We've moved! The Art in Science has a new home at taiscience.com

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Tiny, tiny baby mouse. How cute.

When I say baby, what I really mean is embryo. This 18.5-day-old double transgenic mouse embryo (transgenic simply meaning that it contains genes from another species) was taken by Gloria Kwon and it won 1st place in the annual Nikon Small World photomicrography competition back in 2007.

photo by Gloria Kwon, copyright of Nikon Small World

The image was taken at 17x magnification. The green that you see is the in-tact yolk sac with green fluorescence  The rest of the embryo, including the placenta, have red fluorescence.

The image was taken using widefield microscopy with various lighting conditions under brightfield as well as green and red fluorescent filters in darkfield which enable her to show up details of the embryo that would be difficult to see or document otherwise.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The original Spirograph

During a recent trip to the Science Museum I happily found myself distracted from the 8 foot by 8 foot calculator in the Mathematics exhibition, by this:

Harmonograph at the Science Museum, London

...and it reminded me of an early blog post of mine about the maths of the spirograph. I had assumed that the spirograph was designed for the sole purpose of entertaining under 5s on rainy days and testing children’s patience with numerous snapped pencil leads. But no, it seems there was a scientific use at the beginning of it’s ancestral line...

Introducing, the harmonograph (ps. before we go any further i am not saying that the Spirograph is defs a direct descendent of the harmonograph, this is purely ill-informed speculation). 

The harmonograph was invented in the 1870s to analyse vibrations and was used in the study of sound. However, predictably, by the 1900s it was already regarded as a scientific toy for creating pretty patterns!

copyright Conor Lawless

The harmonograph works by utilising the swinging motion of two pendulums - one mounted to a pen and one to a drawing table - which swing at right angles to each other with the pen tracing out the resulting combinations of movement onto paper.

Weights can be added or moved up and down the pendulums to vary the speed that they swing at, creating varied patterns.

The Science Museum has a number of curve-drawing machines on show, like Stanley’s and George Adam’s geometric pens which arguably were the first spirographs, but with fancier cogs.

George Adams' Geometric pen at Science Museum, London

Stanley's geometric pen at Science Museum, London

There was also a surprisingly elaborate contraption on display masking as a tool for ornamental turning used on lathes - the geometric chuck.

Geometric chuck at Science Museum, London

This example, at the Science Museum, is the only known example of a 4-stage chuck for use on paper...and boy does it do good things to paper.

The chuck works by drawing the epicycloidal motion of each tier (determined by different sizes of cog) onto the paper at the top of the chuck. The motion of each tier can be superimposed upon another, or other tiers can be fixed so that the motion of only one tier is drawn.

So there we have it, an introductory tour of curve-drawing machines with very little science or maths and a lot of “it makes pretty things”. That’s what I like. But...if you do want some maths - the old Spirograph post has a bit to whet your appetite or you can go all-out with this article - which has some amazing examples and a bit of science behind their construction.

The Science Museum Mathematics exhibition is on the Second floor and is a permanent fixture (for now).

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Visualising earth's tides

NASA's Scientific VIsualisation Studio produced this video demonstrating how the earths tides ebb and flow around the world. It doesn't include narration or annotation because, they explain, 'The goal was to use ocean flow data to create a simple, visceral experience'.

The visualisation shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through Decmeber 2007 - these firgures are plotted into a computer that takes in shed loads of data and outputs pretty things like this - I love when computers do that. The computational model is called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2 for short).

It can calculate ocean flow at all depths but this particular video shows only surface flows. NASA describe it as a 'high resolution model of the global ocean and sea-ice. ECCO2 attempts to model the oceans and sea ice to increasingly accurate resolutions that begin to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans'.

The dark areas under the ocean rshow the the undersea bathymetry (basically the opposite of topography). The bathymetry and land topography are exaggerated to enhance the contrast - bathymetry by 20 times and topography by 40 times.

Details of the video:

Animators:Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC) (Lead)

Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC)
Video Editor:Victoria Weeks (HTSI)
Scientists:Hong Zhang (UCLA)

Dimitris Menemenlis (NASA/JPL CalTech)
Platforms/Sensors/Data Sets:GTOPO30 Topography and Bathymetry

Hipparcos/Tycho 2 Catalogue

ECCO2 High Resolution Ocean and Sea Ice Model (06/2006 - 12/2007)

Chocolate skulls with walnut brains

Ruth and Sira GarcĂ­a Trigueros are twin sister illustrators and graphic designers from the north of Spain. They are currently selling these handmade chocolate skulls with walnut or candy brains on etsy and they look delicious!
Ruth and Sira say that they "love the smell of damp earth, the mountains, the woods, walking around barefoot and eating directly from the saucepan. We listen to black metal. We are quiet. We smile a lot, sometimes people freak out. We play drums and bass in a band that doesn't exist". They seem cool.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Theory of Everything

A friend shared this video with me recently, introducing me to Minute Physics and the awesome videos they produce. This one is an introduction to the hypothetical Theory of Everything - a theory I wrestled with in a quantum physics module last year - that links together all physical 'things' and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out, ever...in theory. Yeah, it's tough to summarise, that's where Minute Physics come in:

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mouse intestines on twitter

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sciartist spotlight: Stephen Gaeta

I came across a series of creative prints over at the Street Anatomy store the other week and keep meaning to write about the artist, Stephen Gaeta. Stephen is a physician-scientist currently completing his internal medicine residency. After completing his phd dissertation on cardiac arrhythmia he said he wanted to "display his accomplishment without hanging a certificate on the wall". He therefore used the words of his dissertation in a print of a heart (similar to the print below) to display his achievement. From this, he continues to create typographical imagery from classic scientific masterpieces.

