Thomas Baruchel’s website shows images derived from complex analysis. John D. Cook used the ImageQuilts software by Edward Tufte and Adam Schwartz to create a large variety of scientific and artistic images.
The design was created by Leonardo in 1502 at the request of the Turkish sultan. According to the History website, it was supposed to be a 240-meter stone bridge that would cross the Golden Horn, an inlet of the Bosporus located on the western side of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). At that time, it would have been the longest bridge in the world.
This winter, students from the Eindhoven University of Technology along with volunteers will build a scale model of Leonardo’s design as the main objective of their master thesis. Situated in the Finnish town of Juuka, it will be the biggest single-span structure in ice in the world.
This is not the first time Leonardo’s bridge design was constructed. In 2001, the Leonardo Bridge Project based in Norway built a full-scale model made of wood. The team of student-volunteers would build their bridge with reinforced ice called pykrete.
In their research, they found out that mixing cellulose fibers with water will result in an ice-composite which is 3 times stronger than plain ice and 20 times more ductile.
Construction designers at the university expect the bridge to be able to easily bear the weight of a car. The bridge will only be used by pedestrians however, except during the opening when a car will be used to test its strength. The bridge will be part of a snow track along with other experimental ice projects and sculptures.
A sculpture so tiny that it cannot be seen by the naked eye is claimed to be the smallest sculpture of the human form ever created. Measuring a picayune 20 x 80 x 100 microns, artist Jonty Hurwitz’s tiny human statue is part of a new series of equally diminutive new sculptures that are at a scale so infinitesimally miniscule that each of the figures is approximately equal in size to the amount your fingernails grow in around about 6 hours, and can only be viewed using a scanning electron microscope.
Sculpted with an advanced new nano 3D printing technology coupled with a technique called multiphoton lithography, these works of art are created using a laser that uses the phenomenon of two photon absorption. In this way, an object is traced out by a laser in a block of light-sensitive monomer or polymer gel, and the excess is then washed away to leave a solid form.
As this method of two photon absorption only takes place at the tiny focal point of the laser, it essentially creates a tiny 3D pixel (a voxel) at that juncture. The laser is then moved along a fractional distance under computer control and the next voxel in the series is formed. In a long and painstaking process that takes place over many hours, the complete 3D sculpture is assembled voxel by voxel.
"We live in an era where the impossible has finally come to pass," said Hurwitz. "In our own little way we have become demi-gods of creation. Contemporary art, in my humble view, needs to reflect the human condition as it is today, it needs to represent the state of society at the time of its creation. Take a moment to consider that only 6,000 years ago we were painting crude animal images on the walls of caves with rocks. We have come far. This nano sculpture is the collective achievement of all of humanity. It is the culmination of thousands of years of R&D."
Microbiologist-turned-photographer Zachary Copfer has developed an amazing photo-printing technique that’s very different from any we’ve seen before. Rather than use photo-sensitive papers, chemicals, or ink, Copfer uses bacteria. The University of Cincinnati MFA photography student calls the technique “bacteriography”, which involves controlling bacteria growth to form desired images.
Here’s how Copfer’s method works: he first takes a supply of bacteria like E. coli, turns it into a fluorescent protein, and covers a plate with it. Next, he creates a “negative” of the photo he wants to print by covering the prepared plate with the photo and then exposing it to radiation. He then “develops” the image by having the bacterial grow, and finally “fixes” the image by coating the image with a layer of acrylic and resin.
Using this process, he creates images of things ranging from famous individuals to Hubble telescope photos of galaxies. Copfer writes that his project is intended to be a counterexample to the false dichotomy of art and science.
Science and art naturally overlap and there has long been a connection between both, which can be traced back to the Egyptian pyramids. History proves that the two disciplines cannot exist without each other, enduring in constantly changing and evolving relationships. Both are a means of investigation. Both involve ideas, theories, and hypotheses that are tested in places where mind and hand come together—the laboratory and studio. Artists, like scientists, study—materials, people, culture, history, religion, mythology — and learn to transform information.
The star exhibit initially promised for the British Museum’s “Ice Age Art” show will not be coming—but for a good reason. New pieces of Ulm’s Lion Man sculpture have been discovered and it has been found to be much older than originally thought, at around 40,000 years. This makes it the world’s earliest figurative sculpture.
The story of the discovery of the Lion Man goes back to August 1939, when fragments of mammoth ivory were excavated at the back of the Stadel Cave in the Swabian Alps, south-west Germany. This was a few days before the outbreak of the Second World War. When it was eventually reassembled in 1970, it was regarded as a standing bear or big cat, but with human characteristics.
The ivory from which the figure had been carved had broken into myriad fragments. When first reconstructed, around 200 pieces were incorporated into the 30cm-tall sculpture, with about 30% of its volume missing.
