Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

Sunday, February 10, 2013

26 feet Giant Squid Filmed in Pacific Depths

We always knew that deep-sea monsters are for real but now we have a real live one captured on film. After around 100 missions, during which they spent 400 hours in a cramped submarine working with Japanese public broadcast network NHK and the US Discovery Channel, scientists from Japan's National Science Museum have managed to capture footage of an elusive 8 meters (26 feet) long giant squid that roams the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

According to Discovery Channel the three-man crew tracked the creature, thought to be "the genesis of the Nordic legend of Kraken, a sea monster believed to have attacked ships in waters off Scandinavia over the last millennium" around 15 km (9 miles) east of Chichi island in the north Pacific Ocean. Here are some snapshots from the video:

Giant Squid 1

Giant Squid 2

Giant Squid 3

Giant Squid 4

Giant Squid 5 (Close-Up)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Living Sculptures: 3 Bottle Ecosystem Projects

They're very easy to make, hyper-creative and fascinating and like many other cool things they used to be very popular in the 70's: Bottle Ecosystems, also known as 'terrarium's and 'vivariums', are simple bottles which include the basic ingredients for life to survive: light, dirt, moisture and of course a DNA based organism, or a few of them. The following are 3 bottle ecosystem projects we find particularly inspiring. Think Bottle Ecosystems are cool and want to give it a try? Check out Jenna Consolo's project (below) or just watch this 5:20 min video from Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden that demonstrate how to create a simple terrarium out of a 2L pop bottle and some other easy to find items.

[1] Summer Fun: Ecosystem Edition

It was never her idea for a summer with the kids but some other kids did something similar for a science project and then her friend Michelle posted about how to build an Ecosystem that is "perfectly contained and functions without any outside work or maintenance" describing what she did and show she did it with her children in Alaska. So, Jenna Consolo decided it's time for her and the kids to build their own terrarium.

Here is what you'll need to follow-up on such project with your own terrarium. The process and results (shown above) are described in this blog post on the Cranberry Corner blog:
  • 3 clear 2-liter (empty) soda bottles
  • Clear packing tape
  • Aquarium gravel
  • Water
  • Dechlorinator
  • Rubber band
  • 4" piece of netting (or just cut up pantyhose)
  • Soil
  • Fish, snails or other aquatic life
  • Elodea, duck weed, anachris or other aquatic plants
  • Crickets, pill bugs and earthworms
  • A few dead leaves and small sticks

[2] Clea Cregan's Miniscapes

Started 6 years ago as  as a hobby, Clea Cregan's Miniscapes now merges desktop gardening and design to produce beautiful terrariums they call "miniature gardens" and "living sculptures".

Cregan's creations are usually made for for office receptions, board room tables and studios but also for home environments. Interested? Check out Miniscapes's site or read this interview with Cregan on TheDesignFiles.

[3] Wet Environment Terrarium

Nicole Cammorata, a Boston-based journalist, writer, and editor and a talented photographer published this story in the Boston Globe detailing how to make your own plant terrariums. Sadly, the full story which takes you through the process step-by-step, is behind the Globe's paywall but we still loved the this sequence she posted on Cammorata's blog how to create a terrarium that "favors more of a wet environment". Know any more cool bottle ecosystem projects? Be sure to contact us or post them in the comments thread.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From Smallpox to HIV: 6 Glass Sculptures of Colorless Deadly Viruses

Deadly viruses such as Smallpox, E.coli and HIV have claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people but they always seem to have these fantastically vivid colors, right? Well, not exactly. As opposed to what we're used to see on TV and in the movies, viruses are actually colorless as they are simply smaller than the wavelength of light. British artist Luke Jerram thought that's just isn't right, so, since around 2004 he has been making his own representations of viruses, alternative to the artificially colored imagery we are used to receive through the media.

