The first 1,000 hours of human life

A science-art collaboration elucidating 10 key events in human embryonic development by artist/designer Helen Storey (London College of Fashion) and biologist Kate Storey (University of Dundee).

Helen and Kate collaborated in 1997 to create a series of fashion/textile designs, spanning the first 1,000 hours of human life. Producing these at London College of Fashion, Helen and Kate worked interactively using design at multiple levels to evoke the key embryonic processes that underlie our development. Seen and acclaimed by millions internationally and called a ‘cultural hybrid’, it changed the course of Helen's career - her time is now devoted to ideas and work rooted in science. Kate is dedicated to the public understanding of science.

14 years on, Helen and Kate have collaborated again to produce new dresses, which explore the science behind the development and function of the lungs.


#Beauty of the Brain

Anatomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal was the first to see--and illustrate--what neurons really do. His exquisitely detailed drawings changed our understanding of the brain and nervous system. Cajal relentlessly pursued his microcopic study of animal tissues, leading to an essential discovery: Brain signals jump from cell to cell rather than flow through a continuous web of fibers, as was believed at the time.

Cajal began to study histology because it was cheap. He was a man of poor health and modest means, and examining stained specimens required little more than a microscope and patience. The fact that he had no access to the fancy tools of leading bacteriologists--he held only an obscure academic post in the scientific backwater of Zaragoza, Spain--turned him toward the study of animal tissues and cells. These "captivating scenes in the life of the infinitely small," as he called them in his autobiography, Recollections of My Life, went on to inspire ideas that overturned how scientists understood the brain and the nerves.?

#DNA sculpture and origami

DNA is most famous as a store of genetic information, but Shawn Douglas from the Dana-Farber Cancer has found a way to turn this all-important molecule into the equivalent of sculptor's clay. Using a set of specially constructed DNA strands, his team has fashioned a series of miniscule sculptures, each just 20-40 nanometres in size. He has even sculpted works that assemble from smaller pieces, including a stunning icosahedron - a 20-sided three-dimensional cage, built from three merged parts. Douglas's method has more in common with block-sculpting that a mere metaphor. Sculptors will often start with a single, crystalline block that they hack away to reveal the shape of an underlying figure. Douglas does the same, at least on a computer. His starting block is a series of parallel tubes, each one representing a single DNA helix, arranged in a honeycomb lattice. By using a programme to remove sections of the block, he arrives at his design of choice.


#Boomerangs, Aerodynamics and Motion

Felix Hess is a Dutch scientist with a Ph.D in Applied Mathematics. In the 1960s and 1970s, he modeled the aerodynamics of boomerang flight extensively. In 1975, he published the results of his Ph.D thesis in a 555 page soft cover book called "Boomerangs, Aerodynamics and Motion". The thesis contained an excellent summary of artifacts found throughout the world, a bibliography, basic flight dynamics and detailed modelling of the lift forces on a boomerang. There were chapters on wind tunnel testing, modeling of flight paths based on photographic data captured using boomerangs thrown at night with lights, and 3-D computer results that could be viewed with special 3-D glasses. Felix no longer throws or studies boomerangs and he doesn't want his book reissued as a second edition, so the 300 or so printed copies that are (were) mostly in technical libraries have become rare collectable items among boomerang throwers.




#The Weird Fields contest

They may look like something painted by Austrian symbolist Gustav Klimt a hundred years ago but these beautiful images represent invisible forces.
The Weird Fields contest is part of a US undergraduate course on electricity and magnetism run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The course encourages students to use a special computer program that converts mathematical formulae into visual representations of electromagnetic fields.
The resulting swirls, loops, circles and squares, while not necessarily corresponding exactly to those occurring in nature, offer a creative way to understand some of the most abstract concepts in physics.
"The visualisation kind of brings the equations into the real world," says student George Zaidan, whose winning image was chosen by his classmates, and then framed and hung in the MIT Museum along with other works of art.

The contest is part of MIT's Technology-Enabled Active Learning Project, which moves physics learning out of the passive environment of large lecture halls where students copy notes from a professor's chalkboard scribbles and into a studio classroom where small groups of students use laptop computers to interact with each other, the instructors and computer simulations.
"If you get people to interact with you ... you get a better learning outcome," says Professor of physics John Belcher, who teaches the course and runs the annual competition.

Invisible forces and vector fields
Interacting is key when trying to grasp such notions as vector fields. Understanding the invisible forces present in vector fields is important to comprehending almost everything in nature, from storm systems to sitting in a chair.
The jet stream, for example, is a vector field and the many arrows often used to characterise motion within it are the vectors.
But there are other, less obvious, vector fields, such as those that interact when you sit in a chair.
You may think your rear-end is contacting the seat, but in reality it's the vector electric fields created by atoms in both your backside and the chair that are interacting.
"The matter in your body literally never touches any other matter; it is only the fields that interact," Belcher says.
Understanding that requires some serious visualisations. That's where Belcher's class and, ultimately, the Weird Fields competition come in.


