Saturday, April 7, 2012

SciArt Link Roundup #10

Sorry to all our readers named Dave.
(Image adapted from '-kol)

Fourty-four years ago this week, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered in a D.C. theater. SciArt Saturday celebrates Kubrick's legacy with an homage to the sci-fi genre, futuristic technology, and a whole lot of space.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

Sci-Fi Special

  • The original 2001: A Space Odyssey program

  • This year's Space Foundation Art Contest asked kids to draw what they think space looks like. In other news, I have lost all confidence in being able to artistically outperform a gradeschooler. 

  • NASA's solar instrument flips around twice a year to adjust its calculations, or else the sun does a barrel roll when we're not looking.

  • Favorite find of the week: Ian Frazier discusses Dutch kinetic sculptor Theo Jansen, who Frazier profiled for the New Yorker last year. For 21 years, Jansen has sent his wind-powered sculptures crawling and walking (yes, walking) down the beach. His creations are chilling and wonderful to watch. 

  • If you must see Titanic's timely (?) rerelease in theaters, at least now you can appreciate accurate on-screen starfields thanks to Neil Degrasse Tyson. Tyson was only vocalizing what Rose was thinking the whole time, I'm sure. 

Everything Else

  • In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Romneyn Beck Hough collected and mounted specimens of wood sections from every tree he could find in a book. The original copy will run you an incredible $30,000, or you could pay about a thousand times less and see all the scans in a new edition. 

  • MIT's neuroscience and computer science departments are looking for help in mapping the retinal connectome, and they're appealing to the citizen scientists with an online game called Eyewire.

  • A couple of organic chemists from Rice University synthesized a class of anthropomorphic compounds back in 2003. They took a hint from Jonathan Swift and called them the NanoPutians. I don't really know how this thesis came to be (or how it came to be in The Journal of Organic Chemistry), but I'll stop asking questions for a moment and just enjoy molecular beings dancing across my screen. 

  • The spontaneous appearance of a starling flock surprises a group in a canoe, and I can't stop watching with them. The birds form into a single, two-dimensional plane that twists around itself; it thrashes about, breaks apart, and finally becomes whole again as it floats away over the trees.

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