Saturday, December 5, 2009
I was web browsing ultraviolet and infrared photography on this fine, snowy evening when I stumbled across a really intriguing invention. I recently received my own pinhole camera and have been mostly just trying to create images that are not blurred beyond comprehension. But once I get a better handle on my fickle Holga, I may want to give this a whirl. The "Pinhole Blender" is the creation of Chris Peregoy, and like most pinholes, is delightfully simple in its design. The difference between it and my Holga, however, is that the Blender uses multiple light holes to create a panorama of images. Quite brilliant. Check it out or buy one here: http://www.pinholeblender.com/
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Wonderful news, Bostonian fans of psuedo-science! With Halloween just around the corner, Harry Potter: The Exhibition is coming to the Museum of Science on October 25th. It's the second museum worldwide to host the exhibet, which will include; "a first-hand view at more than 200 authentic artifacts displayed in settings inspired by the film sets — including the Great Hall, Hagrid's hut, the Gryffindor™ common room — and more." (http://www.mos.org/visitor_info/museum_news/press_releases&d=3852)
And if you enjoy thinking over the rather low odds of a rocket broomstick ever being invented NASA, you might want to check out The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works by Roger Highfield, here at http://www.amazon.com/Science-Harry-Potter-Magic-Really/dp/0670031534.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I don't want to bump down my post about the biopunk anthology, but I found this piece on the mesh between art, technology, and culture way too interesting not to share.
I ran into an article while web-browsing on a rabbit named Alba, the "GFP" bunny. Alba is living, breathing work of art whose fluffy flourescence ignited global controversy in the year 2000. Now, I'm sure I'm very behind the curb on this, but I was rather too young when the events first occured to take an interest in such things. So, for people like me, or others who just never caught wind, I'm going to go over the concept in brief. GFP is an acronym which stands for green flourescent protein, a gene which allows the jellyfish Aequorea Victoria to glow. This same protein has been injected into primates by researchers before in order to more easily detect viruses. Transgenic artist Eduardo Kac, however, took the idea to untried heights when he created a rabbit with this same gene.
Alba is an albino rabbit. She does not glow all the time, in the dark, or even on command. "When (and only when) illuminated with blue light (maximum excitation at 488 nm), she glows with a bright green light (maximum emission at 509 nm)." (from http://www.ekac.org/gfpbunny.html#gfpbunnyanchor)
Chicago Magazine reported in 2000, "GFP Bunny was due to appear in June at an arts festival in Avignon, France, where Kac planned to put Alba on exhibition in the city's cultural center. There, he had transformed an exhibition space into a cozy living room, including a couch, where he would live with Alba for a week. By doing so, he hoped to convey the idea that biotechnologies are on their way to entering our lives at the most basic level: in our private homes. Shortly before the exhibition date, though, the head of the institute where Alba had been engineered refused to let the rabbit leave, perhaps fearing the public protest and the scrutiny of genetic engineering that such a show would ignite.
'Many molecular biologists do their work in private and pretend it does not have social impact, yet the technologies they develop -- such as genetic engineering -- will eventually enter the entire society,' says Kac. 'By denying Alba presence in the exhibit, the institute director is trying to keep everything in the lab under wraps and impede debate.'"
Alba the glowing rabbit now lives with Kac, his wife Ruth and daughter Miriam in their Chicago home.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
For a while now, I've been contemplating taking on a small publishing project myself. The main idea is to compose an anthology of short, 3,000-8,000w stories related to the genre of biopunk (wikipedia definition: "A science fiction genre that focuses on biotechnology and subversives"). So basically, I'm asking anyone who's interested in submitting a short story to send the text in a .doc or .rtf attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org in 12point, Times New Roman or Courier font. I also want to stress an interest in stories with a base of hard science, and ideas that are only just beyond the realm plausible. No A.I. apocolypse, or green women on Mars in furry bikinis, and nothing should be explained through magic. At the moment, I am accepting simultaneous submissions, just make 100% certain you tell me if your work is being published elsewhere.
As I said, this is a small project that may end up being privately self-published. Payment will most likely come in the form of royalties divided amongst contributors, but I can't make any promises yet. I'm looking for authors who may not be brand names, but have a dedication to their work and to scifi. Relevant publishing experience should be mentioned in the email, but absolutely don't let it deter you if you haven't got any yet. It's more important that the story reads smoothly and has a certain feel. If you haven't read anything biopunk, and just want to check it out, try the book "Ribofunk" by Paul Di Filippo.
