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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SEMantics and SEMiotics: A Lousy View from Different Perspectives

    Juxtaposing close-up views from a Scanning Electron Microsope (SEM) with views from space is this week's Partial Ellipsis of the Sun topic. Throw in some SEMantics or semANTICS and we've got some fun words to go with those images. And, a little venture into SEMiotics will round out today's blog.

     Firstly, guess what's in this SEM image:




    Hint: Hair is involved. Yes, it's a louse egg or nit clinging to a human hair. No wonder nit-picking takes so much focused time and energy!

     Here are eyelashes and human skin:




     How about this SEM image?



     It is an image of the surface of a strawberry.

     Lego brought up the surface of a tongue last week. Here's a human tongue in a SEM:





     And lastly,





    Any ideas? Hair? Fur? Origami? Fiber optics? Wild psychedelic drug images? 


     It's an SEM image of a caffeine crystal(!). . .which should provide enough energy to rocket into space via NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman to view this Pacific Coast sunset: 




    How about this image? Are we looking at a close-up of a spider on the right side of the image or is this an image of solar flares . . .or something else?  Not always easy to tell from what perspective you are seeing, is it?



     I promised semANTICS. Here you go:




    It's an SEM image of a wood ant with a microchip. Wonder what sort of semiotic message this image is sending? 

    According to Wikipedia "Semiotics is the study of meaning-making, the philosophical theory of signs and symbols. This includes the study of signs and sign processes of indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication. Semiotics is closely related to the field of linguistics, which, for its part, studies the structure and meaning of language more specifically. As different from linguistics, however, semiotics also studies non-linguistic signs and symbols."

       In semiotics news last month, New York state announced that is will be updating the handicapped symbol (and accompanying verbiage to read "Access") on signs to reflect a more active, moving person in a wheelchair. It's the first major symbol update in over 45 years:

Semiotic update to handicapped sign



        
       I'd relish hearing your perspective on these images and words from SEMantics to SEMiotics.

It's a small (and large) world after all.


Signed ;-),

Steph


(Word Woman)


Here's the mystery sign. What does it mean?


Semiotic shoes at the edge of the Blue Danube (see description in comments section from 08/06/14):







44 comments:

  1. Speaking of space:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/08/05/338094835/boil-burn-or-explode-how-you-die-in-space

    Don't miss the link in the article to Male Answer Syndrome (present blog company excepted, of course).

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  2. Very interesting topic! We've recently (i.e., within our lifetime) gotten to the point where we need to seriously consider the semiotics of communication with intelligent beings with whom we share very little of a frame of reference.

    For the past century, or so, we've been using the radio frequency spectrum for telecommunications, unintentionally broadcasting to anyone else in the universe as well. By the 1970s, we began thinking about using radiotelescopes to contact extraterrestrial intelligent life. Frank Drake & Carl Sagan sent the Arecibo message out into space. So far, no answer.

    Also, in the 1970s, we started launching space probes destined to leave the solar system, so the question arose of what to say to anyone who might come upon the spacecraft, and how to say it. Again, Carl Sagan was involved in developing the Pioneer plaques, and the Voyager Golden Records. Unfortunately, I could find no copyright-safe copies of Dave Barry's essay, "Bring Back Carl's Plaque", but if you Google it, you can find bootleg copies on a site in Serbia.

    Finally, for the last 60 years or so, we've been producing waste from nuclear power plants that will have to be kept away from people for tens of thousands of years. Part of the problem is "nuclear semiotics", i.e., signage to keep people away from the waste. A Rosetta stone might be useful.

    And, speaking of that, today the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft rendezvoused with comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. No word on how it was received by the natives...

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    1. So much interesting stuff out there. Thanks for connecting semiotics, space and searching for intelligent beings. The Arecibo message, including the components of DNA as well as a digital representation of DNA and a person, is interesting as to what we saw as important in the 70's. Numbers first!

      I found "Bring Back Carl's Plaque" and his billion billion billion discussion of Carl Sagan. His description of other beings thinking we walk around nude with H atoms all over the place is quite humerous. The hand up signal on the male figure could make other beings wonder if his arm is always up like that. The plaque made me miss the days when Pluto was a planet.

      The nuclear semiotics discussion was fascinating. Special chieftains who hold the knowledge, "nuclear flowers" with special DNA, certain colored cats--and quite important since written language 30,000 generations from now may well be so different.

      Last night, I almost included the image of a sign with a yellow swirly thing (It's there now). It highlights a problem with semiotics and signs--what the heck does that sign mean? Danger of some sort? What's the best way to say, in a sign, "Danger, danger, Will Robinson!"

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    2. That swirly thing is the international symbol for self-starting or remotely started equipment. In other words, be careful working on this equipment, because it may start up without you touching any controls.

