Posted in Uncategorized

UV light reveals true colors of ancient greek statues

This is not a new method, necessarily, but it is very cool to see the technique advance and what it can tell us about style and art 2000+ years ago.

Original Greek and Roman statues, like Augustus, were brightly painted, but after thousands of years, those paints have worn away…


Although it seems impossible to think that anything could be left to discover after thousands of years of wind, sun, sand, and art students, finding the long lost patterns on a piece of ancient Greek sculpture can be as easy as shining a lamp on it. A technique called ‘raking light’ has been used to analyze art for a long time. A lamp is positioned carefully enough that the path of the light is almost parallel to the surface of the object. When used on paintings, this makes brushstrokes, grit, and dust obvious. On statues, the effect is more subtle. Brush-strokes are impossible to see, but because different paints wear off at different rates, the stone is raised in some places – protected from erosion by its cap of paint – and lowered in others. Elaborate patterns become visible.

Infrared and X-ray spectroscopy can help researchers understand what the paints are made of, and how they looked all that time ago. Spectroscopy relies on the fact that atoms are picky when it comes to what kind of incoming energy they absorb. Certain materials will only accept certain wavelengths of light. Everything else they reflect. Spectroscopes send out a variety of wavelengths, like scouts into a foreign land. Inevitably, a few of these scouts do not come back. By noting which wavelengths are absorbed, scientists can determine what materials the substance is made of. Infrared helps determine organic compounds. X-rays, because of their higher energy level, don’t stop for anything less than the heavier elements, like rocks and minerals. Together, researchers can determine approximately what color a millennia-old statue was painted.

The author calls the work “tacky”, but I’m not convinced. What are your thoughts?


(Original article)

Posted in education, engineering, museum

Google Arts & Culture App turns art from all over the world into a meta museum

I love going to museums! I love seeing all kinds of amazing art and artifacts, learning more about an artist or piece of history, and making new discoveries.

Unfortunately, even in the museum-rich city where I live, it can be hard to see all the exhibits that come through, or even get to museums due to transportation or high cost (I’m not saying they’re wrong to charge those rates, I’m just saying if many kids had to pay $20 to look at art vs. $13 for a blockbuster film, I can guess which they’d choose).

Where I grew up the idea of a museum was a stuffy warehouse filled to the brim with items with minimal labeling and no context.

On either end of the spectrum, it can make art and history hard to engage with for many.

Now, Google has an app that is trying to address this divide.

Google has just unveiled a new app that makes it as easy to find the opening times of your local museum as it is to figure out who painted that bright purple Impressionist masterpiece you saw five years ago at the Louvre.

It’s called Google Arts & Culture, and it’s a tool for discovering art “from more than a thousand museums across 70 countries,” Google writes on its blog. More than just an online display of art, though, it encourages viewers to parse the works and gather insight into the visual culture we rarely encounter outside the rarified world of brick-and-mortar museums.

Most teens and young adults have smartphones.

This is a great way to bridge that gap between access points and give everyone the ability to geek out over Claude Monet or Alfred Stieglitz, or actually figure out who those two dudes are.

Well played Google.

h/t Fast Company Design.

Posted in biology

Coral Sculptures bring awareness to reef bleaching

It’s hard to get passionate or take action on things you can’t see. This is why projects like this or the Crocheted Coral Reef are so crucial to bring awareness to the devastation of our oceans and broader environment.

With the Great Barrier Reef suffering the worst mass bleaching event in history, climate change could kill off the world’s coral reefs for good by the end of the century. When that happens, Courtney Mattison’s coral reef art might be the closest thing to the reefs we have left.


Called Our Changing Seas, Mattison’s series of massive, intricately detailed ceramic sculptures were created by hand to represent coral reefs in the midst of being bleached. Bleaching is what happens to reefs when their sensitive zooxanthellae—a symbiotic algae that gives coral its pigmentation—die, usually due to environmental factors like pollution or temperature. And when the zooxanthellae die, so do the reefs.

To recreate these reefs in ceramic, Mattison pokes thousands of holes into the clay with her fingers to mimic the sponge-like cavities of a coral colony, while sculpting coral’s more tubular polyps with the aid of simple tools like paintbrushes and chopsticks. Each of her sculptures takes between seven and ten months to create in her Denver studio. There, they are sculpted and fired in as many as 100 separate pieces, which combined will make up the finished reefs, weighing 900 to 1,500 pounds each.

