What is laughter? What is laughter?

It is God waking up! O it is God waking up!

It is the sun poking its sweet head out

From behind a cloud

You have been carrying too long,

Veiling your eyes and heart.

It is Light breaking ground for a great Structure

That is your Real body – called Truth.

It is happiness applauding itself and then taking flight

To embrace everyone and everything in this world.

Laughter is the polestar

Held in the sky by our Beloved,

Who eternally says,

“Yes, dear ones, come this way,

Come this way towards Me and Love!

Come with your tender mouths moving

And your beautiful tongues conducting songs

And with your movements – your magic movements

Of hands and feet and glands and cells – Dancing!

Know that to God's Eye,

All movement is a Wondrous Language,

And Music – such exquisite, wild Music!”

O what is laughter, Hafiz?

What is this precious love and laughter

Budding in our hearts?

It is the glorious sound

Of a soul waking up!

by Hafiz
from I Heard God Laughing – Renderings
of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky

Is Family Dinner Overrated?

From Ann Meier and Kelly Musick in the NYTimes:

FamilydinnerDozens of studies in the past decade have found that teenagers who regularly eat dinner with their families are healthier, happier, do better in school and engage in fewer risky behaviors than teenagers who don’t regularly eat family dinners. These findings have helped give dinnertime an almost magical aura and have led to no small amount of stress and guilt among busy moms and dads.

But does eating together really make for better-adjusted kids? Or is it just that families that can pull off a regular dinner also tend to have other things (perhaps more money, or more time) that themselves improve child well-being?

More here.

Higgs boson rumours fly as Cern prepares to announce latest results

Alok Jha in The Guardian:

Simulated-collision-of-pr-008As soon as scientists at Cern revealed that they would host a seminar on 4 July to announce the latest results from its two main Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments, Atlas and CMS, physicists and bloggers started guessing. Would they announce the long-awaited discovery of the Higgs boson, a find that would be sure to trigger a raft of Nobel prizes and launch a new era of physics?

In December last year, Cern scientists glimpsed something that looked like it might be a Higgs boson in their data, but the results were not conclusive enough to be formally called a discovery. But now hopes are high.

“We now have more than double the data we had last year,” said Sergio Bertolucci, Cern's director for research and computing. “That should be enough to see whether the trends we were seeing in the 2011 data are still there, or whether they've gone away. It's a very exciting time.”

Even if the scientists next week report the signal for a new type of particle, it will take time to convince the scientific community that it is indeed the Higgs boson, or whether it is something else, perhaps something even more exotic that opens the door to new theories of physics.

More here.

The case for a world republic

Tad Daley in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

0804756325Lawrence Wittner's 2009 book, Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, has an overarching message that will surprise even nuclear policy experts, because Wittner starts with an incontrovertible historical fact almost wholly forgotten today: For several years after Hiroshima, the ultimate aspiration of the disarmament crowd was not just to eliminate nuclear weapons, but to create a federal republic of the world to control them. Though world government did not come to pass, the movement had a vital impact, from the Truman administration's first major nuclear initiatives through the Reagan years. Is democratic federal world government desirable and achievable? If not, is there an alternative world order that might eliminate war and standing militaries from the human condition? These sorts of questions are conspicuous only by their complete absence from the contemporary policy debate.

More here.

The Ultimate Counterfeiter Isn’t a Crook—He’s an Artist

David Wolman in Wired:

Ff_counterfeiter_fOn a bright May afternoon in 2007, a German artist and printmaker named Hans-Jürgen Kuhl took a seat at an outdoor café directly opposite the colossal facade of the Cologne Cathedral. He ordered an espresso and a slice of plum cake, lit a Lucky Strike, and watched for the buyer. She was due any minute. Kuhl, a lanky 65-year-old, had to remind himself that he was in no rush. He’d sold plenty of artwork over the years, but this batch was altogether different. He needed to be patient.

Tourists milled about the platz in front of the cathedral, Germany’s most visited landmark, craning their necks to snap pictures of the impossibly intricate spires jutting toward the heavens. Kuhl knew those spires well. He had grown up in Cologne and painted the majestic cathedral countless times.

On the other side of a low brick wall surrounding the café, Kuhl finally spotted her. Tall, blond, and trim, Susann Falkenthal looked about 30. As was the case during their previous meetings, she wore practical shoes, an unremarkable blouse and pair of pants, and little makeup. Kuhl thought her plain look was something of a contradiction for a businesswoman who drove a black BMW convertible, but no matter.

More here.