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Merry Coor produces ethereal designs from cremated remains within custom glass beads. Coor crafts each bead by hand, first melting glass into a round bead, then spiraling the design out of ashes on top, and finally sealing the design with an outer layer of clear glass. For each bead she not only requests a 1/2 teaspoon of ashes, but also a picture, letter, or story of the deceased so she can develop a personal connection while forming the piece of jewelry.
Coor has been making glass beads for about 15 years, but it wasn’t until last year that she began incorporating ashes into their designs. After this development Coor explained, “My bead making now gave me a new purpose, and a way to honor others, both living and passed.”
In the late 19th century, astronomers developed the technique of capturing telescopic images of stars and galaxies on
The post Using 19th Century Technology to Time Travel to the Stars has been published on Technology Org.
With little more than thin wooden dowels and a bit of glue, artist Janusz Grünspek creates scale replicas of everyday objects that from a distance appear like line drawings. Dining room tables, power tools, an Apple laptop, and even a candle chandelier are formed from delicately cut and bent wooden pieces that mimic the form of digitally-rendered wireframes. Grünspek calls the 2011 series Drawings in Space, and you can see a bit more on his website (warning: Flash). (via Junk Culture, Visual News)
We all have cameras, and the sky’s an easy target, so why not have a little fun? Ever
As a society, we have seen a tremendous increase in sustainable technology over the last decade. From recycling, to LEDs, to LEED Certified buildings, and to battery-powered cars, clear progress has been made. Today, scientists continue to push boundaries on sustainable technology, shaping public policy and the future in the process.
One area of active research is sustainable solar-produced fuels. Researchers are developing artificial photosynthetic systems that are designed to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis, which harnesses solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugars. These systems, both natural and synthetic, involve chemically converting water into oxygen gas and hydrogen gas.
Usually, our water-splitting processes rely on electrolysis—running electricity through water to trigger a reaction that splits it. In order to carry out this process using solar energy, systems require stable, light-absorbing electrodes. Unfortunately, the solution conditions required to carryout water electrolysis often cause electrodes to degrade, which has hampered progress toward developing efficient, stable artificial photosynthetic systems.
|photos by David TW Leung|
Years of research satisfy a graduate student’s curiosity about the molecular minuet he observed among drops of ordinary
The post Researchers solve the mystery of the dancing droplets has been published on Technology Org.
A fine-grained genetic analysis has created a detailed map of genetic variation across the UK. It gives us a clearer picture of the waves of migration that populated the UK and could also contribute to research on genetic diseases.
Obviously, people in the UK these days don’t always stick around where they were born, so people in a given region don’t necessarily share ancestry. But, if you can find people whose ancestry is closely tied to a particular region, it becomes possible to approximate what genomes would have been like a century ago, before people could move around so easily.
A paper published in Nature this week analyzed the genomes of 2039 people whose grandparents were all born within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of one another. This effectively meant that the researchers were sampling the genomes of the grandparents, whose average birth year was 1885 and who obviously had strong ties to a region. This allowed the researchers to investigate the genetic structure of the UK population before the mass movements of last century.
In this brief profile by filmmaker Liam Saint Pierre, we dive head-first into the strange mind of British artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox who’s been entertaining the world for years with his delightfully impractical ideas. His recent off-the-wall inventions include a stained glass driverless car, shoes with built-in GPS that guide you back home, and a giant listening device called Binaudios that mimic tourist binoculars for the purpose of listening to a city. “Let’s do the ridiculous and by doing the ridiculous something else might come of it,” Wilcox shares in the film, perfectly encapsulating his entire artistic practice. He also just published a book filled with comic-like sketches of his most outlandish ideas, Variations on Normal, which is available on his website. (via It’s Nice That)
LSU Professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy Ward Plummer and Jiandi Zhang, in collaboration with their
The post Physicists propose new classification of charge density waves has been published on Technology Org.
Currently on display in Tokyo is “Floating Flower Garden,” an immersive, interactive installation of blossoming vegetation. Visitors enter a room filled with floating flowers. But as you approach them the flowers rise into the air, creating an air bubble within the dense forest. Multiple visitors can move through the installation at once as the flowers move away from them and surround them. “In this interactive floating flower garden viewers are immersed in flowers, and become completely one with the garden itself.” Think of it as Rain Room but with flowers.
Floating Flower Garden is the latest installation by TeamLab, a Japanese art collective of “ultra-technologists” lead by Toshiyuki Inoko. They’re currently staging a large-scale retrospective of work at Miraikan in Tokyo. The show has been so popular that it got extended for 2 months and this piece was installed as an encore. It’s currently on view, along with the rest of the show, through May 1, 2015.
