Nature Biotechnology 31, 125 (2013). doi:10.1038/nbt.2499
Author: Markus Elsner
Nature Biotechnology 31, 175 (2013). doi:10.1038/nbt.2505
Author: Michael Francisco
I rettori delle Università di Trieste e di Udine, Francesco Peroni e Cristiana Compagno, hanno incontrato una delegazione del Partito Democratico, composta dai candidati alle prossime elezioni nazionali. L’incontro - chiesto a suo tempo dai candidati - si è svolto presso l’Università di Trieste e ha avuto ad oggetto i problemi e le prospettive del sistema universitario regionale, nella proiezione della nuova legislatura.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
With the discovery of the Higgs boson or something very like it under its belt, the world’s most powerful particle collider is ready to take a well-earned rest. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will shut down on 11 February ahead of around two years of upgrade work.[More]
When Landsat 5 fell silent on 6 January, scientists across the globe mourned its passing but gave thanks for its fortitude. The satellite had lasted a record-breaking 28 years, snapping images of the changing planet from melting glaciers to burning rainforests, while its successors faltered. Landsat 6 failed during launch and Landsat 7, at 13 years old, is partially blind and has limited fuel. With the passing of Landsat 5, the future of the world’s longest-running -- and perhaps most influential -- set of data on global change rests with Landsat 8, which is scheduled to launch next week from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.[More]
Have you heard the story of the good sister and the bad sister? When they leave home, the good sister is kind to the people and animals she meets, and is rewarded in gold. The bad sister is haughty and greedy, and is rewarded with a box of snakes.[More]
Pregnant women who have been exposed to higher levels of some types of air pollution are slightly more likely to give birth to underweight babies, a large international study has found. The results are published online today in Environmental Health Perspectives .[More]
If Siri gets more powerful people will have little use for many apps.
A job ad posted by Apple for a UI engineer to work on Siri nicely summarizes the potential of its virtual assistant, and Google’s closest equivalent, Google Now, to redefine how we use mobile devices:
The vengeful woman was a staple of Greek tragedy. But what was once done in the name of drama is being recast as an ugly political spectator sport
Aeschylus would have had a ball with the Chris Huhne-Vicky Pryce story as presented over the past few days. The spurned wife determined to have revenge on her husband. The angry son furious with his father's behaviour. The way an all-encompassing tragedy envelops the entire cast. It is an Oresteia for political obsessives and motoring enthusiasts.
"I really want to nail him, and I would love to do it soon," Pryce allegedly wrote in an email to the Sunday Times political editor, Isabel Oakeshott. According to evidence presented this week by the prosecution in Pryce's trial, she and Oakeshott concocted a plan to trap Huhne into admitting responsibility for the speeding offence that triggered this modern tragedy. "Her revenge in the end was to pass the story of the 2003 [speeding] points to the newspaper so they would publish it and destroy his political career," claimed prosecutor Andrew Edis QC.
We have yet to hear Pryce's defence (and the whole story might be very different), though she will be claiming "marital coercion" over taking the points that should have gone to Huhne. However, the narrative of a visceral desire to destroy her husband's career because he had left her for another woman is more compelling than the legal technicalities. Revenge was the mainspring of Greek drama, and a persistent theme for Jacobean dramatists. "If you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" demanded Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, against which Portia pits the quality of mercy, "an attribute to God himself". Shylock is ultimately denied his revenge, though Portia's mercy proves to be decidedly strained. For all her honeyed words, gentile society has its revenge on Shylock the Jew for his uppityness.
One recoils from the desire for revenge – primitive notions of "an eye for an eye" are not an appealing basis for law. And while, at the individual level one can of course understand it, the evolution of "civilised" society has been concerned with replacing instant retribution by the wronged party with a less bloodthirsty form of justice mediated by the state.
Shakespeare and his fellow dramatists were reflecting themes that preoccupied philosophers in the early modern period: what constituted justice and how could it be achieved? Francis Bacon, a contemporary of Shakespeare's, called revenge "a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out". Bacon advised would-be avengers to overcome their instincts, not just because that was the moral way to behave but because it was in their interests too. "A man that studieth revenge," he wrote, "keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well."
The vengeful woman has become a cliche. (The Greeks started it: Medea, abandoned by Jason, kills not just his lover but her own children. Electra is pathologically obsessed with killing her mother Clytemnestra to avenge the murder of her father Agamemnon.) There are dozens of examples of women in the public eye, or whose partners are in the public eye, who seek revenge. When Robin Cook left his wife, Margaret, she wrote a book detailing his alleged infidelities and heavy drinking. When the then Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik split with his weather-presenter fiancee Siân Lloyd in 2006 and succumbed to the charms of Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia – he called it a "meeting of minds" – Lloyd wasted little time in rubbishing Opik. "I regard our break-up as my lucky escape," she said. "It is just a huge relief to be out of that relationship. He's a fool when he's in love and totally oblivious to the damage he is doing to his reputation."
Journalist Maria Shriver reportedly took revenge on her former husband Arnold Schwarzenegger by leaking material on his infidelity and the child he had fathered with his mistress. Lady Sarah Moon avenged herself on her straying husband by cutting up his designer suits, covering his car with paint, and leaving much-prized bottles from his wine cellar on their neighbours' doorsteps. Princess Diana exacted her revenge for her failed marriage in a gripping TV interview watched by 15 million people. More stomach-churningly, there are those stories that periodically appear about women who cut off the penises of their unfaithful husbands, which is taking an eye for an eye to extremes.
Revenge may be a properly Darwinian response, but it is also unseemly. The lust for revenge plays into a male-constructed narrative of wronged women unable to cope with their emotional pain without getting their own back. In the wake of the Shriver-Schwarzenegger bust-up, there was a spate of articles about her "beach body revenge" when she was photographed on Cape Cod "showing off her remarkably flawless figure in a black halterneck swimsuit", as the Daily Mail put it, as if she was sunbathing just to make a point about the collapse of her marriage.
Vengeful women cease to have an independent existence; they are merely refracted through the prism of the man who has done them wrong. What purports to be an expression of independence is, in reality, a further form of enslavement. You show the world how much you have been hurt. Revenge is not a dish best served cold, but put into the deep freeze and forgotten about. "Silence", as Chesterton pungently put it, "is the unbearable repartee."
Psychological studies have shown that revenge gives the perpetrator a brief high – in the short term, it seems, revenge is indeed sweet – but that the feeling rarely lasts. "Taking revenge generally has a low chance of being satisfying for the avenger," says Mario Gollwitzer, a social psychologist at the University of Marburg in Germany. He argues that revenge only works when the wrongdoer signals that the act of vengeance had made its point. In real life, that will rarely be the case. The relationship is likely already to be unsalvageable; also there is no guarantee that the wrongdoer has really got the message and that the offending behaviour will not be repeated. All the avenger is left with is a sense that some retributive pain has been inflicted, but that is rarely enough.
"Research shows that people expect to feel better [after exacting revenge]," says Gollwitzer, "but they don't. Taking revenge leaves them with an empty feeling." Would he seek to avenge himself if someone crossed him? "I would definitely want revenge," he admits, "but I would also have to limit myself." He suggests trying to make your point in what he calls an "aesthetic fashion" – cutting up a designer suit, perhaps, rather than destroying a career. Take the Götterdämmerung option, and the danger is that everyone gets burned. As Bacon says, "Vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate."Stephen Moss