Philadelphia Museum of Art

“But he wanted to see the blue hour spread over a magnificent facade, and imagine that the cab horns, playing endlessly…”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald, Babylon Revisited

Logan Circle

“The blue hour is an oft-poeticized moment of the day – a lingering twilight that halos the sky after sundown but before complete darkness sets in. It is a time of day known for its romantic, spiritual, and ethereal connotations, and this magical moment has frequently inspired artists to attempt to capture its remarkable essence.”
~Jake Wallace, on Mackey’s Hymn to a Blue Hour

New York City rooftop

“It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattly-bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer — I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise… And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper –Rhapsody, from beginning to end. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness.”
~George Gershwin on Rhapsody in Blue

“And drowned in yonder living blue
The lark become a sightless song”


medical image expertise

“Given our lifelong experience moving about the world from one visual scene to another, we are all expert scene processors. A growing body of research has shown that, just as radiologists may be able to categorize a chest radiograph in the blink of an eye, humans in general can categorize real scenes after exposures as short as 0.025 seconds.”

Seattle mountains

“Real-world scenes and medical images are structured… any account of visual search in scenes, be they natural scenes or medical images, will require an account of how the scene structure information can guide the search.”

bleeding sky

“Before becoming board certified, a radiologist undergoes years of intensive training that involves ready many thousands of images… However, an important consequence of training is to teach radiologist trainees that some areas are more likely to contain a lesion than others. Thus, while eye movement recordings suggest that novice radiologists search in a relatively haphazard fashion when looking for lung nodules, experienced radiologists tend to exhibit more concise eye movements, with fewer fixations needed to extract more information.”

bamboo sculpture

“Trained radiologists were asked to detect abnormalities on chest radiographs after viewing each image for just 200 msec. Performance was well above chance (70% correct)… Experts tend to fixate the malignancy or other item of interest soon… long before their attention would be expected to reach those sites… Expert radiologists tend to have more efficient eye movement scan paths than novices. Relative to experts, novices tend to show more fixations and saccades and more coverage of the total image and to arrive at the abnormality later.”


“Radiologists… are being asked to process an every-increasing number of images in the same amount of time. It is now more important than ever to understand how to transform a novice into an expert who can process this flood of images efficiently and effectively… To become an expert radiologist, one has to attain a level of expertise in both explicit medical knowledge and more implicit perceptual knowledge.”

raindrops on bamboo leaf

-From Drew et al, 2013

the stars and stripes forever

This Independence Day, we celebrate the various ways you too can display your brimming-over patriotic pride.

The imposing, iconic US Capitol:

Flags on the Potomac at sunset:
[Georgetown Harbor]

Or embrace your cutting-edge originality by avoiding generic tourist shot:

Volunteer to reenact a key battle in American history. By all means, with much gusto and enthusiasm!
[Harper’s Ferry, WV]

You may be paying a visit the epitome of American cities, The Big Apple

Where, in true American fashion, you can buy organic coffee from hippie trucks:
[Greenwich Village]

Or, if that’s not to your liking, literally jump ship to Canada
[border of upstate NY and our aforementioned northern neighbor]

Yay piccolo solo [1:50]!

Not exactly me under Leonard Bernstein’s baton right there, but oh, have I lived and have I loved. Yay America!

portraits of genius

In a recent Wired magazine post, neuroscientist/journalist Jonah Lehrer asks, “Where have all the geniuses gone?” Lehrer, a Columbia University grad and a Rhodes Scholar, posits that perhaps we have become less talented.

“Oh no!” you think. “Not in the grand era of American ingenuity!”

It turns out that the idea stemmed from Gideon Rachmann’s column in the Financial Times. If you look at the dominating list of great thinkers in history, it appears to trump those of today. In 1939, for example, Einstein, Keynes, TS Eliot, Picasso, Freud, Gandhi, Orwell, Churchill, Hayek, and Sartre were in their prime. Can you think of their modern-day contemporaries?

Rachmann and Lehrer acknowledge that it is unfair to judge without the perspective of historical distance. Moreover, many fields – science especially – are increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary, thus why the most prominent studies published in the top journals are by a cohort of authors, and not single ideas championed by individual thinkers, as in the case of Freud’s theories or Darwin’s On the Origins of Species, etc.

Moreover, the “complexity of our 21st century problems” requires a thinker to master the field – which takes years upon years and is ongoing – before he or she can create new knowledge. Thus, while it was the case that da Vinci was most prolific in his 20s, nowadays, the average age for a Principal Investigator to receive his or her first grant is hovering around 40.

The era of the “lone genius” is coming to an end, Lehrer concludes. Lincoln, being hounded here by the paparazzi here circa summer 2009, is becoming an anomaly.

Shakespeare, sitting here outside of the Carnegie Museums, watches hundreds of bright young minds rush past him on Forbes Avenue…

As individuals, we find small moments of introspection…

… and cherish the opportunity to learn from mentors…

… to learn an art, which may be regarded as “virtuosic” …

… or encounter beautiful situations that challenge our traditional notion of “genius” and “virtuoso” …

“I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.”
— Oscar Wilde