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.

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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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Science Art: Beetle, magnified 26 diameters, 1871.

14 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen This seems to be a minute beetle, as pictured in Objects for the microscope, being a popular description of the most instructive and beautiful subjects for exhibition by Louisa Lane Clarke. Whether that’s a beetle that happens to be minute (as in small) or does something quickly, or if it’s one of a number of beetles called “minute something beetles” is unclear to me. It’s quite lovely, though. This is a sample of a larger illustration. Nearby on the same page, you can see the beetle life size, not magnified by any diameters. According to the caption, beetles like this are common in spring. The book itself is sort of wonderfully arbitrary, like a Borges quote from an ancient Chinese encyclopedia – it’s a list of somewhat random objects, all of which would possibly delight a curious child with a microscope. Scales of a clothes moth. Spicules of sponge. Common cheese mites […]

Insects in tiny space suits. Real ones. In a vacuum.

29 January 2015 // 0 Comments

Can’t beat NBC’s headline for this: Insects Wear Tiny Spacesuits, for Science: Scanning electron microscopes (SEM) provide incredibly detailed images of biological specimens, but the instruments have not been able to image living organisms because of the powerful vacuum environment required. But now, a team of researchers has developed a way to image mosquitoes and other insects in an SEM, by wrapping them in a substance that keeps the organisms alive, without interfering with the imaging process. There’s a video of the nano-suits (1,000th the width of a human hair) in action.

Little things. Big pictures.

9 November 2012 // 0 Comments

Nikon (through Wired) presents some of the most amazing windows onto the microscopic world ever seen: Super-close-ups of garlic, snail fossils, stinging nettle, bat embryos, bone cancer and a ladybug are among the top images this year. The first place winner (above) shows the blood-brain barrier in a living zebrafish embryo, which Nikon believes is the first image ever to show the formation of this barrier in a live animal. “We used fluorescent proteins to look at brain endothelial cells and watched the blood-brain barrier develop in real-time,” the winners, Jennifer Peters and Michael Taylor of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, said in a press release. “We took a 3-dimensional snapshot under a confocal microscope. Then, we stacked the images and compressed them into one – pseudo coloring them in rainbow to illustrate depth.” You gotta see these pictures. [via So Much Science]

Science Art: Tardigrade

30 September 2012 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen Is it cute? It’s a tardigrade, also known as a water bear. That’s a cute name. And they’re tiny, too, which is part of cuteness, usually. Less than a millimeter long. But they’re also durable. You can zap them with gamma rays like the Hulk or send them through space like Superman, but they just stay the same. Alive. Small. Kinda wet. Cute. I found this image on The Daily, but it seems to have come from Eye Of Science’s new scanning electron microscope. The tardigrade probably came from a nearby pond. Photo: Eye Of Science/SPL/Solent [via So Much Science]

Science Art: Mysis2kils: Mysis Zooplankton by Uwe Kils.

17 June 2012 // 0 Comments

Dark field microscopy is the art of using indirect light to illuminate specimens under your microscope lens; because the light is indirect, it doesn’t shine into the microscope, and the specimen appears to be floating brilliantly against a night-black background. Image via Wikimedia Commons, on which Uwe Kils has quite a few wondrous images. I decided to look up dark field microscopy after seeing this photograph of fruit fly sperm that looks like a study from Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The technique seems to be the same, on a small scale, as the way the moon is lit by the sun.

Science Art: Misc Pollen, by Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility.

21 August 2011 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen A bouquet of flowers, and one of the deadliest poisons known to humankind. From the image’s Wikimedia Commons page: Pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea), hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis). Hollyhocks and morning glories are lovely; castor beans are where we get the emetic/biodiesel/laxative/skin conditioner castor oil… and ricin.

Science Art: Bulbi olfattorii, by Camillio Golgi, 1875

31 July 2011 // 0 Comments

From the mustachioed microscope-gazer who gave us the method (for staining specimens), the receptor (inside our tendons) and the bodies (inside our cells) comes a hypnotic look inside a dog’s nose. As cited on Scientific Illustration (where I found this): “This 1875 drawing of a dog’s olfactory bulb by Camillo Golgi is but one of the many astonishing architectures that were revealed by a staining method that bears his name. Its application to the study of nervous tissue marks the beginning of modern neuroscience.” — Carl Schoonover, Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century

Science Art: Western Equine Encephalitis Virus Taken With Cryo-Electron Microscope

13 February 2011 // 0 Comments

This is the infectious microbe (alive? not alive? who knows?) that causes Western equine encephalitis. It’s a deadly virus. I can remember when they said taking pictures of viruses was impossible. Well, they were wrong. This picture comes from the super-cool electron microscope at the W.M. Keck Center for Virus Imaging in Texas. I mean that literally – the microscope does what it does because it’s looking at specimens flash-frozen in water. It’s very, very cold. The facility is finally back online after some recent unpleasantness: The flooding of the laboratory so soon after its opening was a major blow to medical branch researchers, who spent five years working to establish it. “We opened about a year before Ike and we started generating structures,” said medical branch associate professor Stanley Watowich. “Then we got Iked.”

What infection looks like.

21 January 2011 // 0 Comments

New Scientist has microscopic video of what malaria looks like bursting into a blood cell: Jake Baum at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues used transmission electron microscopy and 3D immuno-fluorescence microscopy to record a series of still images during the 30-second-long invasion, and combined them into a movie. To boost their chances of catching a Plasmodium parasite in the act of attacking a red blood cell the team controlled the process using two drugs. The first – heparin – prevents parasites entering a new red blood cell, while the second – E64 – prevents their exit. Carefully timing the treatments meant “we knew we were going to get huge number of invasion events”, says Baum. Look at it. Eerie.

Look inside.

5 January 2011 // 0 Comments

This isn’t a discovery so much as a great resource (and wonderful source of visuals), but you should really look inside The Cell Image Library… and look inside your cells. Really. Up close. In living color. Amazing stuff. Like this, CIL: 3054 – Development of the axon and dendritic arbors in cultured hippocampal neurons after 7 days in vitro. or this, CIL: 7053 – NIH 3T3 cell expressing EGFP-Lifeact (a small genetically expressed probe that binds to actin and is derived from the first 17 aa of Abp140) imaged with structured illumination. There are also… videos.

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