Art article biology

MoMA Kills Art

One of the senior curators at the MoMA had to end the life of a tiny coat built out of living mouse stem cells after it grew so fast that the cells began to clog the incubator.

From the New York Times article:

One of the strangest exhibits at the opening of “Design and the Elastic Mind,” the very strange show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that explores the territory where design meets science, was a teeny coat made out of living mouse stem cells. The “victimless leather” was kept alive in an incubator with nutrients, unsettlingly alive. Until recently, that is.

Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum, had to kill the coat. “It was growing too much,” she said in an interview from a conference in Belgrade. The cells were multiplying so fast that the incubator was beginning to clog. Also, a sleeve was falling off. So after checking with the coat’s creators, a group known as SymbioticA, at the School of Anatomy & Human Biology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, she had the nutrients to the cells stopped.

This is just a taste of the interesting kinds of developments we’re going to see from biological science in the near future.



Golden Eagle Goat Kill

Golden EagleOne of the most notorious birds of prey, the Golden Eagle develops a wingspan averaging over 2 m (7 ft) and up to 1 m (3 ft) in body length.

If you haven’t already seen it, the following video demonstrates the bird’s vicious killing technique as it literally plucks goats from the side of a mountain sending them tumbling to their doom.

If you’re at all sensitive about seeing animals die, you really shouldn’t watch this. At one point it looks like the goats might get even, and I hate to spoil it, but a few minutes later the bird is still snatching up goats for breakfast.

Disturbing video of the Golden Eagle throwing goats off cliffs


The Amazing Toyger

Toyger KittensA few years ago I read an article about a new breed of designer cat. These felines, dubbed the “toyger” were being breed to look like wild tigers. Checking back now on the progress of the breed is impressive.

Currently the features demonstrated in the toyger include a bright orange coat, dark markings over their eyes and stripes that mimic their wild counterparts. I would love to have one of these little guys prowling through my kitchen.

Though currently none of the new breed possess all of the criteria for a perfect toyger, some of the cats are incredibly close. Smart, playful, and affectionate, the cats themselves are great pets. Though, as you can see from the photos, the kittens may kill you with cuteness.

Life Article

National Geographic Article.


I Love the Whole World Discovery Channel Ad

Something to brighten your day.

[Discovery Channel: I Love the World – YouTube]

It’s a shame the program planners don’t put more science based shows on the Discovery Channel (TLC). I mean, the house renovation/tattoo parlour/chop shop shows might get high ratings, but they don’t come close to making me sing.



The Stroop Effect

The Stroop Effect, named after J. Ridley Stroop who published the effect in 1935, is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. For example, when a word signifying a colour such as “red” is printed in blue a reader’s reaction time processing the word’s colour, leads to slower test reaction times and an increase in mistakes.

Try out one of my favourite demonstrations of this effect by saying the colours of the words below:

(For example if the word “blue” is printed in green, you would say the word green)

 red   blue  orange  yellow  purple  green  blue  yellow  red  blue  orange  purple  yellow  green  blue  red  green  orange  purple
 yellow  orange  red  green  blue  green  red  green  blue  yellow  orange  purple  green  blue  yellow  red  orange  purple  green

If naming the first group of colours is easier and quicker than the second, then your performance exhibits the Stroop effect.

The Stroop effect illustrates important principles about how the brain works, particularly for mental tasks involving attention, automatic processing, and response selection. It also can be used to examine the subtle effects of adverse conditions on the brain, such as lack of sleep, fatigue, or the effects of high altitudes.

The coloured word test above is only one kind kind of automatic processing that can be studied.

Check out Harvard University’s site in which they continually collects data with their Implicit Association Tests, many of which have fascinating social and political implications.

psychology Sport

Test Your Awareness

How many passes does the team in white make? An experiment in awareness.

[Test your awareness – YouTube]

inspirational Science

Moon 2.0


“The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth.”

[Moon 2.0 – YouTube]

Cheesy video? Yes. Feeling inspired anyway? How could you not?

Photography Science

Advanced Photography Research at Stanford

Last fall Robert Scoble and Thomas Hawk interviewed Marc Levoy, Stanford University Professor of both computer science and electrical engineering.

Levoy shows them leading edge research about automatically stitching images together, digitizing real world three dimensial objects like statues, and among others, camera technology that allows you to refocus the image AFTER you shoot it!

Multi-array image

You can view the interview here.

See also: CNet’s article about the multi-dimensional focusing technology.



Airplane on a Conveyor Belt

So here’s the question of the day:

“A plane is standing on a runway that can move (some sort of band conveyor). The plane moves in one direction, while the conveyor moves in the opposite direction. This conveyor has a control system that tracks the plane speed and tunes the speed of the conveyor to be exactly the same (but in the opposite direction). Can the plane take off?”

Personally, my first thought was that the plane would not take off because it wouldn’t have enough lift without moving up to speed relative to the ground. But after thinking about what it is that actually causes a plane to lift off, the wind going around the wings, I wasn’t so sure.

The wheels in planes aren’t generally what cause the plane to move forward, it’s the suction of wind through the propeller or engines. Presumably the plane would pull the same amount of wind whether or not it was riding the conveyor belt, therefore, I think it would take off.

While you’re taking a moment to think about this problem, let me tell you that tonight the Mythbuster’s are putting this question to rest once and for all. Will a plane on a conveyor belt take-off? (We’ll see tonight, but I think yes).

Update: here is the clip:

[Mythbusters – Plane on a Conveyor Belt – YouTube]


Amazing Ant Colony

This remarkable video from the documentary Ants! Nature’s Secret Power shows a glimpse into the fascinating world of the ant. The narrator describes the intricate ant nest as an accomplishment equivalent to the building of the great wall of China.

The structure covers 538 square feet and travels 26 feet into the earth. In it’s construction, the colony moved 40 tons of soil. Billions of ant loads of soil were brought to the surface. Each load weighed four times as much as the worker ant, and in human terms, was carried over 1/2 mile to the surface.

I also recommend the TED talk by Deborah Gordon: How do ants know what to do?