Celebrating One Year of Book Think!

Dear readers,


Book Think debuted one year ago this month, and I'm in the mood to commemorate. Since it's too hot for books, thinking, or even turning pages absently while staring slack-jawed into space, let's take a look back instead at the best of the blog so far.

Together we've pondered the future of book design, probed the link between poetry and the Arab Spring, and weighed the necessity of shooting lasers at Shakespeare's corpse to find out whether he smoked weed. We've celebrated the resurgence of a New York City library, proposed a holiday that could save the publishing industry, and agonized endlessly over what Amazon hath wrought.

We've wondered whether great science requires great science fiction, whether neuroscience will kill the novel, and whether time travel will ever be more than a literary fantasy. We've debated whether Richard Dawkins should take up fiction writing or whether James Wood should adopt the scientific method.

We've mourned, with Harold Bloom, the death of art, the mind, and the Western canon. Even so, we've tried our hand at writing a little poetry.

We've asked the tough questions: Is Holden Caulfield obnoxious? Is Walt Whitman Dracula? Is Thornton Wilder God?

We still haven't read Jane Eyre. But we're going to!

We've raved about Ambrose Bierce, James Baldwin, Madeleine L'Engle, Wes Anderson, and The Song of Songs. We've panned Long Male Novels, Roland Emmerich, and the use of Google goggles in bookstores.

We've discovered the true meaning of Christmas.

My sincere thanks to Big Think and its staff for the opportunities and support they've provided over the past year. Many thanks, too, to the various outlets that have featured, linked to, and tweeted Book Think posts, among them The New Yorker (Page-Turner), The Dish (Andrew Sullivan), 3 Quarks Daily, Flavorwire, and The Poetry Foundation.

Finally, thanks to all of you: the Big Think readers who have perused, praised, denounced, shared, and otherwise responded to the articles in this space. You've been the light of my life and the fire of my loins, the madeleine in my tea, the mirabilis in my annus. You've excused my least excusable puns. Onward and forward.

Austin

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Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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