Posted in chemistry, electronic imaging and displays, food

The Wonderful World Of Whisky Art : The Salt : NPR

Who would have thought dirty glassware could be so artistic? This guy!

Button, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., has captured upward of 75 photographs of whisky residues that he considers good enough to share with the public.Some of his images will even be making their way over to Scotland in May for an exhibition at the Islay Festival of Music and Malt.And Button doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “I’m trying to let the work just kind of grow organically and see where it takes me,” he says.He recently started experimenting with manipulating the whisky as it dries — moving the liquid around to create different deposit patterns.He has also begun to wonder about the science behind his images. “I find them fascinating in a weird kind of way,” he says. “I think it’s a perfect blend between science and creativity.”According to Howard Stone, head researcher at Princeton University’s Complex Fluids Group, the rings and waves seen in Button’s images are probably the result of particles that are left behind once the alcohol has evaporated.These particles, which give the liquor its flavor and color, are present in “very, very small quantities,” says Stone, and can create an “imprint of what the [whisky] was doing when it was trying to evaporate.”

via The Wonderful World Of Whisky Art : The Salt : NPR.

Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays

Video game makers now eligible for NEA grants | Marketplace Tech

Photo credit: A graphic artist from the Electronic Arts company, who develops the Harry Potter's video game, is working on a Harry Potter picture June 8, 2004 in Surrey (UK). (JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

I remember when Super Mario Bros. was considered cutting edge electronic art.

Some of the artwork that goes into video games these days is phenomenal; I know several gamers who will upgrade their computers specifically so they can see the highest resolution of a game possible. I’m glad to see that the National Endowment for the Arts is embracing that media as well:

Artists in fields like photography, dance, theater, literature, painting and sculpture have been seeking funds from the NEA for many years. But the NEA has now expanded the eligibility pool to include people doing interesting things with video games, mobile applications and websites. Applicants need to be affiliated with a 501c3 nonprofit arts organization and violent games won’t be considered.

It’s not likely you’ll be seeing games like “L.A. Noire[editor’s note: also a cool combination of storytelling through technology] or the latest Madden getting a whole lot of funding out of the NEA. Violent games aren’t going to be considered, for one thing, and it’s not like the companies making those games really need grant money.

more via Video game makers now eligible for NEA grants | Marketplace From American Public Media.

The only trick is, I don’t know of many 501c3 video game companies. Some schools might qualify, which would be great for game design students. Are there non-schools out there that qualify? Do you think some will start up knowing they are now being recognized by the NEA? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture

Need A Coat Of Arms? It’s A Balancing Act

Robert Parsons sketches a coat of arms

In honor of the royal wedding that is taking place tomorrow, a story about the “science” that goes into creating a coat of arms. There’s actually a bit of a formula involved (so maybe the “Math” of a coat of arms?), as well as history and politics:

It takes a lot to prepare for a wedding and even more when you’re marrying royalty.

Because Kate Middleton is a commoner she needed to get herself an official coat of arms before she could marry Prince William.

So, Middleton and her family went to see Thomas Woodcock, Garter Principal King of Arms at the College of Arms in London.

But, not just anyone gets a coat of arms. For starters, you have to be a subject of the British crown. And then there’s a test — the test of eminence — that determines if you deserve one. To pass, you basically just need an important job or a university degree.

more via the podcast “How To Do Everything” on Need A Coat Of Arms? First Pass The Test Of Eminence : NPR.

Interesting how Kate Middleton’s coat of arms is being created, only to be merged almost immediately with her husband’s. I also like the idea of having a dinosaur on my coat of arms; too bad I’m not a subject of the royal crown.

Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, museum

Celebrating Green: As Color, As Concept, As Cause : NPR

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...
Happy Earth Day, you green marble! Image via Wikipedia

Spring is here (finally), with Easter Sunday this weekend, Earth Day on Friday, and the dandelions shooting up all over. What a great time to celebrate “Green.” But not just as a color; an art exhibit in D.C. explores green as a concept, from cause to color to commentary.

