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Textures of London

Textures of London

Last year, i actually got my arse in gear, and went to London. Good thing, that, considering the pandemic of 2020 ...

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space

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Science

Head Full of Words

The average adult knows approximately 12,000 to 35,000 words of his/her native language (depending on level of education). That includes all the words he/she regularly uses (active vocabulary), and all those he/she might never use, but understands the meaning of (passive vocabulary) should someone ...

Open Science: Map scaled by number of journals published there

Iara Vidal is working on her PhD in Information Science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. She is an expert in altmetrics (altmetrics are non-traditional metrics proposed as an alternative to more traditional citation impact metrics). This is what she has to say ...

A murmuration of robots, a huddle of penguins

A murmuration of robots, a huddle of penguins. Swarm behaviour is a sticky problem. Scientists are twisting their brains to come up with self-organising systems. The murmuration of starlings, the behaviour of slime moulds, ants and corals are examples of nature being waaaay ahead ...

The continuum of science, art and design

Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer; art is everything else. – Donald E. Knuth [two_third last="no"] The definition of categories of design, science and art are not clear-cut. Neither one have a universally-agreed on definition, and professor Martin ...

Blasphemous Theories About the First Americans

The ice bridge through which the first American settlers came from Asia was neither made of ice nor a bridge. And according to new evidence, it might have not been the only way in which the continent was populated. Previously dismissed blasphemous theories about ...

The Great Exhibition of 1851

I was once walking around Crystal Palace Park, waiting for a movie festival to begin, when a man approached me and my friend and asked us if we had seen the dinosaurs. We were confused at first, but he quickly pointed at some massive ...

More articles about science

Art by the squirrels

Bookbinding IV: outside

Bookbinding IV: outside

Judge it by the cover. Of course you will. Covers are some kind of board or another. Typically chip board: gray dense cardboard. I am using MDF and plywood, and will try plexiglass, mirror, wood, veneer and whatever comes my way. Typically, boards are covered with cloth, leather, or some cloth-plastic-y combo. The entire thing can be covered in the same material, you can have spine-and-corner, spine and edge, or hidden corners. Way back when the durable materials were expensive, only the most exposed parts got leather: hence spine and corners. The rest of the cover could then be anything cheaper; such as paper, cloth, or cutoffs. I have made probably ...

More cool stuff we make

cartography

Abstracting the map

Abstracting the map

Tung studio in Toronto decided to reinvent the map. The results ...
The network

The network

The network. The most common question I get when people see ...
A-maze

A-maze

Listening to the QI No such thing as a fish podcast, ...
Dangerous tectonic visualisations

Dangerous tectonic visualisations

Dangerous tectonic visualisations: Visualisations are good things. They should be beautiful ...

More in cartography

architecture

Textures of Utrecht

Textures of Utrecht

I went to Utrecht last year, to meet up with two ...
Stave churches – medieval vikingry

Stave churches – medieval vikingry

Stave churches are curious buildings. They seem to try to mirror ...
The art, design and architecture of birds

The art, design and architecture of birds

What is architecture? What is design? What is art? Conscious choices ...
Hostile architecture – how dare you be homeless?

Hostile architecture – how dare you be homeless?

This is an old post once posted elsewhere: brought it here ...

More in architecture

technology

Inside my brain: lasers and gold

Inside my brain: lasers and gold

This was going to be a triumphant article about a stellar ...
Wondrously whimsical: the unsought finding

Wondrously whimsical: the unsought finding

What was your thesis about? I don't really get that question ...
The Internet of dangerous Shit

The Internet of dangerous Shit

I am not a Luddite, I promise. But we are drowning ...
Sea hero quest: playful dementia research

Sea hero quest: playful dementia research

Lots of games have no result except the pleasure the player ...

More in technology

colours

Colours

More articles about colours

History

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  2. deep time
  3. evolution
  4. prehistory
  5. ancient history
  6. ancient Greece
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  8. enlightenment
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  11. digital age
  12. future
  13. world history
Inside my brain: lasers and gold

Inside my brain: lasers and gold

This was going to be a triumphant article about a stellar idea, a struggle of problem solving, learning curves, dangerous lasers, and the final, exuberant splendid result in all its plasticky-golden glory. Yeah, well… The idea! …so the idea: to laser engrave a bunch of slices of my brain in transparent acrylic, stack them… it ...
Streetart II

Streetart II

There are some amazingly talented artists around here ...
Stave churches – medieval vikingry

Stave churches – medieval vikingry

Stave churches are curious buildings. They seem to try to mirror some viking age aesthetics, and in the process, produces their own visual premise. It has been suggested though, that the stave church is a translation of the architecture of bysantine basilikas – from stone to wood, with its closest architectual relations in Ireland. Maybe, ...
Navigation – paddling the web

Navigation – paddling the web

When we make websites for clients we analyse their business, their products, and their customers. We create interfaces that are logical, that helps drill down. I am looking to buy a notebook. This company sells stationary. A top-level category then might be "paper products", "writing and drawing", "blank paper" or something like that. So I ...
New species of 2016