Further fragments were later found among the previously excavated material and these were added to the figure in 1989. At this point, the sculpture was recognised as representing a lion. Most specialists have regarded it as male, although paleontologist Elisabeth Schmid controversially argued that it was female, suggesting that early society might have been matriarchal.
The latest news is that almost 1,000 further fragments of the statue have been found, following recent excavations in the Stadel Cave by Claus-Joachim Kind. Most of these are minute, but a few are several centimetres long. Some of the larger pieces are now being reintegrated into the figure.
Even more exciting than the discovery of new pieces, the sculpture’s age has been refined using radio-carbon dating of other bones found in the strata. This reveals a date of 40,000 years ago, while until recently it was thought to be 32,000 years old. Once reconstruction is completed, several tiny, unused fragments of the mammoth ivory are likely to be carbon dated, and this is expected to confirm the result.
This revised dating pushes the Lion Man right back to the oldest sculptures, which have been found in two other caves in the Swabian Alps. These rare finds are dated at 35,000 to 40,000 years, but the Lion Man is by far the largest and most complex piece. A few carved items have been found in other regions which are slightly older, but these have simple patterns, not figuration.
The Mona Lisa is arguably the most famous painting in the world. Have you ever wondered why? Leonardo Da Vinci was masterful at manipulating our own visual shortcomings to make us feel something beautiful, complicated, even unsettling. There's just something about her smile.
Dr. Margaret Livingstone, a visual neurophysiologist at Harvard, knows this all too well. I recently spoke with her about how our visual systems have evolved to process one of the inventions that sets us apart from non-human animals--art.
Ferrofluid is a magnetic solution with a viscosity similar to motor oil. When put under a magnetic field, the iron particles in the solution start to rearrange, forming the black channels and separating the water colors from the ferrofluid. The result are these peculiar looking structures.
Steve Gschmeissner is a 61 year old Scientific Photographer from Bedford. He uses a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to magnify his favourite specimens by up to a million times. The results show incredibly detailed images of insects that look like they’re from the latest Alien Invasion movie.
An unusual flying object that propels itself by flipping inside out. Created by engineers at Festoin Esslingen, Germany, the floating band filled with helium takes on different shapes while expanding and contracting to generate thrust and move through the air. The design is based on the inverted cube shape discovered by inventor and mathematician Paul Schatz. By dissecting a cube into three parts, two star-shaped units can be produced at either end with an invertible belt in the middle section which is the same shape as the flying band. The system reproduces the entire structure: it opens to release the band while the ends remain on the ground as a docking station.
In the mathematical field of dynamical systems, an attractor is a set of numerical values toward which a system tends to evolve, for a wide variety of starting conditions of the system. System values that get close enough to the attractor values remain close even if slightly disturbed.
An attractor is called strange if it has a fractal structure. This is often the case when the dynamics on it are chaotic, but strange nonchaotic attractors also exist. If a strange attractor is chaotic, exhibiting sensitive dependence on initial conditions, then any two arbitrarily close alternative initial points on the attractor, after any of various numbers of iterations, will lead to points that are arbitrarily far apart (subject to the confines of the attractor), and after any of various other numbers of iterations will lead to points that are arbitrarily close together. Thus a dynamic system with a chaotic attractor is locally unstable yet globally stable: once some sequences have entered the attractor, nearby points diverge from one another but never depart from the attractor.
The term strange attractor was coined by David Ruelle and Floris Takens to describe the attractor resulting from a series of bifurcations of a system describing fluid flow. Strange attractors are often differentiable in a few directions, but some are like a Cantor dust, and therefore not differentiable. Strange attractors may also be found in presence of noise, where they may be shown to support invariant random probability measures of Sinai–Ruelle–Bowen type.
Blooms are 3D-printed sculptures that are designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. The rotation speed is synchronized to the strobe so that one flash occurs every time the bloom turns 137.5º—the golden angle. The placement of the appendages is determined by the same method nature uses in pinecones and sunflowers. Each petal on the bloom is placed at a unique distance from the top-center of the form. If you follow what appears to be a single petal as it works its way out and down the bloom, what you are actually seeing is all the petals on the bloom in the order of their respective distances from the top-center. The number of spirals on any of these blooms is always a Fibonacci number.
Since 2008 Hungarian/German graphic designer David Szakaly has been churning out some of the most dizzying, hypnotic and wholly original gifs on the web under the name Davidope. His blend of twisting organic forms, flashes of black and white, and forays into pulsing technicolor shapes have inspired legions of others to experiment with the medium, many of whom have been featured here on Colossal. It’s hard to determine the scale of Szakaly’s influence online, but a simple Google image search for “animated gif” brings up dozens of his images that have been shared around Tumblr hundreds of thousands of times.