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    3. Thanks, jan. I sensed danger but didn't know why or what. I know danger is often represented with the shape of a triangle, Why? I can see that there is much more to explore with semiotics. . .

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    4. I would like to think the sign means "Beware of rolling Satans".

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    5. David, that could be. . .

      How about one for Rumi's street "Whirling Dervish Ahead?"

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    6. I know what the swirly sign represents!

      Worlds or blogs swirling together:

      There's This is not Magritte's Pipe from a guru of Semiotics, Daniel Chandler over at Puzzleria.



      And then there's:

      Sabotage>>>sabot>>>wooden shoes >>>The Netherlands>>> answer over at Blaines, An Englishman Solves American Puzzles, and NPR

      It couldn't be Coincidence, could it?

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  3. There is a class at Smith titled "The Semiotics of Marie Antoinette's Body" which brought me to this Georgetown site and the embedded clip of clothing and shoes:

    https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/cctp-748-spring2013/2013/02/28/the-mythology-of-marie-antoinette-uwa/

    I had coincidently just seen this display (included above) of shoes with this description:

    THE SHOES ON THE DANUBE BANK, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

    "This memorial in Budapest created by Can Togay & Gyula Pauer memorializes the Jews killed by the fascist Arrow Cross during World War II. The shoes symbolize the victims who were forced to take off their shoes before being shot at the water’s edge."

    Quite the contrasting shoe semiotics. . .

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    1. Regarding shoes and political protest, if you're not familiar with the etymology of "sabotage", you may find it interesting to look it up.

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    2. Fascinating how things all tie together sometimes. Wooden you know it ?!

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  4. Your ant picture reminded me of the Cooties I played with as a kid. The term originally referred to lice (probably body lice rather than head lice), which is what your nit wanted to grow up to be before it was cut down (combed out?) in its youth.

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  5. I remember the game Cooties also. And those nits are tenacious!

    Somewhere I read a typo talking about getting rid of PUBLIC LICE ;-).

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    1. Haha! I am getting lice medication ads now on PEOTS. . .

      Which makes me wonder about the origin of nitwit. . .

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    2. "Public lice" are better than making a typo like this.

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    3. Well, coming full circle. . .if the shoe fits. . .

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  6. It's a field day in linguistics. Read about the magistral conga line and adjectival order...in a highly amusing 'SLATE' ARTICLE ABOUT BIG RED BARN VERSUS RED BIG BARN AND WHY THE SECOND ONE SOUNDS WRONG

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  7. A hexagonal hurricane on Saturn?

    "It’s always something on Saturn."

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  8. ... Speaking of which, here's another close match for your swirly warning sign.

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  9. Replies
    1. Very exciting. The photos of the comet tweeted today are quite amazing. Well done, Rosetta Team. What a day/decade!

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  10. This makes the semiotics much easier. If we put the nuclear waste in Loving County, TX, the warning signs just need a (rather unromantic) big, red (not red, big) heart in a circle with a slash through it.

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    1. Hmmmm. "Maybe we'll even get a Wal-Mart." and "We wouldn't be missed if something happened." I'm decidedly not Loving it. . .But I do like your semiotics, jan.

      Still shocked the Feds ever considered Yucca Mountain, NV, as a nuclear waste repository. They spent all that money to get it ready and decided not to use it after all. Semiotic? No, just idiotic!

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  11. Speaking of semiotics, all those old hieroglyphic bumper stickers that said, "ANKH IF YOU LOVE ISIS" just became uncomfortably ambiguous....

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    1. Sadly true.

      I am working on a semiotic unit for next week with the kids. Any ideas that spring to mind, fall into your head or summery experiments.

      Today we did a fireflies game with the kids flashing flashlights with Morse Code so we touched on semiotics a bit.

      Of course, they all have grown up in a cell phone and GPS world so the idea of needing to communicate with flashes of light is, how shall I say, "quaint!"

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    2. I studied fireflies in grad school. Each species in our area has a specific flash pattern. The males fly around flashing their species-specific flash, and the females in the grass respond with their species-specific flash. Except for Photuris versicolor. Those females behave in the usual way until they've mated. Then, they stop responding to conspecific males, but they start responding to Photinus pennsylvanica males, with a flash that mimics P. pennsylvanica females. She lures the males in, and eats them. A good high-quality protein meal for the egg-laying femme fatale.

      Good luck with the flashlights. I suggest a red filter. I built a computer-controlled artificial firefly, with LEDs and photomultiplier tube, to study this behavior, but, of course, under laboratory conditions, any given experimental subject is going to behave just as he damn well pleases. One of many reasons I left Bio and became a computer person.

