Science Art: Persea: Taft, by Royal Charles Steadman, 1914.

Scientific Illustration of a Taft avocado, from the USDA Pomological Watercolors Click to embiggen

It’s an avocado, an aguacate, also known as an alligator pear in English and a “lawyer pear” in Dutch. This is a Taft variety, an ancestor of the Lula cultivar, and may or may not still be around. In the 1910s, it was a well-known summer variety of the “Guatemalan race” of avocados. There are three races of avocados, did you know? The one you probably find in your grocery, the Hass, is a cross between Guatemalan and Mexican races probably. No one’s really sure because the fi…

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Science Art: Diagram of interferometer and four mirrors mounted on stone floating in mercury..., 1887

Scientific illustration of an interferometer used to disprove the existence of the luminiferous ether in the 19th centuryClick to embiggen

From the Library of Congress, we find a diagram of astrophysics equipment from the 19th century. It’s not a telescope. It’s a device designed to disprove the existence of the luminiferous ether, the stuff that we once thought filled outer space rather than the endless void we now know we’re all suspended in. The idea was that light needed something to travel through, some kind of medium, just like sound needs to travel through air (or water, or solid objects). The interfero…

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SONG: Small

SONG: “Small”

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on Science News, 4 Feb 2021, “A new chameleon species may be the world’s tiniest reptile”, as used in the post “Just discovered: world’s tiniest reptile”.

I managed to write and record this entirely in one day, which pleases me. I was doing other things, too. I knew earlier that I’d do a song about the tiny chameleon, and I knew I’d write the song to be short, as befits the reptile’s size. But I didn’t really know how I’d structu…

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Science Art: Leavitt Bulldog body diagram, 2013

Scientific illustration of the Leavitt bulldog, a healthier breed of English bulldog

As most folks know, today’s English bulldog is an animal that has been, as they say, “overbred.” They have beautiful temperaments as a rule, and can barely breathe, which gives them flatulence, can’t reach their own tails to groom themselves, have absurd wrinkles which get kinda gnarly and require human cleaning regularly, and are otherwise prone to skin conditions and a horrific thing called “cherry eye.” I know this intimately; we have an English bulldog we wouldn’t trade for the world. Sh…

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Science Art: Ingenuity Mars helicopter, by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientific illustration of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter, by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Next week, on February 18, this little chopper will touch down on Mars with the Perseverance rover. Then, a little while later, it’ll take off for a few seconds. Then a few more. Then it’ll start whirring around the atmosphere. The Mars Ingenuity helicopter (you can see videos at that link) is designed to test how well a familiar flying machine can maneuver in the thinner atmosphere of Mars (and keep itself going with a solar panel and lithium-ion batteries) during a 30-day flight window. If…

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Science Art: Tackles, 1905.

Scientific illustration of pulleys in block and tackle arrangements, increasing mechanical efficiency. Click to embiggen

Pulleys and rope, arranged to make lifting heavy weights easier. I’ve been messing around with boats lately, lowering a 30-foot mast with a lot of help. Pulleys are an amazing invention.

These are pictured in the Manual of Military Engineering, published in 1905 by the War Office of Great Britain… but I found them over here.

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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 […]