Archive for Science Art

Brilliant brass astronomical clock in Denmark’s finest castle

// September 10th, 2012 // Comments Off on Brilliant brass astronomical clock in Denmark’s finest castle // Science Art

Sorry for the lack of posting, I’m currently in Denmark and out most days visiting castles and museums. It’s a hard life!

I recently went to a renaissance castle just North of Copenhagen called Frederiksborg Slot. It was a bit of an accident, actually, because I was looking for Hamlet’s castle at Helsingor and got on the wrong train. It turned out well though, because Frederiksborg Slot has been restored and converted into the Museum of National History, and inside was this beautiful astronomical clock.

An astronomical clock in Fredriksborg Slot, Denmark. Scorpio is in blue underneath the bare bottom, and Sagittarius to the right.

On the armillary it says “Dies verck von mir selbst Inventiert hab ich mit Gott wol ausgefuhrt. Andrews Bosch Buxenmacher von Limpurg Anno 1657.” Seems German to me (though could be Danish, seeing as it was Denmark) and my rough translation makes it something like “this work, by myself invented, have I with God created.” Made in 1657.

It shows a Copernican solar system, with clockwork inside the sphere and within a wooden base. Back in those days, it would have been hand cut – just imagine the precision required!

Clockwork inside the astronomical clock.

The sphere on the outside shows a fixed outer frame of the horizon system, with zodiac pictures. Inside is another frame that is moved by clockwork, showing the celestial equator. One rotation within it takes 25,000 years, the time it takes for the precession when the Earth’s North axial pole moves in a complete circle around the ecliptic pole, during the movement (after a few thousand years) Polaris will no longer be the North Star.

In 1825, it was moved to the Copenhagen observatory to replace Tycho Brahes globe, which was destroyed by fire about a hundred years before. Shortly later, it was donated to the Museum of National History inside the castle by J.C. Jacobsen of Carlsberg fame.

The clock in entirety.

Shining brass and bright paint made it magnificent, worthy of the maker’s skill and scientific understanding of the stars. Art and science, gotta love it. There’s something about astronomy that engenders art, I think. It invites imagination.

Gold and blue constellation art on the ceiling.

Heaven in a grain of sand

// July 2nd, 2012 // Comments Off on Heaven in a grain of sand // Science Art

Missing Australia! Image by

I’m in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, just next door to the Atacama desert, the highest desert in the world. So what better than a post about sand?

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
– William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

I actually came off my bike in the Valley of the Moon when I hit a patch of sand on the road, so my feelings about the stuff are somewhat ambivalent. However, HOWEVER, science has come to my aid yet again and opened my eyes.

Because under a microscope, sand is actually quite stunning!

Unfortunately I don’t think I can post the pics myself due to the copyright, but these links are worth clicking through. share a gallery of sand microscopy by Gary Greenberg, in promotion for his book. My favourite is the polished pieces of olivine, found on the green Lumahai Beach of Hawaii.

Gary has also photographed samples of moon sand, collected by Buzz Aldrin and Niel Armstrong. The otherworldly images are in his Moon Sand Gallery.

Without atmosphere or water, sand on the moon goes through a very different process to form. Rather than small sea shells and rocks polished by the oceans, the moon sports fine dust created by meteorite microimpacts. Some impacts are so hot they become molten microdroplets. When these collide with existing sand grains, they create wiggly shaped specks called agglutinates.

Eyewear made by 3D printers, designed by you

// December 13th, 2011 // Comments Off on Eyewear made by 3D printers, designed by you // Science Art

Sunglasses made by lasers

Someone I met in the sci-comm scene in Canberra last year is making it possible for the public to use 3D printing to design eyewear.

A few companies give the public access to the technology, but I like that this one is all about the eyewear (you know… sea-glare.)

