Posts about art

Mechanical Gears Found in Jumping Insects

A natural example of a functioning gear mechanism has been discovered in a common insect – the plant-hopper Issus – showing that evolution developed interlocking cogs long before we did.

The gears in the Issus hind-leg bear remarkable engineering resemblance to those found on every bicycle and inside every car gear-box. Each gear tooth has a rounded corner at the point it connects to the gear strip; a feature identical to man-made gears such as bike gears – essentially a shock-absorbing mechanism to stop teeth from shearing off.

The gear teeth on the opposing hind-legs lock together like those in a car gear-box, ensuring almost complete synchronicity in leg movement – the legs always move within 30 ‘microseconds’ of each other, with one microsecond equal to a millionth of a second.

This is critical for the powerful jumps that are this insect’s primary mode of transport, as even miniscule discrepancies in synchronisation between the velocities of its legs at the point of propulsion would result in “yaw rotation” – causing the Issus to spin hopelessly out of control.

“This precise synchronisation would be impossible to achieve through a nervous system, as neural impulses would take far too long for the extraordinarily tight coordination required,” said lead author Professor Malcolm Burrows, from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.

“By developing mechanical gears, the Issus can just send nerve signals to its muscles to produce roughly the same amount of force – then if one leg starts to propel the jump the gears will interlock, creating absolute synchronicity.

Interestingly, the mechanistic gears are only found in the insect’s juvenile – or ‘nymph’ – stages, and are lost in the final transition to adulthood. These transitions, called ‘molts’, are when animals cast off rigid skin at key points in their development in order to grow.

It may also be down to the larger size of adults and consequently their ‘trochantera’ – the insect equivalent of the femur or thigh bones. The bigger adult trochantera might allow them to can create enough friction to power the enormous leaps from leaf to leaf without the need for intermeshing gear teeth to drive it, say the scientists.

It’s not yet known why the Issus loses its hind-leg gears on reaching adulthood. The scientists point out that a problem with any gear system is that if one tooth on the gear breaks, the effectiveness of the whole mechanism is damaged. While gear-teeth breakage in nymphs could be repaired in the next molt, any damage in adulthood remains permanent. It is amazing what evolution results in, not only gears but a system that changes to a different solution (maybe, who knows the real “reason”) when the gears solution lack of robustness would create a problem for survivability.

While there are examples of apparently ornamental cogs in the animal kingdom – such as on the shell of the cog wheel turtle or the back of the wheel bug – gears with a functional role either remain elusive or have been rendered defunct by evolution.

Related: Using Bacteria to Power Microscopic MachinesWebcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous CellBuilding A Better Bed Bug Trap Using Bean Leaves

In the video above, Professor Malcolm Burrows talks about finding the bugs that led to the science, and working with artists Elizabeth Hobbs and Emily Tracy and members of the community in the London borough of Hackney to produce the film ‘Waterfolk’.

Full press release

Introduction Video on 3D Printing

3D printing is an amazing technology that opens up great opportunities for us to enjoy life. The future is great. It is exciting to see how quickly advances are being made in this area. I think the ability to print replacement parts is a huge benefit. And the creative uses people will put these printers too will be a joy to see.

Related: A Pen That Prints in 3D While You DrawOpen Source 3-D Printing (2007)Great 3D Printing Presentation by a kid (2011)3D Printing is Here (2009)A plane You Can Print (2006)

Wonderful Views of Life Using Micro-photography

The Olympus BioScapes 2011 Winners Gallery is full of great photos and videos of micro bioscapes.

Floschularia Ringerns Rotifer

Floschularia Ringerns Rotifer feeding by Charles Crebs

Winning photo by Mr. Charles Krebs, Issaquah, Washington, USA
Specimen: Rotifer Floscularia ringens feeding. Its rapidly beating cilia (hair-like structures) bring water containing food to the rotifer
Technique: Differential interference contrast microscopy

The photo shows the microscopic animal’s self-made reddish tube-shaped home, with a building block in the process of being formed inside the rotifer’s body.

Related: 2006 Nikon Small World Photos50 Species of DiatomsArt of Science at PrincetonArt of Science

Good Chemistry: A Love Song for Ionic Bonds

Song and video by 10th grade student, Eli Cirino, for extra credit in his chemistry class.

An ionic bond is a type of chemical bond formed through an electrostatic attraction between two oppositely charged ions. Ionic bonds are formed between a cation, which is usually a metal, and an anion, which is usually a nonmetal.

An ionic bond is considered a bond where the ionic character is greater than the covalent character (ionic bonds cannot exist on their own, they must have a covalent bond present also).

Related: Protein Synthesis: 1971 VideoCooking with Chemistry: Hard CandyThe Chemistry of Hair Coloring

Underwater Pedestrian Bridge

photo of a 'bridge' parting the waters to allow pedestrian to pass

The Dutch water line was a series of water based defenses conceived by Maurice of Nassau in the early 17th century, and completed by his half brother Frederick Henry. Combined with natural bodies of water. The line could be used to protect the economic heartland of the Dutch Republic behind difficult to cross water barriers, when in danger.

The Fort de Roovere was part of this defense. In 2010 the fort was renovated and the moat revived with a small extra bit of engineering: a sunken pedestrian “bridge.” Where once engineers used ingenuity to use water to keep people out, now engineers used wood to let people experience the moat while still reaching the fort.

via: Sunken Pedestrian Bridge in the Netherlands Parts Moat Waters Like Moses!

