Featured Post

The Declaration of White Independence: Fourth Political Theory

A unilateral assertion offered to and for consideration by the European Descended People of the fifty united States of America and all ...

29 May 2013

Real-Time Imaging of Quantum Entanglement

Published on May 29, 2013
Quantum entanglement - which Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" - is one of most prominent and mind boggling features of quantum mechanics. To image the effects of entanglement directly, we created in our experiment a pair of entangled photons. The video shows images of single photon patterns, recorded with a triggered intensified CCD camera, where the influence of a measurement of one photon on its entangled partner photon is imaged in real-time. In our experiment the immediate change of the monitored mode pattern is a result of the polarization measurement on the distant partner photon.

More information: Real-Time Imaging of Quantum Entanglement
Robert Fickler, Mario Krenn, Radek Lapkiewicz, Sven Ramelow, Anton Zeilinger, Scientific Reports 3: 1914

University of Vienna & Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information

Music from project "musopen.org" - http://musopen.org/

Mysterious Minoans Were European, DNA Finds

The Minoans, the builders of Europe's first advanced civilization, really were European, new research suggests. The conclusion, published today (May 14) in the journal Nature Communications, was drawn by comparing DNA from 4,000-year-old Minoan skeletons with genetic material from people living throughout Europe and Africa in the past and today. "We now know that the founders of the first advanced European civilization were European," said study co-author George Stamatoyannopoulos, a human geneticist at the University of Washington. "They were very similar to Neolithic Europeans and very similar to present day-Cretans," residents of the Mediterranean island of Crete. The Minoan culture emerged on Crete, which is now part of Greece, and flourished from about 2,700 B.C. to 1,420 B.C. Some believe that a massive eruption from the Volcano Thera on the island of Santorini doomed the Bronze Age civilization, while others argue that invading Mycenaeans toppled the once-great power.

Space telescopes and human genomes: How researchers share petabyte data sets

There are some fundamental obstacles that STSCI's MAST and NIH's research networks both face. First is the scale of the data. At STSCI, the big data is petabytes of imagery and sensor data from NASA's space telescopes and other astronomy missions, as well as data from ground-based astronomy. At NIH, the "big data" that is most often in play is genomic data—a single individual's genome is three billion base pairs of data. Hundreds of thousands of genomes are being analyzed at a time by researchers hoping to find patterns in genes related to cancer or other illnesses. With all that data comes a big—and growing—demand for access. MAST currently serves up, on average, between 14 and 18 terabytes worth of downloads per month to scientists through its various applications. Much of this needs to be transformed from raw data into processed imagery before it's delivered, based on calibration data for the telescopes that collected it. (About half of that is from the Hubble Space Telescope.) Similarly, the demands at NIH aren't necessarily for raw genomic information, but for analysis data derived from it. This requires access to high-performance computing resources that researchers themselves may not have. This is a challenge to the openness of research using these massive data stores. Most of the work served by both STSCI and NIH is done by networks of researchers who are just as likely to be across the street from the institutions as they are on the other side of the globe. They not only need access to data and computing power, but these individuals need ways to collaborate around projects. It has led the institutions toward providing an increasing number of collaborative tools on top of their mission-specific applications.

White Britons 'will be minority' before 2070, says professor

An Oxford professor has claimed white Britons 'will be a minority' in the UK before 2070 if current population trends continue. The proportion of minority groups living in Britain will rise from 10% in 2006 to 40% by 2050, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said. The Observatory's Professor David Coleman said if current trends continue, the so-called majority-ethnic group in the UK - white British - will become a minority before 2070. Britain will become one of the world's most ethnically diverse countries in less than 40 years, the report says. Prof Coleman said this assumption does not factor in the impact of current or future government attempts to reduce net migration. In his briefing, Prof Coleman said: "Migration has become the primary driver of demographic change in most high-income countries and may remain so. "On current trends European populations will become more ethnically diverse, with the possibility that today's majority ethnic groups will no longer comprise a numerical majority in some countries." In England and Wales, censuses show that in 1841 just 0.25% of the population was "foreign-born", rising to 4.4% in 1951. By 2010/2011, in the whole of the UK, immigrants made up 13% of the population. Professor Coleman said part of the reason behind the decline in white-British members of the population is declining birth rates.

