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Map of The Open Country of Woman's Heart, ca. 1830

Via Public Domain Review: "The Open Country of Woman’s Heart, Exhibiting its internal communications, and the facilities and dangers to Travellers therein” (1830s), by D.W. Kellog.

What Eleven Fictional Hackers Can Teach Us About Love and Dating

“The password to unlocking the secrets of the heart… is Swordfish.”

Read the rest

What was the first experience that made you love science?

At Twitter, Ben Lillie has been collecting Science Sparks — the first experiences with science or some science-related thing that made people connect emotionally with nature, space, math, and wonder. He's collected them into a Storify that's worth reading, especially if (like me) you're thinking about ways to get kids engaged with science. My Science Spark: It's a toss-up between the epic multi-habitat diorama at the University of Kansas' Dyche Museum of Natural History (a place I visited so frequently as a child that I almost feel more of a connection to it than to any house I lived in) and the adorably illustrated adventures of Louis Pasteur and Marie Curie from the ValueTales book series. Maggie 33

Prevent divorce — with science!

Back in 2002, psychologists studying how couples argued found four different behaviors that correlated strongly with future divorce. In fact, in a small sample of 80 couples, the combination of those behaviors could be used to predict who would divorce over the next 14 years with 93% accuracy. The good news: While these behaviors are all things that people probably do sometimes, it's the frequency of behaviors that matters ... and, better yet, they're all things that you can change. At PsySociety, Melanie Tannenbaum uses the amazingly spot-on example of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries to illustrate how unhealthy arguments can lead to relationship collapse. Maggie

Quinn Norton on Aaron Swartz

Quinn Norton, who was Aaron Swartz's lover, remembers him:

We used to have a fight about how much the internet would grieve if he died. I was right, but the last word you get in as the still living is a hollow thing, trailing off, as it does, into oblivion. I love Aaron. I loved Aaron. There are no words to can contain love, to cloth it in words is to kill it, to mummify it and hope that somewhere in the heart of a reader, they have the strength and the magic to resurrect it. I can only say I love him. That I will always love him, and that I known for years I would. Aaron was a boy, not big, who cast a shadow across the world. But for me, he will always be that person who made me love him. He was so frustrating, and we fought. But we fought like what we were: two difficult people who couldn’t escape loving each other.

My Aaron Swartz, whom I loved.

The Christmas Whale: A depressing reminder of the importance of love

While you were eating Thanksgiving turkey, surrounded by loving family and friends, one whale was all alone, swimming through the Pacific Ocean with no one to talk to and no one to care.

Since 1989, researchers have been tracking this specific whale based on its distinct vocalizations. Baleen whales — a category of cetaceans without teeth, separate from their toothy dolphin/beluga/orca relations — are famous for producing eerie, underwater songs and scientists think those sounds are probably an extremely important aspect of participation in whale society. Baleen whales lack keen eyesight and sense of smell underwater, so sounds are probably how they recognize one another, help each other navigate, and even find mates. But these vocalizations happen in very specific frequency range — between 10 and 31 hertz, depending on the species. The Christmas Whale, on the other hand, speaks at 52 hertz. Imagine brining a piccolo to a tuba party. That is analogous to the awkward position that the 52-hertz whale is in.

Scientists usually pick up the call of the 52-hertz whale sometime between August and December, as it makes its way through a Cold War-era network of underwater microphones in the North Pacific. Although this whale has apparently survived for many years and seems to have grown and matured during that time (based on its voice deepening slightly), it also appears to exist outside of whale social systems. It travels alone. Nobody answers its high-pitched pleas for love. Every so often, non-scientist humans remember that it exists and write sad stories about it. But nobody is sure why it sings out of range of its fellow whales.

It strikes me as the kind of horribly sad thing that should get made into a maudlin children's picture book. The central message: Appreciate the love you have and give love in return. This holiday season, remember the plight of the loneliest whale. Give thanks for the presence of the people who love you. Show affection to others.

Listen to NOAA recordings of the 52-hertz whale (these have been sped up 10x)

The Loneliest Mix is a fan-site where you can download 52-hertz whale audio and video clips.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's page on the 52-hertz whale

Research paper explaining how scientists capture whale sounds in the north Pacific.

Picture taken the day after Thanksgiving at the Milwaukee Public Museum. I don't think they meant to tie into the legend of The Christmas Whale. But hey, it works.

I am grateful for friends like Grady, who alert me to stories like this.