Three dimensional printing creates objects by building up layers of material like stainless steel or polyamide plastic, usually as a powder. Each layer is stuck to the other with a a hardcore high-powered laser. Some materials are laid down as a liquid, instead of a powder, and then hardened to a solid. Instead of cutting out a design, they build it up, making it easier to do very fine work and one of a kind items.

The technology has been pegged for such epic, borderline science fiction things as creating organs by building up layers of cells – which I don’t think anyone has actually done yet, though someone did print an ear out of silicone.

Beehive have started designing a user interface so people can design their own eyewear, and they’ll 3D print it for you. SO COOL!

Bubble images printed into 3D eyewear. Makes me think science sunglasses!

They’re are crowd sourcing funds for the project, and asking for pledges. Each pledge gets a reward, including sunglasses made with their technology, and if they don’t get the necessary dough by the end, you get your money back.

I think a little cut-out molecule on the side would be pretty cool. Maybe of caffeine, you know, keeping it real the morning after a big party. Or the stages of mitosis along the sides, with the glass sections being the moment where it has split apart into two cells.

There’s heaps of possibilities, I can think of a few ace neurobiology and chemistry themes… What would you make?

Museum of South Australia exhibition on barcode of life

// December 9th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Science Art

Joseph Rossano's artwork at the Museum of South Australia

For those of you who live in or around Adelaide, I recommend popping into the SA Museum and checking out a funky artwork by Joseph Rossano. It’s just in the foyer (past the security people, before the staircase) and features a set of big, blue butterflies behind frosted glass.

The butterflies look blurry – on purpose – but if you have one of those new-fangled iPhones you can scan in the QR code next to them and sneak a peek behind the glass to the species inside. The QR codes are a barcode symbolising the DNA barcodes, a short stretch of DNA written on the side of each of the frames.

My current work, BOLD, utilizes two-dimensional QR codes–a surrogate DNA Barcode– to link the viewer to the science behind the art. By scanning one of my sculptures–for example a colorful butterfly collected by Area Conservacion Guanacaste parataxonomists and hosted in the Smithsonian Institution’s collections–the viewer transports one’s self to Dr. Daniel Janzen’s natural history of the specimen and other collateral data. All of the specimens portrayed in this series are deliberately indistinct behind their window, thus making it difficult to discern the organism’s true identity.
Joseph Rossano artist statement.

It’s a fun way to explore and interact with DNA barcodes (if you don’t know what I’m on about, read this) and imagines a future when DNA barcoding devices are handheld for species identification on the fly.

Be quick though – it’s in the last weeks and will be returning to America after that. Keep an eye on this artist though, looks like there’s some great science art in the portfolio.

More coral crochet (and brief patterns)

// November 25th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Science Art

I’ve got some good blog posts up my sleeve, but they’ll have to wait until after NaNoWriMo, because I’m quite sick of typing at the moment!

Instead, here are some more of my contributions to the Adelaide crochet coral reef over at the RiAus.

Fire crochet coral

Fire crochet coral close up

FIre crochet coral birds eye view

The above were made from a huge ball of wool, with probably eight different kinds of yarn rolled up in it. It was fun when the threads changed colour, especially working with the yellow one on the outside, which was quite thick and crinkly. Pattern for the outside: Chain 20, then dc each stitch, but on every third stitch add another dc into it, so it increases. For example: dc stitch, dc stitch, 2 x dc stitch, repeat. Just kept doing that! Then I stitched up the edge to make it a circle, and dc’d in the center with red wool to make the pokey out part.

rope coral

rope coral close up

This one was tricky to work with, especially with my mid-sized hook. It was, basically, just two pieces of rope. Pattern: Chain 10, dc each stitch twice (so you’re increasing every stitch.) At the bottom I used some fine yarn and the same mid-sized hook and just dc’d along the edge really loosely.

My previous post is here with the big orange curly coral. It’s been fun! Happy to talk patterns with anyone who’d like to try it at home. Essentially, it’s just a lot of regular increases to give it the curly, hyperbolic edge. I think it would look good as a hemming on sleeves or pants or skirts.

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