‘Shadow Biosphere’ theory gaining scientific support

Never mind aliens in outer space. Some scientists believe we may be sharing the planet with ‘weird’ lifeforms that are so different from our own they’re invisible to us.
Across the world’s great deserts, a mysterious sheen has been found on boulders and rock faces. These layers of manganese, arsenic and silica are known as desert varnish and they are found in the Atacama desert in Chile, the Mojave desert in California, and in many other arid places. They can make the desert glitter with surprising colour and, by scraping off pieces of varnish, native people have created intriguing symbols and images on rock walls and surfaces.
How desert varnish forms has yet to be resolved, despite intense research by geologists. Most theories suggest it is produced by chemical reactions that act over thousands of years or by ecological processes yet to be determined.
Professor Carol Cleland, of Colorado University, has a very different suggestion. She believes desert varnish could be the manifestation of an alternative, invisible biological world. Cleland, a philosopher based at the university’s astrobiology centre, calls this ethereal dimension the shadow biosphere. “The idea is straightforward,” she says. “On Earth we may be co-inhabiting with microbial lifeforms that have a completely different biochemistry from the one shared by life as we currently know it.” It is a striking idea: We share our planet with another domain of life that exists “like the realm of fairies and elves just beyond the hedgerow”, as David Toomey puts it in his newly published Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different from Our Own. But an alternative biosphere to our own would be more than a mere scientific curiosity: it is of crucial importance, for its existence would greatly boost expectations of finding life elsewhere in the cosmos. As Paul Davies, of Arizona State University, has put it: “If life started more than once on Earth, we could be virtually certain that the universe is teeming with it."

Could Life Be Older Than Earth Itself?

Applying a maxim from computer science to biology raises the intriguing possibility that life existed before Earth did and may have originated outside our solar system, scientists say. Moore’s Law is the observation that computers increase exponentially in complexity, at a rate of about double the transistors per integrated circuit every very two years. If you apply Moore’s Law to just the last few years’ rate of computational complexity and work backward, you’ll get back to the 1960s, when the first microchip was, indeed, invented. Now, two geneticists have applied Moore’s Law to the rate at which life on Earth grows in complexity - and the results suggest organic life first came into existence long before Earth itself.

Staff Scientist Alexei Sharov of the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, and Theoretical Biologist Richard Gordon of the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida, took Moore’s Law, replaced the transistors with nucleotides - the building blocks of DNA and RNA - and the circuits with genetic material, and did the math. The results suggest life first appeared about 10 billion years ago, far older than the Earth’s projected age of 4.5 billion years. So even if it’s mathematically possible for life to have existed before Earth did, is it physically possible? Again, Sharov and Gordon said yes, it is. As our solar system was forming, pre-existing bacterialike organisms, or even simple nucleotides from an older part of the galaxy, could have reached Earth by hitching an interstellar ride on comets, asteroids or other inorganic space debris - a theoretical process called panspermia. The scientists’ calculations are not scientific proof that life predates Earth - there’s no way of knowing for sure that organic complexity increased at a steady rate at any point in the universe’s history. Call it a thought exercise or an essay, rather than a theory, Sharov said.

“There are lots of hypothetical elements to (our argument)… but to make a wider view, you need some hypothetical elements,” Sharov told TechNewsDaily.

Developing consciousness mapped in babies' brains

Scientists have discovered emerging patterns of 'consciousness' in babies of different ages before they speak. The New Scientist reports that medics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France used electroencephalography (EEG) to record electrical activity in the brains of 80 infants while they were briefly shown pictures of faces. Adult awareness of a stimulus is already known to be associated with a two-stage pattern of brain activity, with parts of the brain lighting up after a visual stimulus is presented, and conscious awareness only occurring after the second stage of neural activity gets to a specific threshold. Adults are then able to verbally describe the effects of the stimulation, which babies obviously cannot. Dr Kouider from the Ecole Normale Supérieure worked with colleagues to see if they could get babies to present a similar measure of conscious awareness via brain activity, before they learned to speak. Groups of infants aged five, 12 and 15 months had their brain activity recorded whilst being shown rapidly changing pictures, mostly of randomly patterned ovals. Among the ovals was a face, showed fleetingly for between 17 and 300 milliseconds. All of the babies responded to the picture of the face with the expected two-stage pattern, but the activity linked to conscious awareness was much slower in the five-month-old babies than in the children in the older groups. The babies of a year old responded 800 to 900 milliseconds after the image was displayed, while the 15-month-old group had similar brain activity. With the youngest babies, there was a delay of more than one second before the second pattern appeared. In grown ups, it take 300 milliseconds, on average for the second stage activity to occur. "Babies have the same mechanisms as adults but they are very slow," concluded Dr Kouider. "There are things happening in the brain but they are unable to deal with the information." Ron Chrisley at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex, UK, told the New Scientist that the research could be extended to animals to see if consciousness could also be attributed to non-humans.
"There might be more than one way in this universe to be conscious," he said.

