From Science

Questioning Our Assumptions and What We Think We Know

Thinking about this meta-analysis of studies involving children asked to “draw a scientist.” More kids drew women as scientists over time, and girls drew them more often than boys, but it’s still encouraging for both diversity and perception of occupational roles.

Another thing I thought about, though, was the way it encourages us to question our assumptions about people and jobs. It’s a good thing to do that, and I wonder if art isn’t good training. We try to encourage each other to see with new eyes and to throw out what we think we know in favor of what’s there—and of what’s possible.

Music and Your Concentrating Mind Probably Can’t Be Buddies

I talked about it on the most recent podcast, but a new study published by Lancaster University seems to show a significant detrimental effect on creativity while listening to music (here’s the link).

This is hard to take, especially since I use music to feel as if I’m focusing on the task, whether painting or writing. I’ll have to make an effort to keep the silence going—provided I don’t need to drown out something more distracting around me.

But in a Pollyannic sense, this is good if it gets me treating music more significantly as a medium, rather than something I use as backdrop for other things. It’s not that music can’t enhance an experience, but creation seems to be a different territory, and better left to explore without soundtrack.

Dark, Lovely, Deep Woods Have Considerable Power to Renew

We went up to Bridal Veil Falls this afternoon, a small waterfall, practically a miniature. But the sense I had of invigoration during that short walk reminded me again how much inspirational power the forest has, especially one so staggeringly alive as those in the Pacific Northwest.

There’s moss all over the place, testament to how much rain falls, keeping it all a bit damp most of the year. The creek below the falls, though, was even more interesting to me. It’s full of columnar basalt, mostly in broken bits, but you can see a few long pieces that show their original shapes. 

It was a short trip for a pretty big jolt of feeling connected and, for lack of a less buzzworthy term, empowered just by being around it all. 10/10, would woods again.

It’s Always a New Year

That should really be the thing to think about while so many of us celebrate renewal and rebirth of a regular cycle, but just to take it too blogsplainy far:

It’s only a trick of the calendar that allows us to think of an endpoint for a year. Sure, the Earth reaches the same point in its orbit around the Sun at this time, but it’s really a few days off the celestial extreme. What’s special about this one? We have three other possible extremes, two equinoxes and another solstice, as equal partners, if we’re being neutral. Historically, we’re matching the “rebirth” of the sun, nearly, but that’s from a prejudicial Northern Hemispherical perspective. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s their summer, their solar maximum.

Like any object in orbit, any point along Earth’s path—i.e., any calendar day, any moment on the clock—can be arbitrarily chosen and claimed as a starting point. If you’re alive, there’s always another chance to start again. We reach more or less the same point in orbit around the Sun, but we’re also traveling around the galactic core, at a new place in space than we were last year. And the Milky Way is itself moving, which makes every year a new point in space.

Make some New Year’s resolutions, get determined, become more disciplined, make more things. Our rituals are important and create meaning.

But remember that it’s always a brand new point along the curve, and you can always start again no matter the day.