inspiration & news

In the News 04.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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Photo by dear laura

Relativity versus quantum mechanics: the battle for the universe

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It is the biggest of problems, it is the smallest of problems. At present physicists have two separate rulebooks explaining how nature works. There isgeneral relativity, which beautifully accounts for gravity and all of the things it dominates: orbiting planets, colliding galaxies, the dynamics of the expanding universe as a whole. That’s big. Then there is quantum mechanics, which handles the other three forces – electromagnetism and the two nuclear forces. Quantum theory is extremely adept at describing what happens when a uranium atom decays, or when individual particles of light hit a solar cell. That’s small.

Now for the problem: relativity and quantum mechanics are fundamentally different theories that have different formulations. It is not just a matter of scientific terminology; it is a clash of genuinely incompatible descriptions of reality.

The conflict between the two halves of physics has been brewing for more than a century – sparked by a pair of 1905 papers by Einstein, one outlining relativity and the other introducing the quantum – but recently it has entered an intriguing, unpredictable new phase. Two notable physicists have staked out extreme positions in their camps, conducting experiments that could finally settle which approach is paramount.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

Humans of New York and the Cavalier Consumption of Others

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The most famous photograph from Brandon Stanton’s new book,“Humans of New York: Stories”—the one you have probably seen or read about or heard discussed—is of a boy in an open black bubble jacket. Beneath the jacket is a fleecelined hoodie, also black, and in his hand the boy holds a black plastic bag, stretched by the weight of what might be groceries.The sidewalk behind him is cracked and dotted with litter. Dull-brown publichousing towers—as much a part of the quintessential visual New York as the bodega bag—form a jagged horizon. You might know that this boy’s name is Vidal, and that he attends the Mott Hall Bridges Academy, in Brownsville, and that images of him, the first of which was accompanied by the somewhat noirish details of his still-short experience (“When I was nine,I saw a guy get pushed off the roof of that building right there,” he says), became widely shared sensations on Stanton’s Humans of New York blog and its attendant social-media channels earlier this year.The world learned that the most influential person in Vidal’s life was Nadia Lopez, his principal at Mott Hall, and, after subsequent HONY posts featuring Lopez, marvelled at her admirable devotion, amid the imagined grayscale of still-ungentrified Brooklyn, to boosting the spirits, and lifting the ambitions, of her students. Sensing an uncommon interest in Vidal among his audience, Stanton launched a fund-raising campaign that yielded an eventual $1.4 million for the school.In February, as a coda, Vidal and Lopez met President Obama, in the Oval Office.In Stanton’s photo of the encounter, Vidal sits grinning behind the Resolute desk, the President and principal flanking him like wings.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

Adele: Inside Her Private Life and Triumphant Return

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As Adele steers through a South London high street in her four-door Mini Cooper, with her toddler’s vacant car seat in back and the remains of a kale, cucumber and almond-milk concoction in the cup holder, a question occurs to her. “What’s been going on in the world of music?” she asks, in all sincerity. “I feel out of the loop!”

The only possible response is way too easy: Well, there’s this one album the entire industry is waiting for…

“Oh, fuck off!” Adele says, giving me a gentle shove and letting loose the charmingly untamed laugh — an ascending cascade of forceful, cartoonish “ha‘s” — that inspired a YouTube supercut called “The Adele Cackle.”

“Oh, my God, imagine,” she continues, green eyes widening. “I wish! I feel like I might be a year too late.” It’s as if her last album, 2011’s 21, hadn’t sold a miraculous 31 million copies worldwide in an era when no one buys music, as if it hadn’t sparked the adoration of peers from Beyoncé to Aretha, as if it hadn’t won every conceivable award short of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Read the rest of this article at Rolling Stone

The Lure of Luxury

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Why would anyone spend thousands of dollars on a Prada handbag, an Armani suit, or a Rolex watch? If you really need to know the time, buy a cheap Timex or just look at your phone and send the money you have saved to Oxfam. Certain consumer behaviors seem irrational, wasteful, even evil. What drives people to possess so much more than they need? Maybe they have good taste. In her wonderful 2003 book The Substance of Style, Virginia Postrel argues that our reaction to many consumer items is “immediate, perceptual, and emotional.” We want these things because of the pleasure we get from looking at and interacting with high­quality products—and there is nothing wrong with this. “Decoration and adornment are neither higher nor lower than ‘real’ life,” she writes. “They are part of it.”

Read the rest of this article at Boston Review

Green is the new black: the unstoppable rise of the healthy-eating guru

They’re young, photogenic, big on Instagram and top bestseller lists around the world – but how much do the new breed of wellness bloggers know about food? Hadley Freeman enters the world of #yummy #avotoast to find out

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Nestled among stuffy interior decorating and antique shops, Daylesford farmshop and cafe in Pimlico is, judging by the queue on a weekday mid-afternoon, very much the chic place to meet for a fresh vegetable juice (£6) or a superfood salad (£14). A decade ago, you’d have struggled to find a place such as this in London; now, there seems to be one opening every other day. But, as one review warns, everyone at Daylesford “is likely to be thinner, blonder and richer than you”, and I can testify that this much is true. It is part of a chain owned by Carole Bamford, a woman described on her website as “a visionary in organic farming and healthy food retailing”. She is also the wife of Anthony Bamford, director of the JCB construction empire, although here in the farm shop the emphasis is very much on organic spelt bread rather than hydraulic excavators.

I have come to Daylesford to have a green juice with Calgary Avansino, whose chosen career would have seemed similarly far-fetched a decade ago. I first met Avansino years ago when she worked at Vogue as editor Alexandra Shulman’s assistant. At the time, she struck me as polite, pretty and a tiny bit scary, like everyone who works for Vogue. Today, she beams with the kind of good health you’d expect of someone who blogs about how to make chia seed pudding. Writing last year about “healthy fixes for the Christmas feast”, she urged readers to offer guests “an avocado and cacao mousse” instead of mince pies. “Your friends and your body will thank you,” she promised, strongly suggesting she has never met any of my friends. Her book on wellbeing, Keep It Real, will be published next year.

Despite having had her third child four months ago at the age of 40, Avansino is very slim. This is not really a surprise: in a recent blog, she detailed her typical weekly diet, which included lunches of avocado on broccoli bread (“My new favourite thing!”) and green smoothies for breakfast. She frequently advises against gluten and describes herself as “not crazy about wheat”. She also writes about how to feed kids healthily. For instance, “Don’t think you have to start your kids eating with bananas – start with a courgette or sweet potato, which is much better than a high glycemic banana.”

“I’ve never had any training, and I’m not a chef,” Avansino says when I ask about her nutritional qualifications. “I’ve just always eaten like this, and it comes from a very honest and easy place.”

When Avansino moved to London from the US with her husband 14 years ago, people thought her “a total weirdo” for eating quinoa. Today, she says, everyone else is catching on: “I read this great article recently about how where you get your juice now is more important than what label you wear, because it’s sort of like discreet one-upmanship. I think it’s all positive.”

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.