Technique Unlocks Design Principles of Quantum Biology

University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the complex quantum dynamics observed in photosynthesis and may enable fundamentally new routes to creating solar-energy technologies. Engineering quantum effects into synthetic light-harvesting devices is not only possible, but also easier than anyone expected, the researchers report in the April 19 edition of Science. The researchers have engineered small molecules that support long-lived quantum coherences. Coherences are the macroscopically observable behavior of quantum superpositions. Superpositions are a fundamental quantum mechanical concept, exemplified by the classic Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment, in which a single quantum particle such as an electron occupies more than one state simultaneously. Quantum effects are generally negligible in large, hot, disordered systems. Nevertheless, the recent ultrafast spectroscopy experiments in UChicago chemistry Prof. Greg Engel's laboratory have shown that quantum superpositions may play a role in the near perfect quantum efficiency of photosynthetic light harvesting, even at physiological temperatures. Photosynthetic antennae - the proteins that organize chlorophylls and other light-absorbing molecules in plants and bacteria - support superpositions that survive for anomalously long times. Many researchers have proposed that organisms have evolved a means of protecting these superpositions. The result: improved efficiency in transferring energy from absorbed sunlight to the parts of the cell that convert solar energy to chemical energy. The newly reported results demonstrate that his particular manifestation of quantum mechanics can be engineered into human-made compounds.

Capitalism is killing our morals, our future

Yes, capitalism is working ... for the Forbes 1,000 Global Billionaires whose ranks swelled from 322 in 2000 to 1,426 recently. Billionaires control the vast majority of the world’s wealth, while the income of American workers stagnated. For the rest of the world, capitalism is not working: A billion live on less than two dollars a day. With global population exploding to 10 billion by 2050, that inequality gap will grow, fueling revolutions, wars, adding more billionaires and more folks surviving on two bucks a day. Over the years we’ve explored the reasons capitalism blindly continues on its self-destructive path. Recently we found someone who brilliantly explains why free-market capitalism is destined to destroy the world, absent a historic paradigm shift: That is Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, author of the new best-seller, “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets,” and his earlier classic, “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” For more than three decades Sandel’s been explaining how capitalism is undermining America’s moral values and why most people are in denial of the impact. His classes are larger than a thousand although you can take his Harvard “Justice” course online. Sandel recently summarized his ideas about capitalism in the Atlantic. In “What Isn’t for Sale?” he writes: “Without being fully aware of the shift, Americans have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society ... where almost everything is up for sale ... a way of life where market values seep into almost every sphere of life and sometimes crowd out or corrode important values, non-market values.” Sandel should be required reading for all Wall Street insiders as well as America’s 95 million Main Street investors. Here’s a condensed version:

In one generation, market ideology consumed America’s collective spirit: “The years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 were a heady time of market faith and deregulation — an era of market triumphalism,” says Sandel. “The era began in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher proclaimed their conviction that markets, not government, held the key to prosperity and freedom.” And in the 1990s with the “market-friendly liberalism of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who moderated but consolidated the faith that markets are the primary means for achieving the public good.” Today “almost everything can be bought and sold.” Today “markets, and market values, have come to govern our lives as never before. We did not arrive at this condition through any deliberate choice. It is almost as if it came upon us,” says Sandel. Over the years, “market values were coming to play a greater and greater role in social life. Economics was becoming an imperial domain. Today, the logic of buying and selling no longer applies to material goods alone. It increasingly governs the whole of life.”
Examples - New free-market capitalism trapped in American brains:

Yes, it’s everywhere: “Markets to allocate health, education, public safety, national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, recreation, procreation, and other social goods unheard-of 30 years ago. Today, we take them largely for granted.” Examples ... for-profit schools, hospitals, prisons ... outsourcing war to private contractors ... police forces by private guards “almost twice the number of public police officers” ... drug “companies aggressive marketing of prescription drugs directly to consumers, a practice ... prohibited in most other countries.” More: Ads in “public schools ... buses ... corridors ... cafeterias ... naming rights to parks and civic spaces ... blurred boundaries, within journalism, between news and advertising ... marketing of ‘designer’ eggs and sperm for assisted reproduction ... buying and selling ... the right to pollute ... campaign finance in the U.S. that comes close to permitting the buying and selling of elections.”