Using data from orbiting observatories, including NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based facilities, an international team of astronomers
The post Satellites Catch ‘Growth Spurt’ from Newborn Protostar has been published on Technology Org.
Famous for its notoriously rainy weather, Seattle is the perfect home for this new series of water-activated interactive artworks, illustrations, and hidden messages that only appear when wet. Titled Rainworks, the invisible pieces by Seattle-based artist Peregrine Church started popping up last year. Each installation is made from an environmentally safe, water-repellant coating that lasts anywhere from 4 months to a year. You can see more here. (via Vandalog, Metafilter)
After avoiding use of the rover’s flash memory for three months, the team operating NASA’s 11-year-old Mars Exploration
The post NASA Reformats Memory of Longest-Running Mars Rover has been published on Technology Org.
"Read Montague" is not some command your prelapsarian political science professor gives you. It's the name of a computational neuroscientist who studies decision-making. He's the latest to release research showing something unusual going on in the brains of people who affiliate with a particular ideology.
Specifically, he reports that Democrats and Republicans have different reactions when they're shown disgusting pictures, so much so that the reactions themselves can predict, reliably, whether the person looking at the image identifies voluntarily as liberal or conservative.
He recruited a random sample of adults, who then filled out political questionnaires. Then, each subject climbed into a special functional magnetic resonance imaging machine. The team then showed each participant a series of pictures, some of them disturbing, like a mutilated carcass of an animal. The fMRI recorded blood flow patterns across each person's brain as it processed the images. "The brain-imaging results were fed into an algorithm that compared the whole-brain responses of liberals and conservatives looking at disgusting images and versus neutral ones," according to New Scientist.
The computer was able to predict, to an accuracy of about 98 percent, whether each brain recording matched to a person who scored as a liberal or as a conservative, and even to degrees of ideological difference within those broad categories.
Conservatives, in particular, seemed to react more violently to universally repulsive images, like maggot infestations.
Are conservatives' brains different than liberal brains? Montague says he was drawn to the topic when he read that political ideology seemed to have a heritability quotient that was significant, meaning that, in some sense yet to be discovered, how you think about politics is influenced by your genes. (Love those twin studies!)
This study suggests that the way we decide to engage politically and the type of information we subject ourselves to changes the way our brain processes external stimuli. Over time, the way we talk about politics influences us subconsciously.
Montague, in his press release, says he was surprised by how strong the differences were. "Remarkably, we found that the brain's response to a single disgusting image was enough to predict an individual’s political ideology."
Extrapolating a bit here, we can begin to understand why persuading voters to change their affiliations, or to change their minds about an issue that has partisan resonance, like, say, ObamaCare, is so hard. To change minds, you've got to change brains at deep levels that are not available to our conscious decision-making.
Like any good upstanding American researcher, Montague thinks that bipartisanship is a good thing. By implication, partisanship is a bad thing. If voters begin to understand that their decisions are reflexive even when they don't seem reflexive, then maybe they'll be able to force their own minds to open up more, to actively interrupt the automatic processes that tell us whether something is good or bad.
We know that Americans seem to be sorting themselves into like-minded neighborhoods. Conventional wisdom has us moving to places that fit our political predispositions. The actual data tracks the view that people aren't moving because of politics. They just change political parties when political parties adopt ideologies that track more closely with their own. And since the mid 1990s, the GOP, in particular, has moved far to the right. (This is why conservatives don't like to identify as Republican but will certainly vote for Republicans 90 percent of the time.)
The data suggests that as the political parties became more strident and clear in taking their own positions, people began to associate more indelibly with them.
Like moons orbiting a planet, there are smaller bodies circling the Milky Way. Known as dwarf galaxies, they can be dim enough to escape detection—it’s not known how many there are in total, and new dwarfs are still being detected. One such dwarf galaxy was discovered within the last few weeks using data from the Dark Energy Survey, an experiment that scans the southern sky in order to learn about the accelerating expansion of the Universe (the experiment’s name comes from the mysterious dark energy that causes that acceleration).
The dwarf, known as Reticulum 2, is about 98,000 light-years from Earth, making it one of the Milky Way’s closest discovered satellites. But that’s not its most exciting feature. The mini-galaxy seems to be emitting a strong gamma ray signal, a research team concludes in a paper submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters. That’s surprising for a dwarf, since they tend to be mostly devoid of the objects that typically produce gamma rays. While it’s too early to say for sure what the source of the gamma rays is, the authors have tentatively come to a very intriguing conclusion: dark matter annihilation.
