You can think of Space as being built from Entanglement.


In it, the Crab Nebula is one great big collection of particles.


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Quantum Entanglement suggests that information is exchanged faster than the speed of light between these particles. The idea was deemed impossible by Einstein in his Theory of Relativity but is now receiving much attention by quantum physicists. Even when the space between them is empty, quantum fields in the two regions are entangled with one another.


These ideas may even connect to other kinds of patterns and theories, chaos theory and fractals.


This image is a theoretical nebula with particles entangled yet separate.

See Nature 527, 290-293, November 19 2015.

Water Flower

The extinct flowering plant, Montsechia vidalii, once grew abundantly in freshwater lakes in what are now mountainous regions in Spain. Fossils of the plant (below left) were first discovered more than 100 years ago in the limestone deposits of the Iberian Range in central Spain and in the Montsec Range of the Pyrenees, near the country’s border with France. The fossils are dated as being about 125 million years old and are re-interpreted by the palaeontologist David Dilcher in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Dilcher has also described another of the earliest flowers as Archaefructus, also an aquatic plant, and found only as fossil in China:220px-Archaefructus_liaoningensis

Montsechia was contemporaneous or more ancient than Archaefructus. It had no petals or  nectar-producing structures for attracting insects, and lived out its entire life cycle under water. The most likely modern equivalent to Montsechia is Ceratophyllum, or hornwort, familiar in modern aquariums and artificial ponds:

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In the absence of DNA in the fossils, or any other definitive evidence that can be measured accurately, comparisons of the fossil and this modern species are crude and subjective. It means there is still art as well as science involved in these latest interpretations.

A New Science, A New Art

Complex networks are created by social media on the World Wide Web.

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They hinge on the spread of information from very small nodes to the whole network when activated. This is what can happen when you tweet.

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The studies of how activation happens, what it means to be such an ‘influencer’ and whether similar interactions happen in nature, are rapidly establishing new science and art forms.

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Just one recent study is by F Morone & HA Makse, Nature 524, 65-68, August 6 2015.


ImEx – Art at a Turning Point is an exhibition at the Nationalgalerie in Berlin until September 20th. It considers the interface of Impressionism and Expressionism, problems discussed in Berlin a century ago.

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Max Liebermann 1902: Bathing Boys             Ernst Kirchner 1913: Bathers at the Shore

An Expressionist rejects immediate perception and builds on more complex psychic structures. He uses mental images that pass through a soul as through a filter which rids them of accretions. This produces a clear essence which can condense into types. In turn, these can be transcribed as formulae and symbols. They are methods of reductionism usually associated with the scientist.

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Ernst Kirchner 1914: Potsdamer Platz                      1915 Soldat, self-portrait


Ernst Kirchner 1926: Max Lieberman in his study

Hubble Bubble

April 25th was the 25th anniversary of NASA’s launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) was one of the most important observational cosmologists of the 20th century. He showed that the recessional velocity of a galaxy increases with its distance from the earth, supporting the theory of an expanding universe.

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The images show stars, galaxies and dust. They have a beauty of a unique order.

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Their numbers, dimensions, distances and time scales are difficult for us to conceive. Though enhanced by different technologies, these images help us understand our own place in this space.

Los and Orc

William Blake: apprentice and master, is an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until the end of February. One of the central exhibits is a small watercolour of ‘Los and Orc’ thought to have been painted around the time of the French Revolution, 1791.th-2


Los is the father, a political figure full of imagination and energy. On the left of the picture, the sun shines on the yellow foreground. Behind is repression, darkness and an oily sea.

But his son, Orc, is manacled to the rocks, expected to gain from the political changes.

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Orc is an anagram of cor, or heart. He is the source of mechanical energy, developing science to rescue his father’s world of nature.

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The exhibition quotes from Blake’s The Book of Urizen.

‘Compell [sic] the poor to live upon a Crust of bread, by soft mild arts.

Smile when they frown, frown when they smile, & when a man looks pale

With labour and abstinence say he looks healthy and happy;

And when his children sicken, let them die; there are enough

Born, even too many, & our Earth will be overrun

Without these arts.’

Erasmus Darwin and the Rev Robert Malthus were close to Blake’s understanding of Nature, but the great importance of their insight was lost until recently.

Read more in TJ Clarke: A Snake, a Flame, London Review of Books, 5th February 2015

Mark Strand 1934-2014

The American poet Mark Strand died last week. It has been said that many of his poems are about so much more than understanding what they mean. Science, also, has a lot of hidden meaning and intent.

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Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man,
I snarl at her and bark,
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

In 2011 Strand published an appreciation of the artist Edward Hopper. He showed how the formal elements of painting—geometrical shapes pointing beyond the canvas, light from unseen sources—locate the viewer “in a virtual space where the influence and availability of feeling predominate.”

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Does this the same human urge encourage us to enquire of worlds beyond the familiar ones?

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