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…

Read more

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).

Read more

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…

Read more

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 …

Read more

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. …

Read more

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. …

Read more

Polar bears might make it after all.

9 September 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily hails a new study that finds even in an iceless, seal-less Arctic, the polar bear might be able to survive: As climate change accelerates ice melt in the Arctic, polar bears may find caribou and snow geese replacing seals as an important food source, shows a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The research, by Linda Gormezano and Robert Rockwell at the American Museum of Natural History, is based on new computations incorporating caloric energy from terrestrial food sources and indicates that the bears’ extended stays on land may not be as grim as previously suggested. “Polar bears are opportunists and have been documented consuming various types and combinations of land-based food since the earliest natural history records,” said Rockwell, a research associate in the Museum’s Department of Ornithology who has been studying the Arctic ecology of the Western Hudson Bay for nearly 50 years. “Analysis of polar bear scats and […]

Science Art: Paper Wings, by Nicole Frost.

21 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen These are paper sculptures of birds’ wings – four specific categories of birds’ wings. As explained by their creator: This is my paper sculpture of the basic structural differences of the wing types in birds: High Lift, Elliptical, High Aspect/Soaring, and High Speed. Some of the most important differences were the inclusion of wing slots and the alula. That’s a lot of little snips done just right. I found this on Clip Its Wings Art (via Scientific Illustration). Would kinda like to see some more….

We don’t have to protect the Eastern Cougar any more. There aren’t any left.

18 June 2015 // 0 Comments

The Guardian has more on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s official extinction verdict: The agency said on Tuesday the four-year review, which included information from 21 states and eastern Canadian provinces and hundreds of reports of sightings dating as far back as 1900, showed cougars are seen every so often in the US east, but they are likely Florida panthers or mountain lions that have wandered from the western United States, or which have been released or escaped from captivity. Eastern cougars were declared endangered in 1973, even though the last known records were tied to one killed by a hunter in Maine in 1938 and another in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1932. Government wildlife managers believe the bulk of eastern cougars – which averaged from 6ft to 8ft long (1.8m to 2.4m) and weighed from 105 to 140 pounds (48kg to 63.5kg) – disappeared in the 1800s with the arrival of European immigrants […]

No more moldy bats!

1 June 2015 // 0 Comments

White-nose syndrome is the fungal disease (you might recall) that’s killing bats. Millions of them. But now, National Geographic is giving us hope that a bacteria might be able to stop white-nose in its tracks: The treatment is based on a bacterium that inhibits fungal growth, and was originally studied to see if it could slow the ripening of fruits and vegetables. Researchers are in their second year of trials with little brown bats and Northern long-eared bats, and the results look promising, says Sybill Amelon, a wildlife biologist specializing in bats with the U.S. Forest Service in Columbia, Missouri. Amelon and her team released about 15 treated bats back into the wild on May 19. The treatment helps all but the most heavily infected bats. If they’re treated early enough, the bacteria can kill off the fungus before it gains a foothold in the animal. But even bats already showing signs of white-nose syndrome […]

A new hybrid super-termite… made in Florida.

31 March 2015 // 0 Comments

PopSci reports on the PLOS One study on what happens when two invasive exotic species combine forces: The two termite species, which originated in separate areas of Asia, spread across the world by hitchhiking in cargo holds. There are only three places in the world where both species have a foothold: Hawaii, Taiwan, and South Florida, but usually the ants’ mating seasons don’t overlap. In Florida, the Asian subterranean termite mates in February, months before the Formosan. But in both 2013 and 2014 researchers observed both species mating at the same time, producing large broods of hybrid termites. The researchers note in the paper that both years had warm winters in Florida, hinting that climate change could have forced the change in mating season. Hybridization between invasive species is a very rare occurrence according to the researchers, who are waiting to see if the first generations of hybrids can reproduce. If they can, the worst […]

Science Art: Vespertilio Formosus

1 March 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen A mouse-eared bat, from Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, as found on the Biodiversity Heritage Library. It falls between a rather pleasant-looking bush pig and a pair of possums in the original source. But neither have such natty headgear.

Science Art: Nest of the Honey-Wasp Attacked by Jaguar, 1916

28 December 2014 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen From Marvels of Insect Life: A Popular Account of Structure and Habit, edited by Edward Step, found in the BioDiversity Library. This is probably not exactly the book Dylan Thomas was thinking of (but it might have been) when he wrote about receiving gifts for Christmas including “books that told me everything about the wasp except why.” One bit of why – according the caption, the jaguar here isn’t interested in honey (and I doubt these paper wasps have any). He wants to eat their grubs. Protein on the go.

Dancing to the beat makes fiddler crab sexual… failures.