It’s In The Genes: Europeans Have Been One Big Family For Past Thousand Years

If there is one thing you can say about families, it is the larger the better. And by looking at genetic data of people from Ireland to the Balkans, researchers have found that Europeans are one big family, and have been for the past thousand years. Graham Coop, a professor of evolution and ecology at UCDavis, and Peter Ralph, a professor at University of Southern California (USC), published a recent study of the genetics of Europeans in the May 7 issue of the journal PLOS Biology. The duo set out to study the relatedness among Europeans over the past 3,000 years. Using information from the Population Reference Sample (POPRES) database, Coop and Ralph compared genetic sequences of more than 2,000 individuals. They found that the degree of genetic relatedness, as expected, was smaller the farther apart people live from one another. However, even if two individuals lived 2,000 miles apart, the researchers found they would likely be related to all of one another’s ancestors from a thousand years ago. “What’s remarkable about this is how closely everyone is related to each other. On a genealogical level, everyone in Europe traces back to nearly the same set of ancestors only a thousand years ago,” Coop said in a statement. “This was predicted in theory over a decade ago, and we now have concrete evidence from DNA data.” The duo also found subtle regional variations in the underlying kinship of Europeans. Barriers such as mountain ranges and linguistic differences have slightly reduced relatedness in some regions. Coop noted, however, that these are relatively small differences. By just going back a few thousand years, it can be shown through genetics that everyone in Europe is related to everyone else. “The overall picture is that everybody is related, and we are looking at only subtle differences between regions,” said Coop.

Do white people have a future in South Africa?

Apartheid South Africa looked after white people and nobody else. Now some of its white communities face a level of deprivation, or of violence, which threatens their future in the country. Everyone here, regardless of colour, tells you that white people are still riding high.  They run the economy. They have a disproportionate amount of influence in politics and the media. They still have the best houses and most of the best jobs. All of this is true but it is not the only picture.  Look below the surface and you will find poverty and a sense of growing vulnerability. The question I have come to South Africa to answer is whether white people genuinely have a future here. The answer, as with so many similar existential questions, is "Yes - but…" Working-class white people, most of them Afrikaans-speakers, are going through an intense crisis. But you will not read about it in the newspapers or see it reported on television because their plight seems to be something arising out of South Africa's bad old past...
But the people who are suffering now are the weakest and most vulnerable members of the white community. Ernst Roets, a leading Afrikaans campaigner from the AfriForum organisation, took me to a squatter camp outside the country's capital, Pretoria. A white squatter camp. Semi-skilled white people have little chance of getting a job when so many black South Africans are unemployed. There is another group of white Afrikaners, far higher up the social scale, who are deeply threatened - in this case, literally. Virtually every week the press here report the murders of white farmers, though you will not hear much about it in the media outside South Africa. In South Africa you are twice as likely to be murdered if you are a white farmer than if you are a police officer - and the police here have a particularly dangerous life. The killings of farmers are often particularly brutal. Belinda van Nord, the daughter and sister of the men who died, told me how dangerous the lives of white people in the countryside have become. The police, she said, had seemed to show little interest in this case. In the little graveyard where her father and brother are buried there are two other graves of farmers murdered recently. The wonderful landscape which surrounds it has become a killing ground. There used to be 60,000 white farmers in South Africa. In 20 years that number has halved. In the old days, the apartheid system looked after whites and did very little for anyone else. Nowadays white people here are on their own. Those who fit in and succeed will certainly have a future. As for the rest, there are no guarantees whatsoever.

