Science

Section



Craft Science

A Scientifically Accurate Hand-Knit Sculpture of the Human Brain by Dr. Karen Norberg

December 5, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

In 2009, Psychiatrist Dr. Karen Norberg from the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts decided to create a fibrous doppelgänger of the human brain. Using different colored yarns she knit together the two-sided organ one and a half times its normal size, with a cerebellum and spinal cord attached at the end. Dr. Norberg told the Telegraph that the piece was a labor of love. For me, there were two humorous aspects,” she explained. “One was simply to undertake such a ridiculously complex, time consuming project for no practical reason. The second was the idea of making a somewhat mysterious and difficult object – a brain – out of a ‘cuddly,’ cheerful, familiar material like cotton yarn.”

Dr. Norberg created the individual parts of the brain, such as the brainstem and amygdala, before sewing the lightly colored pieces together in its final form. A comparison of the textile sculpture alongside scans from a real human brain can be seen in the image below. (via Women’s Art)

 

 



Amazing Design Science

System 001: An Innovative Design to Remove Plastic From the Ocean has Been Deployed off the Coast of California

October 26, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Founded in 2013 by 18-year-old (at the time) inventor Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit organization that’s working to clean up our oceans by removing plastic. After five years of rigorous design and testing, the Cleanup’s cleaning apparatus, called System 001, has been deployed off the coast of California.

System 001 is a passive collection apparatus that works by moving in tandem with the ocean’s currents, taking advantage of the water’s circular movement patterns, called gyres, that cause the trash to accumulate in the first place. The Ocean Cleanup points out that 92% of the debris in the Patch is still large enough to be collected using the System’s large suspended net, and it’s critical to remove this plastic now before it degrades into microplastics that enter the food chain. Because of the net’s passive, slow-moving design, the group has reported that it has not caused animals to get caught, presumably because they have sufficient time and space to navigate away from the debris-funneling nets.

While the organization has global aspirations and an international team (the founder is Dutch), their first focus is on the massive Pacific Garbage Patch, which floats in the ocean between California and Hawaii. The Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest aquatic aggregation of trash in the world, first recognized thirty years ago. It is estimated to contain about 80,000 metric tons of garbage spanning 5.2 billion square feet (nearly a million square miles). Ocean Cleanup’s boat, the Maersk Launcher, towed the System 1,200 miles from Alameda to begin its work.

You can see a live update of the System’s location and learn more about The Ocean Cleanup on the organization’s website, as well as on Twitter and Instagram.

  

 

 



Photography Science

Double Helixes Streak Across the Sky in Multi-Shot Images of Birds by Xavi Bou

October 25, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Spanish photographer Xavi Bou (previously) tracks and records the flight patterns of birds, combining their repetitive movements into elongated shapes that twist through the sky for his series Ornitographies. The images are inspired by chronophotography, a Victorian era photography method that combined multiple images to create movement, and edited digitally in Photoshop. The layered images appear like floating double helixes or fringed ribbon depending on the size and wingspan of each bird, and create elegant gestures as they criss-cross against the blue sky.

Recently Bou traveled to Iceland where he captured new species of birds set against a dramatically different landscape than his previous images. “Iceland was especially interesting because I was looking for the contrast between the size and heaviness of the volcanic rocks, in contrast between the tiny patterns that marine birds create in the sky,” he tells Colossal. Bou has also recently visited Barcelona to watch pigeons race across the city, and Tarifa, Spain to experience thousands of birds from all over Europe cross the sea towards Africa. You can see more of his multi-shot avian images on his website and Instagram.

 

 



Science

A Nearly Perfect Rectangular Iceberg Spotted in the Antarctic

October 24, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Photo credits: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck

Photo credits: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck

Earlier this month NASA’s cryosphere research division, NASA ICE, posted an image of a peculiar iceberg floating near the Larsen C Ice Shelf. Its perfectly rectangular shape and flat surface sparked the interest of many online, but its form is one that is more common than one might expect. Unlike the recognizable pyramid-shaped icebergs, tabular icebergs split from the edges of ice shelves when they become too brittle. In 2017 an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off of the same arctic ice shelf. The iceberg weighed over a trillion tons, and was one of the largest ever recorded.

The recent image of the tabular iceberg was taken as a part of Operation IceBridge, NASA’s extensive survey of Earth’s Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice. You can see the edge of the perfectly formed tabular iceberg in addition to a slightly less rectangular example in the image taken by IceBridge senior support scientist Jeremy Harbeck below. A GIF of a plane from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center approaching the iceberg can be viewed their Twitter. (via NASA ICE)

 

 



Science

Spooky X-Rays Reveal the Bone Structures of Oregon Zoo Residents

October 18, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

As a seasonally appropriate topic for Halloween, the Oregon Zoo is posting a few of their favorite animal X-rays taken during routine health exams. Included in the mix is a branch-dwelling chameleon, open-beaked toucan, and a bat that appears to be caught mid-flight. The scans are a normal part of the check-ups at the zoo, and are used by animal experts as a helpful diagnostic tool to minimize anesthesia and provide faster results. You can follow more of the zoo’s spooky posts on Twitter.

 

 

 



Photography Science

A Million Dazzling Stars Are Revealed in a New Infrared Photograph of the Carina Nebula

September 17, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

A new photograph of the Carina Nebula, a complex group of bright and dark nebulae in the constellation Carina, has just been released by the European Southern Observatory. The original image is 140 megapixels, which clocks in as a 344MB download (don’t try this at home, kids) and contains about one million stars.

As explained by astronomer and science communicator Phil Plait, “The colors you see here are not what you’d see with your eye, since it’s all infrared. What’s shown as blue is actually 0.88 microns, or a wavelength just outside what your eye can see. Green is really 1.25 microns and red is 2.15, so both are well into the near-infrared. Even in the infrared, a lot of gas and dust still are visible. That’s because there’s a whole bunch of it here. And it’s not just randomly strewn around; patterns are there when you look for them.”

Plait continues on to clarify that the purpose of such an impressive photo isn’t just for eye candy: astronomers use such images to conduct star censuses. Below are two details of the photo, where you can get a better sense of the extreme density of stars captured in the massive image. (via Kottke)

 

 



Design Science

The Museum of the Moon: An Illuminated 23-Foot Lunar Replica Currently Touring the World

September 13, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Photo: Carl Milner

Multidisciplinary artist Luke Jerram has created several exacting 23-foot replicas of the moon, which are currently touring the world as Museum of the Moon. The lunar project has been installed in public spaces ranging from China and Finland to the United Arab Emirates and Australia, and is accompanied by music from composer Dan Jones. Locations vary and include indoor and outdoor spaces as well as festivals, to intentionally alter the interpretation and experience of the project for viewers around the world.

To create the large illuminated sculptures, the British artist used a massive image (nearly 70 feet wide) of the moon created by NASA’s Astrogeology Science Center. The image itself was taken by a NASA satellite carrying the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, which was launched in 2010. Each centimeter of Jerram’s replicas represent 5 kilometers of the moon’s surface.

Jerram also shares in a statement, “As it travels from place to place, it will gather new musical compositions and an ongoing collection of personal responses, stories and mythologies, as well as highlighting the latest moon science.” This information is compiled on Museum of the Moon online research page. You can find out where the moons will be next on the museum’s website and see photos with the #museumofthemoon hashtag. (via designboom)

Photo: Gareth Jones

Photo: Leeds Living

Photo: Neil James

Photo: Robert Sils