Tag Archives: discoveries

What has 8 eyes?

Spiders seem to define the ultimate in creativity. True spiders of the order Araneae are the largest group of carnivorous animals on Earth!

YES, ALL SPIDERS ARE PREDATORS. They hunt and capture prey–mostly other insects and other invertebrates, but some large spiders may even prey on vertebrates such as birds.

Why are spiders fantastically successful as hunters? There are many reasons. One might think it is because most spiders have 8 EYES. Even so, the fact is few have good eyesight. Instead they rely on touch, vibration and taste stimuli to navigate and find their prey.

This jumping spider’s main center pair of eyes are very acute. The outer pair are “secondary eyes” and there are other pairs of secondary eyes on the sides and top of its head. Photo by JJ Harrison

Head of a Net-casting Spider, Deinopis. Photographer:Reg Morrison

Most spiders detect little more than light-dark intensity changes. Some spiders have median eyes that detect polarized light and they use this for hunting.

Eye shine from a Wolf Spider, Photographer: Jim Frazer

Spider’s eight eyes are typically placed in two rows, on the front of their carapace. Their direct eyes, or AME, differ markedly in structure from their other indirect eyes (ALE, PLE, PME). The direct eyes appear dark, whereas the indirect eyes usually have a layer of light reflecting crystals, behind the light sensitive retina, giving these eyes a silvery appearance.

Tropical Jumping Spiders are spider specialists. They prey on both hunting and web building spiders. Photographer: Robert Jackson

The following are more stunning photographs of the jumping spider, captured by macro photographer Thomas Shahan.

For a few spiders, good vision is vital for hunting and capturing prey and for recognizing mates and rivals. They include the day active jumping spiders (Salticidae), the flower spiders (Thomisidae), the wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and net-casting spiders (Deinopidae), more often seen by twilight or later at night.

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You may ask “why 8 eyes?” Burke museum curator Rod Crawford explains, “It almost certainly has nothing to do with the 8 legs… While 99% of spiders do have 8, almost 1% have 6, and a few have 2 or 0. All harvestmen and solpugids have 2… The functions of the 4 different eye-pairs vary widely among different groups of spiders. Details would be a whole dissertation in itself.”

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You guessed it–there is no universal answer as to why spiders have 8 eyes. We’ll just leave it with, “mother nature has her reasons,” and why not for ‘just’ beauty’s sake? Or for curious photographers to discover?

Yes it is true, we need nature more than nature needs us. Please share what you think about spider eyes–and especially your theories as to why they have eight eyes. And of course your photographic techniques for capturing their glory.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

What I loved about 2016 and What Not So Much

Wow, 2016 was an ever-eventful year. I want to share with you what awed and delighted me the most… and what did not.

My #1 delight of the year was: It was a five-year journey to our solar system’s gigantic planet of Jupiter, but NASA’s Juno spacecraft stunned us by nailing it right on time! To celebrate its accomplishment, Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit on U.S’s independence day–July 4th. Juno will probe beneath the obscuring clouds of Jupiter for the first time and study its auroras. I was in awe as I watched this event in real time online–along with the scientists at NASA–the tension in the room was palpable and so was the sheer joy of Juno’s unbelievable performance seen in this AWESOME VIDEO:

The returning data and images of Jupiter to Earth will keep scientists busy for many years. What will we learn about Jupiter’s origin and what will it mean for Earth? Jupiter already sucks up monumental space junk so that it does not slam into us, what else will we learn about our friend?

                                                              Jupiter Aurora

This is why I love King Jupiter so much: Earth is a nice place to live precisely because of Jupiter’s overbearing gravity. It acts as a super-sized gravitational shield to planet earth. It keeps incoming space junk, like comets, away from our inner solar system. Just think about what that asteroid did to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago!

The whole world was watching when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fell apart and its pieces crashed into Jupiter in 1994, leaving Earth-size scars that lasted a year. That’s Jupiter doing its cosmic job–better it than us!

It was high time we visit our fearless BIG, BIG-brother whom protects us from many spooky cosmic thugs–hip, hip hooray to NASA for this in 2016!

