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Sunday, 24 October 2010

This is NOT just photography

The Wired Science blog  is undoubtedly one of the best science blogs on the net, being accessible for the laymen but diverse and in-depth enough to keep all interest-levels happy. Last week, however, one post stood out among the rest. The announcement of the top 20 microscopic photographs in the 36th annual Nikon Small World competition.

The 20 photos that popped up on my screen were unrecognisable at first glance and unbelievable upon closer inspection.  These photo's are truly phenomenal!  Take a look at the winner:

'Can you guess what it is yet?' (in my best aussie accent).  No?  Well it's the heart of a mosquito, magnified 100 times!  Betsy Mason at WIRED said that
'The image, which used flourescence technology to highlight different parts of the specimen, stood out as one of the most beautiful of the entries. And it also had scientific merit as part of the photographer’s research on how mosquitoes carry and spread disease.'
Below is a pick of my personal favourites but you can take a look for yourself at the Wired Science blog.
Ichneumon wasp compound eye and antenna base (40X), Reflected (Episcopic) Light Illumination 
Telophase HeLa (cancer) cells expressing Aurora B-EGFP (green) (100X)
Zebra Fish olfactory bulbs (250x)
Ctenocephalides canis (flea) (20X)
...and if you can't get enough of photomicrography, you can visit the Nikon Small World website.

All images courtesy of Nikon Small World

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Painter and the Pendulum

Tom Shannon is an extremely talented and creative painter and scientist.  His work, based around the magnetic and gravitonal fields, centrufugal force and fluid dynamics of the universe demostrate the forces and fields acting on the Earth and the Sun.  I will leave the explanation to Tom, but enjoy this video and listen carefully to Tom's musings on the universe and nature, he's a smart man.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Size Does Matter

Now that I’ve got your attention, have you ever stopped to think about the importance of our perception of scale? No, me neither. Until now. I mean, at one end of the ‘scale’ we have incomprehensibly small particles making up the entire universe and at the other, distances measured in the equally mind-boggling lightyears*, millions of which it would take to even dip your toes in that pool of matter.

*If, like me, your year 5 physics is jumbled up in your head somewhere between mottle and daub medieval huts and the formation of an oxbow lake, let me remind you; A lightyear is the distance that light can travel in a year!).

Yet, visually, on a day-to-day basis we all perceive the world on the same scale, or so it seems. The Measure for Measure art exhibition at Gallery 825 Los Angeles, explores the ability of art to experience and perceive the size and scale of what we see.

Whilst oscillating strings vibrating to create the universe (see my previous poem: String Theory) is difficult to conceive, the art in Measure for Measure makes tangible the conceptually dramatic boundaries that we meet in science.

Lisa Randall, curator, explains ‘I wanted a theme where both art and science could participate and it wasn't just art representing science or science pretending to be art, but where we could think deeply about ideas that underlie both of them’

The exhibit consists of work from seven artisits and includes painting, sculpture, images, installations and videos. Prominent in many of the installations were mirrors, their reflections creating swollen and shrunken worlds-within-worlds.

Unfortunately, for my predominantly-English audience, the exhibition was in Los Angeles, however, you can peruse the following pictures form the exhibit and read more about the exhibit at the Measure for Measure website.

Image: Anita Bartlett  Susan Sironi's 'Actual Size' - A Portrait in Four Parts
Sironi took illustrated classics like 'Gulliver's Travels' and 'Through the Looking Glass', then carving to-scale tracings of her body parts into them using a surgical scalpel.
'Measurements of Space in a Fractal Structured Vacuum', Artist Felicity Nove 'created paint pours reminiscent of supernova explosions and black holes on the Hubble website'.

'Meeson Pae Yang's Structures installation explores diatoms, groups of algae that make up a large component of the earth's biota.'

Images copyright of Los Angeles Art Association.  For details of all images sources and references please contact me directly.