Science

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Design Science

The Ocean Cleanup Conceptualizes Its Third Massive Apparatus to Remove Trash from the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’

September 22, 2022

Grace Ebert

Sadly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a wide swath of ocean between the U.S. coast and Japan is an enormous vortex of trash. A gyre, or system of currents, surrounds the area and sucks debris and litter into its rotation, trapping hundreds of millions of kilograms of plastic waste within its 20 million square kilometers.

Back in 2018, The Ocean Cleanup engineered a slow-moving apparatus called System 001 designed to wade through the patch to retrieve garbage with a massive net. The nonprofit, which wants to remove 90 percent of floating plastic by 2040, is now conceptualizing its third iteration of the machine that will be the largest and most efficient model to date. “When it comes to cleaning the oceans, size matters,” a statement about the new technology says. “Bigger systems mean fewer support vessels, which are the main cost driver (and the main carbon emitter) in our operations. In short, bigger systems mean a lower cost per kilogram.” System 002 removed more than 100,000 kilograms of plastic as of July 2022.

In a newly produced concept video, The Ocean Cleanup suggests that System 3 will now be comprised of three vessels that rely on drones to identify waste hotspots. The ships will haul a massive 2,500-meter wide and four-meter deep net system that sweeps the targeted areas to gather debris and funnel it to a sizable retention zone. Once collected and hauled from the water, the waste is organized into shipping containers and sent for recycling or repurposing.

The Ocean Cleanup plans to create a fleet of ten System 03 machines in the coming months, which the organization estimates will be powerful enough to restore much of the area. You can follow its progress on Twitter and Instagram, and head to its site for occasional live streams.

 

A rendering of the retention zone

A rendering of the net

A rendering of the net

 

 



Photography Science

Masters of Disguise: Sly Insects From Costa Rica to Malaysia Show Off Their Expert Camouflages

August 31, 2022

Grace Ebert

Nature’s propensity for survival continuously manifests in surprising ways, and thanks to David Weiller (previously), we’re able to witness some of the most clever disguises of the insect world. The photographer captures a wide array of critters and their deceptive traits, from the Malaysian geometer moth and its expert camouflage as a dead leaf to the lichen katydid, which mimics the stringy filamentous lichen from which it draws its name. Weiller’s YouTube is a trove of exceptional imitations, including glimpses of the seemingly invisible bagworm moth caterpillar and the lappet moth caterpillar that appears to show off a cheesy grin.

 

 

 



Photography Science

The James Webb Telescope Captures Jupiter’s Rings and Brilliant Aurora in Two Stunning Composites

August 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, Jupiter ERS Team, processing by Ricardo Hueso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt

It’s been two months since NASA unveiled the first images captured by the exceptionally powerful James Webb Space Telescope, and a pair of new composites taken by the observer’s infrared NIRCam showcase Jupiter’s aurora and unique characteristics in similarly striking detail.

Against a dark backdrop filled with hazy dots that are likely distant galaxies, the wide view features two of the planet’s moons, Amalthea and Adrastea, and its rings. According to the European Space Agency, which released the images, the dusty halos shown are one million times fainter than the gaseous mass they encircle.

For the close-up, astronomers applied three filters to the NIRCam to capture the tiny details of the largest planet in our solar system. Zeroing in on the Jovian atmosphere, the image shows two polar auroras shining through red hues, with brilliant greens and yellows swirling around. “A third filter, mapped to blues, showcases light that is reflected from a deeper main cloud. The Great Red Spot, a famous storm so big it could swallow Earth, appears white in these views, as do other clouds because they are reflecting a lot of sunlight,” the agency says.

Because the human eye can’t see infrared light, scientist Judy Schmidt collaborated with astronomers to make the planet’s details visible. (via Peta Pixel)

 

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, Jupiter ERS Team, processing by Judy Schmidt

 

 



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