Science

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Science

The Visual Patterns of Audio Frequencies Seen through Vibrating Sand

June 6, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Youtube user Brusspup (previously here and here) who often explores the intersection between art and science just released this new video featuring the Chladni plate experiment. First a black metal plate is attached to a tone generator and then sand is poured on the plate. As the speaker is cycled through various frequencies the sand naturally gravitates to the area where the least amount of vibration occurs causing fascinating geometric patterns to emerge. There’s actually a mathematical law that determines how each shape will form, the higher the frequency the more complex the pattern.

 

 



Art Science

Stranger Visions: DNA Collected from Found Objects Used to Create 3D Portraits

May 4, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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You’re walking down a street in Brooklyn, gnawing on a piece of gum that’s past the point of flavorful.. In a hurry, you spit it on the ground without a second thought and continue about your day. Hours later, a mysterious woman arrives, surreptitiously collecting the sticky gum from the sidewalk and dropping it into a clear plastic bag which she then carefully labels. Flash forward a month later: you’re walking through an art gallery, and there, mounted on the wall, is a familiar face staring back at you. Astonishingly (or terrifyingly), it’s a 3D print of your face generated from the DNA you left behind on that random piece of gum that now appears in a petri dish just below the portrait. A few years ago this would have seemed like science fiction, the stuff of films like Gattaca, but to information artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg, it’s how she makes her artwork here in 2013.

They say inspiration can strike anywhere. For Dewey-Hagborg, it happened in a therapy session. While staring at a framed print on the wall, she fixated on a tiny crack in the glass into which a small hair had become lodged. As her mind wandered, she imagined who this seemingly insignificant hair belonged to, and, more specifically, what they might look like. After that day, she became keenly aware of the genetic trail left by every person in their daily life, and began to question what physical characteristics could be identified through the DNA left behind on a piece of gum or cigarette butt.

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Sample Location 6. January 6, 2013 at 12:25pm; Wilson ave. and Stanhope St. Brooklyn, NY; MtDNA Haplogroup: D1 (Native American, South American); SRY Gene: present; Gender: Male; HERC2 Gene: AA; Eye Color: Brown

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Stranger Visions is the result of her fascinating, if slightly disconcerting, line of questioning and experimentation: 3D printed portraits based on DNA samples taken from objects found on the streets of Brooklyn. Dewey-Hagborg worked with a DIY biology lab called Genspace, where she met a number of biologists who taught her everything she now knows about molecular biology and DNA. Via an interview with the artist:

So I extract the DNA in the lab and then I amplify certain regions of it using a technique called PCR – Polymerase Chain Reaction. This allows me to study certain regions of the genome that tend to vary person to person, what are called SNPs or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms.

I send the results of my PCR reactions off to a lab for sequencing and what I get back are basically text files filled with sequences of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs, the nucleotides that compose DNA. I align these using a bioinformatics program and determine what allele is present for a particular SNP on each sample.

Then I feed this information into a custom computer program I wrote which takes all these values which code for physical genetic traits and parameterizes a 3d model of a face to represent them. For example gender, ancestry, eye color, hair color, freckles, lighter or darker skin, and certain facial features like nose width and distance between eyes are some of the features I am in the process of studying.

I add some finishing touches to the model in 3d software and then export it for printing on a 3d printer. I use a Zcorp printer which prints in full color using a powder type material, kind of like sand and glue.

The resulting portraits are bizarre approximations of anonymous people who unknowingly left their genetic material on a random city street. So how accurate are the faces created from this genetic experiment? The artist likes to say they have a “family resemblance” and no, unlike the scenario depicted above, a person has never recognized themselves in any of her exhibitions. Yet. There are some things such as age which are virtually impossible to determine from DNA alone, so Dewey-Hagborg casts each portrait as if the person were around 25 years old.

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Sample Location 2. January 6, 2013 qt 12:15pm; 1381 Myrtle ave. Brooklyn, NY; MtDNA Haplogroup: H2a2a1 (Eastern European); SRY Gene: present; Gender: Male; HERC2 Gene: AA; Eye Color: Brown

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Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg with a genetically derived self-portrait.