Brain Development Is Guided by Junk DNA that Isn’t Really Junk

Specific DNA once dismissed as junk plays an important role in brain development and might be involved in several devastating neurological diseases, UC San Francisco scientists have found.
Their discovery in mice is likely to further fuel a recent scramble by researchers to identify roles for long-neglected bits of DNA within the genomes of mice and humans alike. While researchers have been busy exploring the roles of proteins encoded by the genes identified in various genome projects, most DNA is not in genes. This so-called junk DNA has largely been pushed aside and neglected in the wake of genomic gene discoveries, the UCSF scientists said. In their own research, the UCSF team studies molecules called long noncoding RNA (lncRNA, often pronounced as “link” RNA), which are made from DNA templates in the same way as RNA from genes. “The function of these mysterious RNA molecules in the brain is only beginning to be discovered,” said Daniel Lim, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurological surgery, a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF, and the senior author of the study, published online April 11 in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

proto-Transudationist: Louis Agassiz

After Louis Agassiz came to the United States he became a prolific writer in what has been later termed the genre of scientific racism. Agassiz was specifically a believer and advocate in polygenism, that races came from separate origins (specifically separate creations), were endowed with unequal attributes, and could be classified into specific climatic zones, in the same way he felt other animals and plants could be classified.

In recent years, critics have cited Agassiz's racial theories, arguing that these now-unpopular views tarnish his scientific record. This has occasionally prompted the renaming of landmarks, schoolhouses, and other institutions which bear the name of Agassiz (which abound in Massachusetts). Opinions on these events are often torn, given his extensive scientific legacy in other areas. On September 9, 2007 the Swiss government acknowledged the "racist thinking" of Agassiz but declined to rename the Agassizhorn summit.

Agassiz was never a supporter of slavery, and claimed his views had nothing to do with politics. Agassiz was influenced by philosophical idealism and the scientific work of Georges Cuvier. According to Agassiz, genera and species were ideas in the mind of God; their existence in God’s mind prior to their physical creation meant that God could create humans as one species yet in several distinct and geographically separate acts of creation. According to Agassiz, there is one species of humans but many different creations of races.

Agassiz was a creationist who believed nature had order because God has created it directly, and Agassiz viewed his career in science as a search for ideas in the mind of the creator expressed in creation. Agassiz denied that migration and adaptation could account for the geographical age or any of the past. Adaptation takes time; in an example, Agassiz questioned how plants or animals could migrate through regions they were not equipped to handle. According to Agassiz the conditions in which particular creatures live “are the conditions necessary to their maintenance, and what among organized beings is essential to their temporal existence must be at least one of the conditions under which they were created”.

In his work he noted similarities of distribution of like species in different geological eras, a phenomenon clearly not the result of migration. Agassiz questioned how fish of the same species live in lakes well separated with no joining waterway, Agassiz concluded they were created at both locations. According to Agassiz the intelligent adaptation of creatures to their environments testified to an intelligent plan. The conclusions of his studies lead him to believe that whichever region each animal was found in, was created there “animals are naturally autochthones wherever they are found”. After further research he later extended this idea to humans, which became to be known as his theory of polygenism.

According to Agassiz’s theory of polygenism animals, plants and humans were all created in “special provinces” each having distinct populations of species created in and for that province. Agassiz claimed plants, animals and humans did not originate in pairs but were created in large numbers. According to Agassiz, the different races were created in different provinces, each race was indigenous to the province it was created in, he cited evidence from Egyptian monuments to prove that fixity of racial types had existed for at least five millennia. According to Agassiz’s theory of polygenism all species are fixed, including all the races of humans and species do not evolve into other species.

Agassiz like other polygenists believed the Book of Genesis recounted the origin of the white race only and that the animals and plants in the Bible refer only to those species proximate and familiar to Adam and Eve. Agassiz, Josiah Clark Nott, and other polygenists such as George Gliddon, believed that the original Hebrew form of the name Adam came from a Biblical Hebrew consonantal root referring to redness, so that the name can be interpreted to mean "to show red in the face" or "blusher"; since only light skinned people can blush, then the biblical Adam must be the Caucasian race. Agassiz believed that the writers of the Bible only knew of local events, for example was a local event only known to the regions that were populated by ancient Hebrews, Agassiz claimed the writers of the Bible did not know about any events other than what was going on in their own region and their intermediate neighbors.

According to Agassiz the provinces that the different races were created in included Western American Temperate (the indigenous peoples west of the Rockies); Eastern American Temperate (east of the Rockies); Tropical Asiatic (south of the Himalayas); Temperate Asiatic (east of the Urals and north of the Himalayas); South American Temperate (South America); New Holland (Australia); Arctic (Alaska and Arctic Canada); Cape of Good Hope (South Africa); and American Tropical (Central America and the West Indies).

