A great light has gone out.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

ADDED: I’m reminded of this quote by Picasso – it describes Jobs just as well:

When I die, it will be a shipwreck, and as when a huge ship sinks, many people all around will be sucked down with it.

Taking pictures of vibrating molecules

Scientists at UC Berkeley have used an advanced laser spectroscopy technique to image the vibration of a molecule as it absorbs a photon:

Femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy on GFP involves hitting the protein molecule with an approximately 80 femtosecond pulse of ultraviolet light, which excites many vibrational modes in the molecule, and then a one-two punch of picosecond red and femtosecond white light to stimulate Raman emission. The spectrum of emitted signals tells researchers the vibrational modes of various parts of the molecule. If the molecule is in the middle of a reaction, the emitted light at different time delays tells the researcher the various steps the molecule goes through during the reaction. “Now, we can get very, very high resolution structure down to 10-25 femtoseconds,” Mathies said.

That’s femtoseconds, with an ‘f’. Wild!

Image credit: Renee Frontiera & Chong Fang/UC Berkeley

Image credit: Renee Frontiera & Chong Fang/UC Berkeley