My #2 delight of the year was: Another NASA launch, which happened on Sept. 8 that could revolutionize our understanding of the early solar system. This one is the FIRST asteroid sampling mission called the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). The spacecraft (with the very un-sexy name) is designed to reach the asteroid Bennu in August 2018, and then return a sample of it to Earth in 2023.

Illustration of OSIRIS-REx collecting a sample from asteroid Bennu

Why should we care about Bennu? Bennu was selected from over 500,000 known asteroids by NASA’s selection committee. It was chosen due to its close proximity to Earth, the low Δv required to reach it, an orbit with low eccentricity, low inclination, an ideal orbital radius, and it has loose dirt on its surface. Asteroids smaller than this typically spin too fast to retain dust or small particles.

Whittling down from 500,000 to only 5 asteroids: Finally, a desire to find an asteroid with pristine carbon material from the early solar system, possibly including volatile molecules, organic compounds and amino acids reduced the list further to just five asteroids. Ultimately Bennu was selected between these five due to its potentially hazardous orbital impact to Earth. So YES Bennu is one special asteroid! Very COOL NASA VIDEO follows this journey:

My #3 delight of the year was: NASA in 2016 formally started an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe. Called the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), it will aid researchers in their efforts to understand–by far the biggest secrets of all–dark energy and dark matter.

WFIRST will also discover new worlds outside our solar system– known as exoplanets. This is because NASA is STILL searching for another planet like earth, which could be suitable for life. Will they ever find it is the question–they have verified 1,284 exoplanets to date–none of which are the least bit hospitable. This artist’s concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. Credits: NASA/W. Stenzel

Regardless of absolutely no success to date to find an earth look-alike, NASA scientists won’t give up searching for life outside our solar system. They analyzed the Kepler space telescope’s “planet candidate catalog” and identified 4,302 potential planets to investigate. You go NASA–if they find one it will be the greatest discovery in all of the history of mankind!

Those are my top 3 WOW things to happen in 2016. NASA is by far the coolest government agency in the USA. Not only do they explore the galaxy and probe the heavens, they develop innovative technology and collect data on climate change. NASA has put a man on the moon and helped launch the collaborative International Space Station. Their mission is WOW: To “reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind,” and so far they are doing a stellar job.

What’s on top of my list for the lousiest of 2016? The death of facts: Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that politicians have thrown out “facts” in favor of who can spread “delusions” or straight out lies the most effectively. The worst U.S. political election process I’ve ever witnessed in my years, my mom agrees and she is 88 years old. We can only hope an election that yucky is never repeated again here or anywhere!

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Second on my list of not so great: 2016 saw the ranks in rock ‘n’ roll heaven quickly swell, as David Bowie, who died at 69 after a secretive 18-month battle with cancer, had just released Blackstar, the album that would serve as his final LP; Keith Emerson, the outsized co-founding keyboardist in Emerson Lake and Palmer, committed suicide at 71 in March; Leonard Cohen, one of the most acclaimed songwriters of the rock era, died in November at the age of 82. He had just released You Want It Darker, the 14th album in a career; Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, died April 21 at age 57, after being found unresponsive in an elevator at Paisley Park, his home and recording studio in Minnesota; And British superstar George Michael was found dead in bed on Christmas day–just to name a few. RIP rockers, we LOVE you and the music you created!

Third on my list of not so great? America is deeply, deeply divided about serious issues–and certainly about what kind of leader(s) we need. Who will help us to find common ground? If you live here you know what I am talking about. For the first time since I can remember I’m looking at 2017 with more consternation than hope… but I still have hope. Yes by these three shall I abide: Faith, Hope and Love. I end this 2016 reflection with–the greatest of these three is Love. God bless you all!

Thank you for reading my post. I am a writer and consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Velcro and Teflon Creativity

Which of your three creative centers–head, heart or gut–are you being negative to? bionic-brain

The secret to creativity might be summed up in a cheesy neuroscience joke: “The neurons that fire together, wire together.” When we disrespect what one of our intelligence centers is saying to us by automatically responding negatively to it, we are shutting that source of creativity down:

“My gut is always wrong, I never listen to it.”

“Listening to my heart will only cause severe pain and bleeding.”

“I think too much, I shouldn’t listen to my head but only act.”

