The Art of Wonder

A Brown University/Rhode Island School of Design Dual-Degree student (BRDD, 2017), artist, writer, scientist, and explorer of the world dedicated to finding Wondrous things. Art, design, science, literature and the connections between them. For my original artwork see http://arianamakesart.tumblr.com/

Posts tagged science

Jul 19

The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck - by @JasonSilva


Sep 30
jtotheizzoe:


nabokov’s butterfly anatomy.

Lepidopterawesomeness.

jtotheizzoe:

nabokov’s butterfly anatomy.

Lepidopterawesomeness.


Sep 18

the-star-stuff:

The brush strokes of star birth

The first picture is the Hubble Space Telescope image of the nebula Sharpless 2-106, a massive young star blasting out jets of gas

The second picture is the painting of the nebula Sharpless 2-106 by space artist Lucy West.


Sep 11

umzoology:

William T. Hornaday:  Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting

Here’s another spoiler for our 1st floor exhibit case: Dave brought this beautiful book from his home to go in our display among our information about William T. Hornaday.  This book, Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting, was published in 1891 during his term as Chief Taxidermist for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  

From an artistic, historical, and biological standpoint, this book is absolutely fascinating to look through!  In so many aspects was Hornaday ahead of his time in regards towards animal preparation and taxidermy, and this book discusses some techniques which we still employ in our museum today.  In many aspects of his personal life, however, Hornaday was a controversial and stubborn figure, but nevertheless passionate about wildlife and working ultimately towards its conservation.  Someday I’ll tell you all about the time he put a pygmy person from the Congo named Ota Benga on display in the National Zoo in the primates exhibit as a way to illustrate convergent evolution, but that is totally another story.  

(via pookascrayon)


Aug 23
contemplatingmadness:

Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us
An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways?
While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgement that’s the big news here. The body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way that we are, and it’s no longer something we can ignore.
What’s also very interesting about the declaration is the group’s acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some encephalopods.
“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states,” they write, “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.”
Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.
The group consists of cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists — all of whom were attending the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals. The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking, and included such signatories as Christof Koch, David Edelman, Edward Boyden, Philip Low, Irene Pepperberg, and many more.
The declaration made the following observations:

The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.
The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).
Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in particular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.
In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

Read more about this here and here.

contemplatingmadness:

Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us

An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways?

While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgement that’s the big news here. The body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way that we are, and it’s no longer something we can ignore.

What’s also very interesting about the declaration is the group’s acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some encephalopods.

“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states,” they write, “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.”

Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.

The group consists of cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists — all of whom were attending the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals. The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking, and included such signatories as Christof Koch, David Edelman, Edward Boyden, Philip Low, Irene Pepperberg, and many more.

The declaration made the following observations:

  • The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.
  • The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).
  • Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in particular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.
  • In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

Read more about this here and here.


Aug 21
contemplatingmadness:

These mirrors will allow us to observe the birth of the Universe. Yes, really.
In 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope will become one of the greatest tools in humanity’s quest to understand the cosmos. Now, after eight years, the technology comprising the heart and soul of the telescope — an ultra-sophisticated beryllium mirror system — is complete.
Up top, 11 of JWST’s 18 gigantic mirror segments, engineered and assembled by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, are shown packed up and ready to ship to NASA. Here’s why that is very, very exciting news.
Yes, NASA just landed an absurdly awesome rover on the surface of Mars; and yes, the Agency did just announce plans for yet another mission to the Red Planet — but the completion of JWST’s primary mirror system represents a major milestone for a much bigger (and much more expensive) astronomical endeavor.
It is estimated that JWST will wind up costing roughly 9 billion dollars by the time NASA’s ready to hoist it into space. That’s over three times the estimated cost of the Curiosity project; but with that price tag comes formidable scientific potential. Not to detract from NASA’s accomplishments on Mars in any way, but JWST is designed to tell us about the earliest days of the Universe. When you’re dealing with cosmological questions on a scale as big as, well, the cosmos, you’re bound to come up with some monumental discoveries.
How monumental are we talking? Look at it this way: in many ways, JWST is designed to help answer questions about the Universe that we haven’t even thought of yet — something its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, has been remarkably successful at. Astronomers and astrophysicists are confident that the vastly superior capabilities of JWST will translate to discoveries of a similar caliber.
That confidence is captured perfectly in this description of JWST by astrophysicist Michael Shara, curator in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History (click here for our full interview with Shara):

