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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Cahokian human sacrifices picked local victims.

6 October 2015 // 0 Comments

Western Digs reveals the latest discovery from the metropolis of middle America – where they practiced human sacrifice with their own citizens: But one of the many mysteries lingering among the city’s ruins, just outside modern-day St. Louis, is a burial mound excavated in the 1960s and found to contain more than 270 bodies — almost all of them young women killed as victims of human sacrifice. … For decades, the prevailing theory has been that its victims were forcibly brought to Cahokia from regions under the city’s control, and sacrificed as offerings to its rulers, its dead, or its deities. “The initial interpretation of the burials of young women suggested they represented ‘tribute’ from outlying communities,” [Dr. Phil] Slater[, an anthropologist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey] said. “Our analysis provide[s] … evidence that suggests the young women may have come from within the region, if not from Cahokia itself.” What’s more, the research […]

“They ate better than we did.” Scans reveal Pompeii victims’ health.

30 September 2015 // 0 Comments looks at the petrified remains of Ancient Roman volcano victims: A recently launched project that is performing CAT scans on the remains of Pompeii victims contained within plaster casts has revealed that good health was widespread among people of the ancient city. “For sure, they ate better than we did,” orthodontist Elisa Vanacore said during a press conference in Pompeii on Tuesday, after analyzing some of the initial results. “They have really good teeth – they ate a diet that contained few sugars, and was high in fruit and vegetables,” she added…. The archaeological superintendent of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, was quick to underscore the importance of the interdisciplinary project, which will see archaeologists working alongside computer engineers, radiologists and orthodontists. … Unfortunately, the machine only allows casts of a 70cm diameter to enter – so parts of the more portly residents of Pompeii will remain a mystery – although their heads and chests will […]

Salmon snacks sent Stone Age settlers south.

22 September 2015 // 0 Comments

New Scientist reveals how the first Americans made their way into Alaska and down… by eating salmon along the way: The bones were discovered in a hearth inside a house at the Upward Sun River site, the exact location where human remains were previously found of two buried infants and a cremated 3-year-old boy. Fish bones are fragile and not typically well preserved over time, but here they appear to have been rapidly buried and thus protected from acidic forest sediments. Using DNA analysis, researchers identified the remains as chum salmon. An examination of carbon and nitrogen isotopes showed that they had migrated upriver from the sea. … Carrin Halffman of the University of Alaska Fairbanks says the findings add to growing evidence that counters the view of early North American settlers as specialist big-game hunters.

New Stonehenge discovery = “Archaeology on steroids.”

8 September 2015 // 0 Comments

The Guardian bulks up over scientific enthusiasm for a long-buried stone structure: Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a massive stone monument buried under a thick, grassy bank only two miles from Stonehenge. The hidden arrangement of up to 90 huge standing stones formed part of a C-shaped Neolithic arena that bordered a dry valley and faced directly towards the river Avon. … “What we are starting to see is the largest surviving stone monument, preserved underneath a bank, that has ever been discovered in Britain and possibly in Europe,” said Vince Gaffney, an archaeologist at Bradford University who leads the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape project. “This is archaeology on steroids.” … Images of the buried stones show them lying down, but Gaffney believes they originally stood upright and were pushed over when the site was redeveloped by Neolithic builders. The recumbent stones became lost beneath a huge bank and were incorporated as a somewhat clumsy […]

Sea monster found off Sweden – and archaeologists are thrilled.

20 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Denmark’s The Local shares the excitement of discovering a 400-year-old dragon – a figurehead from a Danish ship – that has been hidden in the sea since the 1500s: The wooden face, which resembles a monster or a large grinning dog, had been lying on a seabed off the southern Swedish town of Ronneby for more than five centuries. It is thought to have broken off from the Gribhunden ship, commissioned by King Hans, who ruled Denmark from 1481 to 1513. The ship sunk after a fire. … Marcus Sandekejer from Blekinge museum, which is set to put the discovery on display later this month, told The Local on Wednesday: “This figurehead is probably the only one left from a 15th century ship in the world.” He said it was a “fantastic feeling” watching expert archaeologists lift the creature out of the water. “520 years under water….and in such a great condition!” The museum is […]

The Lost Colony… found?

