Science

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Art Science

An Enormous ‘E.coli’ Floats Through the National Museum of Scotland at 5 Million Times Its Actual Size

August 10, 2022

Kate Mothes

“E.coli”. All images © Luke Jerram. Photo by Neil Hanna, courtesy of the artist and National Museum of Scotland

In the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, an enormous single-cell organism floats among the Victorian iron colonnades of the cavernous Grand Gallery. Bristol-based multidisciplinary artist Luke Jerram often explores the nature of scale and perception in his pieces (previously), and the latest installation of his inflatable sculpture “E.coli,” which has been displayed in locations around the U.K., spans 90 feet, representing the bacterium at 5 million times its actual size. (If humans were to scale up just as enormously, they would be about 5.5 miles tall!)

Escherichia coli (known as E.coli) is a group of mostly beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines of animals and humans. Some types can occasionally cause severe illness, usually transmitted on food. Jerram’s sculpture prompts visitors to re-examine their relationship with “germs,” elevating and celebrating the importance of bacteria for both health and science.

“E.coli” is on view as part of Edinburgh Art Festival through August 31. You can find more of Jerram’s work on his website.

 

Photo by Luke Jerram

Photo by Luke Jerram

Photo by Neil Hanna

 

 



Science

The First Video of an Extremely Rare Jellyfish Captures Its Striped Tentacles and Spotted, Pulsing Body

August 2, 2022

Grace Ebert

There have been only two documented sightings of the elusive Chirodectes maculatus, a large, soccer ball-sized jellyfish with distinct spotted markings, the second of which was captured late last year by divers from Scuba Kavieng. In what is believed to be the first recording, the video shows the extremely rare animal, which has four clusters of striped tentacles, rings covering its body, and a pulsing patch of red on its bell that’s likely a digestive cavity, as it swims near the coast of Papua New Guinea.

Researchers first encountered the specimen in 1997, although they didn’t officially designate it as a unique genus until 2005. According to Vice, most jellyfish of this kind are recognizable for their boxy bodies and venom, although the Chirodectes maculatus seems to be lacking that poisonous characteristic.

 

 

 



Art History Illustration Photography Science

A New Book Plunges into the Vast Diversity of the World’s Oceans Across 3,000 Years

July 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Carl Chun, Polypus levis, from Die Cephalopoden (1910–15), color lithograph, 35 × 25 centimeters. Image from the Biodiversity Heritage Library/Contributed by MBLWHOI Library, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Library, Massachusetts. All images © Phaidon, shared with permission

Despite thousands of years of research and an unending fascination with marine creatures, humans have explored only five percent of the oceans covering the majority of the earth’s surface. A forthcoming book from Phaidon dives into the planet’s notoriously vast and mysterious aquatic ecosystems, traveling across the continents and three millennia to uncover the stunning diversity of life below the surface.

Spanning 352 pages, Ocean, Exploring the Marine World brings together a broad array of images and information ranging from ancient nautical cartography to contemporary shots from photographers like Sebastião Salgado and David Doubilet. The volume presents science and history alongside art and illustration—it features biological renderings by Ernst Haekcl, Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock prints, and works by artists like Kerry James Marshall, Vincent van Gogh, and Yayoi Kusama—in addition to texts about conservation and the threats the climate crises poses to underwater life.

Ocean will be released this October and is available for pre-order on Bookshop. You also might enjoy this volume devoted to birds.

 

NNtonio Rod (Antonio Rodríguez Canto), Trachyphyllia, from Coral Colors, (2016). Image © NNtonio Rod

Jason deCaires Taylor, “Rubicon” (2016), stainless steel, pH-neutral cement, basalt and aggregates, installation view, Museo Atlántico, Las Coloradas, Lanzarote, Atlantic Oceanl. Photo courtesy of the artist

Christian Schussele and James M. Sommerville, Ocean Life, (c.1859), watercolor, gouache, graphite, and gum arabic on off-white wove paper, 48.3 × 69.7 centimeters. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Duke Riley, #34 of the Poly S. Tyrene Maritime Collection (2019), salvaged, painted plastic bottle, 30.5 × 18.4 × 7.6 centimeters Image courtesy of Duke Riley Studio

Nicolas Floc’h, Productive Structures, Artificial Reefs, -23m, Tateyama, Japan, (2013). Image © Nicolas Floc’h

 

 



Art Science

Bees Wrap Ava Roth’s Intricately Beaded and Embroidered Motifs in Golden Honeycomb

July 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Beaded Circle,” encaustic, Japanese paper, glass beads, thread, natural honeycomb, local Ontario maple frame, 17.5 x 17.5 inches. All images © Ava Roth, shared with permission

Seasons and the natural rhythms of bees determine much of Ava Roth’s practice, which hinges on collaborating with the fuzzy pollinators. The Ontario-based artist (previously) stitches elaborate embroideries with beads and intricate thread-based motifs that, once her contribution is complete, she turns over to her insect counterparts. The critters then finish the mixed-media pieces by embedding them in golden, hexagonal honeycomb.

