Sunday, October 21, 2007

The "Dog's Nuts" of the Periodic Table

Shelly Batts over at Retrospectacle just turned me on to this great show called Brainiacs. Here are a couple of fine videos starting off with a bit on alkali earth metals. I think Shelly is right, a British accent does lend an air of legitimacy. Kind of. Ahem. Don't try this at home.

Try a YouTube search on Brainiac for more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Great Bubble Demos and Formula

Several people have asked me recently about bubble solution formulations that improve on the regular dish soap stand-by. Take a look at this video to see some truly resilient, and even self-healing bubbles, along with the complete formulation!

Go forth and study bubble science!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fine Art Photoshop Contest

Yes, my favorites are all irreverent, but I just can't resist. Check out the growing collection at the Fine Art Photoshop Contest posted here, where you can also see the un-retouched originals.

Following frame

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fire on Land and In The Sky

Here's a cool photo of an exploding volcano (Tungurahua, located in Ecuador) under the Pleiades star cluster from Universe Today. Click on the image to see the full-resolution version (it's worth it!).

Nikon Small World Image Contest Results: 2007

Nikon just posted the results from their annual photo micro-graph competition, and the winning images are simply stunning. One of the things that struck me about this year's images was the significant leap in imaging technologies based on florescent DNA tagging combined with the use of confocal microscopy and volumetric tomography, even over last year's images.

I really enjoyed browsing the Nikon site, going back in time, to see how science has advanced over even a couple of years. Clearer vision brings clearer insight, as they say; these images let us see things never seen before and witness processes first-hand that were mere hypothesis last year. More than insight, there is wondrous beauty and complexity in every image. Here are a few of my favorites from the 2007 gallery, but don't miss browsing the rest on the home site.

Zebrafish embryo midbrain and diencephalon showing neural fibers in blue and developing neural interconnections in red, by Michael Hendricks of the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, National University of Singapore.

Erpobdella octoculata (fresh water leech) muscle strands surrounding a central nerve cord at 25x magnification, by Vera Hunnekuhl, Department of Zoology, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany

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Giant unilamellar and multilamellar vesicles (liposomes) at 40x magnification, by Dr. Jorge Bernardino de la Serna, MEMPHYS-Center for Biomembrane Physics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Fyn, Denmark.

Trematode sp. (parasitic worm) at 400x magnification, by Rodrigo Mexas, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Lime tree leaf vessels architectonics at 60x magnification, by Dr. Josef Spacek, University Hospital, Department of Pathology, Charles University Prague Faculty of Medicine Hradec Kralove, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.

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Cancer Cells at 1500x magnification, by Tomasz Szul, High Resolution Imaging Facility, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Nice Visual Illusion

No, this one is not animated. All the motion is happening in your head. If you don't believe me, try covering most of the image with your hand or a piece of paper and only looking at a small part. You will see that no individual part of the image moves at all. It is only when you try to see the whole image that you notice motion.

So can any of you tell me how this works?

Science and the Islamic World

I just stumbled upon a fascinating article on Science in the Islamic World, by a Pakistani scholar named Pervez Amirala Hoodbhoy at The article is mostly an exploration of the rise and fall of scientific inquiry in the Islamic states and the attendant root causes. There are clearly lessons here even for Western states that face rising tides of fundamentalism and calls for conformity, religious or otherwise.

The author doesn't skip a beat as he calls out the similar US trends surrounding religious conservatives and their push for Creationism, Intelligent Design, curbs on genetic research, and so on.

But there are also some interesting tidbits on the technologies for daily living in the Islamic world, and how they have penetrated largely in support of the religions which otherwise strive to limit their spread.

"...while driving in Islamabad, it would occasion no surprise if you were to receive an urgent SMS (short message service) requesting immediate prayers for helping Pakistan's cricket team win a match. Popular new Islamic cell-phone models now provide the exact GPS-based direction for Muslims to face while praying, certified translations of the Qur'an, and step-by-step instructions for performing the pilgrimages of Haj and Umrah. Digital Qur'ans are already popular, and prayer rugs with microchips (for counting bend-downs during prayers) have made their debut."

A great read start-to-finish.