Saturday, March 24, 2012

SciArt Link Roundup #8

Hyacinths are the only things blooming in my backyard, for now.  

It's the first week of spring (magnolia blooms are out!). You know what that means. SciArt Saturday botany special. And lucky for you, this week is a very good one for science art.

Botany Special

  • The rare titan arum "corpse flower" bloomed at Cornell this week. The plant rarely blooms in cultivation, so the event has attracted a lot of attention (proof: the thing has its own blog). The flower opens for just a day or two, during which time it smells about as lovely as a heap of decomposing flesh. Wikipedia says that the titan arum was the official flower of the Bronx until 2000, when the borough decided that the day lily was a nicer option. I think I'll be done laughing at that tomorrow.

  • Leafsnap is a neat little iPhone app that allows you to identify trees by their leaves. Hiking through the woods just became much more interesting.  

  • Hank Green of Vlogbrothers fame gives a crash course in plant cells and photosynthesis:  "Next time someone says they don't like it when there are chemicals in their food, please remind them that all life is made of chemicals and would they please stop pretending that the word 'chemical' is somehow a synonym for carcinogen. Because, I mean, think about how chlorophyll feels when you say that. It spends all of its time and energy creating the air we breathe and we're like, 'Ew, chemicals are so gross'." 

  • A Field Guide to Surreal Botany aims to be a handbook to a fantastic world that doesn't exist, detailing the would-be properties of imaginary plants. I haven't seen a copy and I could only find a few watercolor illustrations online, but the concept is interesting. 

  • I haven't read this yet, but I've heard good things about it and come on look at that title and that cover and tell me it's not worth checking out. 

  • The beauty of pollination, up-close. And plenty more bees, since our class seems to be so enamored of them. 

  • A giant, motorized lotus is heading to San Francisco soon. In the time-lapse video, you can see the sculpture mimic real-life phototropic movements. 

  • Speaking of phototropism --Indiana University botany professor Roger Hangarter steps out of the lab to collaborate with artists every so often. The slow, unseen dances of plants as they move about the sun (and other stimuli) are really mesmerizing to watch in time-lapse format. Hangarter is a cool guy, too; at ASPB last year, he opened his research presentation with his own photosynthetic photography. 

Regularly Scheduled Programming

  • Now that everything's thawing, head over here to peer into a frozen world. Look at those ice caves! Also, if you haven't caught on yet --Frozen Planet airs on Discovery every Sunday night for the next four weeks. Really incredible stuff. 

  • I don't pretend to understand these things. I'm just saying, somewhere a classified, mounted giant beetle bears a slight semblance to Jeff Goldblum. And I don't know how I feel about that. 

  • NASA virtual reality "Eyes on the Earth" web feature allows users to track the planet's vital signs (collected by NASA's satellites) in real-time --from carbon dioxide to average sea level variation. I recommend the gravity field map. Also check out the image of the day; I had barely opened the browser window when a prompt screen happily whisked me through space to see the bright red vein of lava currently flowing from a North African volcano. 

  • A mixed-media collage of Nabokov's lepidoptery that highlights the art in science. The artist is a talented scientific illustration student, and it's interesting to watch the learning curve of her field through her blog. 

  • 360 view of the night sky, pieced together from 37,000 high quality photographs. There is a constellation feature, too. 

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