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  12. Fascinating about fireflies and cannibalism (is there another word?). Pretty sophisticated way to get the meal to come to you.

    Do you have a photo of your artificial firefly? Quite curious. And a red filter sounds good . . .

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    1. It's not cannibalism if you're eating another species, though pigs and cows might beg to differ. Likewise, the aforementioned bushmeat, which is often even more closely related to us. Ditto, our cousin Neanderthals. No photo of the apparatus, which was just a Plexiglas enclosure with an LED and PM tube at the top, connected to a PDP-8/e.

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    2. Back to semiotics, it's curious that firefly larvae ("glow worms") also flash, with apparently different meaning. They don't mate, of course, being larvae, and don't seem to pay attention to each other's flash. In their case, it seems to be a warning to potential predators that they're noxious tasting. You can (if you're lucky) train a naive bird (I forget the species) in a lab to eat gelatin capsules filled with food, but after giving it one containing a firefly larva, it'll reject ones containing food and a flashing LED.

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    3. The bioluminescent animals or plants could solve the nuclear semiotics problem perhaps? Place them around the nuclear waste for a glowy warning!

      There are many animals that eat their own species. The damselfish sometimes eat their young; seems dam selfish ;-).

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  13. Since we are talking bugs:

    A scientist was complaining to a fellow scientist that her colony of fruit flies, for some unknown reason, had never mated in her glass enclosure. Given that her experiment required several generations to complete, this was causing quite a problem. The visiting scientist told her that he had experienced a similar problem at his lab and it resulted from the slick glass walls of the enclosure. Apparently the flies mate while crawling along the glass walls of the enclosure. "Your glass is too slick," he told her, "but I have just the remedy". The second scientist asked for a bottle of table salt and some flour and water. He mixed the concoction and brushed it on the glass walls. The flies began crawling along the surface and mated immediately.

    "My problem is solved," exclaimed the first scientist, "If only I had known that flies need
    monosodium glue to mate!!"

    Groan, groan, groan. . .

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    1. Time flies like an arrow, doesn't it, WW?

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    2. Do fruit bats, advertently or inadvertently, eat fruit flies?

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    3. ... And fruit flies like a banana.

      Speaking of veterinary fertility issues, you've heard of the herpetologist who couldn't get his snakes to reproduce until he built them a platform out of tree trunks, because it's easy for adders to multiply with a log table.

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    4. I absolutely refuse to say anything about windshield vipers. Not gonna do it; wouldn't be prudent!

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  14. Why is fruit flies like a banana funnier than fruit flies like a peach or fruit flies like an apple? Why is "banana" so inherently funny. . .

    Insects to snakes and back to insects. I went to "movie night" in the backyard of friend's last night. They set up 12' by 12' screen in front of their brick garage and project old movies with an 8 mm (?) projector to a crowd of 60 people and assorted dogs. We saw lots of shorts of the Andrews sisters, Liberace singing Easter Parade to his mom (worth a look), and the 1941 classic "Road to Zanzibar" with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour. Hysterical scenes from their safari of an ape wrestling with Bob Hope ("Fearless"), an octopus squirting Bing Crosby with ink, and Dorothy Lamour swimming and pretending to be mauled by wild African animals whilst watching Bob and Bing. Oh yes, the insects...moths and other bugs would fly into the light stream from the projector creating the illusion of fireflies. Not quite as good as the movie or shorts but a close second.

    And there were vipers too. . .

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    1. Dang autocorrect -- oughtnottocorrect friends'. . .

      Here's the Liberace Sings 'Easter Parade' to his mom video.

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    2. Your story of watching moths reminded me there's at least one species around that can detect the sonar pinging of the bats that prey on them, and when they do so, they drop into the grass to avoid getting eaten. I was told of a biologist who rigged an ultrasound generator to a rifle stock, and amuse friends sitting around in his back yard on summer evenings, sipping gin and tonics, by "shooting down" passing moths silently out of the sky.

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    3. That's awesome, jan. Wonderfully warped sense of humour. . .

      And banana peels slipped into my day coincidentally or non-coincidentally. Anyway, they're there in this short video about a 16-year-old girl from Istanbul who turns similar colored, non-bruised
      banana peels into a bioplastic.


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  15. Semiotics?
    Vince van Gogh? The high priest's servant with whom St. Peter had a run-in?
    LegoCycloticlops

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    1. I thought of Vincent too. . .I did not realize you were on a nickname basis with the artist though, Lego. You might have to conVince me of that. . .

      Welcome back!

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  16. Thank you, SS.

    Interestingly (to me, anyway), I was on a first-name basis with Vince van Lombardi also. But he made me call him “Vincent”. Whenever I slipped and called him “Vince,” he would clock me so hard that I would see stars stars, then lights out!

    LegoInvincentible

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