New species of 2016

2016 has been an absolutely shait year, so I am not going to do a list of main events. I think we better get seriously drunk and forget the sorry business. However! As every year, new species are discovered, and not all of them tiny bacteria, gray mushrooms, or minuscule fish from lake Malawi. I ...
Wondrously whimsical: the unsought finding

Wondrously whimsical: the unsought finding

What was your thesis about? I don't really get that question. People know I did my master at the Institute of Informatics, faculty of mathematics and natural sciences. To most people, that is enough to get their eyes to glaze over. "Computerstuff", "hard science", "mathematics" are words connected to that. Zeros and ones. Onion-shaped Asbergers-kids ...
The Internet of dangerous Shit

The Internet of dangerous Shit

I am not a Luddite, I promise. But we are drowning in the Internet of Shit. *checks wrist*ah yes i seem to be thirsty pic.twitter.com/lNTQVZ4INu— Internet of Shit (@internetofshit) October 17, 2016 We are producing awful products at a frightening rate. Not only is it hard to find a real need for bluetooth-connected inlay shoe ...
Theodor Kittelsen – a Norwegian bestiary

Theodor Kittelsen – a Norwegian bestiary

Theodor Kittelsen was a Norwegian painter and book illustrator (1857-1914). He illustrated the Scandinavian bestiary of legend and fairy tales, and his work has scared countless children (myself included). He drew and painted trolls, the black death, sea monsters, nøkken ("water spirit"), and anthropomorphised natural phenomena such as the echo. His work can be rather ...
Merit Ptah: a woman not Marie Curie

Merit Ptah: a woman not Marie Curie

It is embarrassing. There is this question "name a female scientist, not counting Marie Curie". I cannot really do it. I can say "oh.. you know, that lady .. whatshername...". I can do Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852), the "mother" of computer programming. Which is sad on so many levels: she lived not that long ...
Fimbulwinter: mythology meets climate science

Fimbulwinter: mythology meets climate science

I grew up with the stories from Norse mythology. The sagas, the pantheon of gods, their fights, petty arguments, and underhand murders. How to keep them happy by offerings, how the vikings saw themselves and ordered their society and solved conflicts – which was not as bloody and brutal as you might think. The mythology also ...
Sea hero quest: playful dementia research

Sea hero quest: playful dementia research

Lots of games have no result except the pleasure the player gets out of it. But there is an increase of games that help science in some way. Yisela has already written an article about some of them; in games for science. This article is about a brand new game by University College London, University of ...
The voyage of the Karluk – polar disaster

The voyage of the Karluk – polar disaster

We know the stories: heroics, suffering, death of exploration in polar regions. Amazing feats, hunger and stamina and team work. As for the story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–16; not so much. It is a story of bad planning, bad preparations, egos, death and men divided and (probably) murder. Some years ago, I read ...

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Future!

Future

To the future!

Animals

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  2. ammonites
  3. amphibians
  4. beetles
  5. canine
  6. cats
  7. chickeosaurus
  8. dinosaurs
  9. ducks
  10. extinct
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  12. horned lizard
  13. invertebrates
  14. insects
  15. marine life
  16. mechanical animals
  17. metamorphosis
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  20. reptiles
  21. Ruffen
  22. shellfish
  23. snails
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  28. synthetic life
  29. vertebrates
  30. wolves
  31. zoology
Biomimicry: generative art of @inconvergent

Biomimicry: generative art of @inconvergent

@inconvergent is a guy who makes magical, beautiful art with algorithms, heavily influenced by nature. In my endless ignorance, I did not think those two things could combine quite like that. I have of course seen wonderful things that nature do, like the amazing life of slime moulds, the murmuration of sterlings, the underground filaments of fungi; the fractals in nature. To wrestle from them rules and patterns seemed to me not quite doable. Nature is unpredictable, there are variables, kinks, errors, environments, weather and all sorts of influences that makes these natural systems grow and move in weird ways. And to me, that is a large part of what makes them beautiful: where ...
Morocco, Tyrian purple, Phoenicians and snails

Morocco, Tyrian purple, Phoenicians and snails

CORRECTION: the green powder is not from the sea snail. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made. Hours of research threw up Gentian violet. And though this is far, far less interesting, it has the benefit of being true. I will leave this post as it is, though, as the story of Tyrian purple is fascinating anyway. You just have to mentally remove the idea that the green stuff is snail :) Why one of the pigments had the label "murix", I can only guess it refers to the colour, not the creature. You think purple is for hippies? Think again. Colours are full of mystery, and perhaps no other ...
Ressurecting the naturalist

Ressurecting the naturalist

Scientists don't pick flowers. They collect specimens. – myself :) Resurrecting the naturalist: Few people will identify with the term "naturalist". A lot of people love nature, go for walks, strolls, hike; do a little gardening. Gawking at majestic scenery; snowcapped mountains, endless deserts, dense rainforests. Munching on strawberries. Strawberries are not berries, by the way. Coffee beans are not beans, peanuts and coconuts are not nuts. A smirking biologist will tell you this. Admiring nature on a large scale is easy. But on small scale we are lost and we bow to the experts. We have to. Or we think we have to. Naturalists are enthusiasts. They are not professors of biology or have ...
Luidia sarsi: sea star magic

