International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield is renowned for his communication of science. He plays guitar from space, throws up incredible images of Earth from the ISS, and he’ll answer all your curiosities about living in a gravity-free world on YouTube. This recent demonstration was a result of a question from 2 high school students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, who were interested in what might happen when you wring out water from a washcloth in space.
The result is pretty amazing. I was worried the water would short-circuit the electronics, but thanks to surface tension, all is well. I like how a seemingly simple task on Earth becomes fascinating when it happens in Space.
A few weeks ago, I posted about an unbelievable urban wingsuit video from Brazil, but this new feat is even more impressive! The Italian Norwegian Alexander Polli flies through an extremely narrow opening (maybe 10 to 15 ft wide) called “Batman Cave” at 250 km/h..! The cave is located in the Roca Foradada Mountains in Montserrat, Spain, and it’s a breathtaking location for such an attempt.
I must say that it’s only a matter of time before someone face-plants in the rock, but I suppose we can all enjoy it until then. What would be the next step in the evolution of this sport? Smaller openings? Doing it at night? Blindfolded? Two people at once? A whole line of people?
Alexander was quoted on the experience saying, “I hope this inspires others not only climb over their mountains, but also to fly right through them.”
The Swiss-Japanese artist Maiko Gubler belongs to the creative group in Berlin, originally moving to Germany because she was “charmed by the rawness, the undefined space and the inherent history of Berlin in the 90s.” She works in a variety of mediums — illustration, sculpture, 3D modeling, and graphic design — and all of it is well crafted.
The images above are fantastically crisp, driven by blue skies, clean lines, and bright tile. The melting metal reminds me of gallium, which will turn liquid in your hand (at 29.76 °C / 85.57 °F to be exact).
Li Hui is a Chinese Installation artist who works with stainless steel, acrylics and lasers. The skeleton car above was created in 2006 for a show titled “Who’s afraid of red, amber, and green?” - a direct reference to the painting series “Who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue” by American abstract expressionist Barnett Newman.
The installation (named ‘Amber’) features a full size horse skeleton, which has been etched into the acrylic race car to create a truly ethereal scene.
Jérôme Sans (director of the UCCA) writes that “Li Hui’s works explore questions of life and death, existence and transcendence, materiality and spirituality, technology and humanity. But it is his penchant for melding the organic and the inorganic that foreshadows a world in which mortal and machine have become one, making people indistinguishable from their tools.”
Here are the other two pieces from the show, “Reincarnation” and “Cage”:
Light is not a usual medium in artwork, but artists such as James Turrell have shown that it can be mastered.
In Li Hui’s own words… “Light doesn’t seem like a material that can be used in art – if you do not handle it well, the outcome will be awful. Everyone can use light in their work, but light may not always be a good material to help them express what they want to express.”
I’ll look forward to more futuristic works from Li Hui.
Red Bull Illume is an action photography contest that occurs once every three years. Patrick Rochon recently captured 3 wakeboarders with LED’s attached to their boards to create this incredible light painting effect. Snap! Orlando came up with the concept and fabricated the boards. Here’s a quote from the Illume site about the project:
“The shoot… …included many challenges in preparation. It’s hard enough to shoot high-speed action in the dark – add in the tasks of outfitting the boards with the waterproof LCD light systems to staging the cameras, lighting and athletes in proper position to secure the shot, and you have yourself a serious photographic mission.
Some of the most inspired by the project were the athletes themselves. “It really is my movements painting this picture and helping this photo come to life!” says Errington, the 24-year-old wakeboarder at the top of his game.
For Rochon, the set-up and planning were extensive, but the motivation while shooting was simple: “Focus on the art, the creativity, and the beauty,” said Rochon, mid-shoot. Fortunately for him, he knew he could rely on the riders to offer performances worthy of the occasion. “I’m really impressed by the athletes,” he added. “They are so fluid in the water, and they understand naturally what we are trying to do here.””
These wakeboarding photographs are reminscent of Jacob Sutton’s Snow Surfer and also the Neon Surfing from Bondi Beach.
The Red Bull Illume competition has produced some pretty amazing results over the years. Here are the Top 10 Winners from the 2010 competition (click photos to enlarge):
Close-Up 2010: Nathan Smith (AUS)
Energy: Stuart Gibson (AUS)
experimental: Daniel Grund (GER)
Illumination: Chris Burkard (USA)
Culture: Vincent Perraud (FRA)
New Creativity: Eric Berger (CAN)
Playground: Tim Korbmacher (GER)
Sequence: Miguel Lopez Virgen (MEX)
Spirit: Adam Kokot (POL)
Wings: Marcel Lämmerhirt (AUT)
The Illumination shot from Chris Burkard won the 2010 competition, and I must say that I think it is one of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever seen. It features surfer Peter Mendia riding waves off Chile’s West Coast.
Submissions to Red Bull Illume are open until April 30th, 2013. Visit this site to enter.
The world’s very first See-Through Brain has been developed by a team at Stanford University led by Karl Deisseroth (M.D., Ph.D.). Deisseroth is well-known for his critical role in the development of Optogenetics, a tool used to control individual neurons with light. Optogenetics is normally limited to surface neurons because the light has trouble reaching deeper areas, but the see-through brain may greatly enhance its efficacy.
The new method (termed CLARITY) involves removing the fat that provides structure but also blocks light. The brain is soaked in a chemical that forms a nanoporous hydrogel-hybridized mesh in the brain. This mesh can then support all the tissue so the fat can be washed away, resulting in the incredible see-through brain.
Unfortunately, the new technique can’t be used in living animals, but it still represents a huge advancement for neuroanatomists. No longer will there be much need to cut the brain into tiny slices (an extremely time-consuming process) to observe connectivity.
The announcement comes just a week after President Barack Obama announced a $100 million BRAIN initiative, and this new step forward surely offers a taste of the sort of technological breakthroughs the initiative hopes to achieve.
And all the Leaders in Neuroscience seem to be weighing in on this one:
“I can’t make any official statement, but I can say that this is exactly the type of technology one would hope to develop for the [BRAIN] project” – Dr. Michelle Freund, a program manager with the National Institutes of Mental Health
“If the entire mouse brain is transparent, that makes a very large fraction of neuroscience research much easier” - Dr. R. Clay Reid of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.
This technique “is a giant step forward from having to slice the mouse brain into 1,000 pieces and looking at them each individually, then trying to reconstruct the relationships of all those slices” – Dr. Cori Bargmann of Rockefeller University, a co-leader of Obama’s brain initiative.
“It’s exactly the technique everyone’s been waiting for”- Dr. Terry Sejnowski of the Salk Institute.
Karl Deisseroth, mastermind of the CLARITY technique
It is certainly an exciting time to be a Neuroscientist.