Monday, February 28, 2011

Real Life Ouroboros

So apparently there is a REAL LIFE OUROBOROS.  (This picture is actually of an armadillo lizard.
When they get scared they bit their tales so that they protect their soft underside. Still pretty cool)

If you don't know the Ouroboros is an ancient alchemical symbol dating as far back as  ~2400BC (it is described in the pyramid of UNAS  (~2375 BC), and visual being recorded in the egyptian book of the dead around ~1500 BC.  The idea is that life is cyclical and continually devouring and creating itself. For you computer science nerds, this should sound familiar as recursion.

Here is an old version from the Middle ages.

From the wikipedia entry, apparently the dude who discovered the structure of the Benzene said this about how he came up with the idea.
The new understanding of benzene, and hence of all aromatic compounds, proved to be so important for both pure and applied chemistry after 1865 that in 1890 the German Chemical Society organized an elaborate appreciation in Kekulé's honor, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first benzene paper. Here Kekulé spoke of the creation of the theory. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (this is a common symbol in many ancient cultures known as the Ouroboros).

Here is a BBC video on the Ouroboros (armadillo lizard)

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