Links from the morning of 17v24
(an experiment in keeping track)
[some of these are paywalled]

Visible and Invisible Worlds When Animals Dream NYRB

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us
by Ed Yong (see my KindleNotebook)

Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses
by Jackie Higgins

When Animals Dream: The Hidden World of Animal Consciousness
by David M. Peña-Guzmán

A Few Things We Don't Quite Get About The Levant Nassim Nicholas Taleb at Medium

The area has inflamed Western imagination for a long time, partially explained by the technology and cultural transfers that took place over three millennia. For Westerners, there has always been an aura of holiness and mystery, not just from its origination of Christianity but also for the various deep Gnostic creeds built there, the numerous religions still buried there with secret beliefs that require a complicated initiation, often hidden under Islam or even Christianity.

...'Levant' is a French exonym meaning 'East,' referencing France, similar to how 'Anatolia' refers to 'East' from the perspective of the Attic mainland. Its Arabic name, Bilad el Sham is an exonym meaning 'North'. Canaan is the only endonym of which I am aware.

...So today, we tend to observe in the Levant greater polarization around religion, with separation of groups around sectarian lines, the main ones being: Sunnis, Shiites, Druzes, Maronites, Greek-Orthodox, Monophysites or "Syriac Orthodox", Armenian Orthodox (the last two being not compatible and not in communion with the earlier ones), and Jews.

...Ancient Greeks and Ancient Levantines, particularly those in the North, originate from the same source population in Ancient Anatolia.

Elementary Physics Paths from xkcd

George Whitesides became giant of chemistry by keeping it simple Harvard Gazette

My central point of instruction to students is this: If somebody else is working on something, don't work on it. There's an old saying in chemistry that if somebody else has developed something and you work on it, you are working for them. If you produce an idea and someone else works on it, they're working for you.

The Art of the Em Dash and the Gradation of Sentence Breaks by Ben Ulansey at Medium

...likely no device has grown to be a greater darling to my writing in these past few years than the em dash ( — ). Em dashes, wholly distinct in function from both dashes and en dashes, fit into a niche of their own in the world of sentence breaks.

...Functionally in my own writing, the em dash serves a role that's a bit more professional than the parenthetical, and a bit more approachable than a simple pair of commas. Visually, the em dashes allow clauses to stand as something more separate than they would embedded within commas. It creates a pause that's somewhere shy of the semicolon, but is still something more than the comma alone.

...Ellipses can also be used to create a sense of pause. While sometimes used to offer an open-endedness or imply words unspoken, they typically fill a void that's something more than a half note, yet still somewhere shy of a whole note. Sometimes, ellipses seem to extend beyond even the period in their scope. In the sentence "I don't know... maybe we should just call it a day," there's an implicit sigh that marks arguably more of a break than the period itself.

He Seeks Mystery Magnetic Fields With His Quantum Compass Quanta Magazine

Sushkov's experiments use the spins of atoms as miniature compass needles that can sense other quantum particles through their magnetic influence. Researchers have long leveraged this phenomenon, called magnetic resonance, to spy inside bodies, identify chemicals and hunt for oil reserves.

...First proposed in the 1970s, axions are conceived as ripples in a field that would extend throughout the universe. The presence of such a field would make the strong nuclear force, which holds protons and neutrons together, symmetric in a way that's observed in experiments. On top of that, axions are also perhaps the leading candidate for the identity of the invisible "dark matter" that appears to mold galaxies and galaxy clusters.

...There are several special things about diamonds that make them great for quantum physics. Humans love diamonds because diamonds are transparent and sparkly, which is related to the fact that it's hard to knock an electron loose from its host atom. Diamonds are also very hard, which means at room temperature there are very few vibrations in the atomic lattice.

