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.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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 […]