Click each image for a close-up.

Beat poetry
Text from the seminal 1809 work of cardiology Cases of the Organic Disease of the Heart, with Dissections and Some Remarks Intended to Point Out the Distinctive Symptoms of These Diseases, by John Collins Warren. In this work, Warren describes the symptoms of 11 of his patients with heart disease as they presented in his office and, later, on his dissecting table. 

Text from Chromosome 1 of the human genome.
Text from Zoonomia, the 1794 masterpiece of Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles), in which he attempted to catalog and explain human anatomy, pathology, and physiology, including the visual system.
Text from the The Sceptical Chymist by Robert Boyle (1661), in which he provided the foundations of modern chemistry by proving that matter is comprised of individual atoms.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Can you tell what it is yet?

Image: Babak Anasori/Michael Naguib/Yury Gogotsi/Michel W. Barsoum/Drexel University [high-resolution] 

Why it's nano-material titanium cliffs of course.

Alright, so perhaps you didn't get that straight off - it's pretty awesome though, huh? This microscopic cliff-like overhang is an electron micrograph of super-thin layers of a titanium compound. When dunked in hydrofluoric acid, a compound known as Ti3AlC2* loses its aluminum to form layers of Ti3C2 that are just five atoms thick. The result is a nearly two-dimensional compound called “MXene”.

*you can probably just skim right over that jumble of letters and numbers - like the first time you read 'Hermione' in Harry Potter.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Anatomical kissing

Anatomical kissing by Alex Grey


Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Sky at Night on BBC

I have just finished watching the Sky at Night on BBC, admiring all the stunning cosmic photographs on display, so decided to check out their Flickr page. It's a good collection of amateur and professional photography, with a particularly large selection of picture of the moon with good views of the lunar mare. Check out The Sky at Night Flickr group.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Art in Science favourite sciart hangouts

My 10 fave sciart hangouts (in no particular order). This list is by no means exhaustive - feel free to share your faves in the comments. 

Street Anatomy
One of my favourite blogs for study-procrastination. It features prints, sculptures, street art, sketches and just about every other art form, all inspired by the field of anatomy. Full of awesome images.

'Robot Art, Algorithmic and Procedural Art, Computational Aesthetics, Glitch Aesthetics, Vj’ing, Video Art, Computational Archaeology and similar subjects'...go check it out for yourself!

Is this bioart?
A blog that asks the question 'Is this bioart?' through biology-inspired works of art. A good read despite coming away still not really knowing what is bioart... but that's part of the charm.

 A blog by Glendon Mellow, fine artist and illustrator, and Kalliopi Monoyios, scientific illustrator - two successful sciartists in their field who, I would go so far as to say, are a real authority on science-art.

Astro Wheels on Twitter
Astro_Wheels is the twitter feed of NASA astronaut Douglas H. Wheelcock who tweets pictures from a laboratory in space that is orbiting the earth. Rare and mesmerizing views.

Nikon Small World
A Treasure trove of photomicrography and electron photography - thousands of amazing images from previous photomicrography competions providing views of world that we rarely get to see.

Microbial Art
An intriguing collection of unique artworks created using living bacteria, fungi, and protists using a wide variety of taxa and techniques.

Artologica on Etsy 
Art by Michelle Banks on Etsy - she mostly uses watercolour to create impressions of veins, cells, neurons, petric dishes and the like.

Melanie K
Sciart works that inspire blogger and MA Art and Science student, Melanie K. (I was very excited to hear that this masters is available! - she is studying at at Central St Martins in the UK)

Information is Beautiful
A popular website full of pretty, design-y visualisations of vast amounts of data - presenting the headache of statistics in easy-to-chew chunks.

The Art in Science has a new look

Hi there readers,

Whilst I don't often address you directly, for I rarely find the occasion, today is different.  If you haven't noticed already, The Art in Science has had a makeover and I am pleased to share it with you. I felt it was time, like a snake shedding it's skin to allow for growth (and to remove old parasites but that part of the analogy doesn't apply), to give the blog a new lease of life. I wanted to move to a simpler, cleaner, yet brighter look and feel for the blog and so have spent the last few days working on a new logo and palette.

I would welcome your feedback - this is a work in progress and there are many tweaks yet to be made. Howeveer, I would be grateful to hear all kinds of criticism you got for me - be it constructive of otherwise (sometimes it's good to just let it all out) - and of course any squeals of joy at how excited the new-look blog has gotten you.

Cheers m'dears,


Monday, 16 January 2012

The intricacies of life: animating the cell

Drew Berry, a biomedical animator, is helping researchers and laymen alike to see the unseeable. We have no ways to directly observe molecules and what they do but at TEDxSydney Berry shows his scientifically accurate and aesthitcally rich animations that are helping researchers to visualise and further understand the unseeable processes within our own cells.


ps. If you are not familiar with TED.com it is time you were. Their tag line is "Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world" and that is exactly what they are. Focusing on science, technology, arts and business. Go explore >>