8 December 2014 // 0 Comments

New Scientist turns our human expectations upside down once in the world of fiddler crabs. They seem musical (thus the name, after all), and they use that rhythm to win mates. But on closer inspection, the better they dance, the less of a catch they are for the opposite sex: In the cut-throat world of sex, where animals try to get noticed rather than blend in, this synchronised mating dance is unique. So why do the crabs do it? … One theory is that this coordination may be a special brand of crustacean camaraderie, with groups banding together for the greater good. But this romantic ideal just doesn’t have legs, according to Australian National University researchers led by Andrew Kahn, who found that mavericks dancing to their own tune get twice as much attention from females as their conformist neighbours. This means that crabs are probably not waving together on purpose, because animals are unlikely […]

New poison dart frog discovered. Tiny. Cute. Poisonous. But tiny. And cute.

27 September 2014 // 0 Comments

National Geographic reveals the newest Panamanian sensation to enter the world of science: A new species of poison dart frog so teeny it can fit on a fingernail has been discovered in a rain forest in Panama, a new study says. Scientists found the toxic, electric-orange amphibian in a single hilly area near the Caribbean coast, according to a study published this week in the journal Zootaxa. … [V]ery little is known about the newfound frog’s behavior, although the discovery of an adult with a tadpole stuck to its back suggests that it cares for its young.

Science Art: Tadarida teniotis Rafinesque.

6 July 2014 // 0 Comments

This is a bat from Tajikstan. According to the 2002 State of the Environment Report, it’s a rare bat. The European free-tailed bat. No, he doesn’t look very free in that image. Looks a little oppressed, to tell the truth. Follow your tail, rare, worried bat. Be free.

Science Art: Polar Bear – POV Cams (Spring 2014), by the USGS

29 June 2014 // 0 Comments

As the U.S. Geological Survey puts it: This video was edited and compiled from raw footage recorded by a camera equipped radio collar that was put on a female polar bear in the Beaufort Sea during April 2014 by the US Geological Survey. The video, which is the first ever from a free-ranging polar bear on Arctic sea ice, shows an interaction with a potential mate, playing with food, and swimming at the water’s surface and under the sea ice. These videos will be used by the US Geological Survey in research to understand polar bear behavior and energetics in an Arctic with declining sea ice. Note: Some creative license has been taken to make this footage easier to follow and understand, including playful language that helps describe the polar bear’s actions. Let’s hope this footage, while delightful, does not become too historically significant.

Animals are people too.

20 June 2014 // 0 Comments

Or so says National Geographic-profiled biopsychologist Lori Marino, an expert in the brains of “lesser” animals: Formerly a full-fledged research scientist who found measuring the braincases of dolphin skulls utterly absorbing, Marino has become a self-described “scientist-advocate” for all animals, large and small. While she’s continuing to do research (for instance, she’s doing a comparative study of pig and dog intelligence), she’s also devoting herself full time to the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, which she founded four years ago. It’s the only organization, she says, that is solely dedicated to bridging the gap between the academic world and the animal advocacy movement. … “Just look at the case with Tommy,” she says, referring to the chimpanzee whom the Nonhuman Rights Project attempted to free last December. Tommy’s lawyer, Steven Wise, had argued that New York State’s habeas corpus provision should apply to this chimpanzee “petitioner” too. “It’s true, the judge ruled against Wise,” Marino […]

Elephants really never forget… their enemies’ words.

20 March 2014 // 0 Comments

Nature reveals proof that elephants recognize individual humans – including the languages used who did them wrong: Biologists Karen McComb and Graeme Shannon at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, guessed that African elephants (Loxodonta africana) might be able to listen to human speech and make use of what they heard. To tease out whether this was true, they recorded the voices of men from two Kenyan ethnic groups calmly saying, “Look, look over there, a group of elephants is coming,” in their native languages. One of these groups was the semi-nomadic Maasai, some of whom periodically kill elephants during fierce competition for water or cattle-grazing space. The other was the Kamba, a crop-farming group that rarely has violent encounters with elephants. The researchers played the recordings to 47 elephant family groups at Amboseli National Park in Kenya and monitored the animals’ behaviour. The differences were remarkable. When the elephants heard the Maasai, they […]

Guild Salute: Michael Hearst, Songs for Unusual Creatures

21 February 2014 // 0 Comments

Michael Hearst! Composer! Writer! Player of atypical instruments! Science fan! You are compiling instrumentals based on wonderful animals, like the glass frog, the magnapinna squid, and, as performed below by The Kronos Quartet, the aye-aye: You are a man of science, wonder and music. The Guild salutes you! Here’s more about him in his own words, talking about the making of his album and some of the musicians (Margaret Leng Tan!) he got involved with the project: [I heard him on The Takeaway]

1 2 3 8