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

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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.

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

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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 …

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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…

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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…

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

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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…

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

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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…

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Self-driving trucks – no humans *at all* – on Florida’s roads this year.

28 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Popular Science warns us to slow down by construction sites and watch for self-driving trucks on Florida roads by year’s end: The rigs, which are part of a Department of Transportation pilot program, can navigate by following a pre-programmed lead car, via remote control, or by using GPS Waypoint navigation. Daimler’s self-driving tractor trailers have already been testing in Nevada under a special state-granted autonomous license. But like the Google autonomous cars on the road in California, Daimler’s trucks require a human driver to be on board—the vehicles scheduled to deploy to the Sunshine State don’t. The modified medium-duty Freightliners will be used for highway construction projects, and safety was cited as a key factor in removing from the driver from the equation. Video at the link.

There’s an all-electric big rig out on the road today….

10 July 2015 // 0 Comments explains how BMW put a pollution-free semi to work on the autobahn: The BMW Group began using an all-electric semi-truck to transport vehicle components from the SCHERM group logistics center to the BMW plant in Munich on July 7, making it the first automobile manufacturer in Europe to use a 40-ton, electric-driven truck for everyday hauling on public roads. The truck, built by the Dutch manufacturer Terberg, has a 100 kilometer range on a single charge, which takes three to four hours to complete. That lets it travel for a full work day – eight trips per day – without needing to recharge. BMW said the truck will save 11.8 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually, as well as saving money on gas.

Science Art: Fig. XLIII. Hydromylos, sive aquaria mola, 1662.

28 June 2015 // 0 Comments

This is a waterwheel, from a book written by architect and engineer Georg Andreas Boeckler, under the title Theatrum machinarum novum : exhibens opera molaria et aquatica constructum industria Georgi Andrea Böckleri… and so on. (The title page doesn’t have a lot of white space on it.) For the Renaissance, this is pretty high tech – it turns running water into flour! Boeckler built fountains. He had a thing for moving water… and moving things with water. His whole book of wonderful machines is in the New York Public Library Digital Collections.

The sports car that reads your mind.

22 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Auto Guide (and a few other places) have been looking at… well, is the step before a driverless car or the step beyond? Anyway, it’s a thing where Jaguar/Land Rover is using NASA technology to build a car that scans your brainwaves, reading your mental state: The British automaker is developing new technology that will use sensors in the steering wheel to measure your brainwaves, and if that isn’t creepy enough, Jaguar Land Rover believes it can detect whether you’re distracted or falling asleep. “If brain activity indicates a daydream or poor concentration, then the steering wheel or pedals could vibrate to raise the driver’s awareness and re-engage them with driving,” said the company’s research and technology director Dr Wolfgang Epple. In order to develop the technology, Jaguar Land Rover is actually researching a method that is used by NASA to develop a pilot’s concentration skills. … In addition to the steering wheel sensors, the […]

Science Art: Las Cascadas Slide (Section 6) from AB Nichols Notebook Vol. 38, 1910

19 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen This is a handmade map from the construction of the Panama Canal, one of history’s greatest feats of engineering. Culebra Cut is where the project experienced massive landslides (is it fair to say some of them are still going on today? I think it is… it is). So the folks in charge of the dig, the Isthmian Canal Commission, got geologists down there to study how to move all that dirt out of the way without burying any workers and steam shovels and train cars. This is one section of the dirt-profile from AB Nichols’ notebooks. It’s labeled “Isthmian Canal Commission. Partial Geological Profile along axis of Canal in Culebra Cut, by A.B. Nichols and A. Raggi. 1910.” I found it in the Linda Hall Library Digital Collection.

Science Art: Plate XII. An engine of great service to bore elms or other trees to make pipes to conveigh water, and for other uses, 1701

29 March 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen An illustration from New and rare inventions of water-works; shewing the easiest ways to raise water higher than the spring. By which invention, the perpetual motion is proposed, many hard labours performed, and varieties of motions and sounds produced … by Isaac de Caus, found in The New York Public Library Digital Collection.

Here’s a hydrogen-fueled train.

