Posts

David Gallo Talks Underwater Illumination at TED

Bio-luminescence in sea creatures is a phenomena that I have been interested in for some time – Mother Nature is an amazingly psychopathic mommy figure full of very interesting adaptations of human and animal behavior.  Things like bio-luminescence, Circadian Rhythm, and the body’s generation of Melatonin are all things that fall under this category.  Mother Nature,  you so crazy!

A scientist and underwater explorer named David Gallo talked at TED back in 2007 about this very phenomenon.  Check out the video below – you won’t be disappointed.  David says that we’ve discovered about 3% of our planet, and every time that we find a new place in the ocean, it is usually filled with exciting new discoveries.

I Am A Tree – A Time-Lapse Love Story

Happy Monday, everybody!

I was playing around with my Flip HD this weekend, and I realized that I was able to capture this whole tree shadow’s movement from one side of the window to the other.  The entire video was about two hours, but I sped it up to fit inside a minute and a half.  I hope you enjoy it!

Video by Jim Hutchison, music written by me, and performed by me, Toby Curtright, and Eric Farrar (I miss you guys!).

Late Night Article: The Leonid Meteor Shower is Tonight!

leonids_1830s

I just read that the Leonids will be visible tonight!

For those of you who are not major nerds like me, the Leonid meteor shower is a remnant from the comet Tempel-Tuttle – apparently way back in the mid 16th century a bunch of dust and ice got free of the nucleus of the Tempel-Tuttle comet, creating a band of essentially “comet garbage” to trail along it.  The space.com article on this year’s shower gives a little history on the Leonid shower and its relation to the Tempel-Tuttle comet:

The Leonid meteors are debris shed into space by Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which swings through the inner solar system at intervals of 33.25 years, looping around the sun then heading back into the outskirts of the solar system. With each visit the comet leaves behind a trail of dust in its wake.

This cycle’s shower is supposed to be a bit above average – NASA scientists are predicting between 20 and 30 meteors per hour if you’re in the Americas.  Asia will have a better show this time, with between 250 and 350 meteors per hour.  It’s not gonna last long though, so get your meteor shower watching in around 1am PST (4am EST) for about 3 hours.  Let me know how it goes, because I am not gonna make the time!

(you see, I’ll be sleeping)

NASA posted a basic star map on where to look for Leonid streams:

skymap_north

These meteor showers have the potential to be huge – back in the 1830’s, the Leonids provided spectators with reports of meteor frequency of between 100,000 and 300,000 meteors an hour.  Can you imagine what that must have looked like?!

If you do stay up to see the Leonids tonight, enjoy the view!

Luke Jerram’s Glass Infectious Diseases

My friend Carla sent me an interesting article about some work that Luke Jerram is doing.  Luke is an artist and research fellow in the UK at the University of Southampton – he has an exhibit open right now, called “Plant Orchestra.”

The article chronicled a few of his works from a previous installation – one of them really caught my eye.  Luke’s work called “Glass Microbiology” was in an article with a few of his other works – the glass pieces he created for this work are beautiful.  They catch the light in such odd ways, obviously from shape:  Luke’s collection is a glass representation of several really nasty infectious diseases – H1N1, E. coli, HIV, SARS – you know, the fun ones!

Check these out:

E. coli
e-coli

Smallpox
smallpox

Smallpox, a virus that Luke dreamed up, and HIV:
viruses

An article at Seed Magazine had a story about Luke and his work – check it out!  From the article, about “Glass Microbiology”:

For “Glass Microbiology,” Jerram worked with University of Bristol virologist Andrew Davidson and took inspiration from high-resolution electron microscopic images, creating large, painstakingly accurate glass sculptures of notorious viruses and bacteria such as HIV, E. coli, SARS, and recently, H1N1. Jerram’s H1N1 sculpture was just accepted permanently into the Wellcome Collection in London and loaned to the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo for exhibition in January. What started as a question of science communication turned into an interplay between the beautiful and dangerous, as well as a reflection on the limits of scientific understanding.

“When I ask virologists how exactly RNA is packed into a virus, well, the answer is that they just don’t know. Most viruses are right at the edges microscopy capabilities,” Jerram says. “So scientists have take a leap—from what they can see to what they know about chemical interactions.” Renderings of these microbes, as with many constructs throughout science, are a jigsaw puzzle of direct observation and predictions. “It’s important to explore these boundaries and limitations,” he says.

If that wasn’t interesting enough, check this out:

interpretation-figure-1

interpretation-figure-2

From Luke’s website – about Interpretation Figure, the work above:

The performance and photographic artwork was commissioned by Enable to be used as a logo for Electric Pavilion.

The figure has been interpreted as an angel, city spirit, alien and hoax.  How might this figure be interpreted in other cities and countries around the world? The Bristol Evening Post helped promote the myth before withdrawing their support on grounds that they weren’t telling the truth.

Peter Miller’s Fireflies – Exposing Fireflies to Photographic Paper

Artist Peter Miller performed an interesting experiment, and as we say – “fortune favors the bold.”  Peter took some fireflies (you know, lightning bugs) and put them in a room with some unexposed polaroids, and then once again with unexposed color photographic paper.

A simple experiment.  An interesting experiment.  I certainly didn’t think of it.

About Peter Miller:

Peter Miller is an artist living and making work in Cologne. He took his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is originally from Vermont and apprenticed to be a silversmith. His films are distributed by Lightcone and are in the collection of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

His film and photographic work is preoccupied with magic and generally investigates the phenomena of the cinema and its constituent, irreducible elements: lens, light, flicker, audience, projection, etc.

Check out the resulting images – the first is the fireflies on polaroid papers:

lightning_bugs

The second image is the opposite, on a background scale at least.  Having the lightning bugs on color photograph paper gave the effect of a white background:

firefly_light

Mycena lux-coeli – The Coolest Mushroom I Have Ever Seen

Can you imagine a salad full of these?  It would be the trippiest salad you have ever seen:

glowing_mushrooms

What you see here is a Mycena lux-coeli mushroom, which grows in Japan during the rainy season on fallen Chinquapin trees.  This species is exhibiting a quality called bioluminescence, which stems from a reactive protein or pigment in the plant.  These mushrooms, which the local folk refer to as shii no tomobishi-dake (an almost literal translation of “chinquapin glow mushrooms”) give off light when a chemical called luciferin gets oxidized, which makes the luciferin emit visible light – greenish-white visible light.  That’s not an evil-sounding pigment, is it?  Funny enough, in Latin, lucifer means “light giver.”  Who would have known!

Like other fungi that grow in damp conditions, Mycena lux-coeli is no different – it seems to flourish in the wet forests on the fallen trees, but unfortunately only lasts a few days and dies once the rain stops.

Nature, you are awesome.

Mycena-lux-coeli-mushrooms

mycena_lux-coeli

Thanks, Pink Tentacle and ZipcodeZoo!