Play about the murder of Moritz Schlick

A pair of excellent books about the Vienna Circle of philosophers have recently appeared: Exact Thinking in Demented Times: The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science by Karl Sigmund (2017) and The Murder of Professor Schlick: The Rise and Fall of the Vienna Circle by David Edmonds (2020).

As an undergraduate, I took several philosophy courses and was especially taken with  Wittgenstein.  In the spring of 1972, a multi-talented astronomy graduate student, Joseph Timko, also keenly interested in philosophy, and I wrote and performed a short play about the murder of Moritz Schlick, The Best Picture.  Performing the role of Schlick, I was murdered each evening.  The play was performed again in 1975 in New York and on a few other occasions.

Working in Vienna during 1979-1982 at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, I was eager to learn more about the Vienna Circle.  Much curiosity then pertained to Vienna 1900 but little to Vienna between the wars. I attended the Kirchberg Wittgenstein symposium in 1981, where one felt stirrings of the revival now mature in the Sigmund and Edmonds books.  In honor of the Schlick revival, find posted a slightly revised 1980 version of The Best Picture, a melodrama in which Ludwig Wittgenstein, Private Investigator, made his stage debut in solving the Case of the Posthmous Positivist.

Jesse

Joshua Lederberg biography published

Genes, Germs and Medicine: The Life of Joshua Lederberg  by U. of Toronto historian of science Jan Sapp has just been published.  The book provides an engaging, balanced, and perceptive view of the multifaceted life and mind of Dr. Lederberg, who passed away in 2008.

For Jesse’s particular remembrances, see

Joshua Lederberg (In memoriam, 2008)
Joshua Lederberg (A Tribute to the Foresight of Joshua Lederberg, 2009)

Retrospective on the Census of Marine Life

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) hosted a virtual symposium entitled Observing Life in a Changing Ocean: Exploring a ‘Census of Marine Life’ Today, on January 27, 2021.

The Census of Marine Life was an international program of discovery of life in the ocean, from microbes to whales and from coral reefs to abyssal plains. The Census ran from 2000-2010 and was a model for building collaboration and a global baseline of knowledge of marine diversity, distribution, and abundance.  COL convened the symposium to highlight the need and generate excitement for a sustained, collaborative, and systematic program in marine biodiversity research and observation.  Jesse Ausubel gave an opening 25-minute retrospective on the program beginning 5 minutes 40 seconds into the video.

Recording posted of seminar on US-Russia Scientific Cooperation

Jesse Ausubel helped open the excellent 3-hour September 15th 2020 on-line symposium on “US-Russia Scientific Cooperation” organized as part of a series honoring the memory of Victor Rabinowitch, who had a long, influential career in science and diplomacy.  The Richard Lounsbery Foundation is among the sponsors of the series.

MIT historian of science Loren Graham wrote the discussion paper for the Webinar:  Why the Silence? Discussions of US-Russian Scientific Relations . To listen to the Symposium, visit Why the Silence Symposium Recording. Jesse’s four minutes of remarks begin at 17’22”.

9:00 am – 9:45 am      INTRODUCTION   Welcome and Zoom housekeeping,    CRDF Global;   Opening remarks for Organizing Committee, Gerson Sher;   Video tribute to Victor Rabinowitch  Family; Cosponsor remarks: Richard Lounsbery Foundation, Jesse Ausubel; CRDF Global, Tom Callahan; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Rachel Bronson

9:45 am – 11:45 am    PANEL: US-RUSSIA SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION    Introductory Remarks (Moderator)   Harley Balzer (Georgetown University)  Paper Summary: “Why the Silence?” Loren Graham (Mass. Institute of Technology); Panel discussion: Irina Dezhina (Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology); Mikhail Strikhanov (Federal Research Nuclear University – MEPhI); Glenn Schweitzer (The National Academies); Gerson Sher (Retired); Q&A   

11:45 am – 12:00 pm  CLOSING REMARKS     E. William Colglazier (American Association for the Advancement of Science)

Discoveries of the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project

Biologists in the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project have shared a trio of fascinating, innovative papers.

Manolito G. Torralba, Claire Kuelbs, Kelvin Jens Moncera, and Karen E. Nelson of the J Craig Venter Institute, La Jolla, California, and Rhonda Roby of the Alameda California County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory, used small, dry polyester swabs to gently collect microbes from centuries-old, Renaissance-style art in a private collector’s home in Florence, Italy. Their findings are published open access in the journal Microbial Ecology, “Characterizing microbial signatures on sculptures and paintings of similar provenance.”

Concurrently available are a pair of papers by David Thaler, of the University of Basel and a guest investigator in the Program for the Human Environment.  David’s papers are

“Evidence for extraordinary visual acuity in Leonardo’s comment on a dragonfly,” and “Sfumato in Leonardo’s portraits: Optical and psychophysical mechanisms.”

Thaler’s papers form part of a collection now in press as a book: Actes du Colloque International d’Amboise: Leonardo de Vinci, Anatomiste. Pionnier de l’Anatomie comparée, de la Biomécanique, de la Bionique et de la Physiognomonie, edited by Henry de Lumley, CNRS editions, Paris.

Two major newswires, Agence France Presse and Agencia EFE, each did separate stories:

Manny Torralba et al.
AFP Microbes Could ‘help Save Old Masters’ And Catch Forgers

Agencia EFE Identificar microbios en obras de arte abre la puerta a una mejor preservación

David Thaler

AFP  Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘quick eye’ may be key to Mona Lisa’s magnetism  

German version Forscher: «Schnelles Auge» half da Vinci beim Zeichnen und Malen

https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/cultura/artes-visuales/la-rapidez-visual-de-da-vinci-explicaria-la-sonrisa-de-la-mona-lisa

Agencia EFE La rapidez visual “súper desarrollada” de Da Vinci podría explicar la sonrisa de la Mona Lisa

LiveScience, United States Did Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘quick eye’ help him capture Mona Lisa’s fleeting smile?

By Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project (summary)

Genetic detectives ID microbes suspected of slowly ruining humanity’s treasures

COVID & The World Interview with Jesse Ausubel

The website Human Progress launches a new video series called The Covid Tonic. The series features conversations between renowned scholars and editor, Marian L. Tupy. The interviews focus on the global impact of COVID-19 and the continued importance of rational optimism. Episode 1 features the environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel, a Human Progress Board Member and Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University in New York City. 


Watch the full video here

2010s verbal Time Machine

Jesse evokes the decade just ended with a verbal time machine.

2010s Time Machine

Yowza!

The kombucha cheeseball airballed flyover states.

A flashmob of microbiomes pinged frenemies with fake news about emojis.

Bestie truthers in gender dysphoria friended crunchy snowflakes with selfies.

Muggles on staycation clickbaited eco grief with chai latte before Brexit.

Digerati on hoverboards vaped Bibimbop while cloud computing their carbon credits.

Locavore hashtags unfriended ringtones.

Bling ransomware exfoliated the deep state over net neutrality.

Sriracha fitbits f-bombed safe spaces with froyo in go-cups.

Uber & Lyft doxx’d bougie Anthropocene woo-woo.

The worstest guac onboarded vegan qubits.

Buzzy connectomes face-palmed oppo memes.

Unplugged vulture capitalists binge-watched paywalls.

Micro-aggressions woke the Alt-right in airplane mode.

Anti-vax traumatology misgendered #MeToo.

Sounds like a plan.  OMG LOL fuhgeddaboudit.

Jesse H. Ausubel 8 May 2020