Video: Tree of Life

Beautiful and simplistic illustration of life in 6 minutes by David Attenborough. This is a great video for all ages, especially for kids, I think they can understand life better than adults because of their wonderful imagination and pure minds. Enjoy!

The Billboard: Gloria Steinem


Video: The Surprising Need For Strangeness – Maria Bezaitis

In my time living in Kuwait and as a general observation in the extended Middle East, I have noticed that people are afraid of strangers.  Since our childhood, one of the many overarching lessons we are taught is the one that warns of the dangers of talking to strangers.  Never talk to strangers.  I remember my mother telling me more than once when I was a young girl, “never ever speak to strangers, no matter what.”  I understand the concern, with strangers, and even more so with children and strangers, but the probability of all these concerns to pan out, ingrained in our heads for quite some time has really hindered our capability to take advantage of a situation which has some element of the unknown;  learning from strangers.   Things were different when we were younger, as we grow we can deal with much more, and a proper outlook should allow us to not only have the ability to interact with a non-commoner, but also to extract value from this encounter.  Coming back to Kuwait, the majority of people here turn hostile and excitable when it comes to the idea of strangeness.  The excitement skews towards anxiety subject to a lack of understanding as to what to do, which leads to some awkward random moments.  I think it matters as human beings to interact with one other because we are inherently social beings and these small interactions can have an impact on our lives, no matter how menial or life altering they may be. But it is not only about meeting strangers, as Maria Bezaitis explains;” Strangeness is not about meeting strangers. It simply makes the point that we need to disrupt our zones of familiarity.” Technology has a huge impact on how we interact with each other now, but at the end of the day, we are interacting through many filters.  We need to deconstruct this notion embedded in us, the danger of strangers, and try to be kind to one another no matter how familiar they may be, and further, what ethnicity, sex, nationality and background they are. Being nice is easy, but talking to strangers? Enjoy

Articles: Daniel Dennett’s Seven Tools For Thinking

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Music: Tina Dico – Interview

Tina Dico is such an amazing human being. She understands life through words and waves of sound transformed into beautiful songs. She is a free thinker who’s able to evolve and adapt to her surroundings. From climate change, to love songs she captures the audience with her breathtaking performances. I can’t wait to see her perform live sometime this summer.

Articles: 10 Experiments Showing Animals Are Super Smart

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Video: The Secret You – BBC Horizon

Human beings have been searching for the meaning of consciousness and what makes us who we are for centurie.  Now with advancement in  modern science, we may have the ability to answer some of these questions.  In this documentary, scientists conduct a fascinating experiment in which they can show what the brain is thinking 6 seconds prior to the subject processing and making a decision.  Very exciting. Enjoy!

Articles: Relationship Troubles? Some Sad Music Might Help You Feel Better

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The Billboard: Gwyneth Paltrow


Books: Nomad – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

In this book Ayaan follows up on her family situation from where it left off in her first book Infidel.  At this point, Ayaan has moved to the USA yet still faces some of the same issues she faced when she was living in the Netherlands.  As an ex-Muslim, she focuses her efforts on the immigration issues in the west, particularly in the Muslim community. With this she proposed a wonderful idea she referred to as the “Enlightenment Project,” inspired by European history.  “The intellectual tradition of European Enlightenment, which began in the seventeenth century and produced its greatest works in the eighteenth, is based on critical reasoning. It employs facts instead of faith, evidence instead of tradition. Morality in this worldview is determined by human beings, not by an outside force.” I am proud of a woman like Ayaan, for her story and tremendous courage, and her experiences result in ideas that can be applicable to understand and facilitate change.  Personally, I enjoyed her book Infidel more than this one, but each stands on its own to carry out the important messages Ayaan is trying to convey.


