Monday, 4 May 2015

How to grow a microscopic alien garden

Some sculptors work in marble, others in wood… but Harvard University biomineralization researcher Wim Noorduin creates his masterpieces inside a beaker. You'd be hard-pressed to put his flowery sculptures on a regular museum pedestal, though. They're actually microscopic crystal structures many times smaller than the width of a human hair.

(Wim Noorduin/World Science Festival)

(More from World Science Festival: Six tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters)

Minerals can naturally assemble into impressive shapes, even at very tiny scales, and Noorduin's scientific research is part of an effort to understand how chemistry can drive this process. His sculptures start with a solution of the salt barium chloride and the compound sodium silicate, also known as waterglass. When these ingredients are added, carbon dioxide from the air that's dissolved in the beaker's water kicks off a reaction that forms barium carbonate crystals — and also lowers the pH of the solution near the newly formed crystals. This pH change then sparks a reaction with the sodium silicate, which deposits silica on the growing crystals.

(Wim Noorduin/World Science Festival)

"We know how fast these structures grow and what is going to happen if we change, say, the temperature or acidity," Noorduin said in a phone interview. And knowing those principles "allows you to collaborate with the self-assembly process that's going on, and you can really manipulate the sculptures in a rational way."

(More from World Science Festival: Alan Turing vs. the mechanical Nazi)

(Wim Noorduin/World Science Festival)

Left to its own devices, the solution will form an intriguing forest of shapes. But human intervention can sculpt them into even more ethereal forms. There are lots of ways that Noorduin can manipulate the microenvironment inside the solution: The temperature can be altered with an ice bath, for example, or he can control the addition of carbon dioxide in the solution by capping the beaker. "If we take off the cap for just a few minutes and put it back on, in that time more CO2 will come into the solution from the air," Noorduin says. "As a result, the chemical reaction completely changes — it allows me to split structures open or make well-controlled ripples.

(Wim Noorduin/World Science Festival)

Noorduin can manipulate the sculptures even further, joining separate pieces into more complex shapes. He can grow a "vase" shape in one solution, then start the growth of a new "stem" shape from that and manipulate the whole into a flower. Noorduin thinks the mechanics underlying his microscopic bouquets could one day help researchers create tiny tools and devices, or manipulate everyday materials to make them stronger.

(More from World Science Festival: 11 small wonders captured on camera)

"I'm amazed by how very simple processes can give rise to complex shapes and structures," Noorduin says. While the driving force behind his work is scientific inquiry, he isn't immune to the eerily beautiful aesthetics of his work. "I am interested in trying to make the most beautiful landscapes. I got addicted to wandering around in this world."

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Science by robot: Outfitting the world’s “smartest” lake

BOLTON LANDING, New York—Arriving at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's field research station on the shores of lovely Lake George, the offices appeared deserted. The station's staff didn't hide from us; they had all relocated to another building for a training session on a new piece of technology. They've been doing a lot of that lately.

The scene in their meeting room was mostly pretty standard—tables, chairs, coffee, and snacks—but not many field stations have a shiny new nine-panel computer display on the wall. And no field stations have what that display will soon be showing.

Nestled along the eastern edge of New York’s stout and beautiful Adirondack Mountains, south of sprawling Lake Champlain, Lake George is a long, glacially sculpted basin filled by clear waters. The lake is 51 kilometers long, doesn’t get much more than three kilometers wide, and has long been a natural attraction. Thomas Jefferson once called it “the most beautiful water I ever saw." But today, a partnership between IBM, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the local FUND for Lake George has a different descriptor in mind—“smartest” lake in the world. It's an effort dubbed the “Jefferson Project.”

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Winners of the 6th Annual Fashion 2.0 Awards

dayana mendoza miss universe

sam edelman

Celebrating the best of fashion and tech! The Style Coalition has been celebrating fashion brands for innovation and influence in the social media fields with their Fashion 2.0 Awards for six years now. When they first started, many large brands were still struggling with even attempting to use tech in their marketing efforts.

The Fashion 2.0 Awards celebrate the best of tech and social media in fashion

Fast forward to 2015, the fashion brands recognized at the awards are leading social media innovation and tech brands are moving into style. The ever-changing world of tech and social media, the categories have changed over the years to reflect the most influential platforms. Pinterest and wearable tech were not represented at the first awards, but I can't imagine the fashion landscape without them now.

Multi-year host Robert Verdi always manages to be funny and topical. He is one of the few "style" entertainers with actual fashion industry cred. He addressed speculation on a possible return to E's Fashion Police by simply acknowledging that saying it should have been called the "Joan Rivers Show" because only she could do it. Also, he noted how sad he was that she has passed because of "all the plastic that was now released into the environment" (Joan would have been proud of that one!) He closed with a gesture to accompany his pitch for a F*CK Indiana campaign in response to their discriminatory legislation.

