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, ...
The car cemetery

The car cemetery

Pretty deep in the Swedish woods, there is a narrow gravel road. At the end of this gravel road, is a deserted smallholding. All around this delapidated farm, there are cars. Hundreds and hundreds; in various states of decay. Cars from the 40ties, 50ties, 60ties, 70ties and probably 80ties. The car cemetery. It is here, ...
Walking with wolves

Walking with wolves

There are wolves here in Norway, and it is an insane controversy. It would have been really funny, if it was not so tragic. Here is the gist: the wolf is red-listed here. That is to say, on a national level. This means it is threatended, on the brink of extinction, there isn't enough individuals ...
Beautiful chemicals

Beautiful chemicals

I am scanning my father’s positive slides and negatives, a Himalayan task. He took a good deal of photographs, starting in the 50ties. I am guessing about 3-4000 35mm negatives, colour and black and white. 12 boxes of slides, and an unknown amount of 9x6 I have not even dug out yet. It is of ...
Biomimicry, engineering, and design

Biomimicry, engineering, and design

Biomimicry is about mimicking nature. Humans have tried for thousands of years to conquer and control nature. But we tend to do this in a very heavy-handed way: pour concrete over it, set up miles and miles of fencing, and if we cannot fence nature in, we erect walls around ourselves to keep nature out ...
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 ...
Olympic with Returned Soldiers

Dazzle camouflage: sea-going Easter eggs and face recognition

Most warships these days are gray, and for good reasons. They are generally more difficult to make out with the naked eye. Of course, these days technology often makes visual camouflage redundant, but during World War I, a different tack was used: dazzle, or disruptive, camouflage. The idea was not camouflage as in "invisible", but ...
Walking with cats: Eurasian lynx

Walking with cats: Eurasian lynx

The Eurasian lynx is a medium-sized cat, native to Siberia, Central, East, and Southern Asia, North, Central and Eastern Europe. It lives in the wild close to where I live, but after decades of hanging out in the woods, I have never seen anything but a set of footprints in the snow. Once. They are extremely ...
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 ...
Twelve golden wild ducks – fairytale in smoke and mirrors

Twelve golden wild ducks – fairytale in smoke and mirrors

There is a fairy tale here in Norway, called the twelve wild ducks. The story is not really important, it a fairly classic good versus evil, patience, purity and deceit. I think it is a pretty convoluted story, and I always found it dissatisfying that there is no attempt at explaining why the princes are ...
iNaturalist: citizen science in your backyard

iNaturalist: citizen science in your backyard

I was going to write an article about the Encyclopedia of Life. It is a phenomenal undertaking, its goal is to create one web page for every living species. Right now they have 1,322,989 pages. That is 1.3 million living things. It is a herculean effort, and it takes the biggest institutions and the best ...
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 ...
Cleaning bones: mallard skull

Cleaning bones: mallard skull

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was at a beach, and among some rocks found a fairly decomposed duck. Basically, a big pile of feathers, mainly no flesh, but sinews and – cough – bits of unidentified biohazard. The skull was delightfully intact, with sinews holding it all nicely in place and (thankfully) ...
Acrylic and wood: into the laser

Acrylic and wood: into the laser

I have fallen in love with a machine. The laser cutter at the uni. Well; actually, it is what it can do, that captivates me. I am craftsperson –  I have two educations in crafts. I am a potter and bookbinder. So I have a sense for materials, how they act, what you can and ...
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 ...
Bonsai: noob with scissors

Bonsai: noob with scissors

Bonsai: noob and scissors. I know nothing about bonsai. Or rather, practically nothing. Should this stop me? NoooOO! Bonsai is, of course, an impossible world. It is full of technical stuff about soil composition, tree shapes, cutting, snipping, wiring, not wiring, clipping. What kind of wire, foil, raffia, string, cutters. And aesthetics and zen. Frontal ...
The Future Library is a forest in Oslo

The Future Library is a forest in Oslo

The future library is a forest in Oslo: 1000 trees was planted in a forest in Oslo in 2014. It is the future library. Each year, an author submits a manuscript, unread, unseen; that will be stored in the national library. In 2114, the trees will be cut down, milled and made into 1000 books ...
Library taxonomy in the time of technology

Library taxonomy in the time of technology

Taxonomy in the time of technology: Deichmann is the municipal library in Oslo. Last week they opened a library for children, age 10-15. All good, you might think. Commendable. But what images do you create in your head? Chances are, you would be very very wrong. Perhaps it would not be surprising that the kids ...
Scientific illustrations by Carim Nahaboo