#The Secret of Drawing

The Line of Enquiry

#Hacked Wiimote Makes Super Scientific Sensor

Inspired by videos of renowned hacker Johnny Chung Lee turning the Wiimote into a finger-tracking device and a touchscreen white board, physicist Rolf Hut of Delft University of Technology built a Wiimote wind sensor.

The Wiimote can track just about anything: All that’s needed is an LED light. Hydrologist Willem Luxemburg of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands demonstrated a hacked water-level sensor made from a Wiimote and a plastic boat at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union here Monday.

 Luxemburg’s team aimed the Wiimote at a problem that can be very tricky for hydrologists: measuring evaporation on a body of water. The easiest way to measure evaporation is to place pans of water near the lake, or whatever water is being studied, and put pressure sensors in them. The sensors record the drop in pressure as more and more water disappears. But this equipment can run $500 or more, and still the measurements aren’t accurate because the water in the pan gets warmer on land than it would in the lake. Alternatively, measuring the level of water in a pan that is floating in a lake is also tricky because the pan will inevitably be moving.
The Wiimote could overcome the evaporation-measurement problems. It has a tri-axial accelerometer and a high-resolution, high-speed infrared camera, which can sense movement with better than 1 millimeter accuracy.

Luxemburg’s team tested it in a floating evaporation pan, using a float with an LED. With a Wiimote aimed at the float, and some hacking and programming of the Wiimote’s output, they were able to get highly accurate, real-time data on water level wirelessly sent to a laptop.
The IR camera can track up to four LED lights at once, so scientists can use several floats to calculate the water’s plane. To be as accurate with pressure sensors, you’d need more and costlier units.
Luxemburg and Hut’s goal was to show other scientists at the meeting that the videogame controller can be a legitimate piece of scientific equipment that they should consider deploying in all types of field experiments. They’ve gotten interest from colleagues who study building construction at Delft University because of the controller’s accelerometer.

And judging from the crowd at their demonstration, plenty of scientists are interested.
Of course, each experiment will have it’s own challenges that require specific hacking of the Wiimote. It will need longer battery life and a way to store data so it can be left to work alone at a field site. But Hut is confident all that can be done, and more.


#Picture a Protein

Under Voss-Andreae’s guidance, Gurnon (right), Assistant Professor of Art Jacob K. Stanley and 10 DePauw students created a set of sculptures that depict the birth of a protein called villin. The sculptures were unveiled in the Julian Science & Mathematics Center atrium as part of ArtsFest 2011, Oct. 30-Nov. 6, whose theme is “Art & Truth? ”


Proteins are the machinery of life, crucial to almost every cellular process. As such, they are also incredibly small, so it's no wonder we have problems visualizing them. However, you might think of a protein as a string of beads. Each bead is actually one of 20 different building blocks called amino acids, and a single protein can be made from hundreds of them.

Once all the beads are strung together, they begin to interact with each other and their environment, causing the string to twist and flex. Some beads want to be closer together, some farther apart; some like water, and some don’t; and so on. Scientists refer to this initial restlessness as folding. Almost instantaneously, the string folds into a shape unique to its particular bead sequence. Some proteins look like compact little knots, while others spiral outward like ribbon on a birthday present.
But the differences are more than cosmetic. For a protein to serve out its intended purpose, it needs to have the correct structure. On occasion, a protein will fold into an unexpected shape – with equally unexpected results. So-called "misfolded" proteins are even linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's and cystic fibrosis.

Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign inspired Gurnon's decision to model villin. There, Professor of Physics Klaus Schulten and his student Peter Freddolino used powerful computers to “watch” villin as it took shape, trillionth of a second by trillionth of a second. Gurnon and Voss-Andreae (left) used Schulten’s data to design four snapshots of villin’s transformation from a simple kinked line into a crumpled spring.

You’ll find a few different protein models in Gurnon’s office – from ball-and-stick, to wire mesh – but Voss-Andreae’s style and technique sets the villin sculptures apart. Each segment of the protein was meticulously cut from 3-inch square steel tubes, then welded together and painted. The result: representations of villin’s structure 500 million times larger than the real thing.  It’s a simple, tactile and attractive way of visualizing a protein in which even the colors, chosen to convey changes in energy, serve a purpose.

“These sculptures provide a chance to actually see how complex these tiny proteins can be,” says Benjamin C. Cox, a sophomore Science Research Fellows (SRF) member. “Supercomputers take months to visualize what happens in fractions of a second in our bodies. This art provides a unique insight into the intricacy of life.”



Angelo Vermeulen, 37, earned a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Leuven, looking at teeth deformities in the larvae of nonbiting midges.