Sports Illustrated model Hanna Ferguson, Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, editors Danica Lo, supermodel Carol Alt were among the many presenters. Sam Edelman was the keynote speaker. Brands like Opening Ceremony won for best Instagram. Kate Spade NY won for their Pinterest content. Tory Burch, a no-show won for best wearable tech. Marc Jacobs won for their "Cast Me Marc" online campaign. Rebecca Minkoff, one of the leaders in social media for fashion won the award for both Interactive Retail and Top Innovator.

I like particularly like the category of Digital Philanthropy Award. Calling out and recognizing the collaboration of your favorite fashion brand and a worthy cause will hopefully be the biggest trend of all. Dressember's work with Kate Spade was the winner here. Dressember works with the International Justice Mission to rescue the victims of slavery and violent oppression. Women were asked to wear a dress every day in December to raise funds and  awareness.

The Style Coalition was founded by Yuli Ziv. They work with influencers and brands to collaborate on projects together. I worked with them while I was at Hello La Mode to have bloggers show how they used the site. They might not have been the biggest network, but we had the best engagement through their influencers.

For any fashion brand that still hasn't realized that their marketing strategy cannot survive without tech and social media, the pure success of the brands represented at the 6th Annual Fashion 2.0 Awards has ended your argument. Check out all of their winners on their website.
photos by Mariana Leung
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Hyper-realistic Cactus Paintings that Bristle with Detail by Kwang-Ho Lee

Cactus No.69, 2011, Oil on canvas, 162.1×130.3cm, courtesy Johyun Gallery.

With deftly applied strokes of paint scarely wider than a hair, Korean painter Kwang-Ho Lee creates towering renderings of cacti that bristle with thorns and tangled branches. The colorful oil paintings can reach up to 8 feet tall, an imposing scale with ample room for tediously composed details that push each work into the realm of hyperrealism. You can explore more of Lee’s work at Johyun Gallery, Artsy, and Atelier Aki. (via Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, Beautiful/Decay)

Cactus No.51,2010,Oil on Canvas,194x200cm, courtesy Johyun Gallery


Cactus No.59, oil on canvas, 259.1x170cm, 2011, courtesy Johyun Gallery

Cactus No.73, oil on canvas 193.9×130.3cm 2011, courtesy Atelier Aki

Cactus No.59, oil on canvas, 259.1x170cm, 2011, courtesy Johyun Gallery

Cactus No.35, oil on canvas 162x130cm 2009, courtesy Atelier Aki

Cactus No.35, detail

“Touch” Exhibition at Joyhun Gallery, 2011

“Touch” Exhibition at Joyhun Gallery, 2011

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LHC restart back on track

On Monday, teams working on the Large Hadron Collider resolved a problem that had been delaying the restart

The post LHC restart back on track has been published on Technology Org.

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I've just released the new version of ZazMySite to the Beta Testers, so it should be available...

I've just released the new version of ZazMySite to the Beta Testers, so it should be available to you to try out VERY soon.
This new version gives you even more powerful and precise ways of pulling products from Zazzle for your product grids for your blog or website.
Get what you want, what you really, really want with ZazMySite!
Details here:

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Sales Alert: Cache Closing Sale! Prom Dresses, Cocktail, Bridemaids Dresses

cache closing

 Do you have any weddings coming up? What are the young ladies in your life wearing for Prom? I'm sure there are a few garden parties that need the right dress. Well NOW is the time to stock up for every one of your special occasions at Cache. They are closing their stores this week and selling single gown, prom dress, cocktail frock at a major discount until they run out.

As of today, dresses that were already 30% to 60% off are being given an additional 20% discount. That's practically free. These even include the newest styles from Spring 2015. Actually, who knows, by the time you get to the store it might be yet another discount as they keep reducing the prices the closer to their closing date. I would take a glance at the Cache Facebook page to keep updated right before you head to the store as they are adding new specials each day.

cache closing

I am personally going to look for some beach friendly maxi dresses to stroll in around the Hamptons. They have a lot of great fashion designers represented. If you are getting married, you can make your bridesmaids very happy with pretty AND super-affordable looks. If there is a prom coming up, you can afford to grab every prom dress that you like to change your look with every song.

What are you waiting for? Shop Cache's closing sale NOW!

Presented by Cache
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Stephanie K. Clark’s Thread Paintings Capture Homes in Their Distinctly Native Surroundings


Stephanie K Clark builds homes from swatches of cloth and spools of thread, embroidering tiny dwellings which appear to absorb the sun and moonlight from her small-scale scenes. The structures and their surrounding landscaping appear in vibrant colors while supporting and environment-specific trees, cacti, flamingos, and dogs lay nearby in faint black outlines.

The Salt Lake City-based Clark envisions the works as paintings with thread, and spends most of her time sewing and finding alternative ways to explore the creative process. “When I embroider on canvas it feels like oils; it flows, it blends, and it’s rich,” says the artist on her website. “When I embroider on loose shear or silk, it’s like a watercolor; its delicate, the thread goes where it wants to go, and it moves with the fabric.” Clark uses the embroidery to create a domestic feel that she believes accurately the tells the story of both a life in the home and family.

Clark does not sell her embroideries online, but takes commissions via email. More work of Clark’s can be found on her blog and Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)










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