These properties let us create an isolated qubit — a simple quantum system with a few different states — inside the diamond. You don't need tunable lasers. You don't need to create a vacuum. Everything works at room temperature. We make our qubit by bombarding the diamond with nitrogen ions. This punches out a bunch of gaps in the carbon lattice. Occasionally, a nitrogen ion will stick to a gap, becoming a "defect" in the lattice, with two extra electrons. This whole thing forms a qubit with different spin states, and it's easy to do basic operations like flipping or measuring the spin.


The stunning east Asian city that dates to the dawn of civilisation New Scientist (I should have known about this, but had somehow missed it)

NEARLY five-and-a-half millennia ago, a bustling metropolis lay in the delta of the lower Yangtze, in what is now China. You could enter on foot — there was a single road through the towering city walls — but most people travelled by boat via an intricate network of canals. At its heart, was a massive palatial complex built on a platform of earth. There were huge granaries and cemeteries filled with elaborately decorated tombs, while the water system was controlled by an impressive series of dams and reservoirs.

The inhabitants of this city, known today as Liangzhu, ruled the surrounding floodplains for nearly 1000 years, their culture extending into the countryside for hundreds of kilometres. Then, around 4300 years ago, the society quickly declined, and its achievements were largely forgotten. It is only within the past decade that archaeologists have begun to reveal its true importance in world history.

...eastern Asia's oldest state-based society...

...starting more than 5000 years ago, many settlements were emerging in the lower and middle Yangtze regions, in what is now Sichuan province and along the lower Yellow River. Some, including Shijiahe in the middle Yangtze, are large enough to have required organised labour to build their moats and walls. "Liangzhu is by far the biggest, but you find other walled urban centres," says Jessica Rawson at the University of Oxford. "And you get high levels of craftsmanship, not just in jade, but in several types of ceramics, in several parts of China." There will have been communication between some of these sites, with the larger settlements acting as local power hubs. Liangzhu's cultural influence, for instance, can be found in rural sites more than 100 kilometres away.

Liangzhu culture Wikipedia

Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Collapse of the Liangzhu and other Neolithic cultures in the lower Yangtze region in response to climate change Haiwei Zhang et al. Science Advances 2021

The Enigmatic Allure of Liangzhu Jades Jennifer Huang Bernstein Sotheby's 2019

Jades of the Liangzhu Culture: An introduction Weisbrod Collection (2002)

Liangzhu: Cradle of Chinese Civilisation? (trimmed mp3 available and really worth listening to)

Charles Lang Freer and His Collection of Neolithic Liangzhu Jades

The emergence of complex society in China: the case of Liangzhu Antiquity

Landscape evolution in the Liangzhu area since the early Holocene: A comprehensive sedimentological approach Science Direct

Collapse of ancient Liangzhu culture caused by climate change ScienceDaily

Chinese jade: an introduction Khan Academy

Progress on the nephrite sources of jade artifacts in ancient China from the perspective of isotopes

Chinese Jades Penn Museum

Both are extremely hard substances. Nephrite is 6 to 6.5, and jadeite is 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness (quartz is 7). Obviously they can not be worked by metal tools, but only by the few minerals harder than themselves, and, in essence, the technique consists of patient cutting, scraping and rubbing with the aid of an abrasive. At first, thin laminae of sandstone or slate with quartz sand must have been used to saw the jade. Finer cutting was made possible somewhat later by a harder abrasive of emery sand or crushed garnets held in grease instead of water. Tubular drills, originally of bamboo, were used to make the perforations. Hansford, who has written extensively on the subject of jade technique, feels that a rotary disk knife was known at least by the Late Chou period, but it may have been used earlier, as Cheng Te K'un reports an Anyang jade which appears to show the marks of a circular saw.

In the Neolithic period, jade was the material par excellence for implements used for grinding or for sharp edged tools, or for a special object which may have some cult significance. However, it was never a common material and excavated specimens are not numerous. No doubt, its rarity combined with its qualities of color, lustrous surface, translu­cence and sonority helped create the ritual and metaphysical significance it soon acquired.