Alan Thomson

354 Flips | 7 Magazines | 5 Likes | 24 Following | 265 Followers | @alan_thomson | Keep up with Alan Thomson on Flipboard, a place to see the stories, photos, and updates that matter to you. Flipboard creates a personalized magazine full of everything, from world news to life’s great moments. Download Flipboard for free and search for “Alan Thomson”

Staying Alive: Mary Oliver on How Books Saved Her Life and Why the Passion for Work Is the Greatest Antidote to Pain

“The world’s otherness is antidote to confusion [and] standing within this otherness — the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books — can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.”<p><i>“There are perhaps no days of our childhood that we lived as fully,”</i> Proust wrote in …

Albert Camus on the Will to Live and the Most Important Question of Existence

“The body’s judgment is as good as the mind’s, and the body shrinks from annihilation. We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking.”<p><i>“If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so… The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance,”</i> Alan Watts wrote in …

Nobel Prize

Pioneering Physicist Lise Meitner’s Only Direct Discussion of Gender in Science

“For what human problems do ideal solutions exist?”<p><i>“The female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded,”</i> Nikola Tesla asserted in his prescient and then-countercultural 1926 vision for women’s …

Carl Sagan on Moving Beyond Us vs. Them, Bridging Conviction with Compassion, and Meeting Ignorance with Kindness

“In the course of looking deeply within ourselves, we may challenge notions that give comfort before the terrors of the world.”<p><i>“Unless we are very, very careful,”</i> wrote psychologist-turned-artist Anne Truitt in contemplating compassion and the cure for our chronic self-righteousness, <i>“we doom each</i> …

Ideology

Poet and Philosopher David Whyte on the Measure of Courage and Crisis as a Clarifying Force of Self-Expansion

“Courage is what love looks like when tested by the simple everyday necessities of being alive.”<p><i>“Courage,”</i> Susan Sontag wrote in her timeless and increasingly timely meditation on the power of principled resistance to injustice, <i>“inspires communities: the courage of an example — for courage is as</i> …

Einstein on Widening Our Circles of Compassion

“Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”<p><i>“Have compassion for everyone you meet,”</i> Lucinda Williams sang as she put one of her father’s poems to music, <i>“for you do not know what wars are going on</i> …

Young Barack Obama on Identity, the Search for a Coherent Self, and How Polarizing Identity Politics Fragments Our Wholeness

“Without power for the group, a group larger, even, than an extended family, our success always threatened to leave others behind.”<p><i>“This is the entire essence of life: Who are you? What are you?”</i> young Tolstoy proclaimed in his diary. <i>“A person’s identity,”</i> Amin Maalouf wrote as he contemplated what …

C.S. Lewis on Equality and Our Core Misconception About Democracy

“The tempter always works on some real weakness in our own system of values: offers food to some need which we have starved.”<p><i>“The notion of obligations comes before that of rights, which is subordinate and relative to the former,”</i> wrote the great French philosopher Simone Weil shortly before her …

C.S. Lewis

Genes and the Holy G: Siddhartha Mukherjee on the Dark Cultural History of IQ and Why We Can’t Measure Intelligence

“If the history of medical genetics teaches us one lesson, it is to be wary of precisely such slips between biology and culture… Genes cannot tell us how to categorize or comprehend human diversity; environments can, cultures can, geographies can, histories can.”<p>Intelligence, Simone de Beauvoir …

The Glass Universe: How Harvard’s Unsung Female Astronomers Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos Decades Before Women Could Vote

The untold story of the trailblazing women scientists and patrons who catalogued the stars and helped prove that the universe is expanding.<p><i>“No woman should say, ‘I am but a woman!’ But a woman! What more can you ask to be?”</i> trailblazer Maria Mitchell admonished the first class of female astronomers …

Legendary Physicist David Bohm on the Paradox of Communication, the Crucial Difference Between Discussion and Dialogue, and What Is Keeping Us from Listening to One Another

“If we are to live in harmony with ourselves and with nature, we need to be able to communicate freely in a creative movement in which no one permanently holds to or otherwise defends his own ideas.”<p><i>“Words,”</i> Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her abiding meditation on the magic of real human communication,</i> …

The Greatest Science Books of 2016

From the sound of spacetime to time travel to the microbiome, by way of polar bears, dogs, and trees.<p>I have long believed that E.B. White’s abiding wisdom on children’s books — <i>“Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.”</i> — is equally true of …

Time Travel

Marie Curie, Ambulance Driver: The Trailblazing Scientist’s Little-Known Humanitarian Heroism and Her Life-Saving Mobile X-Ray Units

How the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and her brilliant teenage daughter set out to mend the ugliness of war with ingenuity and sheer human courage.<p><i>“Her wounds came from the same source as her power,”</i> Adrienne Rich wrote in her sublime tribute to <b>Marie Curie</b> (November 7, 1867–July 4, 1934). The …

Hannah Arendt on Loneliness as the Common Ground for Terror and How Tyrannical Regimes Use Isolation as a Weapon of Oppression