Stephen Jay Gould said that Agassiz's theories sprang from an initial revulsion in his encounters with African-Americans upon moving to the United States. Even though Agassiz was a believer in polygenism he rejected racism and supported the notion of a spiritualized human unity. He claimed human polygenism did not undermine the spiritual commonality of all people, even though each race was physically diverse. The physical descent was irrelevant to the spiritual descent of humanity according to Agassiz Agassiz believed God had made all men equal:

Those intellectual and moral qualities which are so eminently developed in civilized society, but which equally exist in the natural dispositions of all human races, constituting the higher unity among men, making them all equal before God.

Agassiz also opposed monogenism and evolution, he claimed that the theory of evolution reduced the wisdom of God to an impersonal materialism. Species, in their natures and geographical distribution, are direct expressions of the intelligence and will of God, not the results of blind chance. Agassiz believed evolution was an insult to the wisdom and will of God. Agassiz’s polygenism theory was accepted by a number of Protestants and scientists. For example Nathaniel Shaler who had studied under Agassiz at Harvard was a believer in Agassiz's polygenism.

25 May 2013

Astronomers Unravel Alpha and Omega of the Universe

How did the early universe evolved over time into its present form? Astronomers begin to unravel mysteries of the universe by measuring light from Big Bang. A team of astronomers have gone ahead and found a way to measure the light in the universe. They are beginning to unravel the mysteries of the universe by studying some of the oldest known light: extragalactic background light (EBL)-that was released immediately after the Big Bang. Until now, the accurate documentation of EBL, the most important measurement for scientists was never recorded. The presence of EBL proves that the galaxies that are visible today are because of the light. A newly published report by Alberto Domínguez, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Riverside, for the first time attempts to identify the key physical attributes of EBL and provides astronomers a method that is capable of measuring the elusive light. EBL is a collection of the photons emitted just after the Big Bang - is as fundamental to cosmology as measuring the heat radiation resulting from the Big Bang. By better understanding EBL, the scientists could solve the secrets of the nature and evolution of the universe along with how the universe is expanding and, possibly, how it will end.

20 May 2013

New research: Life processes began before oxygen was on Earth

Electron transfer is an absolute necessity for basic life processes like the construction of DNA by RNA, photosynthesis, and respiration. No free elemental oxygen (O2) existed on Earth as far back in time as three billion years ago. All the iron on earth became oxidized when oxygen began to be produced by plant photosynthesis. Iron ore is oxidized iron. Oxidized iron cannot be used as a reactant in electron transfer by RNA. This research proves that RNA could have used iron to catalyze single electron transfer to produce DNA in an oxygen free world three billion years ago. The concept has been proposed but never proven experimentally until this new research accomplished the effect. The research shows that the basic building blocks of life and life processes could have developed very early on Earth and independent of the present day processes that produce DNA from RNA.
All history is the history of the evolutionary transubstantiation of matter to Spirit via biological-life processes of Blood and Reason.


19 May 2013

Reality is the sprouting of Beauty

Microscopic crystal 'flowers' build themselves in a Harvard lab
Researchers formed hierarchically complex structures by controlling the growth of crystals in a solution. Here, a coral shape was nucleated on top of a spiral. (The scanning electron microscope view is false-colored, but represents the actual color of the structure.)

Imagine peering into a microscope and finding yourself in a garden. That's the case at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where researchers have found a way to shape microscopic crystals into complex and often beautiful structures. Inspired by coral reefs, seashells and other naturally occurring complex mineral structures, postdoctoral fellow Wim L. Noorduin and Harvard colleagues have been researching ways to create similar designs. These "flowers" were created by mixing barium chloride and sodium silicate, also known as waterglass, in a beaker of water. The resulting reaction combines with carbon dioxide in the air to create crystals made of barium carbonate in the water. "When you look through the electron microscope, it really feels a bit like you’re diving in the ocean, seeing huge fields of coral and sponges … Sometimes I forget to take images because it's so nice to explore," Noorduin said in Harvard's press release. Noorduin's findings follow a similar discovery from Harvard biologist Howard Berg, who found that certain bacterial colonies take intricate geometric shapes in response to concentrations of chemicals around them.