Bones boned

A woman was charged Wednesday with disturbing the peace of the dead after authorities found a full skeleton, a skull and a CD-ROM titled "My necrophilia" in a box in her home. [Reuters] Rob

Open thread: "Same sex couples should be able to get married"—Barack Obama, May 9, 2012

Photo: At a bar in San Francisco, Horst Linsen of Germany watches TV as President Obama voices support to same-sex marriage. (Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama said today he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, taking a stand that is likely to please his political base and upset conservative voters. Your thoughts on the news, and what it means for the presidential election season in America, are welcome in the comments.

File-sharing church solemnizes first wedding

The first-ever wedding sanctioned by the Church of Kopimism (an officially Swedish church that reifies copying and characterizes file-sharing as a sacred act) was convened last weekend. It was a beautiful and awfully funny and joyous occasion, judging from the video. Here's Torrentfreak's Ernesto with more:

It was only a matter of time before the first Kopimist couple would become married, and last weekend this joyful union took place at the Share conference in Belgrade.

On stage, a Romanian woman and an Italian man were joined in a holy Kopimist act. Both promised to share the rest of their lives together and to uphold the highest sharing standards.

The Church was delighted to bring the news and commented: “We are very happy today. Love is all about sharing. A married couple share everything with each other.”

Like any other matrimony, a Kopimism marriage is bound by rules. The Church of Kopimism allows the couple to share their love with others, as long as those others don’t steal it. Most importantly, however, they have to copy and remix themselves.

“Hopefully, they will copy and remix some DNA-cells and create a new human being. That is the spirit of Kopimism. Feel the love and share that information. Copy all of its holiness.”

Or to put it in the words of another famous religion: “Be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.”

File-Sharing Church Weds First Couple

Senior in love affair with puppet dog

Nothing to Celebrate is a music video from The Zax, directed by Ben & Julia. [Submitted by Rion]

Diane Ackerman: The Brain on Love

Snip from an essay in the New York Times today about the neuroscience of romantic love, by author Diane Ackerman:

While they were both in the psychology department of Stony Brook University, Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron scanned the brains of long-married couples who described themselves as still “madly in love.” Staring at a picture of a spouse lit up their reward centers as expected; the same happened with those newly in love (and also with cocaine users). But, in contrast to new sweethearts and cocaine addicts, long-married couples displayed calm in sites associated with fear and anxiety. Also, in the opiate-rich sites linked to pleasure and pain relief, and those affiliated with maternal love, the home fires glowed brightly.

The Brain on Love (NYT)

Alexander Graham Bell, in love

Marilyn Terrell of National Geographic Traveler magazine says, "I thought you might like this sweet story about Alexander Graham Bell, who was a 27-yr-old Scottish speech therapist and part-time inventor when he fell madly in love with 17-yr-old Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, who was deaf, and whose father was the first president of the National Geographic Society."

Mabel Gardiner Hubbard was only five years old when scarlet fever rendered her deaf for life. At the age of 17, she would meet a young Scottish speech therapist who was destined to shape her life. Gardiner Greene Hubbard, Mabel’s father and National Geographic’s first president, took a liking to the industrious teacher and part-time inventor. We know him better as Alexander Graham Bell. This is their love story.

The 27-year-old Alexander fell in love with Mabel when she was 17, but it was an unreciprocated fancy. “He was tall and dark with jet-black hair and eyes, but dressed badly and carelessly,” she said. “I could never marry such a man!” Despite her initial disinterest, she began to grow fond of him during his time as her speech teacher and their relationship evolved. After one of her first classes with him, a giddy Mabel wrote to her mother: “Mr. Bell said today my voice is naturally sweet.” In a letter to Mabel on the night of their engagement, Alexander wrote, “I am afraid to fall asleep, lest I should find it all a dream — so I shall lie awake and think of you.”

Read the rest here.

Photo: Mabel Hubbard Bell and Alexander Graham Bell. (National Geographic Society)

How to say "I love you" in 100 languages

Video Link, from www.memrise.com.

Will you be ours? Valentine's Day for the polyamorous

This Valentine's Day, enjoy a classic essay by Annalee Newitz about celebrating differently-defined love.

(image: Shutterstock)

A greeting card for Valentine's Day

If that special person in your life has the right sense of humor, this card, designed by dandee and for sale on Etsy, may be just the thing to make them feel all smooshy inside without playing in too heavily to the Valentine's Day prisoner's dilemma game.

Luckily for Christopher Baker, who showed me this card, I do have the right sense of humor. Happy early Valentine's, babe.