Science Art: Giant Animals: Modern and Extinct (detail), by Mary McLain

Click to embiggen

These are prehistoric animals compared to their modern relatives and, for scale, a human. A human who’s interested in what they’re like… except when…

Look out! HELL PIG!

There are plenty more of the majestic giants (and some terrifying ones) at NPR’s Skunk Bear tumblog.

Read more

Science Art: Jupiter's Rings by LORRI, 2007.

Click to embiggen

The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).

This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …

Read more

SONG: Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)

SONG: “Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”

ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).

So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…

Read more

Science Art: Doree, Zeus, Faber by Edward Donovan


Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.

I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):

John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…

Read more

Science Art: Her Majesty's Cochins; Imported in 1843, published 1904.

Click to embiggen

These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.

This picture is from The Asiatics; Brahmas, Cochins and Langshans, all varieties, their origin; peculiarities of shape and color; egg production; their ma…

Read more

Science Art: Soaking Up the Rays of a Sun-Like Star, by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, 2015.

452b_artistconcept_beautyshotClick to embiggen

This is an artist’s impression of a planet just discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission that’s gotten the folks at SETI all excited.

It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…

Read more

Quantum computers can work.

29 November 2012 // 0 Comments

Laboratory Equipment points the way for the next big breakthrough in thinking machines: Many quantum algorithms require that particles’ spins be “entangled,” meaning that they’re all dependent on each other. The more entanglement a physical system offers, the greater its computational power. Until now, theoreticians have demonstrated the possibility of high entanglement only in a very complex spin chain, which would be difficult to realize experimentally. In simpler systems, the degree of entanglement appeared to be capped: beyond a certain point, adding more particles to the chain didn’t seem to increase the entanglement. This month, however, in the journal Physical Review Letters, a group of researchers at MIT, IBM, Masaryk Univ. in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Northeastern Univ. proved that even in simple spin chains, the degree of entanglement scales with the length of the chain. The research thus offers strong evidence that relatively simple quantum systems could offer considerable […]

The way you walk is just the way YOU walk. And the computer knows it.

21 September 2012 // 0 Comments

Laboratory Equipment reveals how computers can now ID you by watching you walk: he National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has developed a walking gait recognition system that, in combination with other tools, can help track an individual though a CCTV monitored area by analyzing the way that they walk. New technology developed by NPL, the Centre for Advanced Software Technology (CAST), the BBC and BAE Systems has improved spatial awareness for CCTV and security systems. The system combines a computer model of the NPL building with feeds from CCTV cameras placed around the site. It records a person’s gait signature, or specific walk, checks to see where else that person has been in the building and displays the results in the computer model. Improving visualization tools in filming equipment has a range of benefits — from identifying suspects based on the way they walk, to streamlining the broadcast of sporting footage.

The robot knows itself.

6 September 2012 // 0 Comments

Machines, BBC reports, are one step closer to personhood, thanks to Yale researchers inventing Nico, a robot who knows himself: “It is a spatial reasoning task for the robot to understand that its arm is on it not on the other side of the mirror,” Justin Hart, the PhD student leading the research told BBC News. So far the robot has been programmed to recognise a reflection of its arm, but ultimately Mr Hart wants it to pass the “full mirror test”. The so-called mirror test was originally developed in 1970 and has become the classic test of self-awareness. More usually performed on animals, the creature is given time to get used to the mirror and is then anesthetized and marked on the face with odourless, non-tactile dye. The animal’s reaction to their reflection is used as a gauge of their self-awareness, based on whether they inspect the mark on their own body, or react […]

Grandad’s got a better password than you, kiddo.

4 June 2012 // 0 Comments

In all likelihood, that is. New Scientist doesn’t actually *know* your password, of course. But they know that if you’re over 55, you’re more likely to be secure than if you’re under 25: People over the age of 55 pick passwords double the strength of those chosen by people under 25 years old. That’s according to the largest ever study of password security, which also found that most of us choose passwords that are less secure than security experts recommend. Joseph Bonneau, a computer scientist at the University of Cambridge, analysed the passwords of nearly 70 million Yahoo! users. The data had been protected using a security technique called hashing, which ensured he did not have access to the individual accounts. He calculated the password strengths for different demographic groups and compared the results. A comparison of different nationalities found that German and Korean speakers choose the strongest passwords, whereas Indonesians pick the weakest. I […]

Science Art: Pfd-symbols, from the free open source program, Dia.

15 January 2012 // 0 Comments

Image from Wikimedia Commons. These symbols show steps in various chemical processes – the things you can do to change substances. Well, the things chemical engineers can do, one step leading into the next. The symbols represent: fan/stirrer, pneumatic line, pneumatic line vertical, measurement, simple heat exchanger simple heat exchanger vertical, alternative heat exchanger, alternative heat exchanger, fixed-sheet heat exchanger, floating-head or u-tube heat exchanger. kettle reboiler, air cooler, forced-flow air cooler, induced-flow air cooler, plate exchanger. double-pipe exchanger, heating/cooling coil, heating/cooling coil, simple furnace, simple vessel, knockout drum, tray column, tray column detailed fluid contacting vessel, reaction/absorption vessel, autoclave, open tank, clarifier/settling tank, sealed tank, covered tank, tank with fixed roof tank with floating roof, storage sphere, gas holder basic, centrifugal pump or fan, positive displacement rotary pump or compressor, reciprocating pump or compressor, axial flow fan compressor or turbine, ejector or injector, AC generator, valve, valve, control valve, control valve basic filter, mixer, […]