As a Ph.D. student, Vermeulen was "an extremely motivated scientist, really striving to do things very well ... and trying to reach [his] goals," says Luc De Meester, a former colleague of Vermeulen's who today is a full professor in the department of biology at the University of Leuven. Some of those goals were scientific but not all: He was also pursuing documentary photography and filmmaking. He spent his days working in the lab and his evenings taking photography classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leuven.

As artist in residence at the University of the Philippines Open University in Los Baños, Vermeulen is working on a new installation called Biomodd--"a living cybersculpture" consisting of a network of recycled computer components and a plant ecosystem merged within a transparent case. The network of computer components is linked to an outside monitor with a multiplayer computer game. Visitors who play the game heat up the electronic components inside the case, making it a kind of greenhouse for the plants. A system of tubes containing a culture of microscopic algae in water is used to cool some of the hot components. "Social meeting gets translated into electronic heat, and that gets translated into biological growth, and that's the poetry of it for me," Vermeulen says.

Today, Vermeulen calls himself a visual artist, filmmaker, writer, disc jockey, gamer, and scientist. "My life is a sort of continuous flow of dialogues, meeting, creating, tinkering, disassembling, reassembling, hacking." In that respect, it is very much like the life of a scientist. But unlike most scientific work, his projects are open-ended and completely self-directed

Opportunities keep coming his way. Just this month, he was offered a professorship at the University of the Philippines Open University. The European Space Agency has asked him to give a talk about Biomodd to their Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative research group, which is working to develop a biological life-support system for long-term peopled space missions.

Read the article by Elisabeth Pain here

#Khipu Database Project

The Khipu Database Project began in the fall of 2002, with the goal of collecting all known information about khipu into one centralized repository. Having the data in digital form allows researchers to ask questions about khipu which up until now would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to answer. The Khipu Database Project was funded 2002-2004 by the National Science Foundation and Harvard University, and in 2004-2005 is funded by the National Science Foundation.

UR035 Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile
The KDB and its associated data entry application were designed and implemented specifically for the use of this project. The khipu data schema is modeled on the physical structure of khipu. The overall structure of a khipu is that of a branching network in which the number of branching levels is highly variable, but in which components at every level share certain characteristics. The data schema for the KDB embraces the following critical facts about khipu construction: the interlocking relationships between khipu components, the branching or tree-like structure of khipu, the similarity of certain components, and the multi-dimensionality of khipu variables.

In a relational database, each table may be linked to one or many different tables by defining correspondences between data fields in each table. These relationships can be complex, including restrictions on the possible data in one record given the data in another. Such a structure is ideal for describing a flexible object such as a khipu. Khipu components are specified in detail in their own records and linked into their proper places in the entire object through carefully designed relationships. In this way, the database builds a network or web of correspondences between khipu parts. This allows the database to mimic the physical structures of a khipu without loss of accuracy. It should be noted that the current design allows complete freedom in capturing khipu structure; the number of pendants that belong to a primary cord or knots that belong to a pendant are infinitely variable. Similarly, the database can accommodate any number of levels of subsidiaries.

UR113 Museum of World Cultures, Göteborg, Sweden
Certain aspects of khipu share many characteristics. For example, pendant cords at any level (top cords, pendants, subsidiaries, etc) have variables of fiber, final twist, end treatment, length, and color. Similarly, all knots on a khipu have a position on a particular string, a type, directionality, and a numerical value. By creating tables that incorporate these common elements for cords or knots at all levels, we increase the efficiency of our data structure while still allowing it to be extensible. Finally, some variables may themselves have many dimensions; color is the most obvious example. One cord may be composed of several different colors, and may even change color along its length. The database effectively and accurately contains color information by allowing many different color records for one cord. As other variables become known and are recorded, the database can be easily extended to completely contain new information, without compromising existing data.


#Science is Fiction

Jean Painlevé was a film director, critic, theorist, and animator, yet his interests and studies also extended to mathematics, medicine, and zoology.

All these disparate strands came together in a groundbreaking, decades-spanning artistic career. Operating under the credo: Science is fiction, Painlevé forged his own unique cinematic path, creating countless short films for both the viewing public and the scientific community. Moreover, he was also one of the first filmmakers to take his camera underwater.

Surreal, otherworldly documents of marine life, these films transformed sea horses, octopi,  and mollusks into delicate dancers in their   own floating ballets.


 Read more

#Pioneer of Chronophotography

Étienne-Jules Marey (5 March 1830, Beaune, Côte-d'Or – 21 May 1904, Paris) was a French scientist, physiologist and chronophotographer. His work was significant in the development of cardiology, physical instrumentation, aviation, cinematography and the science of labor photography.

He is best-known as a
pioneer of chronophotography — an antique Victorian-era photographic technique that captures several sequential frames of movement,
which can then be combined into a single image. In 1882, Marey invented a chronophotographic gun that was capable of taking 12 consecutive frames per second, recorded on the same picture.