“It’s a classic saying, and it’s widely accepted because it’s very true,” says neuropsychologist Rick Hanson. “We’ve got this negativity bias that’s a kind of bug in the stone-age brain in the 21st century,” he says. “It makes it hard for us to learn from our positive experiences, even though learning from your positive experiences is the primary way to grow inner strength.”

There are consequences of our highly interconnected head/heart and gut intelligence centers. Scientists believe our brains have a built-in “negativity bias.” The reason is pretty simple. Since we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots (rewards), it was more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was for carrots. It was a tough environment for our ancestors. If they missed out on a carrot, it likely would not kill them; but if they failed to avoid a stick, such as a predator, a poisonous plant, a natural hazard, or overly aggressive fellow caveman, then BAM!, fat chance to pass on their genes.

Our negativity bias shows up in lots of ways. For example, studies have found in a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one. People will work much harder to avoid losing 100 dollars than they will work to gain the same amount of money. Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.

The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. It is said approximately 80 percent of our (up to) 70,000 thoughts per day are negative. This is good and bad news for creativity. Our brains are tilted against lasting contentment and fulfillment. This means our memory banks are full of underlying expectations, assumptions, beliefs, and especially our moods—which automatically move in a negative direction. Mother Nature only cares about passing on genes; she doesn’t care if this means painful suffering in the process. Suffering includes subtle worries to intense feelings of sorrow, worthlessness, or anger and creating suffering for others. Naturally being wired to acquire negative experiences over positive ones, can make us more anxious, irritable, and blue. But these “sticky” emotions also create a deep well for us to draw upon and funnel into creative outlets. Such lack of contentment can result in a felt need and a motivation to create.

“I have the memory of an elephant. I can forgive, but I cannot forget. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Perhaps the Velcro theory is why Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous elephant quote about her philandering husband makes sense. We are wired to hold onto the negative experience, even if we willfully (from our gut center) try not to. Mrs. Roosevelt exemplifies our need to take the negative and create something new. This is exactly what she did after discovering FDR’s first affair with her own private secretary. Her personal journals expose from this point forward, any remaining intimacy left their relationship. Up to this point she was willing to be a traditional wife, mother of their five children, and homemaker. After this very painful breach of trust, Eleanor established a separate house, and increasingly devoted herself to becoming a human rights and social justice entrepreneur. This included being a pioneer in the womens’ suffrage and African American Civil Rights movements. She was no ordinary first lady–I believe the most entrepreneurial one of all!

Eleanor knew how to make lemonade from potent lemons in her life

Perhaps an even more severe example of “making lemonade” is shown in the video below. This one will blow your mind for sure!

However, on a day to day basis, many of us don’t stay with our positive experiences long enough for them to be encoded into neural structure (meaning there’s not enough wiring and firing going on). On the other hand, we naturally tend to fixate on negative experiences. Positive and negative emotions use different memory systems in the brain, according to Hanson, and positive emotions don’t transfer as easily to long-term memory.

So we easily filter to see the tough parts of life. We can learn to bear negativity by intentionally tilting towards healthy creative outlets. This will lift our energy and spirits and use our resources. But we have to intentionally fill up our cups because positive experiences will wash through us like sieves. Please see a previous post on how to fight ANTS (automatic negative thoughts).

The more we get our neurons firing on positive facts, the more we’ll be wiring up positive neural structures. Intentionally focusing on “taking in the good” is a brain-science savvy and psychologically skillful way to improve how we feel, get things done creatively, and treat others consistently. By taking the positive in–from our head, heart and gut centers–and filling ourselves up with them, we will increasingly feel less fragile or needy inside, and less dependent on external supplies.

How good are you at creatively making lemonade from all the negative lemons in your life? Please share your insights on this, we all have “ANTS,” (mine can build huge mounds in my mind if left untended!)

Thank you for reading my post (excerpts from my recent book). My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my book and at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Do animals have feelings? Photos tell all

Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to write about animals having emotions. He is considered the foremost revolutionary scientist and is revered by fellow scientists (like me). He believed animals felt emotions and that our human emotions evolved from them. Darwin wrote a book about this in 1872 called, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

Long before the brilliant Darwin, the Book of Job (considered the oldest book in the Bible) expounded on animal’s beauty and intelligence, their ways, and what we humans can learn from them. I believe these photos reveal different emotions in animals… photos don’t lie.

