Monday, November 25, 2013

Philosophy course

mary adam christmas card 1 2013Just finished the last quiz in the Introduction to Philosophy course I've been doing, and watched the last lecture earlier today. There's an optional essay as well. I learned a lot from it, including what philosophy is, which (it turns out) is not quite what I had thought. I'm glad I did it, wish I'd done something along those lines years ago. It's like necessary orientation in any field of study. I will take some time to assimilate it. Meanwhile, I've signed up for another Coursera/University of Edinburgh course next year in the Philosophy of Science which was by far the most interesting section for me and I'd like to follow it up (aesthetics was not covered).

I think we had the same professor with steam punk goggles as A.J. Jacobs in the article linked below (from the New York Times, 21/4/13), an opinion on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). My previous experience of online learning in my art degree resembled his in many ways.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A new mother

This is nice ...



Newsletter #3 went out yesterday. If you are subscribed and you haven't received it, it may have gone into your spam folder or the "Promotions" tab in gmail. Feedback welcome.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Notes on a small caterpillar

Notes about the frangipani flower
and the caterpillar (c) Mary Adam
On an afternoon a few months ago, I brought a sprig of frangipani inside to look at it more closely. I used a loupe placed over it which gave me approx 3-4X magnification. That's when I saw a little caterpillar which had been carried in on the stem of the flower. It was no more than 1 cm long. It was walking along the stem towards the flower. I looked at it through the loupe -- it was still just a little caterpillar except the loupe made it bigger and easier to see. Suddenly the stem shook slightly. The little caterpillar drew back in alarm, startled, just as I might jump at an unexpected sound. There was something extraordinary about that movement. It could have been any animal. In some ways it was uncannily like a human reaction. Maybe it was the fact of witnessing it through the loupe that made it so vivid and human-like. Just a little 1 cm caterpillar. A while later it munched through the yellow pollen of the frangipani flower and after that I put it back in the garden. 

I have tried to estimate the approximate relative sizes of a small caterpillar and a human being. I can't guarantee the following calculation is correct as maths is not my best subject so please let me know if there's a mistake:


Caterpillar weighs  0.3 gm

Human being weighs 60 kg = 60,000 gm

60,000 divided by 0.3 = 200,000

Therefore a human being is about 200,000 times bigger than a caterpillar.

What would be 200,000 times the size of a human being?

60 Kg x 200,000

= 12,000,000 Kg -- twelve million Kg = 12,000 tons -- a large liner?

(10,000 tons = 10 million kg)

Therefore, 1 ton = 1000 kg

A ton is 2000 lbs (1000 kg).

A car weighs a ton, also an elephant.

12000 tons = 12000 cars.

Or 12000 elephants.

It's difficult to imagine that size difference.

Caterpillars have about 4,000 muscles (the human being has only 629). They move through contraction of the muscles in the rear segments, pushing the blood forward into the front segments elongating the torso. The average caterpillar has 248 muscles in the head segment alone.
Caterpillars do not have good vision. They have a series of six tiny eyelets or 'stemmata' on each side of the lower portion of their head. These can probably form well focused, but poorly resolved images (Scoble 1995). They move their heads from side to side probably as a means of judging distance of objects, particularly plants. They rely on their short antennae to help them locate food.
Some caterpillars are able to detect vibrations, usually at a highly specific frequency. Caterpillars of the common hook-tip moth, Drepana arcuata (Drepanoidea), produce sounds to defend their silk nests from members of their own species, by scraping against the leaf in a ritualized acoustic duel (Yack et al. 2001). They detect the vibrations conducted by the plant and not air-borne sounds. (New World Encyclopedia)
I should have mentioned that the Frangipani is the host plant for the Frangipani Horn Moth. I don't think the small caterpillar was one of those because the Horn Moth caterpillars are orange and black with yellow stripes and are very fierce looking. I have a photo somewhere...

Caterpillar of Pseudosphinx tetrio, the Frangipani Hornworm Moth,
my not-very-good photo 

There are better photos of both caterpillar and moth in the Wikipedia article --

Monday, November 4, 2013


White, acrylic on deep-edge canvas, 10 x 8" (c) Mary Adam
One of my paintings has received an award in an international online art exhibition. "White", a still life (above), received a "Special Recognition" award in the Light Space & Time Open Exhibition November 2013 in the "Painting and Other" category. I didn't expect it and am thrilled.

The ASTT Art Market 2013

The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago is hosting an art market on Saturday 21 December, 2013 at their headquarters in Federation Park. This is the first time they're doing it. I will have a space (a table) and will have small paintings, linocuts and silkscreens on offer. It should be a pleasant affair amid all the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle so do please drop in.

Click to enlarge

Newsletter #3

My next newsletter will be going out within the next two weeks. If you are not already a subscriber and would like to be, please click here.

Introduction to Philosophy

A free 7-week course by the University of Edinburgh via Coursera. It's something of an eye-opener, not what I expected. So far am glad I signed up. It has changed my thinking in some ways. More when it finishes (it's just over half-way through).