The Twitter trenches

3 August 2011 // 0 Comments

Time reveals more of the Pentagon’s social media warfare research: The new Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program was submitted under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an arm of the Department of Defense. The goal is to “develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base” to help the agency keep abreast with communication technologies, namely Twitter. … The program’s plan is fourfold: 1. Detect, classify, measure and track the (a) formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes), and (b) purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation. 2. Recognize persuasion campaign structures and influence operations across social mediasites and communities. 3. Identify participants and intent, and measure effects of persuasion campaigns. 4. Counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations. It makes sense: Twitter’s gotten a lot of shine as a tool for mass mobilization, none more famous than during the Arab Spring. With over 200 million tweets […]

10 red balloons.

10 December 2009 // 0 Comments

That’s what DARPA launched to test new ways to use the internet – and social media specifically, the Guardian says – to solve problems rapidly (and to locate targets, I’m guessing). Find the balloons, get a prize. Unsurprisingly, M.I.T. won the game in a matter of hours: The winning team has not explained precisely how they came to discover the location of all 10 balloons, but the process detailed on the team website explains that they created a viral campaign to encourage people to put forward information they gleaned about the locations. The team offered the first person to spot a balloon a $2,000 share of the prize money, but smaller awards would also be given to those who referred that player to MIT’s website – a scheme of incentives aimed at getting people to urge their friends to take part. Whatever happened in the end, it appeared to work – and quickly. There’s a […]

My Bionic Eye.

5 March 2009 // 0 Comments

BBC News tells the story of a blind man whose life has been changed by his bionic eye: Ron, who has not revealed his surname, told the BBC: “For 30 years I’ve seen absolutely nothing at all, it’s all been black, but now light is coming through. Suddenly to be able to see light again is truly wonderful. “I can actually sort out white socks, grey socks and black socks.” “My one ambition at the moment is to be able to go out on a nice, clear evening and be able to pick up the moon.” Ron’s wife Tracy is also hugely encouraged by the progress he has made. How the bionic eye works. She said: “He can do a lot more now than he could before, doing the washing, being able to tell white from a coloured item. “I’ve taught him how to use the washing machine and away he goes. It’s just the […]

Help us speak science.

3 February 2009 // 0 Comments

Nature’s Nascent blog has a call for volunteers to help evaluate abstracts and comments on PLoS ONE, the Public Library of Science: I agree with Deepak’s assessment: Is the commenting on PLoS ONE at a level that we hoped it would be? Not quite. Is it as bad as some might like to believe? Not quite. … in the best possible way. Considering how alien the concept of commenting on a paper online is to most scientists PLoS should be pleased with their efforts. By categorizing comments we should be able to better understand what kind of comments get left and responded to and hopefully we can get a better idea of how they should be encouraged and presented. I’ll make the results publicly available once they’ve all been processed. If you think you can speak science and have a few minutes to spare, go to PLoS ONE’s comment categorization page at and lend […]

The Olympic Computer.

1 August 2008 // 0 Comments

The New York Times shares an interesting theory about the Antikythera Mechanism, the ancient clockwork computer recovered from the Mediterranean. Instead of being some kind of mathematical device from Rhodes, it could have been a Corinthian machine for calculating dates for the Olympiad: In the journal report, the team led by the mathematician and filmmaker Tony Freeth of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, in Cardiff, Wales, said the month names “are unexpectedly of Corinthian origin,” which suggested “a heritage going back to Archimedes.” … Inscriptions also showed that one of the instrument’s dials was used to record the timing of the pan-Hellenic games, a four-year cycle that was “a common framework for chronology” by the Greeks, the researchers said.

Twitch of a (bionic) whisker.

21 July 2008 // 0 Comments

New Scientist senses the tiniest air currents by a synthetic whisker: The design consists of an artificial hair deposited on a silicon substrate and connected to it by a flexible hinge. When a magnetic field is applied, the hinge bends, causing the hairs to stand up straight. For protection, the hairs can be embedded in a polymer skin. Movement of a hair can be monitored as it bends – a process that changes its resistance – creating an artificial hair cell that can “sense” its environment. NASA’s planning on putting them in wind tunnels, which makes sense.

Robot chef!

18 July 2008 // 0 Comments

New Scientist is living in The Jetsons: “If you want to interpret and understand everyday activities using vision data, it’s very complicated, error-prone, and resource intensive,” says Michael Beetz, who led the research. “If you do it with RFID tags, there is very little sensor information, but it’s highly correlated with the activities you are performing.” As a result, the robot knows where everything is, and it can learn simple tasks simply by observing the movements of the objects. … “Setting the table is very easily recognised from cups and plates disappearing from the cupboard and appearing on the table, and cleaning up later is characterised by the same objects disappearing from the table and appearing in the dishwasher,” Beetz says. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich are also looking at ways to get the robot to connect to the internet to look up stuff. “Oh,” it’ll say to itself. “That’s what a coffee […]