He used these pictures to study the gallop of horses, the flight of birds, the gait of elephants, the swim of fish, and the organic motion of many more creatures, and his work served as the foundation for Eadweard Muybridge‘s iconic animal locomotion studies and directly influenced the development of early cinema.


Dancing Droplets

International Space Station Expedition 30 astronaut Don Pettit uses knitting needles and water droplets to demonstrate physics in space for 'Science off the Sphere.' Through a partnership between NASA and the American Physical Society you can participate in Pettit's physics challenge and view future experiments here:

In Fact the Whole Idea of Imitating Life....

This famous android was a collaborative effort by two Germans clockmaker — Peter Kintzing created the mechanism and joiner David Roentgen crafted the cabinet; the dress dates from the 19th century. Automatons were in circulation and aroused much curiosity. Roentgen probably sent the tympanum to the French court and Marie-Antoinette bought it in 1784. The queen, aware of its perfection and scientific interest, had it deposited in the Academy of Sciences cabinet in 1785. The tympanum is a musical instrument that plays eight tunes when the female android strikes the 46 strings with two little hammers. Tradition has it that she is a depiction of Marie-Antoinette.


14 Years of US Weather - May 2, 1997 - Dec 31, 2011

#Motyxia Millipedes

Charity Hall, who creates enameled works of art that are grounded in her fascination with botanical and entomological imagery. Her art-science collaborations with entomologist Paul Marek are sensational examples of art-science crossover that truly advance both fields in creative and mutually-beneficial ways.

Paul Marek, from the University of Arizona is interested in millipede evolution and biodiversity. His research is squarely rooted in estimating evolutionary history to provide an informative context to: (1) address fascinating biological phenomena like bioluminescence, and (2) to establish a framework for describing biodiversity.

The clay millipedes were used to help discover why Moytoxia millipedes glow in the dark! Half were painted with glow-in-the dark paint, half were not, then they were left in the forest overnight. About half as many glow-in-the-dark models showed evidence of attacks by predators (mainly rodents) as the unpainted ones, leading researchers to conclude that bioluminescence in this species lends protection from predators! Charity, that is a fascinating research project and a great example of art-science collaboration for field work.


#Electron Microscopy Unit Snow

The Electron and Confocal Microscope Unit provides collaborative assistance for BARC scientists to use high resolution imaging for their research programs. The ECM Unit is equipped with state of the art scanning and transmission electron microscopes and confocal microscope. All of the microscopes of the ECMU are now outfitted with digital cameras, eliminating the need for darkroom work and permitting any collaborating investigator to quickly use images generated to prepare figures for manuscripts and grants.

The following images were obtained using a Low Temperature Scanning Electron Microscope (LT-SEM) that is located in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in the Electron Microscopy Unit, Bld. 465, Beltsville Maryland 20705. Information gained from studying the structure of snow is vital to several areas of science as well as to activities that affect our daily lives and is only one of several agricultural research projects that are currently being pursued in this research unit.


#Flow Visualization

Jean Herzberg in the Mechanical Engineering teaches a flow visualization course at the University of Colorado. She does it in a fairly novel way, as a hands-on art and science course.
Flow visualization is the process of making the physics of fluid flows (gases, liquids) visible. In this course, they explore a range of techniques for creating images of fluid flows. The work is motivated not just by the utility and importance of fluid flows, but also by their inherent beauty. The Flow Visualization course is designed for mixed teams of engineering and fine arts photography and video students at the University of Colorado, but anybody who has paid attention to the patterns while stirring milk into coffee or stared at the curl of a rising tendril of smoke has participated in flow visualization, and will understand the purpose of this course. 
She gets some envy from colleagues when she presents her results at conferences, whose courses tend to be highly mathematical. It’s unusual to mix art and science in quite this way, in which art students are expected to document and experiment, whereas the engineering students are expected to create expressive images with impact. The idea that engineers could learn something by creating something themselves is unheard of, and this enrages her. And in the end, the engineers create images that are just as compelling and indistinguishable from those of the artists.

#Algorithms as Dances

Sapientia University in Romania demonstrate how different sorting algorithms work with numbered people dancing around and arranging themselves from least to greatest.

The dancers have numbers stuck on their front and they do seem to look down and examine the value on another dancer before performing the dance routine dictated by the algorithm.

More video's

The Symphony of Science

The Symphony of Science is a musical project of John D Boswell, designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. The project owes its existence in large measure to the classic PBS Series Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, as well as all the other featured figures and visuals.

The goal of the project is to bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the public, in a novel way, through the medium of music. Science and music are two passions of Boswell that aims to combine, in a way that is intended to bring a meaningful message to listeners, while simultaneously providing an enjoyable musical experience.

More video's