Jerram's sculptures are made in collaboration with glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones and Norman Veitch and are designed in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol, using scientific photographs and models. The following are 6 scientifically accurate glass representations of deadly viruses created by Luke Jerram. For more about Jerram and his amazing artwork check out the above BBC video or visit

[1] Smallpox

[2] T4 Bacteriophage Virus

[3] HIV

[4] E.coli

[5] Swine Flu

[6] Untitled Future Mutation

CultHats to IFeakingLoveScience

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our New Normal: 9 Reasons to Get Up About Global Warming

GetUp, an independent community advocacy organisation aiming to "build a more progressive Australia by giving everyday Australians the opportunity to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues" has published this Infographics titled 'Our New Normal' with some alarming facts about the status of global warming. Here are 9 reasons why it's actually all of us, not just Australians, who need to get up:

  • 1. The hottest average maximum temperature ever recorded across Australia – 40.33 degrees, was set on Monday surpassing the old record of 40.17 °C set in 1976. (Bureau of Meteorology) 
  • 2. The number of consecutive days where the national average maximum daily temperature exceeded 39°C has also been broken this week—seven (7) days (between 2–8 January 2013), almost doubling the previous record of four (4) consecutive days in 1973, (BOM) 
  • 3. According to the National Climate Data Centre, nine of the 10 hottest years on record have been since 2000 (the other is 1998). 
  • 4. While temperatures vary on a local and regional scale, globally it has now been 27 years since the world experienced a month that was colder than average. "If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month" - Philip Bump, Grist, November 16, 2012. 
  • 5. The CSIRO has found Australian annual average daily maximum temperatures have steadily increased in the last hundred years, with most of the warming trend occurring since 1970. 
  • 6. The Bushfire CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) says large areas of southern Australia, from the east coast to the west coast, face “above average fire potential” in the summer of 2012-13. According to the Climate Institute extreme fire danger days are expected to rise more than 15 per cent in south-eastern Australia. 
  • 7. The last four months of 2012 - globally - were the hottest on record. (British Met Office) and 2012 was the hottest year the continental United States of America has ever recorded.("2012 Was the Hottest Year in U.S. History. And Yes - It's Climate Change", Bryan Walsh, TIME 8 January, 2013). 
  • 8. The hot-dry trend is expected to continue, with the Climate Commission predicting large increases in the number of days over 35°C this century. 
  • 9. Around the world, 2013 could be the hottest ever recorded by modern instrumentation, according to a recent study by Britain’s Met Office. If that turns out to be accurate, 2013 would surpass the previous record, held jointly by 2005 and 2010.

Not convinced yet? Check out the GetUp site.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Lunar Calendar 2013: Never Miss a Full Moon

Want to keep tabs on the moon this year? Check out the spectacular lunar calendar for the year of 2013 and never miss a full moon. Designed by Evans & Sutherland, a provider of fulldome digital theater systems and producer of fulldome shows, Lunar Calendar 2013 is available for free download as a PDF. You can also purchase a printed version on the company's Cafepress store. Image credit: Evans & Sutherland.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sunrise View of Tycho Crater's Peak

Tycho is a 110 million years old lunar crater about 51 miles (82 km) in diameter. Earlier this summer, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft "angled its orbit 65° to the west", allowing its camera to capture this dramatic sunrise view of Tycho (Click image for high-res version).

More about Tycho:
  • The summit of the central peak is 1.24 miles (2 km) above the crater floor.
  • The distance from Tycho's floor to its rim is about 2.92 miles (4.7 km). 
  • Tycho crater's central peak complex, shown above, is about 9.3 miles (15 km) wide, left to right (southeast to northwest in this view).
Via NASA | Photo credit: NASA Goddard/Arizona State University

Monday, June 20, 2011

7 Contemporary High-Speed Photographers

If you ever tried taking a photograph of a running dog or a fast moving car you must have noticed it is quite a difficult task. Even with the most generous lighting conditions and very good lenses normal photography equipment is unable to capture sharp images of extremely fast motion due to the familiar effect of motion-blur. That's where special High Speed Photography equipment and a lot of experience and knowhow get into the picture... High Speed Photography is the art and science of taking of motion picture film, video or still photos of extremely fast phenomena such as explosions and detonations; water splashes; gunshots and other extreme high-speed actions.

* Note: This article was originally published on January 25, 2008. It got lost during a major CultCase crash and was republished on June, 2011.

