the disappearing gifted scientist, beyond the scream, the mind in the context of culture

black and white flower petals

The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Genius

Margie Profet generated solutions to seemingly intractable puzzles of biology. Then she disappeared.

Margie Profet was always a study in sharp contradictions.  A maverick thinker remembered for her innocent demeanor, she was a woman who paired running shorts with heavy sweaters year-round, and had a professional pedigree as eccentric as her clothing choices: Profet had multiple academic degrees but no true perch in academe. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Profet published original theories about female reproduction that pushed the boundaries of evolutionary biology, forcing an entire field to take note. Indeed, back then it was hard not to notice Margie Profet, a vibrant young woman who made a “forever impression” on grade school chums and Harvard Ph.D.s alike. Today, the most salient fact about Profet is her absence. Neither friends, former advisers, publishers, nor ex-lovers has any idea what happened to her or where she is today. Sometime between 2002 and 2005, Profet, who was then in her mid-40s, vanished without a trace.

An interesting long read for those interested in evolutionary biology and/or mysteries. One of the pioneering observations Profet was the connection between allergies and the lower rate of some cancers for people who have allergies. It seems like such a simple observation. Possessing a childlike wonder at  how the world works. Somewhat controversial at the time, it does seem that some allergies arrived on the scene in human evolution to protect us from toxic substances in the air.

jaguar 19th century print. An interesting contrast in styles is this 19th century print of a jaguar or Felis onca linn by John James Audubon.

At least for now, short of reading a full length biography, the definitive article on Edvard Munch. Edvard Munch: Beyond The Scream

Though the Norwegian artist is known for a single image, he was one of the most prolific, innovative and influential figures in modern art

[  ]…Although he began his artistic career as a student of Norwegian painter Christian Krohg, who advocated the realistic depiction of contemporary life known as Naturalism, Munch developed a psychologically charged and expressive style to transmit emotional sensation. Indeed, by the time he raised his brush to the easel, he typically no longer paid attention to his model. “I do not paint what I see, but what I saw,” he once explained. Influenced as a young man by his exposure in Paris to the work of Gauguin and van Gogh, who both rejected the academic conventions of the official Salon, he progressed toward simplified forms and blocks of intense color with the avowed purpose of conveying strong feelings. In early 1890, in a huff, Munch quit the class of an esteemed Parisian painting teacher who had criticized him for portraying a rosy brick wall in the green shades that appeared to him in a retinal afterimage.

Girl on a bridge by Edvard Munch

One version of The Scream recently went for $119.9 million at auction.

We are all the machine. We are all the Octopus. – Richard Powers

There is a good argument to be made against using quotes in isolation. These two happen to express a lot of context in few words “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein. “The connection between language and reality is made by the definition of words.” Ludwig Wittgenstein. While from the early to mi-20th century those words were also prescient about the ‘new’ way that science is looking at how differences in language and culture affect the ways our mind works. Our Malleable Minds

Language, culture, and the body are ever-present aspects of the context in which we use our minds. Since thinking depends on context, people with different languages, cultures, and bodies tend to think, feel, and act differently, in predictable ways [1]. Our conceptions of time, space, objects, colors, and sounds are all conditioned by the ways we talk about them [2,3]. Our feelings and choices are shaped by peculiarities of the bodies we use to interface with the world. Left- and right-handers, for instance, may arrive at opposite decisions when presented with the same set of alternatives, as a consequence of the way they tend to use their “good” and “bad” hands [4].

Mitt Romney is the Deadbeat Dad of Health Care Reform. Not every change in values is accompanied by deep thoughts, existential angst and a bout of chain smoking. For some people major changes are like changing socks.

Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography.

Photo by Herb Ritts from the book, Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography


The Legend of the Scarecrow