31fad480661b17c044068716b119c630A wide-eyed baby Orangutan takes in the new world around him from the safety of mom’s embrace (Chin Boon Leng, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards).

ba2eeccc-a68c-4666-9d56-d77e89130953_postDainan Zhou, China, Entry, Open Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards.

2968c2a2-0dba-4b54-ad78-17fb1b546ede_postThe knight and his steed, a tropical capture in Costa Rica. Nicolas Reusens, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.

1d3189c3-4fb2-4be1-aa22-0669a8a4be01_postYes, these two truly are BFF’s. See a PBS video about their friendship here.

a6ad78dd-4551-4061-b572-7602e315fc45_post9b510c9a-c493-4284-9e74-38d95c83f015_postThis photo of two lowland gorillas was taken at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. This is part of a series of photos called Bronx Zoo Diaries.

eeebb70b-04d9-4bd6-bb1a-41bba79b1572_postNational Geographic photo of a mother humpback whale and baby dive in Pacific waters off Maui. There is a documented account of a humpback sweeping a seal on its back, away from attacking killer whales.

419aa447-62dc-4d0f-a3f2-de9eb2f11df6_postKeeper Julius Latoya shares a tender moment with Kinna, a young orphaned African Elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. GERRY ELLIS, MINDEN PICTURES.

ed4be63d-87d5-4fda-912f-282215ef28f1_postZeybeks by Hasan Baglar: Zeybek is a Turkish traditional folk dance … “It’s a normal behavior of praying mantis, they are doing defense and both of them doing the same dance…”

5a5329d0-8ded-4bd1-8018-a706fac7dfdf_postSony-world-photography-awards-2015-shortlist

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Mohammed Yousef, Kuwait, Shortlist, Professional Environment, 2016 Sony World Photography Awards). Her name is Malaika.

Dogs can read human emotions . So, it appears, can horses. Whales have regional accents (patterns of communication between whales vary depending on what region they inhabit– just like us– with accents).  Ravens show how they likely guess at the thoughts of other ravens. All of these findings have been published within the past several months.

New studies like these, along with many recent books by respected biologists and science writers, are seriously considering the inner lives of animals. Now some prominent scientists are arguing that decades of “knee-jerk avoidance of all things anthropomorphic” detrimentally served to hold this field back. “It ruined the field,” says biologist and author Carl Safina. “Not just held it back — it’s ruined the field. It prevented people from even asking those questions for about 40 years.”

But… Charles Darwin knew about “animal feelings” all along and wrote about it in 1872! Job wrote about it in the 6th century BCE. What do you think creatives, do animals have feelings?

Thank you for reading my post. You can read more about the brilliantly creative Charles Darwin in my new book. He is one of many diverse exemplars I’ve highlighted illustrating a certain pattern of creativity. My core message is that everyone is creative, all people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Creative engineering: transform old to new with FUN

In my book I guide you on gaining awareness of how our three intelligence centers, our head, heart, and gut (intuition) interact with each other to be creative, We experiment with different intersections between our centers to try on different creative patterns.

ThreeSources

By tapping into these six intersections, we can move forward confidently and triple our creative capacity. The joy of creativity is there is no time or age limits, it only requires our willingness to execute. I believe our most creative years are still ahead of us… With intentional experimentation we learn more about how we are creative and how to honor our own unique process. We learn to have FUN in the adventure of exploring our three resources of creativity. Here is a short video taking something familiar (a staircase) and transforming it into FUN use.

I believe the easiest way to change our behaviors–to become more daring in our creative pursuits– is to have FUN in the process. Every mistake takes us closer to our  goal. Which center– all three are equal in their creative capacity– do we need to experiment with more? Our head? our heart? or our gut? Which need to intersect brilliantly to create something new? What matters is our idea(s) emerge and/or change for the better. For me the piano stairs are an intersection of my gut/heart (I love music!), for others a curiosity intersection of head/gut (you’re kidding?!) What matters is the stairs have been transformed into something more motivating and captivating.

Here is another take on those old stairs, this idea will get your gut going!

How have you experimented with ideas from your head, heart and gut in the past to create something new, from something old?

Learn more in my book.

