Technology

Fungus Among Us & Other Things

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Happy Sunday! So I’m trying something new. From now on I will start posting multiple short topics on recent articles I have read, organizations or artists that I follow, or other science or sciart related topics. I figure variety is the spice of life. Let me know what you think!

Fungus Among Us-A recent article in the New York Times discusses the art of wild mushroom hunting and the bioluminescence that some mushroom species emit.

Bambi Likes Ribs-From Popular Science, a deer was spotted munching on a human carcass by forensic scientist on a body farm. Note-Do NOT Google “body farm images” if you spook easily.

The Crowd and the Cloud-A new show premiers on PBS about citizen science and the use of mobile technology to help collect data on a variety of topics.

Courtney Mattison-An amazing ceramic artist who creates intricate coral reef ecosystems out of clay to help highlight their importance and their fragile state due to human-induced threats.

Minute Earth-Short animated YouTube videos on a variety of scientific topics such as “Why Some Molecules Have Evil Twins“.

About the Illustration: Acrylic painting of mushrooms at night (with some glow in the dark ferns).

Strawberry Squid…Forever

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The “Strawberry Squid” or Histioteuthis heteropsis is a deep-sea squid that is known for it’s resemblance to a strawberry and it’s mismatched eyes. It is also affectionately called the cock-eyed squid by it’s squid friends and a few marine biologists. Particularly after it’s had too many strawberry daiquiris 😉 Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…

Recently researchers at Duke University determined why the Strawberry Squid has a large, light colored eye that is angled upwards and a smaller, darker eye angled downwards. After analyzing hours (and hours) of underwater footage from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Duke graduate student Kate Thomas determined that the larger eye evolved to detect marine life in the water column above it while the smaller eye evolved to detect bioluminescent light from marine life found below it. So one eye looking out for predators and one eye looking out for prey.

In the past, studying and observing organisms that inhabit the deeper parts of the ocean was challenging. But with the advent of remotely operated vehicles (ROV)  and and other related technology, researchers can get to know some of the odd fellows that populate the deep, deep sea. If you are curious about what MBARI finds at the bottom of the ocean, check out their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/MBARIvideo. Another favorite is NOAA’s Ocean Exploration and Research YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/oceanexplorergov. And you thought YouTube was only good for watching cat videos.

 

From Pluto With Love

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Happy New Year! This painting was inspired by the heart-shaped feature recently found on Pluto’s surface by the New Horizons spacecraft. I hope 2017 treats you well. Thank you for following this little blog of mine.

My Cover Illustration for Lateral Magazine

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My illustration for the cover of Lateral Magazine. This issue focuses on the heart-medical research, social science, etc… My illustration is inspired by research into why some folks do not incorporate facts into their belief system. “Thinking with you heart and not your head”.

Lateral Magazine is a collection of new voices exploring the relationship between science and society. This relationship encompasses every aspect of human life, from the details of our everyday lives to parts of the wider world we never properly consider.

Sciart Design for the Holidays

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So now onto design in the sciart world. I define this as jewelry, fashion, sculpture, 3-D stuff…

Nervous System: “combines scientific research, computer graphics, mathematics, and digital fabrication to explore a new paradigm of product design and manufacture”. They create jewelry (as seen above), puzzles, home decor, fashion…

Cultured Algae Locally-sourced seaweed home decor and science kits

Fraggles & Friggles Science T-shirts

Somersault18:24 Science-inspired jewelry

Ontogenie Science-inspired jewelry

The Vexed Muddler Science-inspired jewelry

Artomic Science-inspired jewelry

Mesh Cloud 3-D printed home decor

Cognitive Surplus Barware and more

This is not an exhaustive list but if this peaks your interest you can check out my Sciart Design Pinterest Board for more sciart design goodness!

 

Sciart Books for the Holidays

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Now on to sciart books…

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky, a lovely illustrated book on some remarkable women in science. I knew many of these intelligent ladies but there were a few new ones. Excellent for that budding scientist on your holiday shopping list.

Thunder and Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss, Illustrations of weather and climate change. Far ranging in topics covered and meticulous writing.

She also wrote, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout 

The Where, The Why, & The How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science by By Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

The Thrilling Adventure of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua

I Am Not A Plastic Bag by Achel Hope Allison,

World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky and Frank Stockton

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni

Other Lists and Sources:

Science and Scientist Graphic Novels, Ann Arbor District Library 

Top 15 Graphic Novels for the Science Classroom 

A Mighty Girl Science and Technology Book List

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

This is not an exhaustive list but if it peaks your interest you can check out my Sciart Book Pinterest Board for more sciart book goodness!

 

And the Nobel Goes to…

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At the beginning of October Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his research into the genetic underpinnings of autophagy. Autophagy is the process by which cellular material is destroyed and reused. His work is crucial to understanding the molecular mechanisms behind cancer and other diseases. Mutations in autophagy genes have been linked to illness in humans.

About the Illustration: My illustration is an abstract version of autophagy where autphagosomes (an organelle-a specialized subunit of a cell that serves a specific purpose in the functioning of a cell) consume damaged organelles or other cellular contents and then fuses with lysosomes (another type of organelle) to degrade the cellular materials to be repurposed within the cell. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Other Nobel Prizes in the Science went to:

Nobel Prize in Physics-David Thouless, Duncan Haldane, and Michael Kosterlitz for  explaining strange phenomena in unusual phases (or states) of matter.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry-Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for their development of molecular machines that are a thousand times thinner than a hair strand. Yes, you read correctly.

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So a starfish, now what does a starfish have to do with the Nobel Prize? In the 1960’s Dr. Robert Paine observed the impact of removing the ochre starfish (Pisaster ochraceus) from a small area of the Washington coast. Without the starfish present the diverse community devolved into a species-poor area. Based on his observations Dr. Paine formulated the theory of “Keystone Species“.  This is a species that has a large impact on an ecosystem and when it disappears that ecosystem essentially falls apart. A major theory that helped shape ecology, keystone species have been identified in a variety of ecosystems. Both terrestrial and aquatic.

After the Nobel Prizes in Science were announced an opinion piece came out in the New York Times about updating the Nobel Prize. The author, Gabriel Popkin, discusses the role of Dr. Paine in furthering the field of ecology and how the diversity of scientific disciplines has grown since Alfred Nobel created the Nobel Prize through his will. He writes about possibly expanding the Nobel Prize to include other fields such as ecology, climatology, geology, etc… So? So what? Consider that the Nobel Prize brings money and prestige and consider how that could be used in fields where there is little of either. Consider that funding for science in the United States is diminishing. Also consider that the ochre starfish is dying out due to sea star wasting disease. What does that mean for the ecosystem that it supports? What does it mean for us?  Had Dr. Paine studied the role of the ochre starfish  in coastal ecosystems in the current funding climate he may not have been able to come up with his monumental findings. There is still much to learn and discover but with shrinking funding some research will loose it’s seat at the table.