Spring is far enough along in parts of the country that it seems appropriate to talk about the color of the season: green. It’s a color that has come to take on many meanings — envy, ecology, money and more. A new exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., celebrates green’s symbolism. The show is called Green: The Color and the Cause.

In New Jersey, artist Nancy Cohen explored ecological green in the state’s waterways. She traveled along the Mullica River, on foot and by boat, and “spent some time meeting with marine biologists and environmentalists,” Cohen says. “The water is a brownish color because cedar trees leach into the water, and even though the water’s clean, it has a kind of tea color. As the river progresses and moves toward the ocean, it becomes bluer and bluer.”

more via Celebrating Green: As Color, As Concept, As Cause : NPR.

Posted in biology, communication and networking

Shadows Bright As Glass: When Brain Injuries Transform Into Art : NPR

This morning I am listening to this interview on Fresh Air with Jon Sarkin, who became an artist after a serious brain injury. And I mean literally transformed, from a chiropractor to a compulsive doodler,

Jon Sarkin was working as a chiropractor when he suffered a massive stroke. Afterwards, the 35-year-old became a volatile visual artist with a ferocious need to create, as his brain tried to make sense of the world at large.

“[My artwork is] a manifestation of what happened to me,” Sarkin tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I’ve learned how to visually represent my existential dilemma caused by my stroke.”

Sarkin is the subject of Shadows Bright as Glass, a new book by science writer Amy Nutt. The book describes Sarkin’s journey from happy-go-lucky doctor to manically-compulsive artist.

more via Shadows Bright As Glass: When Brain Injuries Transform Into Art : NPR.

Sarkin describes it as “Everything is new, everything is alien…” The act of exploration and scientific inquiry is described similarly, but this guy is now forced to be in that frame of mind at all times. Really interesting stuff.

Posted in physics

The Physics of the Poker Game

A great story from NPR and Discover Magazine about how being good at Physics and probability can also help you when playing games, in this case card games like Poker.

“A little research revealed there are a lot of poker-playing physicists, some of whom are pretty serious about the game.

Physicist Michael Binger placed third in the 2006 World Series of Poker, winning $4 million. Two others, Michael Piper and Liv Boeree, competed last spring in a tournament in San Remo, Italy. Piper placed fourth, and Boeree won, racking up $1.6 million. Ouelette’s husband, CalTech cosmologist Sean Carroll, entered a Chicago tournament in 2004 and, to his surprise, met three other poker-playing physicists, including Harvey.

In a recent article for Discover Magazine, Ouellette says one reason so many physicists are playing poker — and playing well — is that their brains are particularly attuned to thinking about probability, statistics and modeling. In physics, those things are crucial. And in poker, they just might give you a leg up.”

via Want To Clean Up At Poker? Study Physics : NPR.

I also love the introduction to the Discover Magazine article about how all the physicists ignored the showgirls to go play math and physics. Go here to read it.

Posted in design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays, food, Optics

Pinhole pumpkin Camera

Three jack-o'-lanterns illuminated from within...
Smiling Jack-o-lanterns pose for the camera. Image via Wikipedia

Happy Halloween everybody! A little trick-and-treat to make for yourself this fine fall festival.

From NPR‘s Picture Show Blog:

Every year, this time of year, normal people nationwide gather ’round spreads of newspaper to carve glowing, ghoulish jack-o’-lanterns. And for about a month’s-worth of sporadic lunch breaks, we, too, have been carving a pumpkin … into a camera! Much to our amazement, it actually worked.

See the how-to video on NPR.

Their only advice: “The image from our first camera came out completely black because the camera was not sufficiently lightproof. we highly recommend this project if you can find a darkroom. Although it’s time-intensive, meticulous and, at times, a total pain, it’s worth it to watch the image emerge in the darkroom.”

Check out these other cool pumpkin cams they came across: one using photo paper and one using film.

Have other cool combinations of photography and pumpkins or other veggies? Share them here!