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Art Photography Science

Artistic Arrangements of Microscopic Algae Viewed Through a Microscope

January 29, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Photograph of diatoms collected in Russia and arranged on a microscope slide in 1952 by A.L. Brigger.

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Photograph of fossil diatoms collected in Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California, and arranged on a microscope slide in 1968 by A.L. Brigger.

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Black and white photograph of fossil radiolaria arranged on a slide by R.F. Behan. The slide label reads “Prize Medal Paris 1867 Polycystina; Springfield, Barbados.” The arrangement is approximately 3 millimeters in diameter.

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Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.

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Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.

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Photograph of diatoms arranged in October 1974 on a microscope slide by R.I. Firth. The slide label reads “Selected species from Californian fossil marine localities. To Mrs. G Dallas Hanna with compliments.”

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Photograph of Arachnoidiscus diatoms collected in the Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County, California and arranged on a microscope slide by R.F. Behan.

In a fascinating blend of art and science the California Academy of Sciences possesses a rare collection of microscopic diatom arrangements. Diatoms are a major group of algae that are among the smallest organisms on Earth, of which nearly 100,000 different species are estimated to exist. While there are numerous examples of diatoms that have been photographed for scientific study, these particular scientists hobbyists seem to have gone a different direction, instead turning these tiny unicellular lifeforms into mandala-like artworks. The tiny designs are all the more amazing when you consider most of them would fit on the head of a nail. You can see more examples right here. Photos by Sara Mansfield. (via Synaptic Stimuli)

Update: The California Academy of Sciences clarifies that these arrangements, despite being produced with scientific tools, are purely aesthetic, and were produced by hobbyists, not scientists.

 

 

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Design Science

One Step Closer to Hover Boards: Three-Dimensional Mid-Air Acoustic Manipulation

January 1, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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While we’ve seen examples of objects suspended mid-air using quantum levitation and acoustic levitation, a team of three Japanese engineers from The University of Tokyo and the Nagoya Institute of Technology recently unveiled an ambitious device that uses sound waves to move objects through three dimensional space. The machine uses four arrays of speakers to make soundwaves that intersect at a focal point that can be moved up, down, left, and right using external controls. You would think such machine would be extremely loud, but according to one of the engineers the device uses ultrasonic speakers and is almost completely silent. You can read more about it right here. (via Reddit)

 

 



Science

Terrifying ‘Orchid Mantis’ is Camouflaged to Look Exactly Like a Pink Orchid Flower

December 26, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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In an unparalleled feat of natural selection the Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) from Southeast Asia has evolved to look almost exactly like an orchid flower in order to lure unsuspecting prey. If looking like a plant isn’t impressive enough the clever insect also changes color from pink to brown according to its environment. (via Boing Boing)

 

 



Design Science

inFORM: An Interactive Dynamic Shape Display that Physically Renders 3D Content

November 12, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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While it’s debatable whether we’ll ever be able to teleport objects or people around the world at the speed of light, the inFORM system from Tangible Media Group at MIT might be the seeds of the next best thing. inFORM facilitates the real-time movement of physical “pixels” on a table surface that move in accordance with data from a Kinect motion sensing input device. The system allows people to remotely manipulate objects from a distance, physically interact with data or temporary objects, and could open the door to a wide variety of gaming, medical, or other interactive scenarios where people might be in remote locations.

One can only imagine the possibilities as the resolution of such a device increases. As mind-blowing as the video is above, the inFORM demonstrated has a relatively low resolution of 30×30 resulting in 900 moving “pixels”. As technology allows, what happens if the resolution doubles or quadruples and 3D content begins to appear exponentially more lifelike.

inFORM is currently under development at MIT’s Tangible Media Group and was designed by Daniel Leithinger, Sean Follmer, Hiroshi Ishii with help from numerous other software and hardware engineers. You can learn more about it here.

 

 



Photography Science

Animal Earth: New Photos Exploring the Diversity of the World’s Most Obscure Species

October 29, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Segmentation, a distinguishing feature of the annelids is clearly visible here. Photo by Alexander Semenov.

We’ve all grown up learning about familiar animals like fish, tigers, elephants, and bears, but this new book from Ross Piper takes the opposite approach: exploring the diversity in size, shape, and color of the world’s most obscure and rarely seen organisms. With photography from Alexander Semenov, Arthur Anker, and other animal specialists and researchers, the 320-page Animal Earth promises to open your eyes to a variety of truly bizarre species from the deepest oceans and the most adverse climates. The book is set to be published in mid-November from Thames & Hudson.

 

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Nudibranchs, together with a huge variety of other marine mollusks, are commonly known as sea slugs (Coryphella polaris). Photo by Alexander Semenov.

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Many tube-dwelling polychaetes have elaborate, colorful tentacles for filter feeding and gas exchange. The funnel-shaped structure (operculum) seals the tube when the animal retreats inside (unidentified serpulid). Photo by Alexander Semenov.

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The compound eyes of a cynipid wasp (unidentified species). Some insects have simple eyes in addition to compound eyes, three of which can be seen on the top of this wasp’s head. Photo by Tomas Rak.

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The spherical test and impressive spines of a sea urchin. Coelopleurus floridanus. The mobile spines offer protection from predators. Since this species lives in relatively deep water, the purpose of the bright pigments in the skin and underlying skeleton is unknown. Photo by Arthur Anker.

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A jellyfish (Bougainvillia superciliris) with a hitchhiking amphipod (Hyperia galba). Photo by Alexander Semenov.

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In the cnidarians, what looks like a single individual is often a colony of polyps with specialized functions. In this floating colony (Porpita sp.) there are polyps for providing buoyancy, feeding (tentacles), digestion and reproduction. Photo by Arthur Anker.

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The colors and patterns of the sea slugs warn predators of their toxicity. This nudibranch is Chromodoris annulata. Photo by Arthur Anker.

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A sea angel, Clione limacine. In this image the grasping tentacles and chitinous hooks are retracted. Photo by Alexander Semenov.

 

 



Science

Falling from Space: Felix Baumgartner’s Leap from 128,000 Feet

October 16, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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It’s already been a year since daredevil, stuntman and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner leapt out of a hot air balloon some 24 miles off the ground plummeted at speeds surpassing Mach 1 (761.2 mph or 1225 km/h) back to Earth. The team over at Redbull Stratos finally released footage from the stunt, capturing the view from multiple angles. Ridiculous. (via kottke)