Category: Science

Discover What the Solar System Looked Like on the Exact Day of Your Birth 

The solar system is in constant rotation, a notion that has taken us generations to understand, and just as long to track. This knowledge has impacted our understanding of time, mathematics, science, and religion, yet the universe is still one of our greatest mysteries. SpaceTime Coordinates brings a personalized depiction to the great expanse of space by calculating the exact position of the planets on the day of your birth.

Using NASA data and algorithms, the company computes the positions of the planets and dwarf planets to create custom prints that correspond with your unique position in the universe. No two dates provide the same planetary map.

“On any given date, the Solar System was organized in a singularly unique way – differently than any other day in history,” says founders govy and Martin Vézina. “Our mission is to provide you with the actual snapshot of the Solar System that corresponds to your most special day.”

Previously the company has created 3D-printed mementos cast in metal that display your planetary information. Now, the company has created minimal posters in dark blue, black, and white, and is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter as part of the website’s Projects of Earth series. You can view more samples of SpaceTime Coordinates’ designs on their website.

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Go See This Eclipse: A Scaled Simulation by Alex Gorosh 

In this new short film, director Alex Gorosh walks us through next week’s total solar eclipse and explains why it’s so important to see it. The mix of archival footage, scientific explanation, and a brief outdoor simulation to demonstrate scale similar to his 2015 video about the solar system, all make a compelling emotional argument that this eclipse shouldn’t be missed. Just make sure you’re prepared.

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The Phenomenon Of “Crown Shyness” Where Trees Avoid Touching 

Photo © Dag Peak. San Martin, Buenos Aires.

Crown shyness is a naturally occurring phenomenon in some tree species where the upper most branches in a forest canopy avoid touching one another. The visual effect is striking as it creates clearly defined borders akin to cracks or rivers in the sky when viewed from below. Although the phenomenon was first observed in the 1920s, scientists have yet to reach a consensus on what causes it. According to Wikipedia it might simply be caused by the trees rubbing against one another, although signs also point to more active causes such as a preventative measure against shading (optimizing light exposure for photosynthesis) or even as a deterrent for the spread of harmful insects. (via Kottke, Robert Macfarlane)

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MIT Developed a Fabric That Can Fold Into Origami-Like Shapes When Inflated 

MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group has created a system to fold materials into various origami shapes when inflated, turning specifically designed paper, plastic, and fabric into representations of swans, helixes, or other 3D figures with minimal human interaction. The project, aeroMorph, utilizes special software to program the geometry needed for each three-dimensional shape and exports the information as digital fabrication files. After this, specific markings are heat-sealed onto the provided material on a large robotic platform, allowing it to bend at specific joints when filled with a steady stream of air.

The creators believe aeroMorph could be applied to future wearables, toys, robotics, and automated packaging. You can see the results from several of the project’s self-folding experiments in the video below. (via Laughing Squid)

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A Photographer Captures the Unusual Way Sperm Whales Sleep 

© Franco Banfi / Licensed for use on Colossal

Photographer Franco Banfi and a team of scuba divers were following a pod of sperm whales when suddenly the large creatures became motionless and began to take a synchronized vertical rest. This strange sleeping position was first discovered only in 2008, when a team of biologists from the UK and Japan drifted into their own group of non-active sperm whales. After studying tagged whales the team learned this collective slumber occurs for approximately 7 percent of the animal’s life, in short increments of just 6-24 minutes.

The image, Synchronized Sleepers, was a finalist in the 2017 Big Picture Competition in the category of Human/Nature. You can see more of the Switzerland-based photographer’s underwater photography on his website and Instagram. (via kottke.org)

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A Neural Network Generates Surprisingly Elegant Images of Dinosaurs Composed of Plants 

Artist and writer Chris Rodley utilized a deep learning algorithm to create these really lovely illustrations of dinosaurs composed of plants. The images were generated with an online service called DeepArt that lets you upload a “target” image and then apply a visual style to it. For step one he fed the network images of common dinosaurs and then applied the styles of 19th-century fruit engravings and botanical illustrations. The results are a sort of 21st-century artificial intelligence channeling Giuseppe Arcimboldo. You can read a bunch more about all the technical mumbo jumbo over on Sploid. (via Kottke)

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