[The James Webb Space Telescope] has, in many ways, 100 times the capabilities that the Hubble Space Telescope does. We’re actually going to be able to see the first stars forming, the first galaxies forming after the Big Bang. We’re also going to be able to — we think — directly image planets orbiting other stars.
There isn’t a field in all of astrophysics that will not benefit tremendously. Just as Hubble was… not just a leap, but an enormous leap forward for all of astrophysics, including the discovery of Dark Energy (70% of… the energy of the Universe was unknown before Hubble), I find it almost impossible to believe that we won’t make the same kinds of discoveries with the James Webb Telescope.
Once [we] started seeing things with Hubble that [we’d] never seen before, [we] pushed it harder and harder to do new things. The same will happen with the James Webb Space Telescope. We will discover new things that we have no way of knowing about today, no way of guessing [because] our intuition isn’t able to take us there. And those will be the great discoveries that actually show up in the coming 20 years, in the coming 30 years. It is really, in many ways, the golden age of astronomy — it’s the very best time ever to be an astronomer.

To the uninformed observer, this view of JWST’s 18 mirror segments, all packed up and ready for transport, is little more than some shiny eye-candy. But to those familiar with the telescope and its awesome scientific potential, it represents the completion of one of the most challenging stages on the path to JWST’s full realization.

contemplatingmadness:

These mirrors will allow us to observe the birth of the Universe. Yes, really.

In 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope will become one of the greatest tools in humanity’s quest to understand the cosmos. Now, after eight years, the technology comprising the heart and soul of the telescope — an ultra-sophisticated beryllium mirror system — is complete.

Up top, 11 of JWST’s 18 gigantic mirror segments, engineered and assembled by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, are shown packed up and ready to ship to NASA. Here’s why that is very, very exciting news.

Yes, NASA just landed an absurdly awesome rover on the surface of Mars; and yes, the Agency did just announce plans for yet another mission to the Red Planet — but the completion of JWST’s primary mirror system represents a major milestone for a much bigger (and much more expensive) astronomical endeavor.

It is estimated that JWST will wind up costing roughly 9 billion dollars by the time NASA’s ready to hoist it into space. That’s over three times the estimated cost of the Curiosity project; but with that price tag comes formidable scientific potential. Not to detract from NASA’s accomplishments on Mars in any way, but JWST is designed to tell us about the earliest days of the Universe. When you’re dealing with cosmological questions on a scale as big as, well, the cosmos, you’re bound to come up with some monumental discoveries.

How monumental are we talking? Look at it this way: in many ways, JWST is designed to help answer questions about the Universe that we haven’t even thought of yet — something its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, has been remarkably successful at. Astronomers and astrophysicists are confident that the vastly superior capabilities of JWST will translate to discoveries of a similar caliber.

That confidence is captured perfectly in this description of JWST by astrophysicist Michael Shara, curator in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History (click here for our full interview with Shara):

[The James Webb Space Telescope] has, in many ways, 100 times the capabilities that the Hubble Space Telescope does. We’re actually going to be able to see the first stars forming, the first galaxies forming after the Big Bang. We’re also going to be able to — we think — directly image planets orbiting other stars.

There isn’t a field in all of astrophysics that will not benefit tremendously. Just as Hubble was… not just a leap, but an enormous leap forward for all of astrophysics, including the discovery of Dark Energy (70% of… the energy of the Universe was unknown before Hubble), I find it almost impossible to believe that we won’t make the same kinds of discoveries with the James Webb Telescope.