25 March 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Alert reports on a new train in China – not a design, an actual vehicle – that runs on hydrogen and leaves water for exhaust: Manufactured by the Sifang Company, which is a subsidiary of the China South Rail Corporation, in conjunction with several research institutions around the country, it gets enough power from one tank of hydrogen to travel 100 kilometres at a top speed of 70 km/h, and can transport at least 380 passengers at a time. The vehicle, which has been in development for the past two years, has reportedly just rolled off the production line in coastal city of Qingdao last week, so it’s expected to be hitting the streets very soon. What’s so awesome about it is its only emission is water – the temperature inside the fuel cell will be controlled to stop any nitrogen oxides from forming – so it’s doing zero damage to the environment, and […]

Driverless cars in less than a decade

4 February 2015 // 0 Comments

That’s what Nature is expecting to see, in its overview of the world of autonomous vehicles: This summer, people will cruise through the streets of Greenwich, UK, in electric shuttles with no one’s hands on the steering wheel — or any steering wheel at all. The £8-million (US$12-million) project, part of a larger study of driverless cars funded by the UK government, is just one of many efforts that seek to revolutionize transportation. Spurred in part by a desire to end the carnage from road accidents — about 90% of which are caused by driver error — the race is on to transfer control from people to computers that never doze at the wheel, get distracted by text messages or down too many pints at the pub. … A tougher problem, says Thrun, is teaching the car how to respond to what he calls “the long tail of unlikely events”. Early on, he says, the […]

New materials are really cool. Like, make-your-own-unplugged-AC cool.

5 December 2014 // 0 Comments

The Economist is following Stanford researchers who are (literally) making some really cool stuff: Fully 15% of the electricity used by buildings in the United States is devoted to [air conditioning]. If an idea dreamed up by Aaswath Raman of Stanford University and his colleagues comes to fruition, that may change. Dr Raman has invented a way to encourage buildings to dump their heat without the need for pumps and compressors. Instead, they simply radiate it into outer space. … To encourage one part of Earth’s surface (such as an individual building) to cool down, all you need do in principle is reflect the sunlight which falls on it back into space, while also encouraging as much radiative cooling from it as possible. To try to turn principle into practice Dr Raman has made a material which reflects 97% of sunlight while itself radiating at a wavelength of between eight and 13 microns (or millionths […]

Bullet-proof fabric and cheap hydrogen fuel… and it comes from carbon.

3 December 2014 // 0 Comments

Nature celebrates more wonders – potential ones, from flexible armor to affordable fuel cells – that we can make from graphene: Protons’ ability to travel through graphene suggests that the material could be used as a membrane to sieve hydrogen from air, and to help extract energy from that hydrogen in a fuel cell, says co-author Andre Geim, a materials scientist at the University of Manchester, UK, who won a Nobel prize in 2010 for his pioneering experiments on graphene. Fuel cells convert the chemical energy stored in hydrogen (or other fuels) into electricity by breaking it apart into protons and electrons: the electrons race around an outside wire to create a current, with the protons flowing through a membrane within the cell. (Electrons and protons recombine at an electrode to react with oxygen.) Today’s membranes, such as a commercial polymer called Nafion, are tens of micrometres thick but do not entirely prevent hydrogen fuel […]

Elon Musk designs X-Wing rockets & spaceport drones.

25 November 2014 // 0 Comments

Popular Mechanics gets all excited over PayPal/Tesla Motors/SpaceX magnate Elon Musk’s next set of high-tech tricks, including drones and rockets with unfolding wings (in a Star Wars-like configuration). if I had a billion dollars, I’d be doing this stuff too: The SpaceX chief unveiled the new Falcon 9R rocket design, which includes four guiding wings that unfurl shortly after launch. While subtitling it the “X-Wing” design, it’s actually the Hypersonic Grid Fins. Their X-configuration is meant to aid in the landing of the craft, one of the first ever reusable rockets. … But not to be outdone by introducing us to just a little piece of science fiction come to life, Musk also unveiled the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship, which uses oil rig technology to stay within a relative space of just under 10 feet, even in the harshest ocean conditions. [via]

Science Art: Excerpt from The Arabic Machine Manuscript.

17 August 2014 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen This mysterious water-driven machine is from a mysterious Arabic manuscript, somewhere between 200 and 500 years old. The whole document is full of mechanisms with scoops and gears and vats and water. It’s part of the Max Planck Digital Library collection but I found it on The Public Domain Review.

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