Because the bees Roth works with only produce the waxy substance during the heat of the summer, the time available for inter-species cooperation is limited. In a note to Colossal, the artist describes recent shifts in her practice that more deeply embody the shared process:

The collaged portion of this season’s pieces, which are made largely of encaustic and stitch work, are designed to match the intricacy of the comb in a fair exchange of labour. I had in mind “a stitch for every cell.” I have also introduced more sophisticated shapes, and multiple shapes, into the comb, and the results have been very exciting.

In addition to the pieces shown here, Roth has also been developing a collection of larger encaustic paintings on photographs that she works on when her collaborators are dormant. “Using the beeswax in these different ways feels very holistic,” she says, “and having the intimate connection to the bees in the summer makes working with wax as a material during the winter months deeply satisfying.”

Explore an archive of the artist’s organically formed works on her site and Instagram.

 

“Hardwood Lake with Flower Embroidery,” encaustic, oil stick, photography on bamboo paper, embroidery floss, natural honeycomb, in custom local Ontario maple frame, 17.5 x 17.5 inches

“Honeycomb Quilt,” encaustic, birch bark, paper, gold leaf, embroidery floss, glass beads, and natural honeycomb, in custom local Ontario maple frame, 17.5 x 17.5 inches

Detail of “Honeycomb Quilt,” encaustic, birch bark, paper, gold leaf, embroidery floss, glass beads and natural honeycomb, in custom local Ontario maple frame, 17.5 x 17.5 inches

“Honeybee Collaboration, Lunaria Leaves,” beeswax, Hemlock cones, porcupine quills, Lunaria leaves, photography, oil stick, embroidery floss and glass beads on seeded paper with honeycomb, in custom maple frame, 17.5 x 17.5 inches

 

 



Photography Science

An Elegant Timelapse Captures an Oak from Acorn to Tree in 196 Days

July 18, 2022

Christopher Jobson

In this brief timelapse, a single acorn germinates from seed to sapling during a period of 196 days, transferred carefully from vessel to vessel as it sprouts. The simple yet wondrous clip is just one of many plant-growing timelapses produced by the Youtube channel Boxlapse (also on Instagram) where you’ll find a new release almost every weekday. The videos include all manner of plants and fungi captured in interesting ways, including the growth of a mango tree during a yearlong period or the first 113 days of a dragon fruit cactus, seen below.

 

 

 



Photography Science

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Reveals Astounding, Unprecedented Views of the Universe

July 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula. All images courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope unveiled its first-ever collection of high-resolution color images capturing an exceptional amount of detail about the universe. The instrument reaches deeper into the cosmos than any before.

Launched in December, Webb is the world’s largest and most powerful observer with the ability to view cosmic bodies like the atmospheres of exoplanets, or those outside our solar system, and some of the first galaxies to emerge following the Big Bang 13.5 billion years ago. The telescope is equipped with a host of near-infrared tools that will help visualize galactic phenomena and celestial bodies that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. Webb is capable of getting four times closer to the cosmological event than the Hubble Space Telescope, which helps scientists better understand how the universe has evolved since.

Preparation for the mission began in the 1990s, and the 6.7-ton telescope is currently focused on documenting planetary evolution and spectroscopic data about their chemical makeup, which involves targeting five cosmic objects: the gassy planet WASP-96 b that’s about 1,150 light-years away, the Southern Ring Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet galaxy, the SMACS 0723 galaxy clusters, and the 7,600 light-years away Carina Nebula with enormous stars that dwarf the sun.

 

The very first images include a stunning composite of SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. Rich with glimmering galaxies, the composite comprises “a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground,” administrators said in a statement. There’s also the mesmerizing Southern Ring Nebula, which is comprised of shells of dust and gas released by two dying stars, and Stephen’s Quintet, five glowing galaxies captured in Webb’s largest composite to date, reaching a size that would span approximately one-fifth of the moon’s diameter.

Perhaps the most stunning image from the first release of visuals is that of the star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, which shows what researchers refer to as “cosmic cliffs,” or what appears to be rugged, mountain-like forms that are actually the edges of immense gaseous activity. The tallest pinnacles of that celestial body are about seven light-years high.

Webb was designed to spend the next decade in space, however, a successful launch preserved substantial fuel, and NASA now anticipates a trove of insights about the universe for the next twenty years. Follow its movements with NASA’s tracker, Where is Webb?

 

Southern Ring Nebula (NIRCam Image)

SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago

Left: SMACS 0723 captured by Hubble. Right: SMACS 0723 captured by James Webb

Carina Nebula, detail