Peter Gomes Talks About America's Youth

Question: How do you explain the resurgence of religion among today’s youth?

Peter Gomes: I think these young people have been brought up in a culture of enormous wealth, enormous power, enormous opportunity.  The least well-off of them is considerably better than the best of their ancestors.  I think they recognize that. They see the signs off success – as the world defines success – and opulence on every hand.  They’re surrounded by sensation.  They’re surrounded by violence.  They’re surrounded by politics.  None of these are capable of delivering the goods and I think they recognize that.  And I think there is a desire to find something that will last, something that will endure, something that will not disappoint.  And when you do that, inevitably you are tempted to turn back to the elders, to the wisdom of another age, to something that might not seem to have appealed to you in your earlier phase; but your earlier phase, you recognize, was a deceitful and deceptive one.  You ask Harvard graduates where they’re all going, and they’re all going to go … 90% of the seniors in any given class say they’re going to three cities. They’re going to go to Washington to put things right: power.  They’re going to go to New York to make lots of money: the material world.  And they’re going to Los Angeles to have fun: fantasy.  And I think they come back from all three of those cities discovering that, like Oz, there’s no there there. Washington is not going to turn the world right side up. All the money in New York doesn’t spare it the troubles and tribulations of living in New York.  And all the fantasy from la la land doesn’t dull the pain from living in a life with no meaning and no value.  And that’s a modern symbol, I think.  People say, “Okay.  There must be another way.”  Maybe Jerusalem is the place.  Maybe a pilgrimage to a holy city is the place.  Maybe some … somewhere.  Maybe sitting under a … tree.  Who knows?  But there are wiser people than we who, years ago, have discovered some of these truths.  Maybe we even heard them in our youth.  And maybe the trick is to try to recapture, recover some of that for ourselves now.  I think that’s part of the excitement.

Recorded on: 6/12/07

No matter where they go after college, young people discover there's no there there.

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

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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."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

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.