12 August 2015 // 0 Comments

New York Times reveals what might be the ultimate fate of the Lost Colony of Roanoke: They call the spot Site X. Down a dusty road winding through soybean fields, the clearing lies between two cypress swamps teeming with venomous snakes. It is a suitably mysterious name for a location that may shed light on an enigma at the heart of America’s founding: the fate of the “lost colonists” who vanished from a sandy outpost on Roanoke Island, about 60 miles east, in the late 16th century. On and off for three years, Mr. [Nicholas] Luccketti and colleagues with the First Colony Foundation have been excavating parts of the hillside, hoping to find traces of the colonists. As if clues in a latter-day treasure hunt, hidden markings on a 16th-century map led them to the spot on the sound’s western shore, which Mr. Luccketti had previously surveyed. Mr. Luccketti, 66, chose his words carefully as […]

Makin’ babies with Neanderthals *changed* us.

30 July 2015 // 0 Comments

As a species. In some pretty profound ways, Nature says. They highlight a few of the “outsize effects” our Neanderthal genes have on our lives: Now researchers are using large genomics studies to unravel the decidedly mixed contributions that these ancient romps made to human biology — from the ability of H. sapiens to cope with environments outside Africa, to the tendency of modern humans to get asthma, skin diseases and maybe even depression. … In some cases, they are very different from the corresponding H. sapiens DNA, notes population geneticist David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts — which makes it more likely that they could introduce useful traits. “Even though it’s only a couple or a few per cent of ancestry, that ancestry was sufficiently distant that it punched above its weight,” he says. … Using de-identified genome data and medical records from 28,000 hospital patients, [Corinne Simonti and Tony Capra, […]

Archaeologists unearth magic Viking sword.

16 July 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily has a for-real scientific report with an abstract that begins “Have you held the sword? Have you felt its weight?”: Have you felt how sharp and strong the blade is? A deadly weapon and symbol of power — jewellery for a man, with ‘magical properties’. The sword gave power to the warrior, but the warrior’s strength could also be transferred to the sword. That is how they were bound together: man and weapon, warrior and sword. This sword was found in Langeid in Bygland in Setesdal in 2011. It is a truly unique sword from the late Viking Age, embellished with gold, inscriptions and other ornamentation. The discovery of the sword has not been published until now…. “Even before we began the excavation of this grave, I realised it was something quite special. The grave was so big and looked different from the other 20 graves in the burial ground. In each of […]

Zombies of the ancient world

17 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Popular Archaeology thrills us with really, really old scares… digging up (literally!) evidence of Classical Greek zombie stories: As one case in point, [University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Fellow and writer Carrie Sulosky Weaver] elaborates on finds unearthed in a cemetery located near the ancient coastal Greek town of Kamarina in southeastern Sicily. Known as Passo Marinaro, this cemetery served as a Classical period necropolis in use from the 5th through 3rd centuries BCE. Approximately 2,905 burials have been excavated by archaeologists at the site, more than half of which contained grave goods, such as terracotta vases, figurines, and metal coins. But two of the burials were unique. The first, designated tomb 653, contained an individual who, although of unknown gender, apparently suffered from serious malnutrition and illness in life. But “what is unusual about Tomb 653 is that the head and feet of the individual are completely covered by large amphora fragments,” states Weaver. “The […]

Ritual intoxication in the Holy Land

4 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Times of Israel reports on archaelogists puzzling out just *how* high Philistines were getting for religious reasons: In an upcoming symposium in Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, aptly titled “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” archaeologists will discuss the analysis of findings from an incineration pit in Yavneh that was discovered a decade ago. The findings constitute the oldest known ritual use of the intoxicating Hyoscyamus plant, which has an effect on the body similar to that of alcohol. Thousands of artifacts used for worship were found inside the Yavneh pit, including clay and stone bowls, some of which served to hold the intoxicating plants, as well as hallucinogenic substances such as nutmeg. … According to [Dr. Devori] Mandar [of the Earth Science Institute at Hebrew University], the field of “sensory archaeology” is in its very early stages, and substantial knowledge is still lacking.