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”<p><i>“Loneliness is</i> …

A New Year’s Perspective: John Steinbeck on Good and Evil, the Necessary Contradictions of the Human Nature, and Our Grounds for Lucid Hope

“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.”<p>There are events in our personal lives and our collective history that seem categorically irredeemable, moments in which the …

Poet and Philosopher John O’Donohue on Selfhood, the Crucible of Identity, and What Makes Life’s Transience Bearable

“It is crucial to understand that experience itself is not merely an empirical process of appropriating or digesting blocks of life. Experience is rather a journey of transfiguration. Both that which is lived and the one who lives it are transfigured.”<p><i>“There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a</i> …

How to Watch Elon Musk’s Possibly Crazy Plan to Get Us to Mars

He's expected to outline humanity's multi-planetary future today<p>Elon Musk probably writes "try to save the world" at the top of his to-do list every day, above running companies that are revolutionizing energy, transportation, and space travel. In the next decade, he's hoping to pioneer humanity's …

BAE Systems Wants To Defeat Jammers With Thinking Machines

Machine learning for human survival<p>Radar used to be a slow science. Electronic warfare is a blanket term that encompasses the radar signals used to detect an attack, the radios used to communicate that the attack is coming, and the specific radio interference sent to confuse enemy radars as they’re …

Military

Robot Submarine Launches Drone At Command Of Autonomous Navy Ship

Robot sea, robot do<p>Naval warfare relies on a combination of vehicles working together. Submarines hunt under the sea, fast ships screen for incoming threats, and aircraft fly overhead, seeking danger beyond the line of sight. In August, as part of a naval technology exercise, an unmanned ship sent …

Military

Elon Musk's Plan To Get Us To Mars (In Less Than 90 Seconds)

The SpaceX CEO detailed his plan in a two-hour press conference<p>Yesterday, Elon Musk took two hours to detail his plan to bring humanity to Mars. We cut it down to less than 90 seconds. You're welcome.

Tesla

Autonomous Weapons Are Already Here

A report shows the extent to which machines already make deadly decisions<p>Whether or not lethal robots already exist is a matter of definition as much as anything else. Land mines, immobile explosives that go off when a human steps on them, are autonomous and lethal, though no one really thinks of …

Military

A Look Back At Rosetta’s Best Moments

The spacecraft has orbited a duck-shaped comet since 2014, but now its mission is drawing to a close<p>The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has had an eventful 12 years. A decade after launching in 2004, Rosetta made history as the first spacecraft to land a probe on a comet (although not …

As Rosetta Spacecraft Crash-Lands Successfully, A Bittersweet Celebration

Mission accomplished<p>After traveling 4.9 billion miles, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet ended its mission today by softly “landing” onto Churyumov-Gerasimenko or 67/P. At 4:19 am Pacific time, the team here at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California received confirmation that Rosetta had …

A Device For The Deaf That Lets You "Listen" With Your Skin

Because your skin is an unused sound jack<p>What if our bodies had a new way—other than our eardrums—to hear the world around us?<p>That’s what neuroscientist David Eagleman wondered five years ago. He looked at the body for answers and saw a huge sound jack. “We have this giant input channel called our …

Baylor College of Medicine

Why The Rosetta Spacecraft Had To Die

Slow-mo suicide<p>Rest in peace, Rosetta. The comet-chasing European spacecraft descended to its death this morning in a controlled crash, after a two-year mission to explore a duck-shaped comet as it approached the sun.<p>Despite the Philae lander's botched landing in 2014, the Rosetta mission's orbiter …

Space

This Rocket Failed to Put Soviets on the Moon

It was so cold on February 20, 1969, that the launch was delayed; even the biggest of all Soviet rockets wasn’t immune to the frigid winters in Kazakstan. Conditions had warmed enough the next day, and at 3:18pm the mammoth N-1 rocket left the Earth for the first time. The combined thrust of the 30 …

Space Exploration

Virginia Woolf on How Our Illusions Keep Us Alive

“Life is a dream. ‘Tis waking that kills us. He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life.”<p>Long before psychologists began exploring the curious cognitive mechanism of how our delusions keep us sane, even before the poet W.H. Auden contemplated the crucial difference between false and true …

Literature

Swifter Than a Bird Flies: An Astonishing Account of Riding the First Passenger Train and How the Invention of Railroads Changed Human Consciousness

“When I closed my eyes this sensation of flying was quite delightful, and strange beyond description.”<p><i>“That is our condition, a culmination of millennia of evolution in human societies, technologies, and habits of mind,”</i> James Gleick wrote in contemplating our civilizational enchantment with speed. …

Bruce Lee’s Daughter Shares Her Father’s Philosophy of Learning

“Learning is discovering, uncovering what is there in us.”<p><i>“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,”</i> Nietzsche wrote in his timeless treatise on education and the journey of becoming who you are. Albert Einstein, in a letter of advice to his young …

Bruce Lee