Information that deserves attention, 21

These are the articles and videos from the previous week I found most interesting.

  1. Sand Mandalas Explained, with Losang Samten
  2. Language
  3. Corals as engineers
  4. Take A Trip Around The World In 2 Minutes
  5. Where are we in the universe?
  6. Targeting Mars
  7. Earth In 200 Million Years
  8. Scientists Discover 65-Ton Dinosaur ‘Dreadnoughtus’
  9. Bigger Than T. rex: Spinosaurus

Sand Mandalas Explained, with Losang Samten

Big Think

Suffering rises from nothingness and its causes are ignorance, greed, and anger.

Venerable Lama Losang Samten walks us through the symbolism and meaning in The Wheel of Life, an ancient Buddhist sand mandala. Samten is a Tibetan-American scholar, sand mandala artist, former Buddhist monk, and Spiritual Director of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He is the author of Ancient Teachings in Modern Times: Buddhism in the 21st Century (http://goo.gl/Su66fq).

Transcript: My name is Losang Samten. I’m from Tibet, born in Tibet and then fled Tibet in 1959 at the age of 5. I came to Nepal first and then eventually came to India. And so I grew up in India and then eventually came to the United States in 1988. Ever since then I’ve been creating a lot of ancient Tibetan sand mandalas. Of course all the mandalas are tradition but some of the mandalas are such – all are so beautiful but sometimes it’s hard to explain for the general public who do not have that much background of Buddhists and Buddhist philosophy.

What I’m showing to you here this image is called Wheel of Life. In our language it’s called srid pa’i ‘khor lo. The wheel of life which in many ways is fascinating and also me as an artist to display this art in the schools, especially the schools and kids can understand a lot better and not only just intellectually understand better but something to relate to in their life. So what is in the Wheel of Life in the mandala or in design, the middle there’s three animals. And the three animals are a snake, a rooster and pig. Three animals are there. They’re also chasing to each other, connecting to each other which means what is their causes of suffering? What makes us so difficult? What makes our wheel so stressful? So each animal means something. Not the animal itself but represents something what we’re going through on a day to day basis.

So the pig represents the ignorance, lots are due to our emotions, special negative emotions and the difficulties and frustrations and even killing each other are due to the ignorance – not seeing the true nature of the reality. And unfortunately sometimes we as a pure teaching either Buddhism or Christianity and Judaism and Islam and all of this, even though due to how to peace – due to how to create human peace and happiness but some individuals due to the ignorance use as a killing tool in the name of the religion. So it’s the pig, the animal, which in the middle symbolizes ignorance.

Two other animals are there too and the snake represents the anger. Hatred is such a big problem in my life or anybody’s life in today and the past due to our relationships, due to anything – anger is really damaging. When Buddha designed this what was original was a pig and a snake. In the rooster case we really don’t know if the original was a rooster or a pigeon. There’s a little different – scholars have a different interpretations. So that’s why when I draw sand mandalas sometimes I draw it as a rooster, sometimes I draw it as a pigeon to both will be happy. No too much conflicts. And so the pigeon represents – either the pigeon or the rooster represents the greed, the greed, the greed. We see that today in the twenty-first century and so much greed and all these problems in the modern society.

Damaging for the environment, damaging for many different things is truly greed. So which I said earlier in the beginning of my conversation these are the three – the ignorance and the greed and the anger are the difficult ones. So these are the causes of the suffering. Suffering rises from nothingness. Suffering rises from due to something there previously, something happened and because of that and rises. So that’s why the wheel of life is so famous in the Buddhist field and especially in Tibet or Mongolia and Bhutan or some of the ancient Buddhist temples, wheel of life is in the campus.

In a way the monastery or nunnery is like your university. So big campus. In Tibet one monastery is like a 20,000 or 30,000 monks who are living there and study there, debate there and that’s they’re home. So either in the library or meditation room, somewhere wheel of life is always they paint it in the big wall. So that’s the middle of the design of the wheel of life. And the second design there and now I’m talking about the middle. And the second circle of the wheel of life there is black and white or day and night sort of it symbolizes. More of these three animals, there’s more difficulties, less of those – there’s more joy. So sometimes we call it as good karma and bad karma.
[Transcript truncated]



Language

National Geographic

In this episode of Brain Games we reveal there’s a lot more to language than meets the ear. Through a series of addictive interactive games and unexpected experiments you’ll discover how language might be your brain’s most remarkable ability.


