I was an ordinary person
who studied hard.

Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist, d. 1988 (via whats-out-there)



"You ask me if an ordinary person could ever get to be able to imagine these things like I imagine them. Of course! I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There are no miracle people. It happens they get interested in this thing and they learn all this stuff, but they’re just people. There’s no talent, no special ability to understand quantum mechanics, or to imagine electromagnetic fields, that comes without practice and reading and learning and study. I was not born understanding quantum mechanics — I still don’t understand quantum mechanics! I was born not knowing things were made out of atoms, and not being able to visualize, therefore, when I saw the bottle of milk that I was sucking, that it was a dynamic bunch of balls bouncing around. I had to learn that just like anybody else. So if you take an ordinary person who is willing to devote a great deal of time and work and thinking and mathematics, then he’s become a scientist!”


True of art, as well.


Symbolic representation of the participatory universe as developed by physicist, John Archibald Wheeler

“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan
A video of John Wheeler talking about this image.
Christopher Langan’s animated gif version of John’s idea, via Imagining the Tenth Dimension.
I’m curious, who’s the artist of the above drawing? I haven’t been able to find a real source yet. It is Wheeler’s idea, but it’s unclear if this particular picture was drawn by him — seems not.


Symbolic representation of the participatory universe as developed by physicist, John Archibald Wheeler


We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan

A video of John Wheeler talking about this image.

Christopher Langan’s animated gif version of John’s idea, via Imagining the Tenth Dimension.


I’m curious, who’s the artist of the above drawing? I haven’t been able to find a real source yet. It is Wheeler’s idea, but it’s unclear if this particular picture was drawn by him — seems not.

The Truth About Elephant Artists

Can jumbo elephants really paint? Intrigued by stories, naturalist Desmond Morris set out to find the truth
By Desmond Morris
UPDATED: 21:25 EST, 21 February 2009

… I had a nasty feeling there was a catch in it somewhere, so when I was visiting Thailand this year I decided to find out the truth.

Read On —›

The inevitable conclusion … is that elephants are not artists. … they do not explore new patterns or vary the design of their work themselves. Superficially, they do appear to be more advanced, but it is all a trick.

Having said this, what an amazingly clever trick it is! No human hand touches the animal’s trunk. The brain of the elephant has to translate the tiny nudges she feels on her ear [(guidance from her handler)] into attractive lines and blobs.

And she has to place these marks on the white surface with great precision. This requires considerable intelligence and a muscular sensitivity that is truly extraordinary.

So all is not lost. We can still marvel at the paintings these animals make, even if their skill is to do with muscle control rather than artistic ability.

kerberos30 asked:

Hello Olena, I really appreciate your works.I wonder if it's possible for you to send me a virtual copy of your work 'Oh deer' in big resolution.I will be really happy if you can do so.

Thank you. That’s not something I do. A hi-res copy is essentially a printable, reproducible copy that’s usually purchased with a license and usage agreement.

When we represent a group of connections by a closed and coherent set of concepts, axioms, definitions and laws which in turn is represented by a mathematical scheme, we have in fact isolated and idealized this group of connections with the purpose of clarification.

But even if complete clarity has been achieved in this way, it is not known how accurately the set of concepts describes reality.

Heisenberg, Werner
Physics and Philosophy


These idealizations may be called a part of the human language that has been formed from the interplay between the world and ourselves, a human response to the challenge of nature. In this respect they may be compared to the different styles of art, say of architecture or music.

A style of art can also be defined by a set of formal rules which are applied to the material of this special art. These rules can perhaps not be represented in a strict sense by a set of mathematical concepts and equations, but their fundamental elements are very closely related to the essential elements of mathematics.

Equality and inequality, repetition and symmetry, certain group structures play the fundamental role both in art and in mathematics. Usually the work of several generations is needed to develop that formal system which later is called the style of the art, from its simple beginning to the wealth of elaborate forms which characterize its completion.

… the question of how far the formal rules of the style represent that reality of life which is meant by the art, cannot be decided from the formal rules. Art is always an idealization; the ideal is different from reality — at least from the reality of the shadows, as Plato would have put it — but idealization is necessary for understanding.

This comparison between the different sets of concepts in natural science with different styles of art may seem very far from the truth to those who consider the different styles of art as rather arbitrary products of the human mind. They would argue that in natural science these different sets of concepts represent objective reality, have been taught to us by nature, are therefore by no means arbitrary, and are a necessary consequence of our gradually increasing experimental knowledge of nature. About these points most scientists would agree; but are the different styles of art an arbitrary product of the human mind?

Here again we must not be misled by the Cartesian partition. The style arises out of the interplay between the world and ourselves, or more specifically between the spirit of the time and the artist. The spirit of a time [(Zeitgeist)] is probably a fact as objective as any fact in natural science, and this spirit brings out certain features of the world which are even independent of time, and are in this sense eternal. The artist tries by his work to make these features understandable, and in this attempt he is led to the forms of the style in which he works.

Therefore, the two processes, that of science and that of art, are not very different. Both science and art form in the course of the centuries a human language by which we can speak about the more remote parts of reality …”

Thanks for understanding, Heisenberg.

