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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This is the world’s oldest smutty graffiti.

11 July 2014 // 0 Comments

The Guardian opens the classicists’ bathroom door to reveal a Greek discovery – world’s oldest erotic graffiti: Certainly, Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, didn’t think so when he began fieldwork on the Aegean island four years ago. Until he chanced upon a couple of racy inscriptions and large phalluses carved into Astypalaia’s rocky peninsula at Vathy. The inscriptions, both dating to the fifth and sixth centuries BC, were “so monumental in scale” – and so tantalisingly clear – he was left in no doubt of the motivation behind the artworks. “They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions,” said the Princeton-trained professor who found them while introducing students to the ancient island world of the Aegean. “They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself,” he told the Guardian. “And that is very, very rare.” Photos (probably SFW) at […]

“Mind-blowing” Viking discovery made in Ireland.

4 July 2014 // 0 Comments

Irish Central has more on the pristine site in a little village in County Louth that used to be a Viking winter base: Geophysical tests funded by Dundalk’s County Museum have allowed scientists to make the big breakthrough. They have now confirmed that the Linn Duchaill site, beside the river Glyde and south of Dundalk Bay, was where the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired. It was also the base for inland raids as far as Longford and north to Armagh. Although eventually abandoned as a port due to poor tides and a shallow bay, Linn Duachaill was also a large trading town as the Vikings exported Irish slaves and looted goods. Experts have been blown away by the find on farmland in the small village. Louth County Museum curator Brian Walsh told the Irish Examiner: “This site is mind-blowing. It is untouched, there is no motorway going through it and […]

Fisherman reels in pagan god.

2 June 2014 // 0 Comments

A Siberian fisherman netted a priceless archaeological artifact – a little statue from 2000 BCE. No word from the New York Daily News on the one that got away: Nikolay Tarasov, 53, netted the extraordinary 4,000-year-old figurine while fishing in his hometown of Tisul, in Russia’s Kemerovo region. The small object got tangled in his net and Tarasov was getting ready to chuck it back into the river when he glanced down to take another look. That’s when he saw a face staring back up at him. “I stopped and washed the thing in the river and realized it wasn’t a stone of an unusual shape, as I thought earlier, but a statuette,” the man told the Siberian Times. … Tisul’s History Museum was stunned when Tarasov brought them the find. Experts said it was made out of horn that has fossilized. They have dated it to the Bronze Age and believe it may have […]

Civilization has vegetarian roots.

9 May 2014 // 0 Comments

At least, Laboratory Equipment says, in ancient Egypt. A new study of carbon-levels in mummies has found that until recently, when people settled down to build cities, they stopped eating (too much) meat: All carbon atoms are taken in by plants from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the process of photosynthesis. By eating plants, and the animals that had eaten plants, the carbon ends up in our bodies. … The researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science. They measured carbon-13 to carbon-12 ratios (and also some other isotope ratios) in bone, enamel and hair in these remains, and compared them to similar measurements performed on pigs that had received controlled diets consisting of different proportions of C3 and C4 foodstuffs. As pigs have a similar metabolism to humans, their carbon isotope ratios could be compared to what was found in the mummies. Hair absorbs a higher rate of animal proteins than […]

Out of the Cattle Crescent.

31 March 2014 // 0 Comments

Science Daily twists the archaeological order of things around a little. Humans came out of Africa, humans in Africa have domesticated cattle for thousands of years, the easy assumption is that cattle were first domesticated in Africa and kind of moved out with us into the Fertile Crescent, where they helped us settle down and build the first cities. Fresh milk to build bricks! But no – geneticists have proved that cattle came out of Mesopotamia and went out of the “cradle of civilization” and moved back to Africa: Lead researcher Jared Decker, an assistant professor of animal science in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, says the genetics of these African cattle breeds are similar to those of cattle first domesticated in the Middle East nearly 10,000 years ago, proving that those cattle were brought to Africa as farmers migrated south. Those cattle then interbred with wild cattle, or aurochs, which […]

2,000-year-old village uncovered… in downtown Miami.

6 February 2014 // 0 Comments

Miami Herald gets the low-down on the underground 305 – hidden under Miami streets and condos and neon-lit skyscrapers, there’s a prehistoric village (and a priceless piece of the past) under what’s supposed to become a development project: Archaeologists who for months have been uncovering mounting evidence of an ancient and extensive Native American village in the middle of downtown Miami have concluded it’s likely one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the United States. The archaeologists, under the direction of veteran South Florida archaeologist Bob Carr, have so far painstakingly dug up eight large circles comprised of uniformly carved holes in the native limestone that they believe to be foundation holes for Tequesta Indian dwellings dating as far back as 2,000 years. They have also discovered linear, parallel arrangements of hundreds of such postholes stretching across the site that Carr hypothesizes mark the foundation for other structures, possibly boardwalks connecting the dwellings. The […]

Drill two holes in your head and see me in the morning.

20 December 2013 // 0 Comments

PhysOrg takes a deeper look at the reasons why prehistoric doctors poked holes in their patients’ heads: However, evidence shows that healers in Peru practiced trepanation—a surgical procedure that involves removing a section of the cranial vault using a hand drill or a scraping tool—more than 1,000 years ago to treat a variety of ailments, from head injuries to heartsickness. … “For about 400 years, from 600 to 1000 AD, the area where I work—the Andahuaylas—was living as a prosperous province within an enigmatic empire known as the Wari,” [Santa Barbara bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin] said. “For reasons still unknown, the empire suddenly collapsed.” And the collapse of civilization, she noted, brings a lot of problems. “But it is precisely during times of collapse that we see people’s resilience and moxie coming to the fore,” Kurin continued. “In the same way that new types of bullet wounds from the Civil War resulted in the development of […]

Oldest ancestor’s DNA is sequenced.

