Science

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Photography Science

Frost Flowers Blooming in the Arctic Ocean are Found to be Teeming with Life

December 11, 2012

Christopher Jobson

These beautiful and other-worldly photographs of ice were taken last year by University of Washington graduate student Jeff Bowman and his professor Jody Deming while they worked on a study combining oceanography, microbiology, and planetary sciences in the central Arctic Ocean as part of the Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program. Their single focus was the study of frost flowers, a strange phenomenon where frost grows from imperfections in the surface ice amid extreme sub-zero temperatures nearing -22C or -7.6F, forming spiky structures that have been found to house microorganisms. In fact, the bacteria found in the frost flowers is much more dense than in the frozen water below it, meaning each flower is essentially a temporary ecosystem, not unlike a coral reef. Via IGERT:

Around their research icebreaker in the central Arctic Ocean new ice grows on long open cracks that network amongst the thick floes of pack ice. Abruptly the surface of this new ice changes texture. The cold, moist air above the open cracks becomes saturated and frost begins to form wherever an imperfection can be found on the ice surface. From these nucleation points the flower-like frost structures grow vertically, quickly rising to centimeters in height. The hollow tendrils of these “frost flowers” begin to wick moisture from the ice surface, incorporating salt, marine bacteria, and other substances as they grow. The fog dissipates and the Arctic sun lights the surface of the frost flowers, initiating a cascade of chemical reactions. These reactions can produce formaldehyde, deplete ozone, and actually alter the chemical composition of the lower atmosphere. […] Bowman and Deming have discovered that bacteria are consistently more abundant in frost flowers than in sea ice. Since microscopic pockets in sea ice are known to support an active community of psychrophiles (cold-loving microorganisms), even in the coldest months of the year, these results are encouraging.

Bowman and Deming are currently building an ultra-clean chamber where they can grow artificial frost flowers and hope that their research leads to a better understanding of how life might be able to survive in extreme conditions elsewhere in the universe. Amazing! Photos by Matthias Wietz. (via the daily what)

 

 



Science

Isaac Newton vs. Rube Goldberg: A Gravity-Defying Chain Reaction

December 5, 2012

Christopher Jobson

It’s been a while since we’ve had a quality Rube Goldberg device here on Colossal and it appears the folks over at Toronto-based 2D House have stepped up to the challenge. Isaac Newton vs. Rube Goldberg is an extremely slick chain reaction aided by magnets and all matter of visual trickery. Just watch, try to guess which way is up, and have your mind blown. 2d House has also produced a number of other Rube Goldberg devices which you can see here. (via colossal submissions)

 

 



Design Science

100,000 Stars: An Interactive Exploration of the Milky Way Galaxy

November 15, 2012

Christopher Jobson

100,000 Stars is a new experiment for Chrome web browsers (or any other WebGL browser like Firefox or Safari) that lets you interactively explore the Milky Way galaxy with your mouse and scroll wheel. I found it to be a bit more cumbersome on my laptop trackpad so if you’re in the same position click the ‘Take a Tour’ button for a pretty lovely demo. (via the awesomer)

 

 



Art Science

Layered MRI Self-Portraits Engraved in Glass Sheets by Angela Palmer

October 25, 2012

Christopher Jobson

Artist Angela Palmer creates ipeccably detailed three-dimensional views of CT and MRI scans using multiple sheets of vertically layered glass. Just as magnetic fields are used to carefully image layer after layer of internal biological structures inside humans and animals, Palmer etches these same scans into layers of glass. She says her inspiration for these works is a lifelong fascination with maps and visual topographies.

I have always loved maps. The process of investigating and visualizing topographies, natural forms and landscapes, and then producing them in a form which captures their essence is endlessly fascinating and satisfying. This desire to ‘map’ is at the core of my work, whether it be the internal architecture of the human head or the physical geography of the planet. Peeling back the layers to expose the hidden natural world is a recurring theme, in this context I have appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to work with scientists in every conceivable discipline, from radiologists and botanists, to engineers specialising in bio-fluidics, to dust-mite and spider experts, veterinary scientists, paediatric dentists and specialists in ancient Egyptian dyes.

If you’d like to see more of her work Palmer had a show earlier this year at Waterhouse & Dodd and you can also check out her online gallery.

 

 



Science

A Tornado of Fire Filmed in Australia by Chris Tangey

October 1, 2012

Christopher Jobson

I’ve been traveling a bit so I’m a bit late to this as I know it’s been on a lot of news outlets lately. Regardless, filmmaker Chris Tangey shot this incredible footage of a ‘fire devil’ near Alice Springs, Australia on September 11th. In the unedited, raw footage recently provided by Tangey you can watch as the tornado—which is technically more of a dust devil—towers over 100 feet (30 meters) high. The Huffington Post explains that while footage like this is rare, these vortices of fire are actually pretty common.

 

 



Science

Guerilla Creative Collective ‘Kut’ Brings Unexpected Weather to the Streets of Riga

August 29, 2012

Christopher Jobson

A Latvian group that goes by the name Kut who describes themselves as “a creative collective consisting of filmmakers, musicians, artists, politicians and cats,” recently undertook an action on the streets of Riga called “Oh Joy!” where the group brought nature to the city and made the weather change unexpectedly. Aside from the few “Oh dear god what is this stuff all over me” moments, it looks like most people enjoyed it quite a bit. Love the editing. (via vimeo)

 

 



Science

New Interpolated HD Video of Curiosity Mars Rover Descent Depicts Real-Time Landing

August 26, 2012

Christopher Jobson

I’ve seen several different videos of Curiosity’s descent down to the Mars, and while incredible because of what they depict, none approached the frame-rate we might normally expect from an actual film. Using footage provided by NASA, Reddit user Godd2 just spent the last four days on behalf of all humankind creating a stunning interpolated HD version of the descent. In layman’s terms interpolation involves taking a choppy video, in this case NASA’s 4 frames-per-second video, and rendering the “missing” frames in between resulting in an incredibly smooth 25 frames-per-second video. This is, I believe, the closest approximation ever of what it might feel like to land on another planet in real time using actual footage. Amazing. Here it is on YouTube.