Corals as engineers

YouTube

Scientists at MIT and the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) in Israel have found that corals, long believed to be passive organisms relying entirely on ocean currents to deliver nutrients, are actually quite active, engineering their environment producing strong swirls of water that draw nutrients toward the coral, while driving potentially toxic waste products away. (Learn more: http://bit.ly/1ufbfTB)

Video produced and edited by Melanie Gonick, MIT News

Video clips in order of appearance: “Vortical ciliary flows actively enhance mass transport in reef corals”,Orr H. Shapiro, Vicente I. Fernandez, Melissa S. Garren, Jeffrey S. Guasto, François P. Debaillon-Vesque, Esti Kramarski-Winter, Assaf Vardi, Roman Stocker, PNAS, 2014; DOI number 10.1073/pnas.1323094111

“Coral cilia”, Orr Shapiro, Assaf Vardi, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel; Vicente Fernandez, Roman Stocker, MIT, USA.

“Vortical ciliary flows actively enhance mass transport in reef corals”,Orr H. Shapiro, Vicente I. Fernandez, Melissa S. Garren, Jeffrey S. Guasto, François P. Debaillon-Vesque, Esti Kramarski-Winter, Assaf Vardi, Roman Stocker, PNAS, 2014; DOI number 10.1073/pnas.1323094111

Still images in order of appearance: “Vortical ciliary flows actively enhance mass transport in reef corals”, Orr H. Shapiro, Vicente I. Fernandez, Melissa S. Garren, Jeffrey S. Guasto, François P. Debaillon-Vesque, Esti Kramarski-Winter, Assaf Vardi, Roman Stocker, PNAS, 2014; DOI number 10.1073/pnas.1323094111

“Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) at 5,000x magnification of the surface of a P. damicornis branch”, Orr Shapiro, Assaf Vardi, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel; Vicente Fernandez, Roman Stocker, MIT, USA.

“Polyps cover the surface of P. damicornis”, Orr Shapiro, Assaf Vardi, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel; Vicente Fernandez, Roman Stocker, MIT, USA.






Take A Trip Around The World In 2 Minutes

FastCo

Shutterstock has condensed footage of Earth’s many wonders, from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to London’s Gherkin Building and from Egypt’s pyramids to the Northern Lights, into a stunning new video, called “Around the World in 80 Clips.” It’s a virtual world tour that spans just two minutes, taking you from a glorious moonrise to the Statue of Liberty to snowcapped mountaintops.


Where are we in the universe?

The Conversation

Superclusters – regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies – are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means ‘immeasurable heaven’ in Hawaiian.


Targeting Mars

NASA Goddard

NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft is quickly approaching Mars on a mission to study its upper atmosphere. When it arrives on September 21, 2014, MAVEN’s winding journey from Earth will culminate with a dramatic engine burn, pulling the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit.





Earth In 200 Million Years

SpaceRip

Find out about a new supercontinent in the making, called Pangaea Ultima. Previously, there was Ur, then Kenorland, Protopangaea, Nuna, Rodinia, Pannotia, and Pangaea. The break up of Pangaea beginning around 100 million years ago set the stage for the world we know, with its particular mix of continents and oceans.

Geologists have been able to piece together the history of Earth’s continents by looking at where and when mountain ranges formed, and by studying magnetic signatures that link rocks found in disparate locations.

They have found that plate motions have been accelerating. Over the last two billion years, the rate at which continents have collided or shifted their positions has doubled. What new patterns are emerging now in the volcanoes and earthquakes that rattle our planet from year to year?

The continents we know today will fragment and recombine as they have in the past. Plants and animals will continue to evolve as they have for hundreds of millions of years. Will mammals dominate the new supercontinent? Or will another life form take over? Will humans still live on Planet Earth?


Scientists Discover 65-Ton Dinosaur ‘Dreadnoughtus’

Wall Street Journal
Meet Dreadnoughtus, the 65-ton dinosaur

The Dreadnoughtus, a 65-ton dinosaur whose tread shook the Earth more than 65 million years ago, was unearthed by archaeologists in Argentina. Researchers say it is the most complete fossil skeleton known of the massive long-necked sauropods.


Bigger Than T. rex: Spinosaurus

National Geographic

Newly discovered fossils revealed that Spinosaurus, bigger than T. rex, was an excellent swimmer, unlike any other dinosaur. Found in the sands of Morocco, the bones suggest that, unlike its land-dwelling cousins, this meat-eating creature likely fed on sharks and other fish. Spinosaurus was about 50 feet long, and the “sail” on its back was perhaps a display structure. National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim and colleagues published their findings in Science magazine today.

Watch NOVA’s Bigger Than T.rex, premiering on November 5 at 9/8c on PBS : http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/

For more on Spinosaurus, visit the exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., through April 12, 2015 : http://events.nationalgeographic.com/…

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