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Watch zebrafish cells chase each other into patterns!

An amazing article from Ed Yong describes a new mechanism for pattern formation:

Coloured Cells Chase Each Other To Make A Fish’s Stripes

Zebrafish patterns aren’t just controlled by a chemical reaction-diffusion mechanism — the pigment cells actually chase each other! The different color cells sort themselves into stripes, spots, or other patterns depending on their relative speeds.

You are not an encapsulated bag of skin dragging around a dreary little ego. You are an evolutionary wonder, a trillion cells singing together in a vast chorale, an organism – environment, a symbiosis of cell and soul.


A new project to create a life-like simulation of Caenohabditis elegans (pictured above), a roundworm. OpenWorm isn’t like these other initiatives; it’s a scrappy, open-source project that began with a tweet and that’s coordinated on Google Hangouts by scientists spread from San Diego to Russia. If it succeeds, it will have created a first in executable biology: a simulated animal using the principles of life to exist on a computer.


Today’s Smile by qubibi

<meta property=“og:description” content=
This is a website I created after being affected by the 3.11 Earthquake in Japan,
and the nuclear power plant incidents that followed.”


UPDATE 2012-02-05
Shortly after I’ve posted this The Daily Dot wrote more about
qubibi (Kazumasa Teshigawara), the process and emotions behind this work.

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.”


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)

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?

This was actually one of my favorite books as a child! I’ll have to scan some pages next time I visit my parents. I had pet planaria, tadpoles, caterpillars, a xystodesmid millipede, a dusky salamander… not all in a jar, of course!

(img source, although I don’t agree with their review!)

Eggs of Things, Maxine W. Kumin and Anne Sexton (1963)

Full (out-of-print) book available at brain pickings:

Eggs of Things was followed by More Eggs of Things in 1964, also sadly out-of-print but available in some public libraries.”

Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.