Once [we] started seeing things with Hubble that [we’d] never seen before, [we] pushed it harder and harder to do new things. The same will happen with the James Webb Space Telescope. We will discover new things that we have no way of knowing about today, no way of guessing [because] our intuition isn’t able to take us there. And those will be the great discoveries that actually show up in the coming 20 years, in the coming 30 years. It is really, in many ways, the golden age of astronomy — it’s the very best time ever to be an astronomer.

To the uninformed observer, this view of JWST’s 18 mirror segments, all packed up and ready for transport, is little more than some shiny eye-candy. But to those familiar with the telescope and its awesome scientific potential, it represents the completion of one of the most challenging stages on the path to JWST’s full realization.


Lions and gerbils sleep about thirteen hours a day. Tigers and squirrels nod off for about fifteen hours. At the other end of the spectrum, elephants typically sleep three and a half hours at a time, which seems lavish compared to the hour and a half of shut-eye that the average giraffe gets each night.

[…]

Humans need roughly one hour of sleep for every two hours they are awake, and the body innately knows when this ratio becomes out of whack. Each hour of missed sleep one night will result in deeper sleep the next, until the body’s sleep debt is wiped clean.

David K. Randall

From Dreamland: What Happens While You Sleep and How It Affects Your Every Waking Moment. For something we do so much of, sleep is surprisingly ill-understood. But wow … giraffes. Party animals.

via Brain Pickings

(via jtotheizzoe)


Aug 19

hifructosemag:

Achim Menges in collaboration with Steffen Reichert produced the installation entitledHygroScope – Meteorosensitive Morphology at the Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2012. They have created models out of wood that are purposefully designed to interact with moisture found in the air. After years of research they have developed the system calledHygroScope. This climate-responsive composite material is comprised of maple veneer and synthetic composites. It responds to humidity in a such a way that the material appears to be “breathing”. The models are displayed in glass cases that can be programed to control the amount of humidity in the air, the composite materials then respond to these environments creating completely unique visual experiences. Please view the video below!

(via proofmathisbeautiful)


Aug 18
scientificillustration:

Glass model of the radiolarian Heliosphaera actinota 
Made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka

Pure, magnificent Wonder. 

scientificillustration:

Glass model of the radiolarian Heliosphaera actinota 

Made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka

Pure, magnificent Wonder. 



Aug 17

jtotheizzoe:

alecshao:

Tatiana Plakhova - Music is Math (2010)

This is superb work from a superb design artist. According to Tatiana’s website, she uses a myriad of influences from music to science, and then converts them into data and pattern visualizations via a mix of her own hand and mathematical rendering software. 

The results are just stunning. Check out her full collection.

(via npr)


touba:

Laura Splan, from the series Doilies, 2004 (source)

Doilies is a series of computerized machine embroidered doilies. The design of each doily is based on a different viral structure [SARS, HIV, Herpes virus, Influenza virus, and Hepadna/Hepatitis B virus, respectively]. The lace doily has traditionally referenced designs and motifs from nature. Furthermore, these decorative objects would be heirlooms, handed down from one generation to the next. The work explores the “domestication” of microbial and biomedical imagery. Many recent events, epidemics, and commercial products have brought this imagery into our living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Bio-terrorism, SARS, and antibacterial soaps alike have all heightened our awareness of the microbial world. Doilies serve as a metaphor for the way we have adapted our everyday lives to these now everyday concerns. Here domestic artifacts and heirlooms manifest the psychological heredity of our cultural anxieties.”

(via scientificillustration)


Aug 14

Aug 13

getfokused:

CHECK OUT Diana Beltran Herrera’s cut paper and vinyl birds for an anatomy lesson.


Aug 9

decaturjim:

The brain as art

Taken from the recent exhibition, ‘Brains - The Mind as Matter’ at the Wellcome Collection in London.


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