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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Ultraviolet Flowers, Infrared Trees

Ultraviolet Flowers, Infrared Trees

As humans, we have a very reduced visual spectrum. We can only catch light within certain frequencies, as Newton demonstrated this by dividing light using a prism (a beam of light contains the colors of the rainbow, because colours are wavelengths - the longer wave we can see is red, followed by orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and violet, the shortest wave. Whatever falls outside ...
Historic photos of New Zealand's Kauri wood bloom

Historic photos of New Zealand’s Kauri wood bloom

When I was living in New Zealand, one of my favourite walks was just up the road, to one of Auckland's many natural reserves. You only needed ten or fifteen minutes to get to the top of a small hill. On it, a beautiful Kauri tree solemnly awaited. The sight was impressive, a giant among its normal-sized ...
The tree house dwellers of Papua

The tree house dwellers of Papua

The Korowai people, inhabitants of Guinea, have become famous for three reasons. First, there are no records of the group having contact with Westeners until 1974, when anthropologist Peter Van Arsdale and a group of researchers led and expedition to the south bank of the Upper Eilanden River. Second, the Korowai have been reported to practice ritual cannibalism, although there are suspicions this ...
J.H. Boot: master of stylisation

J.H. Boot: master of stylisation

I posted about stylisation before, and I'd like to show where I got my inspiration. So without further ado, some of the 'plates' from J.H. Boot's book on how to take some natural object and turn it into something of mathematically precise art. It still amazes me that Boot did not just take the time ...
Voynich manuscript – secret knowledge or brilliant hoax?

Voynich manuscript – secret knowledge or brilliant hoax?

Since we are on a roll with old books and manuscripts, I give you the  240-page Voynich manuscript. It is an unsolved enigma: a manuscript found in Italy; the paper has been dated to between 1404-1438. It contains text in an unknown script, unknown language, and illustrations of non-existing plants, constellations and humans apparently doing inexplicable ...
tracing of Tropaeolum majus -- Indian cress

Stylisation a la 1910

Both my father and his father have been interested in art and decoration. Apparently, things like those are in the blood. Recently, my father passed me along scans of a book by one J.H. Boot he found in his archives, which must have belonged to my grandfather. It's a book about stylisation, the art of ...
multicoloured carrots

The colour orange – “bitwixe yelow and reed”

Orange is a tricky colour: when pale, it can be seen as yellow, when dark, it is seen as brown. Bizarrely, orange did not get its English name until 1512. It was named after the fruit, though you could have thought it would have been the other way around. Even in the middle ages, English had no ...
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, ...
tree of life

Tree of life – custom drawing

Tree of life – custom drawing: This is the third post in the series of my custom drawings. This time, it was a custom "tree of life" for my sister. She had a whole spare wall in the cabin up in the mountains... Again, as in all custom drawings I do, there are some elements ...
Animal, vegetable, mineral, man-made

Animal, vegetable, mineral, man-made

The three kingdoms, according to Linnaeus; was mineral, vegetable, animal. Throw in man-made, and you have the Natural and the Artificial worlds… ...
Kingdom: vegetable

Kingdom: vegetable

(According to Linnaean taxonomy, there are three kingdoms: vegetable, animal, mineral) After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains. – Walt Whitman The ultimate inspiration. Nature, the largest multivariate network there is. All images ...