Thoughts in Perspective

Thursday, June 30, 2011

AWIL 6


History, art, science, politics, all categories in which man can place his discoveries and thoughts all tied together by the need of knowing and understanding. Our liberty, as limited as it is must be protected first and foremost through learning. Aside from health nothing is more important than the mind and we must take care of both in order to become human. Just like a child is not a man/woman before he grows up and experiences the world, we are incomplete till we reach our destiny as truly sapient beings.


We hope you will enjoy this issue, we made a real effort to improve the quality but still feel that much is left to be done. Michael Johnson delights us with another great article from the field of art history and Hristofor offers to our attention a well balanced review of Germany's foreign policy, the largest European nation both in population and economy. American Dream II introduces you to an alternative history of the beginning of a superpower and how her present actions are deeply rooted in an idealized past. You will also discover Shibam, the Manhattan of the desert, Cioran, the philosopher not many know but who is fundamental in the field and last but not least, Maria, a great Russian artist who agreed to share with us some of her latest works.

Enjoy the reading, till the next issue,
all the best.

Florin Cosma





Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Artificial Biological Brain


Researchers at Pittsburgh University managed to reproduce the brain's electrical impulses onto models made from living brain cells. The work was conducted by 2011 Pittsburgh graduate Ashwin Vishwanathan. He co-authored a paper for "Lab on a Chip", the jurnal of the Royal Society of Chemistry with Zeringue and Guo-Qiang Bi, a neurological professor at Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

These ring shaped micro-brains are an interesting development both for scientists and for people working in other areas. The Pitt team stamped adhesive proteins onto silicon discs and after that, hippocampus cells from embryonic rats were fused to the proteins. We are far in my opinion from seeing "external brains" at the local pharmacy, but research conducted by the Pittsburgh team will greatly help our understanding of the inner workings of the brain and ultimately will help us cure various diseases and, why not, improve our minds.

Source: http://www.news.pitt.edu/news/Zeringue-memory-cell-networks

Monday, June 6, 2011

Righteous and Harmonious Fists


China has a rich history when it comes to secret societies, much like Europe, but the difference is that for the Chinese, these societies were organized by people opposing the government while in Europe, the governments were usually formed by people coming from secret societies.

The Boxers, or "The Righteous and Harmonious Fists" (I Ho Ch'uan) could be seen as a religious society, or an intellectual one, but it certainly was not a peaceful one. They originally rebelled against the imperial government in Shantung in 1898. They are considered a religious society because they practiced different rituals and used spells that should of made them impervious to bullets and pain. Surely when they started to fall one by one because of bullets their conceptions about western firepower and eastern spirituality must of demanded some reviewing.

This organization dates back well before 1700 with no clear origins, only myths and legends. They had some degree of influence because in 1747, the Jesuits were expelled from China because they demanded it. Coming back to the late 19th century, bad harvests, plagues, sanctions imposed by the Western powers and Japan after the war of 1894-1895 created discontent among the population, and because humans are humans everywhere, the Chinese turned to extreme measures for securing their future. They turned to tradition and rejected all the things foreign to them. In this extreme form of nationalism they even created three degrees of devils, the first was made up of foreigners, the second was composed of Chinese turned to Christianity and third, anyone who interacted with foreigners in any way.

Their slogan was "oppose the Qing and destroy the foreign", this soon changed to "support the Qing and destroy the foreign" after Empress Dowager Cixi and a number of Chinese officials began to think that they could support this organization to drive off the foreign powers. The end was not that pretty.