Artists, designers, art students, and other people who can’t figure out how to do what you love what’s important:

Stop hitting yourself, why do you keep hitting yourself?

James Victore answers:

Q: I work at a job doing design I hate, I can never seem to find time to do the work I want to do, and I am constantly frustrated with myself. I wasn’t able to go to a great art program because of financial reasons so my BA was wasted. I don’t know what to do. I want to quit my job to become an amazing motion graphics designer but I’m scared. I’m in LA and it’s expensive and I don’t have anyone to fall back on. I have some money saved, but still I’m scared. I’m 26 and I see my thirties just ahead. I want to do what I love, not just waste time.


Victore can be a little intense sometimes. (Especially when I think of people who can’t make a decision so easily — for example, say, immigrant mothers who have to think of their children before throwing caution to the wind and doing what they love. But that’s a question of What do you love more?)

But there are great things to take away from this video, regardless of your career. A few:

  1. Again, figure out what’s most important. Right now? In the future? Pursue that. Protect and secure that. (Victore doesn’t explicitly say this.)

  2. Be kind to your future self. Save $$. Set up your path. It might change, but at least you have some kind of foundation. Save your health, too.

  3. Everybody’s afraid. For me, the question is, But what’s scarier? Think about living in your current circumstances for the rest of your life. If it doesn’t make your skin crawl, then do nothing.

    I graduated with an art degree 2 years ago. I’m now about to go back to school for something that’s A. one of the most difficult things one can do and B. going to take me at least 10 years to complete. I’ll likely be well into my 30’s before I get where I want to be, older than most of the youngsters in Grad programs, and less of a genius than most of them. That’s scary. What about money? What if I fail — how embarrassing. But the thought of not trying is even worse.

  4. Do not leave your education up to other people. It’s up to you to work hard, get scholarships, take the best classes, take extra classes, learn online, etc. etc. etc.

    All my life, whenever I did something other than what people thought I was good at, I got asked the same question: “Why would you choose a photography concentration?” “Why aren’t you an illustration major if you’re so good at it?” “What does that class have to do with art?” “How come you haven’t done any art in a while?”

    Same answer to all: To learn something new. To invest time in something I’m not good at, rather than remaining comfortable and not failing at something I am. Because in the end, that gives me a stronger foundation, more ways of seeing the world, and thus more nodes to connect and build into something that never could’ve existed had I tunneled through on the fast track. Synergy.

  5. You’ll probably “waste” some time. Bite it and work hard. Notice how “10 years” looks like nothing in a biography, but feels like a century when it’s ahead of you?

    Recently, some strangers commented on a photo and caption of “me”: a nameless, context-less image. They said things like “her parents are obviously rich” and my favorite, “I’m envious that she can just do whatever she wants, and never had to work for a few years to support herself” etc. Wow. What a load of bullshit. Few people are that lucky — don’t let glossy success stories allow you to think otherwise. SEE ALSO.

    Victore wouldn’t say this, but sometimes you have to do something you don’t like for some time (work, school, even sell out), to secure a foundation for yourself. Understand this. You can complain, but deep down, understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and have a plan of action.

TL;DR: Happiness doesn’t mean feeling good or smiling all the time.

Some people—people who probably distrust mathematics—are quick to claim that they knew all along that some truths are beyond mathematics. But they just didn’t. They didn’t KNOW it. They didn’t prove it.

Janna Levin, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

Continued / context:

"… Gödel didn’t believe that truth would elude us. He proved that it would. He didn’t invent a myth to conform to his prejudice of the world—at least not when it came to mathematics. He discovered his theorem as surely as if it was a rock he had dug up from the ground. He could pass it around the table and it would be as real as that rock. If anyone cared to, they could dig it up where he buried it and find it just the same.”

I’ve just begun reading Lehrer’s Proust Was a Neuroscientist, and all I keep thinking of is that quote above.

There’s no denying the occasional prescience in art and fortune cookies, but intuition (chance) is not the same as knowing (certainty).

It’s too easy to look back on an event and create a convenient story — to ascribe cause to effect. That’s what our brains do; we make sense of the world via pattern-creation. It’s an easy trap to get caught in, but it’s not necessarily the truth.


Minimally related; I definitely thought I’d already posted that quote. Was going flipping crazy trying to remember who said it, googling the shit out of terms like [ “prove” janna levin ], etc. To no avail. Hate when this happens. Secondary brain disparity?

Slightly irrelevant, but I love these pens for everything from drawing to math homework. They’re the only pen I’ve found that still have perfect flow even if your handwriting is like ant hieroglyphics, and they don’t bleed through most notebook papers.

My selections:

  • Microns are designed to be used at a 90degree angle, like technical pens. [Ohhh… that explains that. Maybe not so good for homework then?)

  • A leak near the nib holder or ink wick could be caused by dropping, inadvertently shaking, or accidentally applying centrifugal force to the pen by spinning it in your hand. [I love a company that dares to write “centrifugal force” in correspondence with customers.]

  • Our Gelly Roll or Sakura Sumogrip pen products provide an alternative for a more durable point and are ideally suited for everyday writing use. [Must try.]