Read more…

Posted in astronomy, literature

Astronomers determine time of year an ancient poem was written

This is amazing! There is so much science in art, and art in nature and science.

Sappho Poem translated by Mary Barnard
by ancient Greek poet Sappho

In her poem…

Sappho talks about the Pleiades, a cluster of extremely bright stars near Taurus. What’s more, Sappho mentions two interesting facts:

  • she watches the Pleiades go down, sinking beneath the horizon. And …
  • … this occurs before midnight.

Recently, two scientists got interested in the poem, because they realized these two facts could be used to determine precisely what time of year Sappho wrote the poem.

After all, constellations change their position in the sky as the year progresses. That means in different months they’ll sink beneath the horizon at different times of day. Since we know that Sappho saw the Pleiades go down before midnight, first you have deduce where Sappho was located — geographically — when she wrote the poem (because this will determine what part of the sky she was looking at). Then you check the star charts from that vantage point, and figure out what time of the year the Pleiades would have been visible right until midnight.

That’s what the scientists did, in their fascinating paper “Seasonal Dating of Sappho’s ‘Midnight Poem’ Revisited”.

Read the analysis via the original article (worth the read!): Astronomers Crack The Secret of This Gorgeous Poem by Sappho

Posted in Optics

Fiber Optic Glowing Dress at NY Met Gala

Hi friends! Long time no post! I’ve been seeing too many good art and science projects lately and just had to throw this one up to share!

Fashion designers have been trying to incorporate fiber optics into dresses for years, because of their flexibility and weight, and ability to change colors. The issues were that the fibers weren’t necessarily flexible enough or sturdy enough to actually make a functional dress (if you can call a full length ball gown functional). Seems like they may have finally done it!


The theme of this year’s Met Ball, fittingly sponsored by Apple, was Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, and Claire Danes’ dress took the cake. Designed by Zac Posen, he “sourced the fiber optic woven organza in this dress from France, and there are 30 mini battery packs sewn into the gown’s understructure,” according to FastCo.

The Met Gala is held annually for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s Costume (Fashion) Institute in New York City, the only department that has to fund itself.


See the original post at Bored Panda

Posted in biology, medical imaging

Innovative Brain Imaging Combines Sound And Light : NPR

I started this blog – I can’t remember how many years ago – when I was working for a scientific society focused on the study of light. Their members, such as this gentleman, were doing amazing things that made the very thin barriers between art and science bleed right into each other. Amazing breakthroughs that are only possible when we think creatively.

Lihong Wang creates the sort of medical technology you’d expect to find on the starship Enterprise.

Wang, a professor of biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has already helped develop instruments that can detect individual cancer cells in the bloodstream and oxygen consumption deep within the body. He has also created a camera that shoots at 100 billion frames a second, fast enough to freeze an object traveling at the speed of light.

Recently, Wang began experimenting with a technique that blends the speed and precision of light with the penetrating ability of sound. It’s called photoacoustic imaging.

“We’re combining the strengths of two forms of energy, light and sound, in a single form of imaging,” Wang says.

…light goes into the brain, and sounds come out. And just a few months ago, those sounds allowed a lab team to create high-speed, highly detailed, three-dimensional images of a mouse brain at work.

read more about it at Innovative Brain Imaging Combines Sound And Light : Shots – Health News : NPR.

Congratulations to Lihong Wang.

Posted in Uncategorized

Painting with Light

The Dirt

lok1 From the series Decoding Scape (cropped) / Lee Jeong Lok

Contemporary artists around the world are painting with light, using photographic techniques to add layers of light art on top of real-world scenes. These layers, which take many forms, add depth, evoke awe, and are stunningly creative. These images also illustrate the changing relationship between real and digital realms, nature and technology, and the photographer and their studio tools.

Korean artist Lee Jeong Lok overlays glowing Korean characters, symbols, and stylized natural forms like butterflies and trees on the natural vistas he has photographed.

lok2 From the series Nabi (cropped) / Lee Jeong Lok

In Designboom, he writes: “I have been painting something that exists despite its invisible nature; places that correspond to the visible world, places beyond our sensual cognition, profoundly mysterious places that nevertheless cannot be separated from our world of cognition.”

lok3 From the series Nabi (cropped) /…

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