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Photography Science

Millions of Monarchs Swarm Fake Hummingbird As It Captures Spectacular Footage of Their Flight

April 30, 2020

Anna Marks

With its clementine-colored wings bordered with black lines and white spots, the monarch, also known as Danaus Plexippus, is a widely recognizable insect. As the weather changes and gets cooler, the monarchs migrate from their breeding grounds in Canada and the northern United States and fly to central Mexico, where they form clustered colonies on oyamel fir trees to conserve heat until the days grow longer and they migrate north once again. 

In this spectacular clip filmed by the PBS series Spy in the Wild, a mechanical “spy hummingbird” flies over a swarm of resting monarchs. Creators chose the flying creature because it feeds on nectar and thus isn’t seen as a threat. As the sun warms the butterflies’ wings to 50 degrees, the insects wake and start to flutter and move. The hummingbird spy finds itself within the very heart of the swarm and captures a spectacular scene in which millions of butterflies take to the sky once more in a mesmerizing confetti-like cloud. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



History Science

Intrusive Clowns, Preserved Cats, and Centuries-Old Hair: Museums Are Sharing Their Creepiest Objects

April 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Top left via GR Public Museum, bottom left via Yorkshire Museum, right via Bell Museum

If you’re not into clowns, taxidermied creatures, or centuries-old piles of hair, you probably should avoid the #CreepiestObject hashtag on Twitter. In recent days, museums worldwide have been digging into their nightmare-inducing archives to uncover the most disturbing pieces their collections have to offer. Findings include a preserved mermaid-like animal, a cross-section of a pregnant cat, and a children’s toy that’s rumored to move on its own.

Similar to the virtual bouquets and the challenge to recreate famous artworks, the movement is one of the ways shuttered museums are engaging with—and now terrifying—their quarantined audiences. We’ve gathered some of their picks below, but please consider this your warning before you scroll down or dive deeper into the hashtag. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 

“STEP ASIDE ALL. These are hand-made models of figures playing cards and of gold miners hauling gold nuggets to the surface. BUT the figures are made from crab’s legs and claws… Typical Victorians, they loved weird/creepy stuff. #CreepiestObject” —York Castle Museum

 

 

 

“Bringin’ our A-game for this #CURATORBATTLE! What is it? Just a CURSED CHILDREN’S TOY that we found inside the walls of a 155-year-old mansion. We call it ‘Wheelie’ – and it MOVES ON ITS OWN: Staff put it in one place and find it in another spot later on…. #Creepiestobject” —PEI Museum

 

 

“Imagine rummaging through an archive and unwrapping this Down pointing backhand index MC 490A: Broken Dolls head in many parts with fair hair c.1920 Found on the grounds of @StJudesHead . Let’s hope they treat the pupils better Face with tears of joy #CuratorBattle #CreepiestObject” —Egham Museum

 

 

 



History Illustration Science

A Natural History Compendium Catalogs Albertus Seba’s Exotic Specimens through Exacting Illustrations

April 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Taschen, shared with permission

Packed with careful illustrations of striped snakes, preserved creatures, and now-extinct animals, Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is one of the most impressive natural history compendiums of the 18th Century. Spanning nearly 600 pages, the new edition from Taschen features the work of Amsterdam-based pharmacist and zoologist Albertus Seba, who was a renowned collector of natural life. He commissioned the meticulous illustrations in 1731 that he then published into four, hand-colored volumes. The new Cabinet of Natural Curiosities catalogs these original drawings of exotic specimens in a single text and features writing by Irmgard Müsch, Jes Rust, and Rainer Willmann. Grab your copy from Taschen’s site.

 

 



Illustration Science

Geometric Insects Navigate Sparse Flora in Pastel Illustrations by Hoàng Hoàng

April 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Hoàng Hoàng

Based in Ho Chi Minh City, graphic designer and illustrator Hoàng Hoàng merges science and art into a series of illustrations that mimic both insects in their natural habitats and those pinned in display cases for preservation. The Insect World Collection is comprised of varicolored stripes, semicircles, and other angular shapes that form multi-hued wings and rotund bodies. Set on pastel backgrounds, each arthropod features both Vietnamese and English translations of the insects’ common and scientific names. Head to Instagram and Behance to check out more of Hoàng’s geometric illustrations.

 

 



Photography Science

Synchronized Starling Flocks Undulate in Mesmerizing Patterns Captured by Photographer Xavi Bou

April 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

For starlings, there’s truth to safety in numbers. “In winter, starlings join in flocks of thousands of individuals to try to confuse the hawks that attack them, doing a mesmerizing dance,” said Barcelona-based photographer Xavi Bou, who recently released a video chronicling the birds’ synchronized swooping. In “Murmurations,” a name that refers specifically to the phenomenon, Bou captures the avian movements through a series of gray lines that swell and undulate with each obfuscated turn.

Set to a soothing track by Kristina Dutton, the video is part of the photographer’s larger Ornitographies project, an ongoing endeavor stemming from his childhood walks through nature with his grandfather. Bou previously focused on chronophotography for the series, which combines multiple images of flying birds into a floating pattern that resembles double-helices. “Murmurations” similarly blurs the starlings’ outlines and distinct features to focus instead on their heaving movements.

On his site, Bou has prints available of his composite images, and more of his phenomenological work can be found on Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

 



Design Science

Meltdown Flags Visualize the Climate Crisis’s Toll on Glaciers Worldwide

March 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Meltdown Flags

A new digital project called Meltdown Flags envisions the disastrous effects of the ongoing climate crisis. Countries with glaciers see a reduction in the amount of white on their flags, which serves as a visual representation of the shrinking ice masses. Canada’s middle section begins at full width in 1995 before condensing in both 2020 and 2050. The United States’ white stripes similarly are a fraction of their usual height by the middle of the century.

Created by the digital design studio Moby Digg, Meltdown Flags also functions as an online tool replete with statistics about the percentage of glacier retreat from 1995 to 2050, the nation’s population, landmass, and emissions. Information on Argentina, for example, details the consequences of melting glaciers in the Andes. “Although the Perito Moreno glacier has shown an advance in the past years, ice in this region is being lost at some of the highest rates on the planet,” the page says. “And as ice vanishes, heat increases, resulting in long periods of drought, heavy rainfall, and flooding which could affect up to 130,000 people.”

The project outlines the severity of global warming, saying that based on the current projections, glaciers will be gone by 2100 and “with them, 69% of the world’s drinking water.” Meltdown Flags begins its timeline in 1995 when the first United Nations Climate Change Conference occurred. The UN hoped to reach net-zero emissions and keep the global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celcius by 2050.

To follow the global awareness movement, head to Instagram and Twitter.

 

 



Design Science

Get a Meteorite-Speckled Slab of the Moon’s Surface Made with NASA Data

March 28, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © DeskSpace

Most of us will never get to touch the moon’s outer crust, but a new project by DeskSpace lets people pretend they’ve got a little portion of the crater-covered satellite sitting on their desks or hung up on their walls. Designed using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Lunar Surface is a square piece of portland concrete that’s natural bubbles form ridges and dips that mimic the divets caused by meteorites.

The astronomical project commemorates humans’ first steps on the moon. “It was 50 years ago that the first Apollo landing took place. With such an important anniversary, we understand that space enthusiasts need special items for their collections,” DeskSpace said. There are just a few options left for purchase on Kickstarter, but you can stay up to date with future space-themed releases on DeskSpace’s site.