The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | The Rani of Stars

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G’day! I’ve finally finished  the image I’ve been working on, The Rani of Stars, and I’ve posted it below. May you all have a glorious Sunday and a happy week. I’ll try to do likewise, and of course for the cats.

It’s a cold and blustery winter here!


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Why Does Fallout’s Nuka-Cola Quantum Glow Blue? (Because Science!)

Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2016.02.06

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I’m listening as I type this to a fractal music piece, Eyesight, by Fractovia. What’s fractal music? It’s a series of musical tones generated to be self-similar, having roughly the same audible structure no matter the playing speed. It’s something I occasionally listen to, though it can sometimes sound random and even jarring and takes some getting used to at first.

This week, I’ve added a new page to this blog, one sorely needed, I regret since the creation of this site on December 28, 2008. It’s Reason & Purpose… and it lays out in broad terms what could be called this blog’s mission statement. I make no secret of my religious nonbelief, and there exists on this site previously posted material discussing religion or politics, but henceforth I’ll restrict that to scientific claims made by religious leaders and politicians, those that are in principle testable. The God question is, I believe, inherently unsolvable. As it is possible to conveniently define God in any way, even those ways that cannot be disproven, the issue can never be definitively affirmed or refuted by evidence, and so is outside the realm of science. And it is science, not religion or politics, which is one of the rightful foci of this blog. Believe or vote however you like. You will anyway.

Thus do I bring you this edition of the Astrophenia on a fine winter fortnight’s morning. There’s a chill in the air and the stars are out. I hope you’ve brought your viewing instrument of choice along for the ride.


Star Cluster R136 Bursts Out

Where Your Elements Came From

A Candidate for the Biggest Boom Yet Seen

An Airglow Fan from Lake to Sky

Elliptical M60, Spiral NGC 4647

Hidden Galaxy IC 342

A Five Planet Dawn

MWC 922: The Red Square Nebula

Find the Man in the Moon

Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta

Galaxy Wars: M81 versus M82

Dwarf Planet Ceres

Massive Stars in NGC 6357

Five Planets at Castell de Burriac

Image of the Week:

Image Credit: HubbleSite

Weekly Astrognuz:

China Shares Stunning New Moon Photos with the World

Smith Cloud due to collide with our galaxy in 27 million years.

“Creative Class” Featuring Jill Tarter

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Burns for Jupiter

50 Years ago We Got Our First Picture from the Moon

Images from Mars via Mars Express give a planetary overview.

Planet Nine: Are We Not That Special?

Small Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth March 5

Astronomy Cast Ep. 401: Predictions for 2016 and Beyond

Original Star Trek Enterprise model undergoing conservation.

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Skeptic Check: Glutenous Maximus

Six CubeSats with JPL Contributions Chosen for SLS Flight

A Cataclysmic Collision Formed the Moon, but Killed Theia

Climate change denier claims 2015 wasn’t the hottest year.

Airborne Asteroid Impact Chasers Release Findings On Space Junk Object WT1190F

Saturn’s Rings: Less Than Meets the Eye?

What Are Alien Megastructures?

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Ubi Dubium… | Toward a Better Understanding of the Schizophrenias


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Welp, this is an interesting development. We now have a considerably clearer understanding of one of the mechanisms behind schizophrenia, as a recent study published in Nature reveals. The authors of this large-scale study bringing together several lines of research, have identified a set of genes, particularly a variant of gene C4, C4A, involved in the culling, or pruning, of synaptic connections in the brain, and the findings were remarkable.

Particularly between the late teens and early twenties, the development of a normal brain involves some level of synaptic pruning as a means of increasing the efficiency of the brain’s operation, especially those neuronal connections that are seldom used.

I find this research particularly interesting because of my own personal history of schizophrenia. Anything that improves my understanding of this disorder, or more accurately, this class of disorders, is in my view a good thing. Insight and understanding have been two of the main tools in my ongoing recovery.

So, back to the study.

This particular gene variant results in an extraordinary rate of pruning of neuronal connections, in which synapses are so heavily deleted that many of the necessary connections in the adult brain are simply never established, resulting not just in delusional thinking and (in my case) hallucinations, but the cognitive issues many of us with the disorder experience.

I’m eager to see what direction further research will take.

