Archives for 2016

Need to Waste Time? Try These Mensa Puzzles (Scientific American)

puzzleHave a long trip ahead of you? Try solving these games, which Scientific American calls “Mensa puzzlers.”

Studio Tour: Art Professor Jackie Brown’s Biomorphic Sculptures

If the door to Jackie Brown’s studio happens to be open, and you glance in, you’ll see a vision that looks as if it could have been lifted from the pages of a fantastical children’s book.

In her studio in the Edwards Center colorful sculptures — some bulbous, others sinewy — appear to be growing from the floor and morphing as they climb. Mechanical looking arms jut out from the walls. Limbs made from lightly filigreed plastic arc over strange, squatting forms that look partly playful, partly gruesome.

Assistant Professor of Art Jackie Brown recently offered a brief tour of her studio, explaining that most of her current pieces derive from three different installations: “Surging Seepage,” “Brain Fruit,” and “Ignition Sequence.” She has combined the three installations into her current exhibit, “Mutated Growth.”

The World’s Busiest, and the Most Efficient, Languages (The Atlantic)

Parts-of-Speech“Languages are strikingly different in the level of detail they require a speaker to provide in order to put a sentence together,” linguist John McWhorter writes for The Atlantic.

The busiest language is perhaps Kabardian, which is spoken in the Caucasus. Here you can’t just say, “the men saw me.” You also have to reiterate in the verb form for ‘saw’ that it is you who is being seen, when the seeing took place, that the seeing is more significant to you than to the men or anyone else, that the seeing was done by more than one person, and finally that you really mean what you are saying.

In contrast, the most economical language might be the Riau dialect in Sumatra. Its phrase, “the chicken is eating,” can also mean the chickens are eating, a chicken is eating, the chicken will be eating, the chicken eats, the chicken has eaten, someone is eating the chicken, someone is eating for the chicken, someone is eating with the chicken, etc.

McWhorter says that as a language becomes more widely spoken, it gets stripped down and simplified. “Because all languages are, to some extent, busier than they need to be, this streamlining leaves the language thoroughly complex and nuanced, just lighter on the bric-a-brac that so many languages pant under,” he writes.

Faludi’s ‘In the Darkroom’ Recognized as One of New York Times 10 Best Books of 2016

Susan Faludi

The New York Times has recognized Susan Faludi’s In the Dark Room as one of the 10 Best Books of 2016. In her book, Faludi—research associate, former Tallman Scholar in Gender and Women’s Studies, and winner of 2016 Kirkus Prize for nonfiction—describes her relationship with her father as he undergoes gender reassignment surgery. Read more.