Science Art: Ecphora gardnerae, by J.C. McConnell

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A shellfish that was around when megalodons swam and the first crows flew.

It was drawn by J.C. McConnell, a doctor who officially worked as a clerk for the Army Medical Museum, and gained a reputation for his shells, especially prehistoric ones.

If you’re going to be known for anything, I guess, why not that?

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SONG: "Jump, Jump, Jump."

SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “Fish and Adaptation: Mangrove Fish Jumps into Air in Warming Water”, Nature World News, 21 Oct 2015, as used in the post “Global warming might make the fish jump.”

ABSTRACT: First, let me say that this was done on time, even early. It started as a jokey thing I was singing to my son while he was watching me play guitar on the couch, and I decided what the hell. They call it “playing” music for a reason. (I guess if I spoke …

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SONG: All Praise Black Ice

SONG: “All Praise Black Ice”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto”,, 8 Oct 2015, as used in the post “There’s water ice on another planet. Not Mars. Pluto.”


Laryngitis followed by a business trip and here I am, a couple weeks late. I hope the brass section makes up for that.

(Yes, there’s brass in there, somewhere. I really need help mastering these things, but one does what one can in between everything e…

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Science Art: Taf. V: Feuer-Salamander by Bruno Dürigen.


Fire salamanders.

They don’t look so hot.


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Science Art: Chemical Laboratory room. Experimental Research labs, Burroughs Wellcome and Co. Tuckahoe, New York

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Welcome to Wellcome.

They’ve got all kinds of wonderful things in their image gallery, including this marvelous experimenter in an even more marvelous experimental lab.

In 1935, this was where the future was made.

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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 […]