Scientific illustrations by Carim Nahaboo

Scientific illustrations by Carim Nahaboo Carim Nahaboo is a London based illustrator specialising in accurate depictions of natural history subjects as well as more imaginative, conceptual themes. So says his bio on his webpage, and who am I to argue? I am in awe of his work; this is old-school scientific illustration: art, design and ...
2200 year-old: the Antikythera computer

2200 year-old: the Antikythera computer

2200 year-old calculator: the Antikythera computer Computers: someone or something that calculates something. That would be the general idea. But (machine) computers don't have to be digital. In 1901, divers found the Antikythera mechanism in a shipwreck in the Aegean sea. It is old. Very old. Estimated, in fact, to be from 200-100 BC. That would ...
Anglerfish sculpture: upcycled scrap metal

Anglerfish sculpture: upcycled scrap metal

Ages ago, when I had time on my hands, I made a metal angler-fish. It was a loose idea, a few trips to some charity shops, one trip to Ikea, a hardware shop and a round of e-bay. It is all scrap metal, discarded kitchen implements. Whisks, strainers, some unidentified things, fondue forks, cake forks, ...
Darwin: murdering a fox, not helping a frog

Darwin: murdering a fox, not helping a frog

“A fox (Canis fulvipes (Lycalopex fulvipes)), of a kind said to be peculiar to the island, and very rare in it, and which is a new species, was sitting on the rocks. He was so intently absorbed in watching the work of the officers, that I was able, by quietly walking up behind, to knock ...
A murmuration of robots, a huddle of penguins

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 of us. Here, Harvard University has created a self-organising system, consisting ...
The continuum of science, art and design

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 Kemp at University of Oxford argues that though these categories are ...
Kjell Aukrust: rural Norway in a nutshell

Kjell Aukrust: rural Norway in a nutshell

Kjell Aukrust was a legendary artist, humourist and illustrator. He is most famous for his wacky stories from a particular part of rural Norway, full of bizarre and hilarious people, inventions and creatures. They make little sense to people from other countries, the Danes certainly do not get it at all. I grew up with ...
Abstracting the map

Abstracting the map

Tung studio in Toronto decided to reinvent the map. The results are beautiful abstract-ish quilts, showing neighbourhoods as ideas. you could not navigate by these obviously, but they are beautiful, understandably map-ish. My thought is that we do not need paper maps anymore, so we are free to reinvent them as ideas and abstract representation of ...
Biotech: future of digital storage is plant DNA

Biotech: future of digital storage is plant DNA

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.– Marcus Tullius Cicero Now the garden can be the library. Researchers at the University Medical Centre Maribor, Slovenia have encoded digital information into plant DNA. So what? you might ask. Oh; it is wild: in a box of seeds, you could have all knowledge ...
Axolotl – the salamander that never is

Axolotl – the salamander that never is

Axolotl. Ambystoma mexicanum. What is it? It belongs to the salamanders, but. A salamander is a creature that has some properties and life history. Your garden-variety salamander starts life as an egg, larvae, tadpole, metamorphosis, adult salamander. After metamorphosis the creature is an adult, crawls up on land and reproduce. That is the idea. But there ...
"Obsessions make my life worse and my work better"

“Obsessions make my life worse and my work better”

Sagmeister is a bit of a rock star in design. His project "Obsessions make my life worse and my work better" is of course mad and stunning. 250.000 EuroCents, eight days and more than 100 volunteers resulted in this crazy, beautiful sentence I can relate to. They left the work unguarded. And here is the hilarious ...
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 ...
My hovercraft is full of eels: English as she is spoke

My hovercraft is full of eels: English as she is spoke

Pedro Carolino of Portugal holds the record for unintentional humour: in 1883 he wrote and English-Portugese phrasebook, The new guide of the conversation in Portuguese and English. It is widely held that Pedro spoke no english and the book is a feast of hilarity with incomprehensible sentences such as: He has toast his all good Exculpate ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
Synthetic diamonds are for forever too

Synthetic diamonds are for forever too

– Synthetic diamonds are real. – Of course they are, I can touch them. –No, really real. They ARE diamonds. Geddit? They are structurally, chemically e-x-a-c-t-l-y the same as what comes out of the ground. They are lab-created. Lab "grown"; or nicer: cultivated gemstones. So the ruby IS a ruby, the emerald an emerald, the ...
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