6 December 2013 // 0 Comments

Meaning, although PhysOrg stops short of saying so, that we could maybe someday build a hominin from scratch. As it is, though, we’ve still got a lot we can do today, now that we’ve figured out the 400,000-year-old genetic code of Homo heidelbergensis: Matthias Meyer and his team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have developed new techniques for retrieving and sequencing highly degraded ancient DNA. They then joined forces with Juan-Luis Arsuaga and applied the new techniques to a cave bear from the Sima de los Huesos site. After this success, the researchers sampled two grams of bone powder from a hominin thigh bone from the cave. They extracted its DNA and sequenced the genome of the mitochondria or mtDNA, a small part of the genome that is passed down along the maternal line and occurs in many copies per cell. The researchers then compared this ancient mitochondrial DNA […]

Cavemen & modern humans… they got it on.

21 November 2013 // 0 Comments

DNA analysis presented at the Royal Society in London shows, Nature says in the most delicate way possible, that ancient humans were getting it on more than we suspected: The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a member of an archaic human group called the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting on ancient DNA at the Royal Society in London. The results suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet-unknown human ancestor from Asia. “What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a Lord of the Rings-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work. … The Denisovan genome indicates that the population got around: [David] Reich[, an […]

Cave artists mostly feminine.

10 October 2013 // 0 Comments

National Geographic looks into the caves and reports on the earliest artists’ small, beautiful hands: Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female. “There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time,” said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. “People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why.” Archaeologists have found hundreds of hand stencils on cave walls across the world. Because many of these early paintings also showcase game animals—bison, reindeer, horses, woolly mammoths—many researchers have proposed that they were made by male hunters, perhaps to chronicle their kills or as some kind of “hunting magic” to improve success of an upcoming hunt. The new study suggests […]

After the Ice Age, the farmers came

9 October 2013 // 0 Comments

Sweden’s The Local rewrites history with a pre-Viking farm that they’re calling “shocking”: “It is completely unique,” Jan Heinerud at Västerbotten’s Museum in Umeå told The Local on Friday. “We have never previously found a long house like this so far north.” The farm was discovered in the area between Backen and Klabböle in an area known as Klockaråkern and it is thought that the farm was in use for almost 600 years from around 1100 BC. … Heinerud explained that the find changes the history of the region around Norrland’s main city of Umeå and raises further interesting questions over how the area was used between 500 BC and 500 AD, of which little is known. [via Archaeological News]

A book that’s physically older than Jesus.

24 July 2013 // 0 Comments

Archaeologists in China have found a collection of bamboo texts – including copies of the I Ching, Tao Te Ching, the Analects of Confucius and other classics. New York Times reports on the fragile, waterlogged library that’s older than Jesus: “When we opened the box it had a bad smell. Moldy. Many were broken,” said Li Xueqin, an eminent historian and paleographer at the university. Underneath the hard, impacted mud was something stunning: ancient literary texts, written on the bamboo strips in pure, stable ink. For three months, Mr. Li’s team cleaned the slender strips, a difficult job because the very cells of the bamboo were saturated with water, making them as soft as cooked noodles. Inscribed with some of the earliest known texts of the Chinese classics and believed to have been illegally excavated from the tomb of a historian who lived in the state of Chu during the Warring States period, around 300 […]

Jungle city discovered by laser.

19 June 2013 // 0 Comments

If you needed any more proof we’re actually living in the pulp future of a 1920s dime novel, explorers have just used airborne lasers to reveal a long-lost jungle city: The discovery of Mahendraparvata, a 1,200-year-old lost city that predates Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat temple complex by 350 years, was part of the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire that ruled much of Southeast Asia from about 800 to 1400 A.D., during a time that coincided with Europe’s Middle Ages. Damian Evans, director of the University of Sydney’s archaeological research center in Cambodia, and a small group of colleagues working in the Siem Reap region mapped an area using airborne Lidar, a remote-sensing technology utilizing lasers. It showed them the outline of the ancient city It had never been looted – still pristine. Of course, if you check the link, you’ll know where the city is now. No one’s really sure just how big it is, either. [via […]

Cannibals of Jamestown

2 May 2013 // 0 Comments

Smithsonian unfolds an ugly story archaeologists have uncovered of the first “successful” English settlement in America – at Jamestown, where settlers got so hungry, they apparently ate a 14-year-old girl: “The chops to the forehead are very tentative, very incomplete,” says Douglas Owsley, the Smithsonian forensic anthropologist who analyzed the bones after they were found by archaeologists from Preservation Virginia. “Then, the body was turned over, and there were four strikes to the back of the head, one of which was the strongest and split the skull in half. A penetrating wound was then made to the left temple, probably by a single-sided knife, which was used to pry open the head and remove the brain.” … Sixteen years later, in 1625, George Percy, who had been president of Jamestown during the Starving Time, wrote a letter describing the colonists’ diet during that terrible winter. “Haveinge fedd upon our horses and other beastes as longe […]

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