Like their larger counterparts, dwarf galaxies rest within a spherical blob, or halo, of dark matter that accounts for most of the galaxy’s mass. In the case of the Milky Way’s satellites, their halos rest within the Milky Way’s own larger halo, making them subhalos.
German graphic artist Matthias Jung creates collages of fictional structures that seemingly turn the logic of architecture upside down. Buildings sprout mountains populated by livestock, homes hover in mid-air, and contrasting architectural styles are fused together in strangely harmonious ways like something straight out of a Terry Gilliam movie. You can see more of Jung’s work on his website where he also has a number of prints availble. (via iGNANT)
Ask any theoretical physicist on what are the most profound mysteries in physics and you will be surprised
The post Black holes and the dark sector explained by quantum gravity has been published on Technology Org.
The ability to control the intrinsic angular momentum of individual electrons – their “spins” – could lead to
Exciting as it is (and it is incredibly exciting), the Rosetta mission is just the latest in a history of comet exploration that has added to our knowledge of these icy dirtballs.
Comets are usually just a few kilometres across and consist of a mixture of ice, carbon-based material, and rock dust. A comet can develop a spectacular million kilometer-long tail of gas and dust when its elongated orbit brings it close to the sun.
The warmth of the sun vaporizes water, carbon monoxide, and other volatile substances that are otherwise held as ice. Jets of gas escape from the solid part of the comet (its nucleus) to feed the growing tail. However, for most of the time a comet is far from the sun, and it is simply a dark, dusty object too faint to detect using even the largest telescopes.
It is hoped that access to a comet will provide a pristine, deep-frozen sample of the material from which planets were built. Comets have been hitting the Earth since the Earth was formed. We currently do not know what fraction of the Earth's ocean water was delivered to the surface by comets after the Earth was formed, as opposed to water that escaped from inside and condensed on the early Earth.
Comets also carry organic molecules — and one theory has it that these building blocks for life on Earth were delivered by comets rather than forming here. Recent observations by the ALMA telescope in Chile revealed very simple organic molecules — two sorts of hydrogen cyanide and also formaldehyde — being made in comets today.
Missions to comets
Small wonder, then, that comets have been the targets of several space missions. To date, eight comets have been visited over the course of 10 successful missions. In 1982, a probe called ISEE-3, which had already been in space for four years, was renamed International Cometary Explorer (ICE) and re-tasked to fly past comet Giacobini-Zinner, at a minimum distance of 7,862km. The probe had no cameras on board, but other sensors gathered data on the interplay between the solar wind and the comet's atmosphere. ICE subsequently joined a fleet of two Soviet, two Japanese, and one European Space Agency probe that studied Halley's comet in 1986. ESA's mission, Giotto, was the best equipped. It got to within nearly 600km, and sent back the first close-up pictures of a comet's nucleus.
The most spectacular mission before Rosetta was NASA's Deep Impact, which in 2005 dropped an impactor into the nucleus of comet Tempel 1, while the mother-ship watched. The impact excavated more dust and less ice than had been expected. Another surprise was that much of this material was clays and carbonates, which usually require liquid water for their formation.
Only one mission has brought back samples from a comet. This was NASA's Stardust, which in 2003 collected dust that was escaping from comet Wild 2. The sample return capsule made it back in 2006 and included grains that seemed to have formed at high temperatures in the inner solar system before heading out to the cold comet-forming region. There were also traces of an amino acid — glycine — adding weight to the idea that comets could be source of the building blocks of life. Remarkably, the Stardust mother-ship was redirected to Tempel 1, the only comet to have been visited on two different occasions. In 2011, it sent back pictures of the crater that had been made by Deep Impact's impactor.
It is early days for Rosetta, and the team have yet to release more than a few images and other data from the main instruments. However, navigation camera images reveal a startling landscape in far greater detail than has previously been achieved. There are boulders up to several meters in size, patchily distributed across the surface.
Are they pure ice? Dust cemented by ice? Will the apparently smooth areas turn out to be just as rugged on a smaller scale when the Philae lander gets close enough to see finer detail? What are the exposed layers that can be seen in some areas, and how did they form? And how is all this compatible with the extremely low-bulk density of the comet, which Rosetta's orbit and shape-mapping have revealed to be only about 40 percent the density of solid ice? The interior must be porous, but there's precious little sign of that at the surface.
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