Fire exposes something really interesting on Montana’s plains – an unseen stone complex.

26 May 2015 // 0 Comments reveals what we now know about the ceremonial carvings hidden for centuries under the sod: Among the formations are two large effigies — or figures made from arrangements of stones — one of a human and the other, perhaps, of a turtle. The burn also exposed six rock cairns, a multitude of stone tipi rings, and dozens of so-called drive lines — alignments of large boulders that ancient hunters used to chase bison into a killing pen. … The artifacts — along with radiocarbon dates from six discrete layers of cast-off bison remains — showed that the site was used regularly from 770 to 1040 CE. As part of a new test project this spring, land managers set out both to preserve and to record the Henry Smith site, using a combination of the very latest technology, and the most ancient. First, in mid-April, a prescribed fire was set and was allowed to consume […]

An 800-year-old Viking note found. Written in runes on a slip of wood.

7 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Nordic hails a medieval discovery in the heart of Odense, Denmark – a medieval runestick written by someone named Tomme: It isn’t easy to decipher what the runes say and the stick itself is extremely fragile, explained rune expert and senior researcher Lisbeth Imer from the National Museum of Denmark in the press release. ”The stick itself had the consistency of cold butter before it was conserved, and some little devil of a root has gouged its way along the inscription on one side, which is a bit upsetting,” said Imer. All the same, the researchers have been able to make out the words “good health” and “Tomme his servant”. According to the archaeologists the latter refers to the round stick’s owner as a servant of God. The words are in Latin. … The rune stick, which may have been worn as an amulet or talisman, was found among ancient stalls, at a place […]

Pocahontas was married here. In this church.

1 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Well, sort of. Popular Archaeology traces the efforts now underway to rebuild the Jamestown church where Pocahontas was married: About five years after the footprint of the first Jamestown colony church was discovered, archaeologists and other specialists are busy partially reconstructing the structure. … Based on the evidence recovered from the initial excavation of the church, archaeologists know that the building was constructed as a ‘mud and stud’ structure, where the walls of the building were constructed of simple wood posts in the ground with mud fill for the walls. Although the original wood construction has long vanished, the dimensions of the posthole traces in the soil and the overall measurements of the soil footprint of the structure matched the dimensions of the early church described in the record by William Strachey, Secretary of the colony. The modern construction crew has attempted to duplicate the construction process followed by the early colonists as much as […]

Science Art: The Golden Horns of Gallehus.

26 April 2015 // 0 Comments

These are two ancient horns, made of gold and engraved (or embossed) with runes and pictures that seem to tell a story. Or maybe just look cool. Also, they are horns that it seems like no one ever blew (one translation of one inscription is about drinking), and they are horns that are not there: The original horns were stolen and melted down in 1802. Casts made of the horns in the late 18th century were also lost. Replicas of the horns must thus rely on 17th and 18th-century drawings exclusively and are accordingly fraught with uncertainty. Nevertheless, replicas of the original horns were produced and are exhibited at the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, and the Moesgaard Museum, near Aarhus, Denmark. These replicas also have a history of having been stolen and retrieved twice, in 1993 and in 2007. [via Archaeological Illustrations – apparently an edit of two scans from S.A.Andersen: Guldhornene, København 1945.]

Our cannibal roots.

17 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily digs into new evidence that early humans enjoyed an occasional bite of early human: Gough’s Cave in Somerset was thought to have given up all its secrets when excavations ended in 1992, yet research on human bones from the site has continued in the decades since. … The excavations uncovered intensively-processed human bones intermingled with abundant butchered large mammal remains and a diverse range of flint, bone, antler, and ivory artefacts. New radiocarbon techniques have revealed remains were deposited over a very short period of time, possibly during a series of seasonal occupations, about 14,700 years ago. Dr Silvia Bello, from the Natural History Museum’s Department of Earth Sciences, lead researcher of the work said, “The human remains have been the subject of several studies. In a previous analysis, we could determine that the cranial remains had been carefully modified to make skull-cups. During this research, however, we’ve identified a far greater degree […]

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