“Outbreak” – Paper Sculptures by Rogan Brown

September 15th, 2014 | Brain

Paper sculpture Outbreak Rogan Brown 2

“Outbreak” is a series of incredibly detailed paper sculptures by Rogan Brown. The interconnected amalgam of cells and pathogens took about 4 months of tedious work to complete.

Rogan discusses a bit of the process here:

“I want to communicate my fascination with the immense complexity and intricacy of natural forms and this is why the process behind my work is so important. Each sculpture is hugely time consuming and labour-intensive and this work is an essential element not only in the construction but also in the meaning of each piece. The finished artifact is really only the ghostly fossilized vestige of this slow, long process of realization. I have chosen paper as a medium because it captures perfectly that mixture of delicacy and durability that for me characterizes the natural world.”

Paper sculpture Outbreak Rogan Brown 3

Paper sculpture Outbreak Rogan Brown 4

Paper sculpture Outbreak

Paper sculpture Outbreak Rogan Brown 1

Outbreak (2014 handcut paper 147x79x20cms)

I would most certainly be driven mad after one day trying to craft the paper into such delicate patterns. This brings to mind a Calvin Coolidge quote I would like to share:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent… For more from the artist, head over to his site.

-RSB

Bubble Planets by Santiago Betancur Z

September 4th, 2014 | Space

Santiago Betancur Z Bubble Planets 1

Santiago Betancur Z is a Colombian visual artist who has done creative work for animated short films, TV commercials, and video games. These wonderful psychoactive photographs were made by placing soap bubbles against dark surfaces to generate prismatic light in the shape of spheres. Giant gas planets, Jupiter or Saturn, seem to emerge from the images.

Santiago Betancur Bubble Planets 2

Santiago Betancur Bubble Planets 5

Santiago Betancur Bubble Planets 4

Santiago Betancur Bubble Planets 7

Santiago Betancur Bubble Planets 3

On his website, Santiago lists directly under his name, “Art is the science of beauty,” something we can appreciate greatly here at RobotSpaceBrain.

You can find more from the artist at his site.

-RSB

Voyage D’Hermes by Moebius

August 27th, 2014 | Space

Voyage D’Hermes 3

Moebius, also known as Jean Giraud, was a world-renowned French artist, cartoonist, and writer. Back in 2011, he created this series of fantastical illustrations for the clothing botique, Hermès. The series, titled Voyage D’Hermes, never actually appeared in any advertisement for the company’s perfume line (possibly because they contain absolutely no reference to the Hermès brand). But who cares, these otherworldly scenes are simply incredible! The work features soft pastels, floating orbs, and alien creatures to create a sort of “Space Western” environment.

Voyage D’Hermes 2

Voyage D’Hermes 3 Moebius

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Moebius, who passed away back in 2012, had a wonderfully productive life. He contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction and fantasy films, including Alien, Willow, Tron (1982), The Abyss (1989) and The Fifth Element.

If you are unfamiliar with his work, I suggest checking out a few of his books. Both Arzach and The Incal are highly recommended, but his most famous work is probably the Blueberry series, created with writer Jean-Michel Charlier, which features one of the first anti-heroes in Western comics.

Hope you enjoyed these. I’m sure they will inspire many creative types for years to come.

-RSB

Scientific Images from Northwestern Photo Contest

August 19th, 2014 | Brain, Robot
Nanoscale Lego Puzzle - Radha Boya

“Nanoscale Lego Puzzle” – Radha Boya

The hidden beauty of the natural world is brought forth in laboratories around the country on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the general public usually doesn’t get the chance to see these incredible scientific images. However, Northwestern University has recently been holding a photo competition to share images “across a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, chemistry, engineering and nanotechnology.” They are truly a sight to behold.

Seen above is an image called “Nanoscale Lego Puzzle” by Radha Boya. Here’s a description of the piece:

“A thin film of gold has been deposited on a silicon mold. Each evenly spaced black dot is a groove in the silicon that has been filled by the gold. The puzzle-like shapes are made when the gold cracks and curls up. The darker shading indicates where the gold has curled in on itself. The metal tips fabricated by this method can be used in many applications, such as printing DNA chips.”

Meltdown - Keith Brown - Scientific Images

“Meltdown” – Keith Brown

“This image shows the aftermath of a case when a large voltage was applied between a thin film of gold (light blue) and silicon (dark blue), and electrons found a way through the thin insulating layer that separated them. As the current increased, the material was heated resulting in a catastrophic thermal expansion that resulted in a crater of solidified material (red).”