Thank you for reading my post. I am an organizational and business consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

“Ask, Seek and Knock”: uses all 3 intelligence centers

“Ask, seek, and knock.” These are Jesus’ iconic words: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Notice how our three intelligence centers are used differently here.

knocking-on-heavens-door “Asking” comes from our head intelligence center and is cerebral and verbal; we ask for what we most need and want. Please, please, please I want to create something really beautiful!

“Seeking” focuses on our heart intelligence center. This is more than asking; it is an exploration of what will be most meaningful, authentic and satisfy/answer our heart’s emotions and desires.

Namuth_-_PollockTo “knock” involves our body/gut intelligence center. It requires physical movement, one where we take action. Asking and seeking are essential (head and heart centers), however they would be incomplete without knocking (gut/body center). One of the exemplars in my book, Jackson Pollock knocked on a different artistic door– by painting vertically instead of horizontally– he broke convention with his gut centered creativity.

In my worldview, it’s good to pray and seek God, but if I do not also act in faith, all is for naught. It’s no accident Jesus said we should love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (all three intelligence centers). We know a universal law is, “we reap what we sow.” This is true in many world views,  including the Buddhist Law of Karma and in the Holy Qur’an.  In Hinduism, Karma is a causality system where beneficial effects are derived from past beneficial actions and harmful effects from past harmful actions.

Mute Swan, Loch Ard, Trossachs

Mute Swan, Loch Ard, Trossachs

When considering our creative pursuits it starts with asking and seeking– but ultimately it is about what we do, our executions, that eventually comes back to us in a transformed state. As a writer I am prolific in the “asking” mode with many questions (regarding my subject), which leads to intense and pleasurable researching, which in turn can lead me down wild goose chases…  leaving my manuscript deserted of words for weeks or months. Or perhaps if I’ve shifted to the “seeking” mode, such as moving from nonfiction writing  to “seeking” to do a fictional allegory for my next book– then I hit the wall. Major obstacle, overwhelmed. I am inexperienced in this style of writing and doubt my abilities.

I can stay stuck “seeking”  and “asking” how to overcome obstacle(s) or I can KNOCK. Bang away by JUST WRITING, fully expecting my lack of confidence obstacle will transform into a door! A door which is the portal for me to write it my way. Its no time to be suffocating on my doubts and weak-kneed. I write in faith, which means pounding on that door boldly. If that door is not the portal for me, than I’ll pound on another door (idea) with my ideas in order to best tell my story. Because I have been asking and seeking, I believe the door will be opened for me. The process is cyclical, involving asking, seeking and knocking.

knocking-on-heavens-door024

Creativity is not static, routine, repetitious or dull  but is dynamic (involves many doors) and all three of our intelligence centers. The “knocking” will eventually open the right door and bring the “aha” moment needed for clarity.

What about you– do you find yourself doing more asking, seeking or knocking?

Thank you for reading my post. I am an organizational and business consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Read more in my book: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut

Is Creativity Lodged in Only Half our Brain?

BCLOGOrevised3One thing science knows for sure is there is no such thing as pure left/right brain dichotomy. “Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.” The five-stage process (from preparation to verification) consists of many interacting brain processes (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.

The emphasis on hemispheric dominance is a misapplied story. It shows how a grain of truth in science can get blown out of proportion into a pseudoscientific industry. You’ve heard this myth. It says the left hemisphere of the brain is strictly logical, deductive, mathematical, etc., while the right hemisphere is strictly artistic, visual, and imaginative. The idea stems at least partly from the classic studies of split-brain patients performed in the 1960s. It isn’t that simple. Google left brain/right brain and you’ll get 74 million results; an entire self-help industry grew out of applying a misconstrued understanding. It is another one of the many lingering myths about our brains.

So don’t get suckered into personality programs hawking “right brained” thinking to increase your creativity. A 2010 study published in Psychological Bulletin reviewed all the neuroscience research on creative thinking (included seventy-two experiments) and found no good evidence for the pop-culture idea of the right side of the brain being more involved in “creative thinking.” This was also true for the “divergent thinking” theory of creativity. Recent studies indicate that creativity results from the “dynamic interactions of distributed brain areas operating in large-scale networks.” This leads us back to the three centers of intelligence: doing, thinking, and feeling. Read more in my book.