It’s a monumental step nonetheless in understanding the process by which the illness develops. Schizophrenia is a complex family of disorders involving a interplay of mechanisms, with a strong genetic component, and it is highly heritable. It’s a class of illnesses that we now have a clearer understanding of. But I’m not pinning any (likely false) hopes on a cure from this.

To quote one of the collaborators of the study, neurology professor Beth Stevens of Boston Children’s Hospital,

“Now we have a path forward. We want to better understand how it’s working.”

 Ubi Dubium… gets its title from a Latin proverb, and the current tagline for this blog. It is a limited series of posts dealing with science, scientific skepticism, and the unruly twin dragons of pseudoscience and antiscience. Join me, if you will, on an exploration of science and reason, their borderlands, wastelands, and why a good understanding of both is crucial to living in this age of science and technology.

Fractals of the Week | Mandelboxosity, Mandelmonstrosity

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G’day! this morning, I present four images from recent experimentation using Mandelbulb 3d, all based on a custom preset which I’ve labelled MB3d55, each of them of distinct Julia sets with slight variation in the seed numbers used.

These seed numbers all derive from 3d spatial coordinates located on a Mandelbox figure, just as the ordinary Julia set in 2 dimensional fractals derives its seed numbers from a unique point in the base fractal set, often the Mandelbrot set, or other similar figures. In short, there is an infinite set of possible points, and so an infinite range of possible seed numbers.

It is these seed numbers that determine the resulting precise form of the figure. Each set is unique at any given level of magnification, with those of closer seed numbers bearing closer resemblance to each other.

The first three of today’s post are uploads to my DeviantART gallery, the fourth, a direct upload to WP at 1600 x 1200 pixels. May you have a great Wednesday, and an excellent week ahead! I’ll try to make the best of it…






All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via a variety of apps and unless otherwise stated are copyright 2016 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, as long as proper credit is given for them.

Gods of Terra | “The Rani of Stars” Drawing Project

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 22.42.41Caturday’s Astrophenia will be posted next week once the fortnight is over. This week, I’d like to mention an art project I’ve recently returned to.

I’ve gotten back to work on my Rani of Stars piece, having finished inking in the basic sketch with a new/old set of actual drawing pens instead of those awful ballpoints, with this as the result:


As you can see, I’ve inked the lines, her braid, and what will be her star-field “face” in the final image. As an avatar of the King of Shards intended to deal directly with humans without driving them insane, she looks almost, yet obviously not wholly human in her guise. I’ve transferred her file to Pixelmator for further work to be concluded next week, digitally filling her in and making the lines smoother and crisper, while painting in her star-field in detail.

Here she is, just before cyber-editing, in color and greyscale scans, ready for Pixelmator to do its vile work:

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I’ll also add stars to the black gems in her headpiece, and once that’s completed, the lines get better-defined as well. I’m really enjoying this, and I’m eager to see what may come of it. I’ll post her when she’s finished in all her alien glory.

Just be careful not to look to closely at her star-field, lest you be sucked in and sent to some dismal part of the universe! After all, staring at alien divinities can be rude…

Fractals of the Week | From the Bleeding Edge of Chaos

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 13.38.40G’day. This installment features some new wallpapers, uploaded directly to WP, from recently created custom presets. These were fun to create, and represent the use of hybrid formulas involving in some combination Mandelboxes and Mixpinski formulas.

I’m taking this week and next to practice on and consolidate my learning so far in Bengali, concluding the first semester of study in seven weeks after, then moving on to the next period of eighteen weeks. I’ll keep you updated as I make suitable progress. Right now I’m focusing on vocabulary and script practice by hand, working on my penmanship and writing speed.

But on my break periods between study, I’ve been creating scads of new presets for cool images to post, rebuilding old presets to newer and better ones, and working once again on a project I’ve just returned to as of yesterday; the completion of my first color portrait of my Gods of Terra character, the Rani of Stars. I’ve completed the first hand-inked drafts, and now have the digital file set aside for later and more extensive editing; the lines, some of the color, and adding the Rani’s star-field before posting the final image. I’m looking forward to getting back to it over the next few days.

So, here are the favorites of my collection for the week. Have fun with these, and as always…








All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via a variety of apps and unless otherwise stated are copyright 2016 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, as long as proper credit is given for them.