Science Art: Single-Acting Force Pump with Ball Valves, 1903.

Scientific illustration of a pump with ball valves, from a textbook on mechanics and mechanical engineering

Among all the diagrams of force-vectors, there’s this wonderful illustration of a well-made machine in A Text-Book of Applied Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering, on

There’s little reason why a pump made to these specifications in 1903 wouldn’t still be operating, unless it had had been left idle and allowed to rust through somewhere. It makes you wonder.

Read more

SONG: Collisions

SONG: “Collisions”

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on BBC, 2 Sep 2020, “Black holes: Cosmic signal rattles Earth after 7 billion years”, as used in the post “A black hole bigger than a hundred suns”.

For whatever reason, I started September off earworming myself with the Parts+Labor cover of Kanye West’s “Runaway.” I have two primary musical modes, I think: quiet (mopey) indie pop, and very crunchy noise. Parts+Labor is a noise band, though a lot of their songs are surprisi…

Read more

Science Art: Roseate Spoonbill, study for Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom, by Abbot Handerson Thayer

Scientific illustration of a roseate spoonbill at sunset, supposedly showing its ability to camouflage itself against a pink background. Click to embiggen

As its Smithsonian Museum page explains, this painting is from a book that hoped to prove a slightly odd hypothesis: that even brightly colored animals would blend into their environment at key moments, giving them protection against predators they wouldn’t normally have. Abbott Handerson Thayer and his son Gerald published Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom in 1909, and attracted some high-profile criticism:

Thayer believed that the coloration of animals, no ma…

Read more

Science Art: Last Test Article for NASA’s SLS Rocket Departs Michoud Assembly Facility, 2019 - by NASA/Jude Guidry.

Scientific illustration of a rocket engine component for the Orion spacecraft Click to embiggen

A big part of a big rocket, loading onto a big barge in a big facility in Louisiana. As the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility image library description says:

The last of four structural test articles for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) was loaded onto NASA’s Pegasus barge Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The barge will deliver the liquid oxygen (LOX) tank structural test article from Michoud to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Cen…

Read more

Science Art: Gold plaques (items 9-14 in catalogue), by Ian Richardson, The British Museum, 2012

Scientific illustration of ancient Roman gold plaques.Click to embiggen

Treasure! Literally! A hoard of Roman gold and silver, including jewelry, figurines, and a lot of these votive “leaf” plaques.

A votive plaque like these was part of a religious offering, a small, thin wafer of gold or silver. From the description of item #8 on Wikimedia Commons:

9) Slender gold votive plaque, now detached from its uppermost position on the stack of six gold plaques. Embossed in the centre is a schematically-rendered slender gabled shrine, with a v…

Read more

Science Art: Dynamometer, 3 Feb 1865

A scientific illustration of a dynamometer, from the New York Public Library, 1865Click to embiggen

A dynamometer, illustrated by (or for) the United States Sanitary Commission in 1865.

A dynamometer measures power output. For an engine, it can measure things like torque or the ability to carry weight. For a human body, it can measure how tightly your hand can squeeze, or how much your bicep can lift.

This one came from a collection in the New York Public Library that also has things like photos of the Field Relief Corps, plans of locomotive hospital cars, portrait…

Read more

Ancient germs reborn

10 August 2007 grant b 0

From New Scientist comes a fun story about prehistoric bacteria being brought back to life by meddling scientists: Kay Bidle of Rutgers University in New […]

I Want My UFO

9 August 2007 grant b 0

Moller International, a company that’s been trying to market flying cars for a long while now, has finally made its breakthrough, reports LiveScience: [I]t looks […]

Science Tattoos

8 August 2007 grant b 0

Some researchers wear their subjects of study underneath their sleeves. I quite like the octopus….

Nerdcore soldiers on

8 August 2007 grant b 0

Via the MC Hawking blog comes word of the irresistible, meteoric rise of nerdcore, as declared by the New York Times last Sunday: Many nerdcore […]

Sleep Eaters

7 August 2007 grant b 0

Discover lifts the veil on unusual nocturnal behavior – the phenomenon of sleep eating: Except for the trail of crumbs and gooey messes that confront […]


6 August 2007 grant b 0

New Scientist on the dawn of the Humortron 3000: Now Julia Taylor and Lawrence Mazlack of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio have built a […]

Gimme more sugar! MORE!

4 August 2007 grant b 0

Kevin Beck at ScienceBlogs shares some news published on PLoS by researchers from France’s University of Bordeaux, who found that sweet things can be more […]

Robo-Dog Soldiers

2 August 2007 grant b 0

Well, we knew about robot dogs and we’ve heard about robot soldiers – but unless you were paying close attention, you might not have heard […]

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: […]