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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
Here be Dragons

Here be Dragons

You have probably heard the expression, and most likely associate it with images of old maps covered in drawings of sea serpents and other mythological creatures. But what are exactly those creatures living on the margins, and how did they get there? Pack your bags and jump on board. But aware, though, for Here be Dragons. Despite its popularity, there ...
Dangerous tectonic visualisations

Dangerous tectonic visualisations

Dangerous tectonic visualisations: Visualisations are good things. They should be beautiful to look at, informative and invite discovery. But they can be very dangerous. Visualisations can be used to make decisions, learn something new, connect surprising dots, showing unknown connections. If you want to buy a car, you might find a visualisation that shows the ...
Ruffen, my childhood sea dragon

Ruffen, my childhood sea dragon

Thore Hansen was one of my childhood heroes. His drawings were magic then, and they are still magic now. The best known of his children's books illustrations are the ones accompanying Thor Åge Bringsværd's stories about Ruffen. Ruffen is a "small" sea dragon, and the books tells the story of his adventures. This post was ...
W. B. Gould: artist and convict

W. B. Gould: artist and convict

William Buelow Gould (1801 – 1853) was an English artist convicted for stealing a coat and was sentenced to seven years of labour in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). He constantly got into trouble, also in the penal colonies, and was regularly punished for offences such as drunkenness, petty theft and forgery. His talent, however, got him assigned as a house ...
Ernst Haeckel: art and science through the microscope

Ernst Haeckel: art and science through the microscope

Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919) was what we call a renaissance man. He was a professor, biologist, philosopher, physician, naturalist and artist. His contribution to biology, evolutionary theory and art is still mind-boggling; we owe a great deal of biological understanding and terminology to him. He was a great promoter of Darwin's theory of evolution, ...
Oblate spheroid

Smarties and the shape of the earth

The sphere is, according to Wikipedia, a reasonably correct model for earth. But mathematically the earth is  an oblate spheroid. An example of that would be smarties and M&Ms, spheres squished at the poles. As a result of gravitation and the rotation of earth, it is about 21 km longer than the Earth’s polar radius. This is, of course, ...
1854: geographical distribution of indigenous vegetations

David Rumsey collection: mapping history I

David Rumsey's gigantic collection of historical and modern maps, schematics, timelines, data visualisations, diagrams, history, time, sciences, religion is a never-ending source of wonder and inspirations. It is a bit of a trap, as I can spend days wandering around in the magical world of visualisations of history, science, culture, religion. Looking at the older ...
Ernst Haeckel

Bow to the masters: learning from Ernst Haeckel

  There is no better way to learn, than to study what the masters studied. Even though Haeckel might have been a little too creative in some of his visual analysis, he is up there with the best of them ...
Water

Water

Dangerous, beautiful and essential for life. H2O is a very odd substance; it is gas, liquid and solid in very odd temperature ranges. Think about it; by some mysterious intermolecular forces, two gasses becomes liquid below 100C and solid below 0C ...