Designed for medical, scienctific and cooking applications, the handheld CRY-AC-3 is capable of freezing objects to -320°F in an instant. Perhaps that’s why Wired categorized it as one of its Most Dangerous Objects in the Office.
Initially, access to water defined where humanity could grow and develop. But now the opposite is true, and we're the ones directing the future of our global water system. Watching that transition unfold is as sobering as it is stunning.
This three minute video, created by Felix Pharand for the opening of the Bonn meeting in Germany (meant to highlight major global water research), tracks this shift in power and the unsettling consequences to come.
"Anthropocene" is the informal term for the newest geologic epoch, one in which humans are the major factor in global change. So in terms of our water supply, as humanity grows, the carbon and nitrogen cycles continue to shift while damming, extraction, and irrigation alter the water flow we so desperately depend on.
The video lays out the facts of our current status, which can be troubling enough: rivers exist that never meet the sea; we move massive amounts of sediment that would, otherwise, not be affected by natural erosion; 48,000 large dams have been built; and we've drained half of the global wetlands. And the consequences of our actions don't sound hopeful—800 million people have no safe drinking water, and four out of five people across the entire world face risk to their water security.
While, sure, most of us are aware that our fresh water supply is limited, seeing the numbers displayed so plainly is shocking. Btu hopefully, with conferences like the Bonn meeting kicking off today, we'll be able to change the direction of the water cycle again, but this time for the better. [Eureka Alert via Felix Pharand]
Who knew an artificial neural network could be so pretty? The winners of Princeton's annual science photography contest, Art of Science, were announced a few days ago. And boy, are some of these images beautiful.
Every year, a jury of Princeton professors gets together to hum and haw over the thousands of images its students produce during their studies. The great thing about the competition is that it's totally open—undergrads, grads, and doc students from nearly every department apply, ranging from computer science to architecture to biology.
It's the best of both worlds: we get to ogle the beautiful images that result from years of intense research, but we miss all of the hard academic labor. [Art of Science]
East-West, West-East by Martin Jucker
Ever wonder what the winds look like as they move across the globe? This image visualizes the strong West to East wind patterns that dominate earth's weather systems (in blue), plus the East to West wind, mainly at the poles, in red. "As a result," explains author Martin Jucker, "atmospheric phenomena can travel around the globe, exchanging information even from remote places of the Earth easily."
Cobalt Blue by Jason Krizan
Krizan is part of chemistry research group called Cava Lab, which cooks up new materials. To do so, he and his peers heat new materials to 1400 degrees Celsius in alumina containers—and just like with regular cooking, stuff gets stuck on the pan. The group will often use molten glass, which beads and condenses the materials. This blue is from black cobalt oxide, beading inside of the molten glass.
Maze Dweller by Chhaya Werner
"That sweet little face peering out of a coral labyrinth is that of a a goby fish," explains Chhaya Werner, the undergrad who took this photo. "A goby fish is dependent on coral for its home, and in turn will often clean algae that would otherwise smother the coral." Symbiosis!
C. instagram by Meredith Wright
The hilariously named C. instagram shows C. elegans worms eating E. coli, which they gorge on before clumping together in these patterns. Meredith Wright caught the phenomenon using her smartphone—hence the name of the photo. "I've since shared the photo on social networking sites and have had friends who've never been interested in biology ask me more about my work because of this photo," she explains. "To me, this image represents the simple pleasure of finding something beautiful when you don't expect to, and it shows how easy it is to connect science with new audiences by simply clicking 'share.'"
Brainbow Rainbow by Jess Brooks, Esteban Engel, and Lynn Enquist
These kidney monkey cells are infected with a herpes virus, which makes the cells express colors that turn a variety of neon colors. That makes it easier for scientists to identity individual neurons and the circuits they form.
Crushed Birch by Michael Kosk
Why don't trees rot more easily? Mainly because of its hyper-dense cellular structure, which was broken apart and photographed as part of a material research course by Michael Kosk. Those patterns? They're the pathways that distribute water and nutrients through each layer of the tree.
Cocoa Engineering by Alex Jordan, Sigrid Adriaenssens, and Axel Kilian
This structural component—and its chocolate-welded hinges—were made entirely out of chocolate by engineering and architecture students. "While it sounds like something out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, the idea has a serious goal," explains the group, "to systematically understand how the process of design can interact with unexplored materials." The curved shape has a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio of 24 times less than that of concrete.