Background drawing by Ghadah Alkandari


Video: The Matter We Can’t See – James Gillies

Oh the wonder of the universe! How lovely to live in a time where we can grasp most of the ideas we know about our expanding universe. I hope I can live old enough to hear all the new discoveries about dark matter, black holes and dark energy. We are getting there thanks to all the experimental scientists in the world of cosmology 🙂

Interest: Happy 95th Birthday Richard Feynman

A few days ago, I posted about my excitement here about the upcoming celebration of Richard Feynman’s 95th birthday at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London.  After a quick three day getaway to London, here is my review of the event:

I always get excited when I walk around the UCL campus, away from the hordes and surrounded by what I imagine to be the studious silence of its streets and buildings.  Walking into the Bloomsbury Theater UCL allows me to feel the same way with all the posters of past and future events on the walls.  Well, I am here for part one of the Richard Feynman commemoration.  The first event was divided into two segments, with the first consisting of a lecture given by John Butterworth, a physicist at the UCL, as he explained Feynman’s diagram and its impact on the Large Hydron Collider (LHC) in CERN, where Butterworth spends much of his time analyzing what can be some breakthrough findings.  I can’t remember the last time I saw an overhead projector, but to ask me now I would say two days ago while a physicist was breaking down the essence of propator in a Feynman diagram.   The science was followed by more of an intimate perspective on Feynman by way of discussion (interspersed by classic videos of Feynman) between the organizer of the event Robin Ince, a comedian and a lovely host, and the wonderful Christopher Sykes. Sykes met Feynman by chance as he was sent by the BBC to film a documentary on another member of the faculty at Cal Tech, and that chance was when the original target actually recommended that Feynman was the man he needed to see.  He went on to carry out these famous sitdowns with Feynman, and was responsible for “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” and “Fun to Imagine.”  He provided the insight and shared really personal anecdotes about how Feynman didn’t want to do the films at first, his final moments on before his death, and many other stories about their time together as they ended up being quite good friends.  I was very jealous to hear all the stories and it reinforced my wish to have had the chance to meet Feynman as well.  At the end of the second part of the first segment, we watched few clips of the new documentary about Feynman directed by Chris Riley called “The Fantastic Mr. Feynman” The full movie was screened the day after but unfortunately I had to come back home and didn’t get to see it. Once its on the internet I will definitely post it on this blog.

The evening segment of the program was all entertainment.  Dr. Neutron and his sidekick were there, performing with hoola hoops and explaining the constructs of elements like hydrogen and oxygen and their molecular attractions using the hoops.  There were physicists doing standup, yes science standup, sharing their love for Feynman and presenting their own comedic insight on the Theory of Least Action.  Grace Petrie performed a very touching and moving song, using the words of Feynman himself, from a love letter he wrote for his first wife Arlene after her death from tuberculosis years earlier.  Marcus Chown, the author behind ” We Need to Talk About Kelvin” relayed stories of what he directly learned from Richard Feynman, as he was enrolled in his classes at Cal Tech.  Even Feynman’s famous Lock Picking course.  Tamsin Edwards presented her life’s work following in the footsteps of Feynman from being an artist, to becoming a physicist, to going to Brazil and playing with the local samba schools. There was a segment of images of the Aurora Borealis accompanied by a harp player, and that served as an homage to both Richard Feynman and his sister Joan, who is a pioneer in her own right when it comes to the Northern Lights.  The show went on and on, and from the audience to the presenters on stage, there was one constant, and that was that we were all here today for a special man, who had a special way of thinking, in all its uniqueness, craziness and genius.

To conclude, it was an inspiring day for me to see and hear people who also were inspired by Feynman. Bloomsbury theatre hosts many events, a day before, it was Charles Darwin’s birthday, and it was a full performance as well and ended with Richard Dawkins as a speaker!  I wish I had known about it as it would have been a full weekend of festivities. I recommend checking their website for the upcoming events and maybe even next year’s birthday festivities.  After all, Feynman’s legacy will be with us for many more generations to come. Happy Birthday Richard Feynman

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Articles: The Rationalist Way of Death

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The Billboard: George Clooney


Video: Baloney Detection Kit – Dr. Michael Shermer (Arabic subtitled)

Music: Bjork – Hyperballad

Video: Mary Roach – 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm

Articles: 10 Animals That Practice Homosexuality

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The Billboard: Leonardo Da Vinci


Video: The Pale Blue Dot – Carl Sagan