The first practical application of high-speed photography is attributed to Eadweard Muybridge for his famous horse feet research. Later innovators such as of Eastman Kodak's, Bell Labs', Wollensak Optical's, Redlake Laboratories' and others further developed the equipment allowing up to 10,000 frames in a single second, even though most modern equipment is usually a bit slower that that. The Photron APX camera, for example, is capable of high resolution capturing of 1024 x 1024 images at 2000FPS or 1024 x 512 ones in 4000FPS.

Apparently, a few physical and chemical phenomena are way too fast to be captured even via a 10,000 FPS camera. Some stages in nuclear explosions occur in the speed of light or in other words exactly 299,792,458 meters per second. That was just too fast for any device to be able to capture until the 1940s when Harold E. Edgerton, AKA the "Doc" introduced us with a new ultra high-speed technique titled Stroboscopic Photography.

The amazing images shown above taken by Edgerton in the early 50s show the growing hit and shock fireballs about one millisecond after nuclear detonation. Using his Rapatronic cameras Edgerton managed to take such nuclear detonation photographs with the amazing exposure time of up to 10 billionths of a second. For making Stroboscopy and High Speed photography what they are today Edgerton (below) won many awards including the SMPTE Progress Medal in 1959 and the Eastman Kodak Gold Medal Award in 1983.

Lucky for us and right from the start, Edgerton's work was in no way limited to the physics of nuclear detonations. In 1937 Edgerton's "Coronet" milk drop photo was featured in the first photography exhibit of New York Museum of Modern Art's. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Edgerton was also of the first photographers to take high-speed shots of subjects commonly experimented by contemporary photographers. He took the pictures of athletes (1938), hummingbirds hovering (1953), bullets bursting balloons (1959) and blood coursing through capillaries (1964), and set up the path for countless of enthusiastic followers. "Self-Portrait with Balloon and Bullet" for example (below), was taken in 1959 but still looks fresh and stylish.

Today, following the path-breaking achievements of Edgerton and other High Speed Photography innovators and as technology become cheaper and more affordable, high-speed photographers became more common. What was once a technical scientific occupation is today a popular form of art attracting countless of enthusiasts across the world. Thus, fueled by the power of Internet, countless of High Speed Photo fans are able to freeze time and share fractions of their reality with you and me.

The following is a selection of seven outstanding contemporary High Speed photographers and some of their work. While some of them are already famous and others don't even have a name, each one of them has his own unique visual language. Enjoy.

1. fotofrog

Based in Hagen, Germany fotofrog has been photographing for over 20 years with his main interests being High speed photography, infrared and macro. Gunshot and impact photos are pretty common nowadays but fotofrog spices them up with a with some thrill and danger, combining his model hands in the shot, very close to the action. A word of advice from fotofrog: don't try this at home.

2. Kai Kuusisto

The photos Kai Kuusisto, AKA kaintero, takes with bicycle rider Antti Koljonen particularly interesting as they always combine some drama or a good sense of humor with their high speed subject. Other than a great High Speed photographer this 27 years old great looking dude from Helsinki, Finland is also a bmx rider and a civil engineer. Stylish. You can also meet him on MySpace or read this recent article from

3. Andrew Davidhazy

Professor Andrew Davidhazy of the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the most outstanding experts for High Speed Photography worldwide. His photos include everything from Gunshots, Splashes and Dripping water to Schlieren and Photoinstrumentation Photographs.

4. Greg Scott

Hummingbirds are living helicopters made by nature. They can fly forward, backward, up, down, and even upside-down. Their wings' motion changes its angle with each flap. Unlike other birds, hummingbirds flap their wings horizontally in the shape of a figure 8 and do that on an average rate of 50 times per second. During courtship Hummingbirds' wings can speed up to 200 times a second. The above photos were all taken at 1/33000 sec, using an Olsen custom flash. Click them and have a look at the high-res versions. In my humble opinion, considering the way these birds were moving while being photographed, the level of details and focus here is simply amazing.

5. breic

Water and milk splash photos are amongst the most popular High Speed Photography subjects and it's not easy to make a difference. There is not much publicly known about breic except for being a north American and
having a unique visual language for a spectacular set of milk color splash photos. The above milk splashing onto black plastic photos include food coloring. Lighting: Vivitar 283 (without diffusion) at camera right, aluminum foil reflector at left. ISO100, f/38.