Szakaly began experimenting with the vector animation program Macromedia Flash back in 1999 where he used the software to create presentations, banners, and other creatives for clients. It was nearly a decade later when he decided to dedicate more time to experimenting with motion graphics and found that Tumblr was a great platform to share his quirky gifs. While he still works in the corporate world on other digital projects, he has also found commercial success making animations for clients around the world. Though it’s his personal work that really stands out. If or when gifs end up on gallery walls, it will be hard to deny Szakaly’s role in getting them there.
A real-time view of the global climate change discussion around the COP17 Conference.
Every tweet tagged with hashtag #COP17 will stimulate growth in a plant or tree in the ECOPSHERE that represents a certain topic (e.g. Sustainability). In this constantly evolving environment users are able to see the discussion develop as people talk on Twitter - a real-time visualisation of the global conversation.
The-state-of-the art ECOSPHERE microsite was produced by STINK DIGITAL LONDON/NEW YORK and developed and designed by MINIVEGAS Amsterdam/Los Angeles.
MINIVEGAS has developed a real-time infographic of sorts, treating the viewer to a stunning visual representation of the evolving global discussion. A lush 3D environment that allows the viewer to explore, view content up close or zoom out to observe the visualisation as a whole. At the core of the experience is a digital growth algorithm is based on actual organic growth in the plant world -- plants and trees grow organically with every #COP17 tweet and topics compete for space and light on the sphere.
The ECOSPHERE constantly listens to the global conversation on Twitter -- every new tweet tagged with hashtag #COP17 is brought into the environment, scanned for keywords and then grouped with similar contributions, connecting input from around the world - building conversations in a fascinating evolving environment.
CNN COVERAGE CNN International will also use the ECOSPHERE Project in its live reporting about the summit. CNN correspondents Robyn Curnow and Diana Magnay will report and comment on events in and around the meeting, exploring what effect the decisions taken in Durban will have on the world, on business and on every individual person on the planet.
In addition, the ECOSPHERE Project will also be part of the December edition of "Road to Durban: A Green City Journey". In the months approaching the summit, CNN made the journey to Durban starting in the UK and travelling across Germany and Turkey reporting on local climate protection projects. In December "Road to Durban: A Green City Journey" will be dedicated to the themes of the 17th World Climate Summit. For more information please go to www.cnn.com/roadtodurban.
An origami fractal made out of nearly 50,000 business cards is the first physical representation of the Mosely Snowflake three-dimensional fractal in the world. The sculpture was put together by more than 300 students and volunteers at the University of Southern California.
"Our community has brought this object into being for the first time,” said Catherine Quinlan, Dean of USC Libraries. “Before this project, this beautiful and enigmatic fractal existed only digitally and in the imaginations of mathematicians and artists.”
In mathematics, there's a little more to the concept of the fractal than the psychedelic computer-generated imagery with which we're all familiar. According to mathematician and "father of fractal geometry," Benoit Mandelbrot, a fractal is "a set for which the Hausdorff Besicovich dimension strictly exceeds the topological dimension."
Mandelbrot's definition is a little like ancient parchment: very difficult to illuminate without committing vandalism, in this case to the subtlety and complexity of the idea. What's crucial is a property of the fractal that, actually, the computer visuals are rather adept at visualizing: their self-similarity at different scales. Get close up and what you'll see will strongly resemble the whole. The same is true of 3D fractals, physically manifest or otherwise.
The Mosely Snowflake fractal was discovered in 2006 by engineer and origami practitioner Jeannine Mosely, whose construction of the Menger Sponge fractal that same year (also out of business cards ... 66,000 of them) received widespread attention. The Menger Sponge was the first 3D fractal to be discovered, by Karl Menger in 1926.
If fractals had DNA, the Menger Sponge and the Mosely Snowflake would share an awful lot, but where the Menger Sponge is built from, and results in, cube shapes, the Mosely Snowflake generates broadly-hexagonal snowflake-like forms.
A series of pencil drawings by a north London artist have been amazing art critics. Kelvin Okafor, from Tottenham, has scooped a number of national awards and exhibited at galleries across the country. The 27-year-old Middlesex University Fine Art graduate's drawings are often mistaken for photographs. He draws his painting just from memory.
Retiree Walter R. Tschinkel is an entomologist and former professor of Biological Science at Florida State University. He recognizes ants as "some of nature's grand architects" and, curious to understand their self-created habitats, devised a clever (if cruel) way to do it: By pouring molten aluminum down into the hole.
Unsurprisingly, the ants die in the process. But after the aluminum cools and Tschinkel has completed a meticulous excavation, he unearths these wondrous, chandelier-esque shapes revealing the alien architectures of the colony.
X-ray Vision: Fish Inside Out, organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), is an exhibit traveling to museums across the country through 2015. Visit http://www.sites.si.edu/exhibitions/exhibits/ichthyo/index.htm for the tour itinerary.
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