6 March 2012

Science Art: Five of Spades, from Playing Cards: Engineering


This is one of a whole deck of… well, they’re practically a technological tarot, really. They’re playing cards illustrating concepts in engineering. (The two of diamonds is also beautiful, though some might prefer the human figures in cards like the seven of clubs.)

They were originally collected by William Barclay Parsons, the chief engineer of the New York City subway. He was on the library board from 1911 to 1932, when he died. More importantly, he also donated a set of mechanics pla…

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Science Art: Red White Blood Cells, by NCI-Frederick.


The one carries oxygen around, the other keeps the system clean. They’re teeny tiny.

Image from the Electron Microscopy Facility at The National Cancer Institute at Frederick (NCI-Frederick).

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SONG: Levitating Diamonds (Tiny Impossible Things)

SONG: “Levitating Diamonds (Tiny Impossible Things)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “Lasers used to levitate glowing nanodiamonds in a vacuum”, Science Daily, 7 Sep 2015, as used in the post “A laser levitating glowing nanodiamonds in a vacuum..”

ABSTRACT: I really wanted to use “A laser levitating nanodiamonds in a vacuum” as a lyric, because it’s got such a great rhythm, but no, it didn’t happen.

Musically, things fell together well – I came up with chords on a guitar, and t…

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SONG: One (is the Loneliest Number) (penitential cover)

SONG: “One (Is The Loneliest Number)”.

ARTIST: grant, featuring Sebastian Balfour. (Originally by Harry Nilsson.)

SOURCE: It doesn’t have a research source. It’s a penitential cover of a haunting song by Harry Nilsson that Three Dog Night turned into a prog anthem, which Aimee Mann turned into stunning reclamation project. Nilsson still wins.

ABSTRACT: I’ve been a penitential cover* behind for months and months. I first had the idea of doing this song in something like this way …

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Science Art: To Scale: The Solar System by Wylie Overstreet.

To Scale: The Solar System from Wylie Overstreet on Vimeo.

I like the desert in Nevada already because of the sense of perspective – such wide, flat spaces (wider and flatter even than Florida’s water-level wet prairies), sometimes flanked by mountains just big enough to provide a frame of reference. This is how small you are. This is how far you have to go.

That’s the ideal landscape for this kind of project. How big are we really? How far away is the place next door?

This far away. …

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Science Art: Aequorea Forbesiana by Philip Henry Gosse.

Click to embiggen

This is a jellyfish drawn by Philip Henry Gosse, a naturalist and Creationist (!) who gave us the word “aquarium” as a place to see marine creatures. Before Gosse, an aquarium was a place to water cattle.

He built the very first public one as the “Fish House” of the London Zoo in 1853.

A few years later, he published a book trying to prove that fossils couldn’t disprove Genesis because of course the act of creation would make things appear to be older than they are. …

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A salute: Trying and trying and trying by Gethan Dick.

6 March 2012 // 0 Comments

Over the transom this morning, I just got word of an amazing science-music-art project that combined six University College London biomedical researchers with six bands to make a pretty great album: This project was funded by the Wellcome Trust and involved working with six different UCL bio-medical scientists (Dr Alex Dedman, Dr Sam Tazzyman, Dr Zarinah Agnew, Kara Cerveny PhD, Dr Nandi Simpson and Dr Martin Austwick) to write truthful but poetic explorations of their research, then taking the lyrics to six exciting, innovative and award-winning musicians (birdengine, The 9000, Reeps One, Hannah Marshall, Workers Union Ensemble and The Overdrive Orchestra) and working with them to record six unique new songs. In each, the science feeds directly into the music: one song uses electric guitars to copy an optical frequency graph with their noise levels; in another song about genetic codes, A and D notes are inverted ; and in another, a beatboxer channels an […]

Slipping on the thinking cap.

6 March 2012 // 1 Comment

Over at BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow waxes enthusiastic about the process of zapping your brain into a creative “flow” state: The “thinking cap” is something like the tasp of science fiction, and the experimental evidence for it as a learning enhancement tool is pretty good thus far — and the experimental subjects report that the experience feels wonderful ([Science writer Sally] Adee: “the thing I wanted most acutely for the weeks following my experience was to go back and strap on those electrodes.”) … After trying it myself, I have different questions. To make you understand, I am going to tell you how it felt. The experience wasn’t simply about the easy pleasure of undeserved expertise. When the nice neuroscientists put the electrodes on me, the thing that made the earth drop out from under my feet was that for the first time in my life, everything in my head finally shut the fuck up. And […]