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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
World Fashion: Racinet's Compendium c. 1878

World Fashion: Racinet’s Compendium c. 1878

Auguste Racinet was a French illustrator, famous for his detailed depictions of historical costumes. His polychromatic ornaments are also a thing to marvel, just take a look at these five motives from Persia, Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance and 18th Century style: His masterpiece, however, remains to be Le Costume Historique, an unprecendented attempt to illustrate the entire history ...
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 ...
Writing Tools: Etymology

Writing Tools: Etymology

As a writer of fiction, I'm always on the lookout for cool tools for the writing toolbox. I've known about this one for a while, but until the last couple of weeks. I've never really had much use for it. I refer to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Etymology is the study of word origin and ...
Soldiers' Thoughts in an 1916-1918 Station Visitors' Book

Soldiers’ Thoughts in an 1916-1918 Station Visitors’ Book

Visitors' books, while bursting with creativity potential, often feel like a mere registry of names and locations - with the few occasional sentimentalities. They are condemned to live in the present and, as such, their true value is usually underestimated. Rare is the chance to come across a Visitors' book that has long lost its ...
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) ...
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 ...
The day Indiegogo promoted a SCAM: Triton Gills is now fully financed

The day Indiegogo promoted a SCAM: Triton Gills is now fully financed

Have you heard of the Triton Gills? A device that would allow you to breath underwater for 40 minutes! It has been fully financed. For the second time. With Indiegogo's blessing. A small detail: The product is a SCAM, and everyone except the backers are aware of it. UPDATE: At the beginning of May (and after ...
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 ...
Head Full of Words

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 slip one into a conversation, e.g., "vouchsafe"... does anyone actually ever say ...
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 ...
Are Smart Contact Lenses Here to Efface Privacy?

Are Smart Contact Lenses Here to Efface Privacy?

The patent is 29 pages long and all in Korean. That might the reason why Samsung's Smart Contact Lenses went unnoticed for several years. Now, it's out. The product, from the get go, is a potential privacy nightmare. The lenses are equipped with a camera, display, an antenna, and sensors (the actual processing operations happen ...
Open Science: Map scaled by number of journals published there

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 about access to information: I don’t think anyone would deny that ...
The Alamito Suplicantes: A mystery in Volcanic Rock

The Alamito Suplicantes: A mystery in Volcanic Rock

We know very little about the Suplicantes, small sculptures made almost exclusively out of volcanic rock. Although they are considered the peak of NOA's sculpture art, we can only attempt to deduce who made them and why, as almost all of them have been found outside of their original historical and geographical context - usually by ...
The Elite and Winter: The Eden, a Nazi Hotel in Argentina

The Elite and Winter: The Eden, a Nazi Hotel in Argentina

Washington, winter, 1945. Walter Eichhorn and Ida Bonfert are being investigated in connection to Hitler's crimes. The Eichhorns actively believe in nazism, and they have supported it financially, as documents show. Ida has given Goebbels 30,000 marks and, since then, the matrimony is allowed into the Fuhrer's room without permission. The Eichhorns travel frequently to Germany, ...
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 ...
Akhenaten: Deformed King or Sassy Sculptor?

Akhenaten: Deformed King or Sassy Sculptor?

Once in a while, chance or genetics throw into the world an individual so special, so divergent in their way of thinking, that the whole of humanity will be condemned to acknowledge their existence for as long as written records shall prevail. But when the man and the myth intersect with the freaky visual representations left behind... very little makes ...
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 ...
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 ...
http://industrial-archaeology.org/

A Glance at Industrial Archaeology

Industry has been more than a simple influence on our society, environment and landscape. It has shaped who we are and where we live, and it has brought about social change on an unprecedented scale in an unbelievably short period of time. But Chronos doesn't discriminate and buries it all, so a discipline emerged after World War II (when the retooling of ...
Conspiracy time: My Neighbor Totoro = God of Death?

Conspiracy time: My Neighbor Totoro = God of Death?

My Neighbor Totoro is a guaranteed top spot in any list of popular anime films. A kid's classic, this Miyakaki's piece might be hiding a much darker and fascinating story behind its cuddly characters. Was this exactly what Miyazaki had in mind when he created the movie? Hell, who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory, especially one riddled with ...
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 ...
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