Graphene Oxide - Andrew Koltonow

“Graphene Oxide” – Andrew Koltonow

“Koltonow and his colleagues study a material called graphene oxide (GO), which is only a couple of atoms thick. They can assemble thin sheets of GO into a foam that conducts electricity. The foam can be used to create electrodes for batteries, making such energy storage devices smaller and lighter.

In this image, graphene oxide sheets (purple-orange) cast shadows from light that is scattered off of GO foam (green-yellow), creating an eerie effect.”

Colorful Directions - Mark McClendon - Scientific Images

“Colorful Directions” – Mark McClendon

“Imagine simply injecting healthy human cells into the body to repair damaged muscle tissue. This might one day be possible if scientists, like McClendon, can find a way to keep these cells organized at the point of injury until healing is complete. One solution might be placing the cells in a nanofiber gel, which can then be injected directly into the human body. The cells growing in the gel will eventually respond to their surroundings by stretching and migrating in the same direction as the nanofibers.

Shown in this image is a blob of nanofiber gel with encapsulated cells from a human heart. The color is a result of the alignment of nanofibers making up the gel, with each color corresponding to a cluster of nanofibers aligned one direction.”

black ghost knifefish - Oscar Curet - Scientific Images

“Black Ghost Knifefish” – Oscar Curet

“The black ghost knifefish, found in the Amazon Basin, can move rapidly and in many directions due to an elongated fin on its belly that runs nearly the entire length of the fish. Curet and his colleagues used a robotic replica of the knifefish to study this motion, which could prove useful when applied to the design of underwater vehicles like submarines.

This image maps the motion of the robotic fish as it moves in a vertical direction. The lines represent the path of the fluid motion and the color represents the velocity, where blue is slow and yellow is fast.”


The mysteries of science can be illuminated with a well-captured photo or illustration. I’m glad Northwestern is sharing some of this wonder with the general public.

You can check out the full list of winning scientific images at the Northwestern website.

-RSB

The 4 Stories We Tell Ourselves About Death: TED Talk by Stephen Cave

August 12th, 2014 | Brain

Stephen Cave - 4 stories about death

Presented above is a TED Talk by Stephen Cave discussing the 4 principal stories we tell ourselves about death:

  1. Elixir
  2. Resurrection
  3. Soul
  4. Legacy

I enjoyed the part of the video when Mr. Cave relates these ancient ideas to our modern times:

  1. Elixir –> Stem Cells
  2. Resurrection –> Chryonics
  3. Soul –> Religion
  4. Legacy –> Parenthood

It seems that everyone I’ve met employs one of these strategies to cope with their own mortality…

Who here remembers when they first realized they were going to die? Well, I personally don’t, but developmental biologists seem to believe we acquired this trait around the age of 4 or 5 (according to research conducted by Jacqui Wooley at The University of Texas).

Since this early age, I’ve probably gone through each of these 4 stories to try to understand death… What comes next? What happens to our consciousness when we die? What does “nothingness”  feel like? In time, I’ve realized that these questions don’t make much sense. As Dr. Cave points out, “being swallowed by the void is not something that any of us will ever live to experience.” In other words, when we die, that is all. Our sense of self and everything we’ve come to know will vanish. But, it’s nothing to fear! Fear itself will also vanish into this void.

So what does that leave us with? What is the purpose of life? I’m afraid I can’t answer that for you. I’m still looking for the answer. My advice would be to enjoy life to the fullest. Create memories of which you’re proud. Leave the world a better place. And if you want to employ one of the 4 stories from above to help you cope with your mortality, I say that is perfectly fine. It’s been happening since the dawn of humanity and I see no reason why it should stop anytime soon.

If this topic is of interest, you might want to check out Stephen Cave’s book about immortality found here.

immortality stephen cave

-RSB

p.s. I think Dr. Cave may have been incorrect when he assumed this was an entirely human trait. Some animals probably do have a sense of their own mortality. Elephants, primates, dolphins have been shown to have self-awareness and a level of consciousness, so it’s not a stretch to think they would understand the idea of death. Anyway, I’m getting off point. I suppose a takeaway from this TED talk is that most humans don’t even seem to truly understand their own mortality.

“Horde” by the Brutus Collective

August 10th, 2014 | Robot, Space

Horde

“Horde” is a new short film by the Brutus Collective, a group of 4 talented artists: Thibaud Clergue, Aurelien Duhayon, Sebastien Iglesias and Camille Perrin. The story is succinct and engaging, and the animation is top-notch. I particularly liked the implementation of reduced frames to animate the faces, while the clothing maintained a higher, more fluid frame rate. It is certainly pro-level work.

The motorcycle fight was heavily inspired by one of the best moments in the history of animation, Akira’s biker gang scene. If you have any interest in animation, I suggest checking it out. They held their own with this new rendition.

-RSB

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