What do you believe?

Question: Do you have a personal philosophy?

Anna Deavere Smith: What I had was a question that occupied me for a very long time. So I can tell you what the question was, and I can tell you that even as I still practice around that question, it’s led me to another question that I don’t even know how to work on.

But the question I’ve been trying to answer since the first time I ever picked up a Shakespearean text to speak it under the gaze of an authority on Shakespeare. I had spoken some Shakespearean words in other informal ways; but the first time anybody was sort of ever listening to me attempt to speak in Shakespeare was in 1972, or something like that.

And so the question that came from that was, “What is the relationship of language to identity?” And that’s what you and I have been talking about. And that question has occupied me for a long time.

And now I have a new question, which is, “What is the gap between understanding and action? And what does it take to bridge that gap?” And I don’t know the answer to it. That’s the question that I suspect will occupy me now for some years.

Questions: What might the answers be?

Anna Deavere Smith: Well, I think some of the answers have to do with what I was talking about before, which is that all of us see reality through the lens of our experience. So that means if we would like to do something new, we have a problem because we can’t even see clearly how to do it. We can only see how we did it before.

So we’d like to do something now perhaps more challenging and more interesting and do it in a new way; but we only have our old eyes. And I think when you have our old eyes, we have our old tools. So that’s on a personal level.

And then you know, on a social level it’s the same thing. And our leaders often have those old tools, and we look to them to tell us how to change our lenses. They can’t always. Sometimes they can, but they can’t always.

Recorded on: Aug 22, 2007

 

 

Anna Deavere Smith wants to know: what is the gap between understanding and action?

​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.