The Human Brain: Neuroscience Meet Conceptual Art


True, the nine images selected here by Carl Schoonover are stunning, but what intrigues me more is the obvious passion for his work that is communicated in his written descriptions and stories for the images.

Elegance often begets meaning and understanding. In a fit of candor, Nobel laureate Richard Axel once pronounced that “science without enchantment is nothing!” In my new book Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century (Abrams), I examine this special relationship, and share the images and stories I have come to love–many of which were, until now, only available to people in the field.

If only by name, ‘neuroscience’ can be off-putting. An invitation to a guided tour, of words and images depicting humanity’s emerging understanding of a key part of what makes us each who we are, is very appealing. I’m not really an example of a hard sell for books on human behavior or the brain, but nonetheless, Schoonover’s new book has been added to the top of my ‘next-trip’ list for the bookstore or library.

Food and Money: The Value Of A Dollar Translated

The Value Of A Dollar

To visualize the The Value Of A Dollar, artist Jonathan Blaustein purchased exactly one-bucks-worth of nineteen different foodstuffs, and photographed each, stripped from its packaging, on a plain white background. Blaustein explains:

I’m interested in the way photography is used to deceive. Millions, if not billions of advertising dollars are spent annually photographing food and obfuscating reality. Fast food conglomerates are certainly the worst culprits, but everywhere we see glamorized versions of what we eat.

To learn more, see the full series and his New York Times LENS Blog interview.

[Jonathan Blaustein via kottke]


These striking images remind me again of my fascination in how words can be used to deceive. The impact of marketing and advertising is based on this powerful combination of words and photography. Sadly, for food and sustainable agriculture, the power has not been used well.

A Building That Teaches Through Its Landscape – UVM in The Chronicle of Higher Education


As pleased as I was to see the new Jeffords building at the University of Vermont featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I must confess to being somewhat disappointed by this piece. Although Dean Tom Vogelmann appears amiable and approachable in the photograph above, the remaining photos do little to convey the “functional elegance” of the exterior or interior design of the new home for plant biology, soil sciences, and life sciences at UVM. The more important omissions to my mind, however, are details on the myriad steps and design choices made to enable a large building with teaching science labs to minimize its environmental footprint and to be potentially eligible for LEED gold certification. I yearned to know more about how that was accomplished. True, the teaching landscape featured in the article is interesting, yet I’ve begun to fear we fall further behind in the battle to minimize the effects of climate change whenever we miss an opportunity to inform and educate. I expected more from this publication.

Disclosure: I currently serve on the Board of Advisors for the UVM College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.

Infographic: Social Media In Big Business | Digital Buzz Blog


This surprises me. Twitter is number 1 with 65% of the world’s top 100 companies having accounts? (Note that in businessland, “top” always means biggest in money measured one way or the other.) While it’s clear that we’re only looking at the quantity of users, not the quality of their use, it just seems as if most large corporations outside the world of consumer goods and services are not active in social media. Perhaps a new social norm is emerging in corporate boardrooms where it’s embarrassing to admit you are not using social media…., an Emerging Resource for Word Lovers


Animation of a Hypotrochoid Out Three Fifths made by Sam Derbyshire with MuPAD [source]

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve relied on the SMOG Readability Calculator (SMOG=Simple Measure of Gobbledygook) for years as a quick check on my writing and readability level for specific audiences. Now the SMOG calculator is combined with other useful resources and tools at the new site. Check it out.