Luidia sarsi: sea star magic

Here you are, minding your own business, and you come across a sea star (marine biologists will stab you in the hand with a fork for calling it a starfish). An orangy-white, five-armed rather unremarkable fellow, you might think. And you would be so, soooo wrong. Luidia sarsi turns sexual reproduction upside down. You might think: mammy-sea star, daddy-sea star, eggs, seamen, larvae, new sea star. Nope. All is well until larvae: it swims around like any other zooplankton, minding its own business, all while a new sea star is forming inside the larvae. Eventually, the sea star "migrates" to the outside of the larvae, and they part ways. Sea star falls to the ...
Collective delusions: pareidolia, religion and invisible pink unicorns

Collective delusions: pareidolia, religion and invisible pink unicorns

This site is pretty much dedicated to the things we see, touch, record and create. But there are plenty of things people "see" that are not there. In troubled individuals, we call it delusions, hallucinations and we medicate. If enough people "see it" (and construct elaborate narratives around it) we call it religion. To see the face of Virgin Mary in a tomato is hilariously amusing to us atheists. People could just as well find the face of Winnie the Poo in clouds, toast, wood-grain and crumpled textiles. It is a simple bias we humans are extremely good at: we see what we want to see, we see patterns where there are none (and I ...
The Great Exhibition of 1851

The Great Exhibition of 1851

I was once walking around Crystal Palace Park, waiting for a movie festival to begin, when a man approached me and my friend and asked us if we had seen the dinosaurs. We were confused at first, but he quickly pointed at some massive and frankly strange-looking sculptures that were spread around the park. Only later I found out that these dinosaurs were not modern additions, but had been there for almost two centuries, ever since the Great Exhibition of 1851. This international event took place in Hyde Park, London, and lasted over six months. It was organized by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, husband of the reigning monarch Queen Victoria, and attended by figures like Charles Darwin, ...
Celebration of Snails

Celebration of Snails

This article title is absolutely on point. About a year ago, I started a post but just filled in the headline. Naturally, I completely forgot about it until Bente asked me about the draft. What I didn't tell her was that by then I had no idea what the original intention had been, but I was pretty sure it wasn't literally about snails. It's time now to give this article a go, because after a little research I don't see what is NOT to be celebrated about snails. So, a few sciency facts about these little creatures: Basically, any mollusk that can fully retract into its shell -be it in water or on land- can be considered a snail ...
Maria Sibylla Merian: illustrating the natural world

Maria Sibylla Merian: illustrating the natural world

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717) was a remarkable woman in many ways. She was a very talented scientific illustrator and had a passion for insects. According to David Attenborough, she contributed immensely to taxonomy in entomology and the understanding of metamorphosis, and she was the first person who travelled on purely scientific grounds. Though she was sometimes a little too creative with her images, the quality is astonishing – imagine sitting in tropical humidity in Surinam in 1699, painting. She was the first to create scientific images that in effect cross both space and time, and are essentially images of biotopes. This means that in the same image, the different states of ...
Gorgeous ammonites

Gorgeous ammonites

Ammonites are amongst the most popular fossil, and they have every right to do so. These beautiful spiral creatures are somewhat related to octupuses and squids, the only difference being that they went extinct 75 million years ago, along with the dinosaurs. When ammonites originated, they were planktonic and tiny. Less than 1mm tiny. As they evolved and developed their strong protective shell, they gained size rapidly - especially the females, up to 400%! Now, if you (like me) have always imagined these beauties as pacific, you might be in for a surprise. Ammonites were the predators of their time, feeding on almost any marine being including molluscs, fish and even other cephalopods. Because their ...
Calamityware: disaster porcelain

Calamityware: disaster porcelain

Here at the visual squirrels, we are not in the habit of promoting stuff, but Calamityware is simply too funny. Taking the classic language of cobalt and porcelain decoration, the artist Don Moyer adds – well – calamity. Volcanoes, robots, tentacles, and all manner of funny creatures hide in the china. The only problem with the whole thing, is that I did not have the idea first :) Pterodactyls, robots, flying monkeys, monsters, cats, pirates. What's not to love? ...
Human Evolution Infographic

Human Evolution Infographic

I made this infographic to show the (current state of things for) human evolution. Or quite current, because there have been some new discoveries, but they are still being debated. Feel free to download, distribute and change it, but please don't crop my name off it as it took me a long time to make it! Licence is Creative Commons 4.0. Message me if you'd like to have access to the PSD or the cropped skulls :) ...
My geologic timeline in the magazine Science & Vie!

My geologic timeline in the magazine Science & Vie!

A long time ago I made a geologic timeline as a (vector) brush in Illustrator, with .ai and .eps files free for anyone to use. The only thing I ask is that if you use it, let me see the result. Making the timeline was incredibly time-consuming and ludicrously fiddly. So, a while ago I got a message on Twitter from scientific journalist @CecileBonneauSV from the French magazine Science & Vie (Hors Série) asking if they could use it. Of course! I cannot say how much I appreciate people asking and letting me know. My French is pretty non-existent, but I get the general idea. Going over and beyond the call of duty, she ...
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Animals