Science

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History Photography Science

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish

April 14, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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La Llareta (up to 3,000 years old; Atacama Desert, Chile)

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Spruce Gran Picea #0909 – 11A07 (9,550 years old; Fulufjället, Sweden)

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Welwitschia Mirabilis #0707-22411 (2,000 years old; Namib-Naukluft Desert, Namibia)

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Antarctic Moss #0212-7B33 (5,500 years old; Elephant Island, Antarctica)

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Jōmon Sugi, Japanese Cedar #0704-002 (2,180-7,000 years old; Yakushima, Japan

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Underground Forest #0707-10333 (13,000 years old; Pretoria South Africa) DECEASED

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Since 2004, Brooklyn-based contemporary artist Rachel Sussman has researched, collaborated with biologists, and braved some of the world’s harshest climates from Antarctica to the Mojave Desert in order to photograph the oldest continuously living organisms on Earth. This includes plants like Pando, the “Trembling Giant,” a colony of aspens in Utah with a massive underground root system estimated to be around 80,000 years old. Or the dense Llareta plants in South America that grow 1.5 centimeters annually and live over 3,000 years. This is the realm of life where time is measured in millennia, and where despite such astonishing longevity, ecosystems are now threatened due to climate change and human encroachment.

Sussman’s photographs have now been gathered together for the first time in The Oldest Living Things in the World, a new book published by the University of Chicago Press. Sitting at the intersection of art, science, and travelogue, the book details her adventures in tracking down each subject and relays the valuable scientific work done by scientists to understand them. It includes 124 photographs, 30 essays, infographics and forewords by Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Carl Zimmer.

You can learn more about Sussman’s project in her 2010 TED Talk. (via Hyperallergic)

Update: Rachel Sussman was just named a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow.

 

 

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Science

Slow Life: A Macro Timelapse of Coral, Sponges and Other Aquatic Organisms Created from 150,000 Photographs

March 28, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Created by University of Queensland PhD student Daniel Stoupin, this remarkable macro video of coral reefs, sponges and other underwater wildlife, brings a fragile and rarely-seen world into vivid focus. Stoupin shot some 150,000 photographs which he edited down to create the final clip. He shares about the endeavor:

Time lapse cinematography reveals a whole different world full of hypnotic motion and my idea was to make coral reef life more spectacular and thus closer to our awareness. I had a bigger picture in my mind for my clip. But after many months of processing hundreds of thousands of photos and trying to capture various elements of coral and sponge behavior I realized that I have to take it one step at a time. For now, the clip just focuses on beauty of microscopic reef “landscapes.” The close-up patterns and colors of this type of fauna hardly resemble anything from the terrestrial environments. Corals become even less familiar if you consider their daily “activities.”

Stoupin discusses Slow Life as well as the threats to the Great Barrier Reef that inspired him to make the video in a detailed entry over on his blog. (via Kottke)

 

 



Craft Science

Cross-Stitched Germs and Microbes

March 18, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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I’m loving these cross-stitched germs, microbes and other super tiny things by Alicia Watkins over at Watty’s Wall Stuff. The pieces are available a la carte, in sets, or as DIY patterns. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 



Photography Science

Momentum: Large Format Photos of Chalkboards from Quantum Mechanics Institutions by Alejandro Guijarro

March 17, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Momentum is a project by artist Alejandro Guijarro who spent three years traveling to the quantum mechanics departments of Cambridge, Stanford, Berkeley, Oxford and elsewhere to shoot large format photographs of blackboards just after lectures. Completely removed from the context of a classroom or laboratory and displayed in a gallery, the cryptic equations from one of the most formidable branches of physics become abstract patterns of line and color. Via the artist’s statement:

Before he walks into a lecture hall Guijarro has no idea what he will find. He begins by recording the blackboard with the minimum of interference. No detail of the lecture hall is included, the blackboard frame is removed and we are left with a surface charged with abstract equations. At this stage they are documents. However, once removed from their institutional beginnings the meaning evolves. The viewer begins to appreciate the equations for their line and form. Colour comes into play and the waves created by the blackboard eraser suggest a vast landscape or galactic setting. The formulas appear to illustrate the worlds of Quantum Mechanics. What began as a precise lecture, a description of the physicist’s thought process, is transformed into a canvas open to any number of possibilities.

Guijarro graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2010 with a MA in fine art and now lives
and works in both London and Madrid. He’ll have work later this year at PhotoEspaña. (via Not Shaking the Grass)

 

 



Science

Water Droplets Flow Uphill through a Superheated Maze Thanks to the Leidenfrost Effect

March 16, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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The folks over at Science Friday made this fascinating video about the Leidenfrost Effect, where water dropped on an extremely hot surface is capable of floating instead of immediately evaporating. While studying the bizarre effect, physicists at the University of Bath realized that not only does the water float, but under the right conditions and temperatures it can actually climb upward. The playful experiments lead to the creation of an incredible superheated maze. (via The Awesomer)

 

 



Science

Beautiful Microscopic Time-lapse Video of Snowflakes Forming

February 23, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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We’ve seen all matter of snow and ice photography here on Colossal, as well as time-lapses of melting snow and snow drawings, but this is the first video individual snowflakes forming I’ve ever come across. Created by filmmaker Vyacheslav Ivanov this microscopic short shows the intimate details of fragile snowflakes as they form in their miraculous hexagonal forms. Robert Gonzalez writing for iO9 gives us an idea of what we’re looking at:

The ice crystal(s) in snowflakes owe their six-fold rotational symmetry to the hydrogen bonds in water molecules. As water freezes, water molecules bound to other water molecules crystallize into a hexagonal structure, where each point on the hexagon is an oxygen atom and each side of the hexagon is a hydrogen bonded to an oxygen. As freezing continues, more water molecules are added to this microscopic six-sided structure, causing it to grow in size into the six-sided macroscopic structure that we recognize as snowflakes.

We have a line into Ivanov to see how he filmed this and will update as soon as we hear something. Music by Aphex Twin.

(via Kuriositas, PetaPixel, i09)

Update: Ivanov confirms from his home in St. Petersburg that the video is indeed genuine (non digital) and was filmed through a microscope with a “lot of effort and patience.”