Midnight Blue | Photographer

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Bad-Ass Female Scientists: Lynn Margulis

I don’t consider my ideas controversial. I consider them right."

Biologist Lynn Margulis died on November 22nd. She stood out from her colleagues in that she would have extended evolutionary studies nearly four billion years back in time. Her major work was in cell evolution, in which the great event was the appearance of the eukaryotic, or nucleated, cell — the cell upon which all larger life-forms are based. Nearly forty-five years ago, she argued for its symbiotic origin: that it arose by associations of different kinds of bacteria. Her ideas were generally either ignored or ridiculed when she first proposed them; symbiosis in cell evolution is now considered one of the great scientific breakthroughs.

Margulis was also a champion of the Gaia hypothesis, an idea developed in the 1970s by the free lance British atmospheric chemist James E. Lovelock. The Gaia hypothesis states that the atmosphere and surface sediments of the planet Earth form a self- regulating physiological system — Earth’s surface is alive. The strong version of the hypothesis, which has been widely criticized by the biological establishment, holds that the earth itself is a self-regulating organism; Margulis subscribed to a weaker version, seeing the planet as an integrated self- regulating ecosystem. She was criticized for succumbing to what George Williams called the “God-is good” syndrome, as evidenced by her adoption of metaphors of symbiosis in nature. She was, in turn, an outspoken critic of mainstream evolutionary biologists for what she saw as a failure to adequately consider the importance of chemistry and microbiology in evolution.

I first met her in the late 80’s and in 1994 interviewed her for my book The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution (1995). Below, in remembrance, please see her chapter, “Gaia is a Tough Bitch”. One of the compelling features of The Third Culture was that I invited each of the participants to comment about the others. In this regard, the end of the following chapter has comments on Margulis and her work by Daniel C. Dennett, the late George C. Williams, W. Daniel Hillis, Lee Smolin, Marvin Minsky, Richard Dawkins, and the late Francisco Varela. Interesting stuff.

As I wrote in the introduction to the first part of the book (Part I: The Evolutionary Idea): “The principal debates are concerned with the mechanism of speciation; whether natural selection operates at the level of the gene, the organism, or the species, or all three; and also with the relative importance of other factors, such as natural catastrophes.” These very public debates were concerned with ideas represented by George C. Williams and Richard Dawkins on one side and Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge on the other side. Not for Lynn Margulis. All the above scientists were wrong because evolutionary studies needed to begin four billion years back in time. And she was not shy about expressing her opinions. Her in-your-face, take-no-prisoners stance was pugnacious and tenacious. She was impossible. She was wonderful. — John Brockman

"Gaia is a tough bitch." L. Margulis

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Shang. Setting realistic expectations for guys.

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I’m still getting used to everything. It still makes me a little emotional, just to see how quickly everything kind of changes.

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Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.

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#my heart is shattering because of this photoset #I have to applaud colin for his acting because he has these expressions for merlin that utterly tear me apart #and they seem so insignificant #but merlin’s spent his entire life being more powerful than everyone else he knows #and yet he gets clothes thrown in his face every day #he could fucking obliterate those clothes #but he doesn’t because he’s good and loyal and faithful and courageous #courageous enough to let people think he’s little more than a servant #and that’s so brave #because as humans we want to say HEY I’M GOOD AT THIS SHIT and when people wrong us we want to stand up to them #and /prove/ that we’re stronger #and it takes so much inner strength to suppress that for the sake of others #and he does #and he never snaps (hell knows I would’ve eventually) and he never fully gives in no matter how tempting it becomes #because he’s strong #stronger than arthur will ever know#but despite it all when no ones looking #he’ll always give these raw expressions#his little moments of indulgence into that weaker part of him #that just cannot stand the life he adheres to #the cards he willingly deals himself day in and day out #for arthur’s sake #and colin is absolutely brilliant for putting merlin’s tiny moments of vulnerability on display #and every time I see them #my heart aches because no one will ever know just how beautiful merlin is #not even the person he cares for the most in the entire world   

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A quick look at: Germanicus, a prominent Roman general of the early Empire, and the grandson-in-law of Augustus Caesar.

"Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success." -Tacitus, Annals (2.26), via The Internet Classics Archive.

Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC-AD 19), usually just referred to as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. He commanded 8 Roman legions on the Rhine frontier with distinction. He appears to have gained affection among the Roman people; Suetonius in Life of Caligula III describes his “…unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection." He died aged 33 on October 9 of AD 19, it was a suspected poisoning.

Great honours were granted to Germanicus after his death and he was elevated to a god-like status:

[…] Five voting centuries were to be named after him; a curule chair was to be kept in the temple of the new god, the temples were to be closed on the day that Germanicus’ ashes were interred and sacrifices were to be made on that day each year at his tomb.

[…] In public, all due honours were granted to Germanicus. The only oddity was that Tiberius and his mother did not attend the internment. Some bad feeling may have been read into this by Germanicus’ supporters, but this would seem to be an over-reaction.

-Richard Alston in Aspects of Roman History AD 14–117, page 28.

Sculpture courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Jastrow. The sculpture dates to circa 40 AD, Accession number: Ma 1238.

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Love: nature’s beauty

Dreaming of a beach to roam in search of  conch shells

The Bahamas

All hail the magic conch

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"Kate joked about William’s bald patch today, saying he could use a tuft of alpaca wool as a wig.When the couple were shown the wool Kate said to william: “you need it more than me”"

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