6. Pulse Photonics

There are many great companies out there doing fabulous High Speed work. Yet Pulse Photonics has been in business for more than 25 years during which time it has supplied lighting and cameras for many scientific research disciplines. The wealth of experience gained during this period is clearly shown in their work and has gained them the only slot on this article devoted to a company rather than an artist. Some of the bullet photos taken by Pulse Photonics, such as the above "Bullet through metal" for example, are within the level of art. At least I would gladly have one in my living room for what it counts.

7. bowie22

Other than being a "taken" young man bowie22 from Kingsport, Tennessee has a special talent for drop and reflection photos. For me drop and reflection photos are of the most interesting High Speeds due to the clean look of the water surface, the shape of the drop serving as a mirror and the additional requirement of macro techniques.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009



Did you know that not all spiders build webs to catch their prey, and some do not build webs at all? Designed to be used as traps, spiderwebs are of nature's most sophisticated devices and are built by spiders out of a special silk extruded from their spinnerets. Insects get trapped in spiderwebs and then eaten, providing nutrition to the spider. The tensile strength of spider silk is greater than the same weight of steel and has much greater elasticity. Spiderweb structure is constantly being researched for potential industrial applications. Two examples are bullet-proof vests and artificial tendons (Wikipedia).

Above: A spiderweb in our garden.
Photo by CultCase. High-res here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Crescent Moon with Earthshine over Israel

Crescent Moon with Earthshine over Israel

World's greatest spectacle yesterday (April 26, 2009) was taking place at dusk, high above all of us in the western sky. At that time, the crescent Moon, Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster had gathered for a three-way conjunction, potentially visible to the naked eye even from light-polluted cities. This was not an everyday event, as described by Dr. Tony Phillips from Science @ NASA:
The show begins before the sky fades to black. The Moon pops out of the twilight first, an exquisitely slender 5% crescent surrounded by cobalt blue. The horns of the crescent cradle a softly-glowing image of the full Moon. That is Earthshine- dark lunar terrain illuminated by sunlight reflected from Earth [...] Shortly after the Moon appears, Mercury materializes just below it [...] To the naked eye, Mercury looks like a pink 1st-magnitude star. The planet itself is not pink; it only looks that way because it has to shine through dusty lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere.
But wait, according to Dr. Phillips, there was even more:
Next, do nothing. Spend some quiet moments absorbing the view. As the twilight deepens, your eyes will dark-adapt and - voilà! There are the Pleiades [...] The brightest stars of the cluster are only 2nd magnitude, not terrifically bright. Nevertheless, the Pleiades are compelling in disproportion to their luminosity. Every ancient culture -- Greek, Maya, Aztec, Aborigine, Māori and others - put the cluster in its myths and legends. On April 26th you may discover why, even if you cannot articulate your findings.
So, we are no astronomy photo experts but below are a few photographs we managed to take yesterday night, in spite of some pretty bad air pollution over the nearby western city of Netanya. Just as Dr. Phillips said, it's very hard to articulate our findings... We think we did capture our own Crescent Moon plus, we suspect we got a view of the so called Earthshine. Yet, what a bummer - we could not have identify any materializing Mercury below the moon... Can you see any?


8:05 PM + detail. No materializing Mercury...

A wide angle shot including some of the area, 8:15 PM


8:30 PM + detail

OK, we also see there is something else there, we are not that blind. The problem is that, according to Phillips, the Pleiades are "a cluster of young stars about a hundred light years from Earth" forming "a miniature Little Dipper located, on this particular evening, halfway between Mercury and the Moon." (See infographic). Therefore we don't believe the small cluster of lights shown in the below detail is actually the Pleiades, but we thought it might worth adding nevertheless. Just in case anyone of you kind readers can help us find out what it was.

Another 8:30 PM detail (cropped from left side) showing a bright cluster of lights. Probably not The Pleiades...
  • Article by Dr. Tony Phillips via RedOrbit
  • Photos by CultCase, April 26, 2009
  • Taken with Nikon CoolPix 8800
  • Kfar Netter, Israel