Dewey-Hagborg will be giving a talk with a pop-up exhibit at Genspace on June 13th, and QF Gallery on Long Island will host a body of her work from June 29th through July 13th. You can follow the artist via her website and also her blog. All imagery courtesy the artist. (via smithsonian)

 

 



Science

Magnetic Putty is Completely Amazing/Terrifying

April 15, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Magnetic putty is just like any other putty in that you can handle it, sculpt it, and squeeze it in a fist as you visualize your enemies. But place it anywhere near a strong magnetic field and it will SPONTANEOUSLY ANIMATE and move to consume anything magnetic in its path like a voracious mutated slug. In fact the putty won’t stop moving until the object has been equally engulfed on all sides. PBS Digital Studios and Shanks FX used the putty in parts of their recent film short SCI-FLY, and just posted this extended cut of special effects shots that explore its heinous capabilities. To be fair, these clips are sped up quite a bit as the actual motion of the putty consuming other objects is only faintly perceptible in real time. Want to experiment with magnetic putty yourself? Get it here.

 

 



Science

Prince Rupert’s Drop: The Curious Properties of a Molten Glass Blob Dropped in Cold Water

March 25, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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So this is completely amazing. Destin from Smarter Every Day stopped by Orbix Hot Glass in Fort Payne, Alabama to explore a fascinating phenomenon called a Prince Rupert’s Drop. Apparently when molten hot glass is dropped in cold water it forms an object that’s almost completely impervious to brute force, even a sold hammer strike to the center of the teardrop-like shape won’t break the glass. Yet gently cut or even bump the tip of the drop and suddenly the entire thing shatters in an explosive chain reaction traveling at a speed of over 1 mile PER SECOND. Watch the video above to see the effect in 130,000 fps glory. (via the awesomer)

 

 



Science

This is What Happens When You Run Water Through a 24hz Sine Wave

March 12, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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What!? How is this even possible? Because science, my friends. Brusspup’s (previously) latest video explores what happens when a stream of water is exposed to an audio speaker producing a loud 24hz sine wave. If I understand correctly the camera frame rate has been adjusted to the match the vibration of the air (so, 24fps) thus creating … magic zigzagging water. Or something. Here’s a little more detail:

Run the rubber hose down past the speaker so that the hose touches the speaker. Leave about 1 or 2 inches of the hose hanging past the bottom of the speaker. Secure the hose to the speaker with tape or whatever works best for you. The goal is to make sure the hose is touching the actual speaker so that when the speaker produces sound (vibrates) it will vibrate the hose.

Set up your camera and switch it to 24 fps. The higher the shutter speed the better the results. But also keep in the mind that the higher your shutter speed, the more light you need. Run an audio cable from your computer to the speaker. Set your tone generating software to 24hz and hit play. Turn on the water. Now look through the camera and watch the magic begin. If you want the water to look like it’s moving backward set the frequency to 23hz. If you want to look like it’s moving forward in slow motion set it to 25hz.

Brusspup did a similar experiment last year where it looked as if the water was flowing in reverse. Can somebody please make a water fountain that does this or would we all be deaf? (via stellar)

 

 



Art Science

Klari Reis Creates an Explosively Colorful Abstract Painting Inside a Petri Dish Each Day

March 5, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Every single day in 2013 San Francisco-based artist Klari Reis is creating an abstract painting inside the confines of the humble petri dish, a cylindrical container used by biologists to culture the growth of cells and algae, something the paintings seem to directly resemble. Called ‘Daily Dish 2013‘ the project is a continuation of a series Reis completed back in 2009, but at a cursory glance I’m already enjoying the 2013 series much more. Despite the limitation of medium and space, it’s amazing to see the variation of color and depth each painting has, for some reason it reminded me of Jason Fried’s 2007 SvN post about the variation of watch faces. (via coudal)

 

 



Photography Science

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds

February 18, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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No these aren’t haystacks stuck in a phone pole. Visit the Kalahari Desert in the south of Africa and you’re bound to run into a peculiar animal called the Sociable Weaver Bird. The birds are called “social” not just because they live in organized colonies, but because they build massive homes out of sticks, grass and cotton that are home to several other kinds birds. That’s right, the nests are so large that birds of other species are welcome to setup shop, not the least of which is the South African pygmy falcon which lives exclusively inside the social weaver’s nests that often accommodate over 100 birds at at time. Via the San Diego Zoo:

The sociable weaver’s nest sees plenty of guests—a regular Kalahari Desert inn! The South African pygmy falcon Polihierax semitorquatus relies completely on the sociable weavers’ nest for its own home, often nesting side by side with the sociable weavers. The pied barbet, familiar chat, red-headed finch, ashy tit, and rosy-faced lovebird often find comfort in the cozy nesting chambers, too. Vultures, owls, and eagles will roost on the nests’ broad roof. Why are weavers willing to share the huge nest they worked so hard to make? More residents mean more eyes keeping a watch for danger. And the weavers often learn from the other birds where new sources of food can be found.

Photographer Dillon Marsh has a lovely series of weaver bird nest photographs titled Assimilation that are well worth a look. (via neatorama)