Jonathon Keats Will Gently Explode Your Mind


Photo Credit: Jennifer Dessinger

Adam Gopnik calls Jonathon Keats "a poet of ideas, whose work always rests on a solid basis of scientific research and resolves in a startling, semi-serious image." While much of contemporary art is meaningless outside of a closed circle of creators and admirers, or heavily dependent upon elaborate theoretical explanation, Keats' work captures the imagination instantly, twisting the familiar into novel and wonderful forms. 

Here are just a few of the things this man has done: 

  • Created various entertainments for plants, including: 
  • pornography (videos of bees pollinating flowers)
  • a kind of "travel channel" featuring video of the sky over Italy, on the premise that plants, being stuck in the ground, would find travel fascinating, but might not relate to, say, the Louvre. 
  • A photosynthetic restaurant featuring a variety of gourmet sunlight dishes
  • Attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish
  • Sold real estate in the extra dimensions of time-space proposed by string theory (he sold 172 lots in the Bay Area in a single day, according to Gopnik's article). 
  • Written a story that is currently invisible, but will reveal itself over the next 1000 years
  • Fomented a Copernican revolution in Art. 
  • Gopnik quotes Keats on his own work: “What I’m always doing is trying to pose thought experiments in the old-fashioned philosophical way,” he said, “imagining from a radically different perspective circumstances that are very familiar to us, in order to make them unfamiliar and force us to start to pull them apart. So if your children are supposedly vegetating in front of the television when they watch it for hours, what happens when you show television to vegetables? I don’t have the answers, or I wouldn’t make the work.”

     Jonathon amidst the grateful botanical patrons of the Photosynthetic Restaurant at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California. 

    ​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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

    Big Think Edge
    • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
    • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
    • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
    Keep reading Show less

    Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

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

    Videos
    • 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)
    popular

    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
    Mind & Brain

    Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

    Keep reading Show less