December 5, 2012

Advent Art History: Naked Baby Jesus, December 05

The Virgin and Child Before a Firescreen Robert Campin (The Master of Flemalle) c.1425-30 Back in Flanders today. Robert Campin worked at around the same time as Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. This image is one of the first of a new...

Advent Philosophy: What’s so special about being human? Part 1

Philosophers are very fond of comparing computers to brains. It’s debatable whether this is actually valid*, but it does lead to a lot of debate about what makes humanity human, whether artificial intelligences can ever achieve true consciousness in the same way humans can, and what...

December 4, 2012

Advent Roller Derby: Glossary

In my spare time, I help to run a website called Rollin’ News, which is dedicated to UK & Ireland roller derby. We’re a one-stop-shop for the sport on these fair isles, so it would seem remiss of me to not attempt Advent Knowledge on...

Advent Philosophy: Gettier Counter-Examples

Yesterday, I covered what most epistemologists think “knowledge” is: Justified, True Belief. (Or just JTB for short.) Today, I’m going to tell you about Gettier, who is a massive troll, and incredibly lazy, successful philosopher. Everything I want to be when I grow up. For those...

Advent Atmosphere: Volcanoes and Snowballs

So. A problem. How did Earth get its water? We know it didn’t come from the primordial gas cloud, because it was too hot for that when the Earth was condensing out as a big ball of rock. So the water on our surface and...

Advent Art History: Naked Baby Jesus, December 04

Virgin and Child Masaccio 1426 Egg tempera on poplar I thought it’d be a nice idea to skip over to Italy for today’s Naked Baby Jesus and have a look at a Florentine treatment of the subject. At the time when Flemish artists like Jan...

Advent Chemistry: Ethanol

Today’s exciting entry is ethanol: Ethanol is of course the alcohol commonly known as, well, ‘alcohol’. It’s found in whisky, rum, cider, ale, mead, wine, vodka, gin, and so on and so forth. It has an intoxicating effect on most animals including humans and is...

December 3, 2012

A shrimp can change its spots

Advent Biology: A shrimp can change its spots

Among the animals which can change their colour to match their background in an attempt to camouflage themselves is the common shrimp, Crangon crangon. This crustacean can detect the levels of light above and below itself and change colour accordingly in what is known as...

Advent Philosophy: Knowledge for Beginners

Hi folks. I’m going to be attempting to write an Advent Philosophy series, and I’ll be starting with a bit of “Epistemology” – that is, the study of knowledge. I thought that getting a basic idea of what “Knowledge” is would be a good starting...

Advent Art History: Naked Baby Jesus, December 03

Today’s naked Baby Jesus is by one of my very favourite painters, Jan van Eyck, and is a detail from this painting: The Madonna of Canon van der Paele Jan van Eyck 1436 Oil on panel 122 x 157 cm The painting focuses on the...