Hidden in plain site for eons, the oldest known musical composition…

A magical discovery! (This is definitely something that could inspire a novel..)




From Ancient Origins,


“It’s the song that ensured the stele would truly be an everlasting memorial because he didn’t just have the lyrics engraved, but rather also included the melody in ancient Greek musical notation.”


Song of Seikilos: Oldest Known Musical Composition Lay Hidden on a Flower Stand in Turkish Garden


“The Song of Seikilos is the oldest complete surviving music composition in the world engraved in a marble stele that served as a flower stand. The beautiful composition, also known as the ‘Seikilos epitaph’, dates from around the first or second century AD, and was inconspicuously being kept in the garden of a Turkish woman prior to its current placement in the National Museum of Denmark.


The Song of Seikilos was discovered carved on a marble column-shaped stele in Tralleis, near Ephesus in Turkey, in 1883. Although short in length, this piece of the past has remarkable historical value in its rarity as an artifact. It is not the oldest song in the world, which is attributed to a Sumerian hymn, but it is unique as the sole composition which has remained complete throughout history.


The song of Seikilos was originally engraved on a tombstone, a stele, accompanying the message ‘from Seikilos to Euterpe“, together with a poem. Most researchers seem to agree that the song was a dedication by a man, named Seikilos, to his wife, possibly named Euterpe, who had passed away.


There are two different translations of the poem but the message remains the same: enjoy life to the fullest because death will come for all of us. The first translated version of the poems reads as follows:…”


For the lyrics, more pictures, and even a resurrection of the song itself, click here.



Through the looking glass: The case against reality…

When reality is hard to swallow, remember, this scientist says that the world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality at all…




From The Atlantic,


The Case Against Reality
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
by Amanda Gefter


As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.


Not so, says Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction.


Getting at questions about the nature of reality, and disentangling the observer from the observed, is an endeavor that straddles the boundaries of neuroscience and fundamental physics. On one side you’ll find researchers scratching their chins raw trying to understand how a three-pound lump of gray matter obeying nothing more than the ordinary laws of physics can give rise to first-person conscious experience. This is the aptly named “hard problem.”…


For the rest, click here.


Frankenstein Birds: Bringing Back the Passenger Pigeon

We stumbled upon an article recently about the remains of a mammoth that is 15,000 years old, with evidence that Ice Age humans were involved in the kill. This puts the arrival of people in the Americas far earlier than was previously thought (you can read that piece here). The article reminded us that there are folks presently carrying out the work of de-extinction, and though mammoths are not (yet?) on the list for them, passenger pigeons are.


It’s a tricky subject, de-extinction. What if they decide to bring back a Neandertal? How will that out-of-place-and-time person be raised and nurtured? But these advances and ideas certainly do get the imagination stirring. Think of the possibilities.


Here’s some insight into who is doing this, and how — and a glimpse into one scientist’s love of the passenger pigeon…


From Nautilus,
The Case for Bringing Back the Passenger Pigeon
One geneticist’s quest to de-extinct what was once one of the world’s most abundant birds.

By David Biello


“North Dakota is not known for its pigeons. Or forests, for that matter. The state bird is the western meadowlark, a mellifluous yellow songbird often seen singing on fence posts. Such posts substitute for trees in much of North Dakota. The state is primarily covered in what was once short-grass prairie but is now mostly farms embedded in a human-made grassland, exceptions being the Badlands and a swath of boreal forest in the far north near Canada.


Yet it was near Williston, the heart of western North Dakota’s new boom-and-bust oil patch, that Ben Novak first fell in love with Ectopistes migratorius—the passenger pigeon, a bird that rarely graced this region, if ever.



Feathered Eclipse: There were once so many wild passenger pigeons that people were encouraged to hunt them—some said the flocks were so big they could block out the sun.Wikipedia


One day Novak, a precocious but solemn 13-year-old, found himself in the back of a Waldenbooks at the mall. It was there that he discovered the National Audubon Society’s Speaking for Nature: A Century of Conservation. Just 40 or so pages into that book is a picture of a museum display of stuffed birds, the male resplendent with a burnt umber chest and bluish-gray feathers on his head and back, the female more demure in mottled brown-and-gray. “At the beginning of the 19th century, there were perhaps three billion pigeons migrating north to nesting grounds in New England and the Great Lake States,” the book noted. “Early settlers commonly described flocks so immense that they blotted out the sun.”
By the end of the 19th century, the passenger pigeon, once perhaps the most abundant bird in the world, was extinct. Hunters enabled by the twin technologies of the telegraph and the train wiped out the passenger pigeon by traveling from site to site to supply markets hungry for meat in the burgeoning cities of eastern North America. On Sept. 1, 1914, the last passenger pigeon was found dead on the floor of her cage in the Cincinnati Zoo. The species was gone…”


For the rest, click here.


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