Related: Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-TunnelMonkey BridgeQuantum Teleportation

Google Art Project – View Art from the Hermitage, the Met…

Google Art Project lets you view art from the Hermitage, Van Gogh Museum, the Met, Tate Britain, National Gallery and more museums around the world. The site lets you navigate the museum (similar to Google street view) and zoom in for very close looks at the the works of art.

close up of the Face of Venus, Birth of Venus by Botticelli

The image above is a close up view of the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. In the lower right of the image you can see the portion of the painting that this view is zoomed into.

You can create your own artwork collects, which is a cute feature. Unfortunately it is tied to the still incredibly broken Google ideas on social Internet applications. I find it amazing that a company that does so many things so well, can have such continuously bad ideas about social applications.

Related: Van Gogh Painted Perfect TurbulenceGet Your Own Science ArtMetropolitan Museum of Art photosMuseum of Modern Art photosArt of Science 2006

Friday Fun: Audio Engagement Ring

Fun, an engagement ring that plays a 20 second audio clip “Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!…Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!” made by artist and inventor Luke Jerram.

100 lbf/in² of pressure was required to cut the silver ring, using a vibrating diamond stylus. The ring is also a homage to Thomas Edison who made the first sound recording machine – the phonograph in 1877.

Using the ring, I proposed to Shelina in a hot air balloon over Bristol in 2005. We’ve since got married and had 2 children Maya and Nico.

Much better than marketing driven expensive diamonds, in my opinion.

Related: Camera FashionGet Your Own Science ArtLow-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard Using Wii RemoteCellphone Microscope

Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants creates great music and has moved into creating music aimed at kids, of any age, over the last few years. They are releasing a new Album and animated DVD Here Comes Science, is being released tomorrow. Their music is both enjoyable to listen to and educational, something that is often attempted but rarely done as successfully as they do.

Related: Istanbul by They Might Be Giantsscience gifts
Studio 360 show w/ TMBGKids on Scientists: Before and AfterSarah, aged 3, Learns About SoapScience Toys You Can Make With Your KidsWhat Kids can LearnHollie Steel

The release include the following songs and videos:

1. Science Is Real
2. Meet the Elements
3. I Am a Paleontologist w/Danny Weinkauf
4. The Bloodmobile
5. Electric Car w/Robin Goldwasser
6. My Brother the Ape
7. What Is a Shooting Star?
8. How Many Planets?
9. Why Does the Sun Shine?
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Snowflakes

photos of snowflakes

Wilson A. Bentley pioneered the photography of snowflakes.

When he was seventeen years old, his parents bought him a bellows camera that had a microscope inside that could magnify the tiny snowflake from 64 to 3,600 times its actual size.
Bentley spent long hours in the bitter New England cold mastering the art of snowflake photography. After many failures, he photographed his first snow crystal in 1885, using a small lens opening that let in just a little bit of light but leaving the lens open for up to a minute and a half. He devoted the rest of his life to exploring these fascinating forms and photographed more than 5,000 snow crystals until his death in 1931.

The photo above was taken by Bentley in 1902 (see more).

Related: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About SnowWhy is it Colder at Higher Elevations?Clouds are Alive With Bacteriascience and engineering artGlacier National Park Photos
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Magnetic Movie


Magnetic Movie from Semiconductor on Vimeo

Magnetic Movie was shot in NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratories at UC Berkeley for Chanel 4 in association with the Arts Council of England.

In Magnetic Movie, Semiconductor have taken the magnificent scientific visualisations of the sun and solar winds conducted at the Space Sciences Laboratory and Semiconducted them. Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt of Semiconductor were artists-in-residence at SSL. Combining their in-house lab culture experience with formidable artistic instincts in sound, animation and programming, they have created a magnetic magnum opus in nuce, a tour de force of a massive invisible force brought down to human scale, and a “very most beautiful thing.”

Magnetic Movie is the aquavit, something not precisely scientific but grants us an uncanny experience of geophysical and cosmological forces.

Cool video: I must admit I am confused at how extensive the artistic license taken with the animation is.

Related: SciVee Science WebcastsThe Art and Science of ImagingArt of Science 2006Nikon Small World Photos

Turtle Camps in Malaysia

Drawing of sea turtles

Pelf Nyok has posted drawing of turtle camps students that she taught in Malaysia. On the image shown on the left:

The third poster shows the threats that our turtles are facing — a turtle is trapped in a fisherman’s net, a turtle is consuming a plastic bag, which it mistakes as a jellyfish, and there are rubbish on the sea floor.

Pelf is on her way to the USA for turtle conservation training on the Asian Scholarship Program for in-situ Chelonian Conservation:

a 4-month scholarship, and involves professional training in the conservation of turtles (including sea turtles, freshwater turtles and tortoises, I presume). The flow of the program has yet to be finalized but according to the Director of the Program, we (the Laotian student and I) would be spending one month visiting turtle scientists and turtle research centers in New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida and maybe California.

And the remaining 3 months would be spent at the Wetlands Institute at Stone Harbor, New Jersey. The training will be conducted at the Wetlands Institute, together with other local participants.

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