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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Games that do science

Games that do science

When the internet was fairly new, a project without precedent set itself to push the limits of what seemed then inconceivable for both science and technology.  It was called SETI@Home, and it marked the beginning of a completely new era. SETI's goal was to detect intelligent life outside Earth. To do so, the project collected a ...
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 ...
You know you want one: science nerd merit badges

You know you want one: science nerd merit badges

Out of the generosity of the Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique I have been allowed to recreate their science nerd merit badges. You can find the indexed list here, or you can go directly to my Cafépress profile. No, this will not in any way make me rich and/or famous, ...
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 ...
Source: Wikipedia (Agarose gel with UV illumination)

Visualizing DNA

When I was doing my Thesis (population genetics, migration), I spent a fair amount of time extracting DNA from blood samples. The process was fascinating, and a little demanding - precise pipette handling can leave your shoulders in misery! Anyhow, it took us two days to get 'pure' DNA from a blood sample, and day II was always my ...
Chickenosaurus

Chickenosaurus

Jack Horner is a paleo-dude of the purest water. He is funny, knowledgeable and loves dinosaurs so much he wants to build one. And it is actually feasible. Chickens are basically altered dinosaurs, and fiddling with switching on and off genes will give you a chickenosaurus. See the TED talk. Best dude around ...
Early utopian imagery, memories of no places

Early utopian imagery, memories of no places

Yisela Utopias. The no-places. I’ve always been attracted by them. The first utopia ever written could have been Plato’s Republic. Or the Genesis. However, the first one I discovered was Thomas More’s Utopia. I still can’t believe it was written 498 years ago, in 1516. Utopia is a strange book. Most scholars agree it’s a satire, a criticism ...
Fritz Kahn: the human as industrial palace

Fritz Kahn: the human as industrial palace

(I was horrified to discover that Wikipedia does not have an entry on Fritz Kahn in English. I was utterly unaware of how deep into obscurity this multitalented man had fallen. Update: my pigheaded ability to pester strangers have resulted in an solid entry on Kahn on Wikipedia. Many thanks to Yngvadottir ). man as ...
Hackers and painters

Hackers and painters

Paul Graham has a background in computer science and art. He wrote on the connection between the two in the essay Hackers and painters. It begins: When I finished grad school in computer science I went to art school to study painting. A lot of people seemed surprised that someone interested in computers would also be ...
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, ...
The difference between science and engineering

The difference between science and engineering

In science if you know what you are doing you should not be doing it. In engineering if you do not know what you are doing you should not be doing it. Of course, you seldom, if ever, see the pure state. – Richard W. Hamming ...
italian Wikipedia use

Visual Italian Wikipedia use

I do not read Italian, but I can certainly appreciate these wonderful multivariate visualisations. Valerio Pellegrini made this gorgeous visual representation of Italian Wikipedia use for 2013. Months are distributed clockwise with Italian initial for each month. It has three layers of information and data: the inner level; overall top edits, the second it is ...
The gorgeous polyhedra sculptures of George Hart

The gorgeous polyhedra sculptures of George Hart

George Hart is a professor in engineering and a freelance mathematical sculptor, designer and artist. With the basis in mathematics, he creates stunning sculptures in a variety of materials and sizes, in principle, based on basic polyhedra. But his sculptures are anything but basic. The fact that this shape .... can turn into this, delights ...
Big data visualisation, CeBit 2014

Massive scale, breathtaking data-driven visualisation at CeBit 2014

I sometimes come across data visualisations that takes my breath away. This is one. Created by the design house Kram/Weisshaar for the CeBit 2014 computer expo in Hannover. Wish I was there. It is of course the sheer size that makes an impact, but the visualisations themselves are amazing, the amount of data accessed mindblowing, ...
Piet Hein: what art is

Piet Hein: what art is

Art is this: art is the solution of a problem which cannot be expressed explicitly until it is solved. The shaping of the question is part of the answer. – Piet Hein (scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet extraordinare) ...
Visual science: the periodic table

Visual science: the periodic table

Oxygen tries to play nice with the other elements in the playground ...
da Vinci: the development of a complete mind

da Vinci: the development of a complete mind

Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else. – Leonardo da Vinci ...
Maps: the time and space of the Hereford cloth of the world

Maps: the time and space of the Hereford cloth of the world

Maps: the time and space of the Hereford cloth of the world The Hereford Mappa Mundi is one of the oldest know, complex map of the world (Mappa = cloth Mundi = world). It dates from about 1285, and are found in the Hereford cathedral. It depicts 420 towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 animals and ...
"Next station! Pituitary Gland!"

“Next station! Pituitary Gland!”

Over at http://rangelmd.com/ there is this genius post: Human anatomy as subway map ...
Beautiful statistics

Beautiful statistics

Hans Rosling, the hero of beautiful statistics, showing us the world as it actually is. By making statistics beautiful and demonstrating that the impossible is possible. Oh, and btw; you can play with the Gapminder tool yourself ...