Science

Section



Art Science

An 80-Foot Steel Kraken Will Create an Artificial Coral Reef Near the British Virgin Islands

October 18, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

All images via Owen Buggy

This past April a massive 80-foot steel kraken was purposefully sunk into the Caribbean Sea on top of a decorated WW2 ship. The former Navy fuel barge and its monstrous passenger were placed underwater in order to jumpstart a new coral ecosystem, while also serving as a cutting-edge education center for marine researchers and local students from the surrounding British Virgin Islands. The project is titled the BVI Art Reef, and aims to use sculptures like the porous kraken as a base to grow transplanted coral.

The Kodiak Queen, formerly a Navy fuel barge named the YO-44, was discovered by British photographer Owen Buggy approximately two and a half years ago on the island of Tortola. Instead of letting the historic vessel get picked apart for scrap metal, Buggy approached former boss Sir Richard Branson about collaborating on a restorative art installation. Together with nonprofit Unite B.V.I., artist group Secret Samurai Productions, social justice entrepreneurial group Maverick1000, and ocean education nonprofit Beneath the Waves, the project was established as both an eco-friendly art installation, and a philanthropic measure to rehabilitate native marine species.

“It’s envisioned that within just a short space of time the ship and artwork will attract a myriad of sea creatures,” said Clive Petrovic who consults on the environmental impact of the BVI Art Reef. “Everything from corals to sea sponges, sharks and turtles will live on, in, and around the wreck. The ship will become valuable for future research by scientists and local students alike.”

To sink the massive ship, the project sought the help of the Commercial Dive Services who safely submerged the vessel off the coast of the island Virgin Gorda. It was the first time the ship had been in the water for nearly 17 years, and was lead to its final resting place by a bevy of boats and helicopters.

Filmmaker Rob Sorrenti filmed both the construction and sinking of the kraken and its ship. The full-length documentary is currently in post-production, with an estimated release early next year. You can watch a clip from the upcoming film below. For information on visiting the BVI Art Reef, and to learn more about its educational programs, visit the project’s website and Facebook.

 

 



Photography Science

Envisioning Chemistry: Stunning Footage of Chemical Reactions Filmed by WenTing Zhu

October 17, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Chemical reactions can be described with words, formulas, and observed with the naked eye, but in the capable hands of filmmaker and photographer WenTing Zhu they take on a near miraculous quality as part of this ongoing Beauty of Science series (previously). Zhu has just shared several new videos highlighting electrodeposition, precipitation, bubbles, metal displacement, and many others. You can see more on the Beauty of Science website.

 

 



Design Science

Discover What the Solar System Looked Like on the Exact Day of Your Birth

September 8, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

The solar system is in constant rotation, a notion that has taken us generations to understand, and just as long to track. This knowledge has impacted our understanding of time, mathematics, science, and religion, yet the universe is still one of our greatest mysteries. SpaceTime Coordinates brings a personalized depiction to the great expanse of space by calculating the exact position of the planets on the day of your birth.

Using NASA data and algorithms, the company computes the positions of the planets and dwarf planets to create custom prints that correspond with your unique position in the universe. No two dates provide the same planetary map.

“On any given date, the Solar System was organized in a singularly unique way – differently than any other day in history,” says founders govy and Martin Vézina. “Our mission is to provide you with the actual snapshot of the Solar System that corresponds to your most special day.”

Previously the company has created 3D-printed mementos cast in metal that display your planetary information. Now, the company has created minimal posters in dark blue, black, and white, and is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter as part of the website’s Projects of Earth series. You can view more samples of SpaceTime Coordinates’ designs on their website.

 

 



Science

Go See This Eclipse: A Scaled Simulation by Alex Gorosh

August 15, 2017

Christopher Jobson

In this new short film, director Alex Gorosh walks us through next week’s total solar eclipse and explains why it’s so important to see it. The mix of archival footage, scientific explanation, and a brief outdoor simulation to demonstrate scale similar to his 2015 video about the solar system, all make a compelling emotional argument that this eclipse shouldn’t be missed. Just make sure you’re prepared.

 

 



Amazing Science

The Phenomenon Of “Crown Shyness” Where Trees Avoid Touching

August 14, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Photo © Dag Peak. San Martin, Buenos Aires.

Crown shyness is a naturally occurring phenomenon in some tree species where the upper most branches in a forest canopy avoid touching one another. The visual effect is striking as it creates clearly defined borders akin to cracks or rivers in the sky when viewed from below. Although the phenomenon was first observed in the 1920s, scientists have yet to reach a consensus on what causes it. According to Wikipedia it might simply be caused by the trees rubbing against one another, although signs also point to more active causes such as a preventative measure against shading (optimizing light exposure for photosynthesis) or even as a deterrent for the spread of harmful insects. (via Kottke, Robert Macfarlane)

 

 



Design Science

MIT Developed a Fabric That Can Fold Into Origami-Like Shapes When Inflated

August 10, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group has created a system to fold materials into various origami shapes when inflated, turning specifically designed paper, plastic, and fabric into representations of swans, helixes, or other 3D figures with minimal human interaction. The project, aeroMorph, utilizes special software to program the geometry needed for each three-dimensional shape and exports the information as digital fabrication files. After this, specific markings are heat-sealed onto the provided material on a large robotic platform, allowing it to bend at specific joints when filled with a steady stream of air.

The creators believe aeroMorph could be applied to future wearables, toys, robotics, and automated packaging. You can see the results from several of the project’s self-folding experiments in the video below. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 



Photography Science

A Photographer Captures the Unusual Way Sperm Whales Sleep

July 4, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

© Franco Banfi / Licensed for use on Colossal

Photographer Franco Banfi and a team of scuba divers were following a pod of sperm whales when suddenly the large creatures became motionless and began to take a synchronized vertical rest. This strange sleeping position was first discovered only in 2008, when a team of biologists from the UK and Japan drifted into their own group of non-active sperm whales. After studying tagged whales the team learned this collective slumber occurs for approximately 7 percent of the animal’s life, in short increments of just 6-24 minutes.

The image, Synchronized Sleepers, was a finalist in the 2017 Big Picture Competition in the category of Human/Nature. You can see more of the Switzerland-based photographer’s underwater photography on his website and Instagram. (via kottke.org)