top view here

This is a Bryozoan statoblast. It is a cyst that can survive over the winter and begin a new Bryozoan colony when conditions permit. The little anchor shaped hooks really cling to things and allow the statoblast to hitch a ride on vegatation or animals. ” Photos by Charles Krebs