Science Art: Perspective view of the sky..., from "Refraction by Ice Crystals" in Instructions to Marine Meteorological Observers, 1938.

scientific illustration of the sky, a perspective view of effects from ice crystals for meteological observersClick to embiggen

These are the optical effects you have to be aware of if you’re going to describe the sky when ice-filled cirrus clouds are overhead. Ice crystals refract sunlight differently than water droplets, and you get these curves and halos which a trained meteorologist (of the 1930s) had to be able to record accurately.

It’s from a U.S. Weather Bureau manual for meteorologists that I found in the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

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Science Art: Cephalopoda (Figs. 441-443), from The Depths of the Ocean, 1912

Scientific illustration of three kinds of squid, from 1912Click to embiggen

Three kinds of squid-kids (I think; at least one is identified as a juvenile), from the research expedition of the Norwegian steamer Michael Sars, published in 1912. These are listed as being “after Chun,” although exactly who Chun was isn’t described in the excerpt of The Depths of the Ocean I found at archive.org. The author does say, “It was a special pleasure to me that Chun undertook to describe the Cephalopoda obtained during our Atlantic cruise,” and that Chun apparen…

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Science Art: X-Ray Lab, cartoon from Resonance: Journal of Scientific Education, August 1996.

Scientific illustration - a cartoon of a tranparent human, a visible skeleton, emerging from an X-ray laboratory. Click to embiggen

It’s funny, see? See?

This cartoon appeared in Resonance between an article called “Genetics to Genetic Algorithms: Solution to Optimisation Problems Using Natural Systems” and “Questioning a Dogma: Do Bacteria Know When and How to Mutate?”

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Science Art: Water, by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1566

Scientific illustration or, well, painting of Water and marine life as an elemental faceClick to embiggen

I’m not sure if this really is a scientific illustration, but I think, given the time, it counts as natural history. This thing – heads made of… well… non-head things, that was Arcimboldo’s thing. He also made stained glass windows and traditional religious art, but that’s not nearly so well remembered as these illusion paintings. It probably helps that one of them was a portrait of his patron, the Holy Roman Emperor, as the god of the seasons.

But this is the spirit…

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Science Art: favorite image Petrus Plancius Instructing Students in the Science of Navigation, early 17th century

Scientific Illustration of an Early Modern or Late Renaissance class for exploration; how sailors got where they were going. Click to embiggen

The Age of Exploration included at least a little bit of schoolwork. Here are navigation students learning the ways of current and coastline. Their teacher, Petrus Plancius, was a cartographer and Calvinist minister who helped Henry Hudson explore what we now know as New York, helped set up the Dutch East India company, and created some of the first globes not of Earth but of the constellations visible overhead, including some seen only from the Southern Hemisphere.

Foun…

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Science Art: Map IX: The Constellations of June and July by William Peck.

Scientific Illustration of a star map; the constellations of the summer monthsClick to embiggen
An image of the summer sky (in the Northern Hemisphere) by William Peck, F.R.A.S., from his book, The constellations and how to find them; 13 maps, showing the position of the constellations in the sky during each month of any year….

In 1887, this was a good way to learn about the sky. It hasn’t changed much since then, but we see a lot less because of all the electric streetlights and security lights and lights left on in our windows.

That smoky trail of the Milky Wa…

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The future is now.

31 July 2007 grant b 0

Via Wired’s Danger Room comes news from the US Army’s Future Combat Systems. They need a new name because we’re already living in the future: […]

The 62-mile-high club

30 July 2007 grant b 0

Discover raises a slippery space question… as if NASA didn’t have enough scandal to deal with lately: When missions lasted no more than a few […]

My Mechanical Mom

28 July 2007 grant b 0

From New Scientist comes news of the womb-on-a-chip: Fujii’s team has created a “lab on a chip” that is 2 millimetres across and 0.5 millimetres […]

The Amygdaloids

26 July 2007 grant b 0

From Salon comes assurance that we are not alone: All right, the occasion wasn’t a concert but a graduation ceremony for 10,000 students in the […]

Pleasure and placebo

25 July 2007 grant b 0

Nature plumbs the depths of one of the most mysterious processes in medicine. Researchers have found that the placebo effect – when “fake” medicine creates […]

The Noble Bonobo

25 July 2007 grant b 0

The New Yorker, of all publications, has a fascinating Ian Parker article on the natural history of the bonobo – the sexy primate that’s supposed […]

Ice Volcanoes of Charon!

24 July 2007 grant b 0

Nature brings new observations of Ice Volcanoes in Outer Space. Cook speculates that liquid water deep within Charon’s core is mixed with ammonia, which acts […]

SONG: A World Without Us.

23 July 2007 grant b 3

SONG: “A World Without Us” [Download] (To download: right-click & “Save As”) ARTIST: grant. I’m the guy who put this questionable site up on the […]

Schizophrenia in Paradise

19 July 2007 grant b 0

Science News reports on Trouble in Paradise – how feelings of “social defeat” could be responsible for triggering schizophrenia, which might explain why the otherwise […]

Weather in China

16 July 2007 grant b 0

On the one hand: China had more wars in cold weather Most of the armed conflicts in eastern China over the past 1,000 years were […]