Ciao and good luck! ~Leah
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This I found absolutely amazing. Senior Research Associate at Caltech, Paul W.K. Rothemund, has invented a process for creating images from DNA.
(from his website at http://www.dna.caltech.edu/~pwkr/) "Each of the two smiley faces above, at right, are actually giant DNA complexes imaged with an atomic force microscope. Each is about 100 nanometers across (1/1000th the width of a human hair), 2 nanometers thick, and each is comprised of about 14,000 DNA bases. 7000 of these DNA bases belong to a long single strand, a DNA molecule that just happens to be the genome of the virus M13. The other 7000 of these bases belong to about 250 shorter strands, each about 30 bases long. These short strands fold the long strand into the smiley face shape. I call the method "scaffolded DNA origami". (For the record: there is no fundamental significance to the fact that it is viral DNA; I could buy it and it was cheap and pure. M13 is a bacteriophage---it can make the bacteria in your intestine sick but not you!)"
Brilliant! IBM is now looking into the technology for possible computer hardware applications.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Coffins aren't just for dead folks anymore. There's something undeniably classy about a well-polished casket, and many Colorado residents can't wait to close the lid.
The Emma Crawford annual coffin races (an event which I had the good fortune to attend last year) have been held since 1994 in Manitou Springs, CO. Every year, attendants gather to memorialize Miss Crawford, a 19-year-old woman who died of tuberculosis at the turn of the 19th century. Her body, buried high on Red Mountain, was sent shooting down the cliffs when they eventually eroded. You can probably infer the rest of how the tradition began. If you're interested, the 2009 races will take place in downtown Manitou on October 24th. You can read more about it on the chamber of commerce website: http://www.peakradar.com/org/detail/187
However, if you don't live close enough to be a part, there are others ways to enjoy that new casket smell without all the downsides of being a corpse. The "Coffin Kart, For Your Budding Little Undertaker" is a brilliant D.I.Y. project for a rainy day in the garage. Made from a child-sized coffin and the parts of riding mower, the mostly self-explanatory building process is depicted here: http://jalopnik.com/399448/the-coffin-kart-for-your-budding-little-undertaker
Friday, September 25, 2009
When you give a spider a cookie...it will weave webs that look as though they were built by a creature missing a good-sized chunk of brain. At least, it will if that cookie contains mescaline, a favorite drug from the '60s (my uncle used it during his stay at a hippy commune to 'help' his tuba playing). Now, you might be wondering why such a strange scenario would ever arise, that anyone would want to create inebriated arachnids.
The experiments on the effects of drugs on spiders began in 1948 when zoologist H.M. Peters was having difficulty conducting his regular studies on the animals. The spiders tended to spin their webs during the early hours of the morning. Rather than sacrifice his own sleep to research, Peters followed the advice of a colleague and tried giving the spiders a dose of amphetamine. Although the arachnids continued their same nighttime habits, something else changed.
Depending on which drug the spiders were administered, they created radically different webs. The mescaline spiders, for example, made webs that appeared only half finished. This was due to the fact that the administered drug weighed its body down, making more web necessary for any movement. Other substances tested include LSD and caffeine, that latter causing the insects to construct extremely irregular webs (depicted here). The results of the experiments can be read about in much greater detail in "The Biology of Spiders" by Rainer F. Foelix.
Monday, September 14, 2009
So, here's the first piece of mine to be published in a long time. The magazine is called Steampunk, which is a microgenre of science-fiction that you may have heard of, you may not have. The basic premise is to explore what would happen if the Victorian world met 21st century technology. Anyway, the magazine is available in print and downloadable for free @: http://www.steampunkmagazine.com/
My story is "The Useless Pistol", and if you don't read it, little ghosts will fly out your nostrils.
Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog, still downy and new as a baby chick (or an infant with Hypertrichosis).
You don't know me, so I'll introduce myself. I'm a small-time artist and science-fiction writer from the Boston area, currently wrapping up my liberal arts associates degree. After that I intend to move on to what I really want to do, which is art history or museum studies, maybe a history of science minor.
Get to it already, you say, and I shall. I started this blog primarily in order to promote interest in those freaks of nature that are my stories, and also to occasionally stick my opinion on a piece of literature in as well. On a completely random side note, I enjoy folklore, gadgetry, and anything paranormal, so any viewer of this page shall be subjected to relative articles as well. Now, fear my blogging.