Mirror Sphere by Sema Berkiten
I don't completely understand the technology behind this beautiful image, so I'll let author Sema Berkiten explain: "In computer vision, there are several methods to create a 3-D model of an object. One of them, called “photometric stereo,” uses multiple images of the object under different light directions. In this 3-D reconstruction technique, we need to calculate surface normals of the object as an intermediate step, and this picture is the result of that step. The image depicts the surface normals of a mirrored sphere... The surface normals depicted in this image are not all geometrically correct because the algorithm assumes that the surface is not shiny like a mirror, so what we see in this image are actually some artifacts caused by highlights and shadows."
Light Eddies by Mitchell A. Nahmias and Paul R. Prucnal
Nahmias and Prucnal are interested in increasing the speed of global communication. They imagine an artificial neural network , combined with current laser technology, that would deliver information at speeds even the fastest computers couldn't compete with today. "Our brains are composed of billions of individual cells called neurons, which communicate along millions of billions of channels with electrochemical signals," the duo explain. "This computer model visualizes a laser that behaves like a neuron by plotting a so-called 'phase space...' Studying these trajectories helps us understand how our devices emit and receive pulses of light that mimic the way in which neurons communicate."
Exposed by Ohad Fried
This face came from a completely anonymized video—in other words, when it arrived, the tape contained a blurred and unrecognizable human face. Using "mutual data" shared between each individual frame, Fried was able to reconstruct the original face. "The result," Fried explains, "is an intriguing 'ghost image' of the subject."
Think of bacteria, and you probably think of illness, infection, and other unpleasantries. But this picture shows that they have a beautiful side after all.
A contender in the Art of Science competition run by Princeton University, this picture depicts how the bacteria Myxococcus xanthus moves over time. To create it, Mingzhai Sun and Joshua Shaevitz recorded the paths that M. xanthus—social bacteria that move in packs to hunt prey—took over the course of four hours.
Each strand shows the journey of a particular pack of bacteria, and the color changes signify elapsed time—blue represents the start of the journey and red the end. You can see more competitiors in Princeton's Science as Art 2013 gallery. [Art of Science via New Scientist]
Image by Mingzhai Sun and Joshua Shaevitz/department of physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics/Princeton University Art of Science Competition
Buzzfeed continues their series of short video infographics with an informative clip about all of the things the human body will do in the next 30 seconds. Great job on those red blood cells! Keep up the good work!
We all know that exercise is good for you, but when you understand why, it makes getting off the couch and into the gym a lot easier. Here’s an explanation of what happens when you work out, and how it can help you deal with the pains and the gains you'll run into down the line.
One year ago, a team of researchers traveled deep into the Honduran rainforest in search of Ciudad Blanca, the legendary lost city of treasures. Yesterday, they revealed images—uncovered by lasers—of structures that they believe to be the White City itself.
The legend of the White City has captured explorers' imaginations for centuries; Hernán Cortés detailed his interest in the purportedly gold-laden metropolis as far back as 1526. But the Mosquitia region where it was rumored to exist is densely packed with rainforest, and the conquistadors never penetrated deep enough to claim their prize.
Modern archaeologists have been just as stymied. Mosquitia has been the focus of a half dozen intensive explorations in the last century alone, some of which have yielded signs of some ruins and mounds. No one, though, despite their best efforts, had found anything close to a full city structure.
The team of researchers from the University of Houston, though, had something none of those expeditions did. They had lasers.
The National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping does just what you would think; uses highly advanced lasers to see things the human eye can't. Specifically, in this case, the team—led by a Los Angeles-based filmmaker—used a Lidar system to penetrate the thick foliage of Mosquitia and discover the treasures that lay beneath.
Lidar itself isn't particularly new. Developed in the 1960s, it was originally used to measure cloud densities, but comes in handy today for everything from mapping the Amazon rainforest
By stripping away layers of reflections the researchers were able to remove detail from the canopy and reveal the ground beneath, shown on the right in the image above. Yesterday, the researchers revealed these images for the first time, at the American Geophysical Union Meeting of the Americas in Cancun.
The White Cities?
After others had spent centuries trying to unearth a single city of gold, the NCALM exploration made a surprising find: not one city, but two.
It might hard for the untrained eye to see, but the Lidar images revealed regularly spaced mounds—and a few other linear features—that possibly make up two distinct city centers. Either of which could very well be the legendary Ciudad Blanca.
We should know soon enough. The team is now closely studying the data to work out which sections contain the most promising features. Once they have, they'll deploy archaeologists to investigate the site further.