… the two processes, that of science and that of art, are not very different. Both science and art form in the course of the centuries a human language by which we can speak about the more remote parts of reality …
One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot from Voyager 1 Color Inverted
What will become of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot? Recorded as shrinking since the 1930s, the rate of the Great Red Spot’s size appears to have accelerated just in the past few years. A hurricane larger than Earth, the Great Red Spot has been raging at least as long as telescopes could see it. Like most astronomical phenomena, the Great Red Spot was neither predicted nor immediately understood after its discovery. Although small eddies that feed into the storm system seem to play a role, a more full understanding of the gigantic storm cloud remains a topic of continued research, and may result in a better understanding of weather here on Earth. The above image is a digital enhancement of an image of Jupiter taken in 1979 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it zoomed by the Solar System’s largest planet. NASA’s Juno spacecraft is currently heading toward Jupiter and will arrive in 2016.
Image Credit: NASA, JPL; Digital processing: Björn Jónsson (IAAA), Color: thedemon-hauntedworld
The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful it would not be worth knowing, and life would not be worth living. I am not speaking, of course, of the beauty which strikes the senses, of the beauty of qualities and appearances. I am far from despising this, but it has nothing to do with science. What I mean is that more intimate beauty which comes from the harmonious order of its parts, and which a pure intelligence can grasp.
alanis: Clouds and shadows on Mars, photographed by Mars Express, 24th May 2012.
Between 28 and 36°S, 284°E, on the arc of highlands that surround the southeast Solis Planum. The crater split between the 2nd and 3rd images is Voeykov, about 75 km across, named for climatologist and geographer Alexander Ivanovich Voeykov (1842-1916). The small, deep crater toward bottom left of the 4th image is Los, named for a village of about 400 people in Gävleborg County, Sweden.
Composite of 3 visible light images for colour, and 5 monochrome images for animation. Colour is not balanced naturalistically, and the slightly psychedelic colours of the clouds are a result of mismatches between the images where the clouds have moved between exposures.
In collaboration with NIH 3D Print and the EyeWire lab at MIT, I’ve made a 3D printed neuron! This particular neuron is a ganglion cell, which brings visual information from the retina to the brain. Its shape was revealed by gamers playing EyeWire, which uses crowdsourcing to create 3D models from serial electron microscope images. If you’d like to participate, you can sign up to play EyeWire here. If you want to try printing this cell, the model is available at the NIH 3D print database.
These photos were taken by my friend Kristen Kanes, who is doing some absolutely fantastic research on orcas, also known as killer whales. Her objective is to determine if individual whales have unique voices that could enable them to identify each other. Consider that orcas have complex social structures, unique dialects, the second largest brain of any marine mammal, and a brain area involved in emotional cognition that is greatly elaborated compared to all other mammals. They may be one of the most sentient species on Earth, along with dolphins, elephants, chimps, bonobos, and humans. Being able to identify orcas based on sound alone would allow less invasive data collection, and in the long run might help us decipher the meanings of their vocalizations. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out Kristen’s website, Orcatalk.
When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.