Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Symphony of Science

January 14, 2012

I hadn’t visited Symphony of Science in a little while. The last video I watched was #8 The Big Beginning, and when I wasn’t looking John Boswell came out with four more productions:

  • Ode to the Brain (with Carl Sagan, Robert Winston, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Jill Bolte Taylor, Bill Nye, and Oliver Sacks)
  • Children of Africa (Carolyn Porco, Neil deGrasse Tyson, various presenters)
  • The Quantum World (Richard Feynman, Morgan Freeman, Stephen Hawking, Brian Cox, various presenters)
  • Onward to the Edge (Neil deGrasse Tyson,Carolyn Porco, various presenters

I like these videos because they highlight the wonder of the presenters’ words. They focus on the dreams that can be achieved with science, technology and innovation.

You can see the rest of the videos at the Symphony of Science website or the YouTube channel.

Gravity Stool – Art and Science

January 12, 2012

I found this link on Twitter from ThinkGeek. Jólan van der Wiel designed a machine containing magnets, that “grows” plastic embedded with magnetic material into these unique shapes.

Gravity Stool from Miranda Stet on Vimeo.

Image source

Atheists Don’t Swear Oaths On Darwin.

July 22, 2011

I’m a fan of Mike Peter’s Mother Goose & Grimm comic strip. I’ve been reading the adventures of Grimmy, Atilla the Cat, Mom, Ralph and the many other side characters featured in Mother Goose & Grimm since I was a little girl too young to understand the jokes. Also, I agree with a lot of Mike Peter’s political cartoons and editorials.

But I was disappointed with yesterday’s MG&G.

The comic presents the idea that atheists worship Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection as Christians worship the bible. The joke isn’t funny because I would bet that a lot of people have this misconception about atheists. If it’s taken as truth, then it’s not really a joke. As one lovely gentleman from the comic’s online comments section wrote in response to a man who said the comic wasn’t funny to him:

As an atheist I am frustrated by the connection of my lack of belief in gods to evolution; while of course related, the two have little to do with each other. I learned about and accepted evolution over a decade before I embraced atheism (for a long time I was a fan of the idea that God created the process of evolution). This comic muddies the water about the relationship between atheism and evolution, and has the potential to negatively influence public understanding of the relationship between the two.

While it’s true that atheists can decline to swear on a bible, so can anyone. Before testifying, a person must assure the court that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Traditionally people swear to Almighty God because we have a little (teensy tiny) issue with Christian privilege in this country. In that situation one is swearing under pain and penalty of God’s judgement that they will not tell a lie. If you chose to not swear an oath to God, you may solemnly and sincerely affirm, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you won’t fib to judge and jury.

On a side note, the portrayal of the atheist as a middle-aged white male feeds into the stereotype that all atheists are…middle-aged white men (with lots of crazy facial hair). Not true.

And one more point: “Atheist” can be a scary word, and being known as an atheist is a scary idea for some people. There are notions that atheists are god-denying (we are), creation-denying (that one too) trouble-makers (not all of us) who would refuse to swear an oath on a bible in court (a lot of us in some situations might) just to cause a stir (but not for that reason). But I think that it would take some courage to refuse to “place a hand on the bible” in front of a room full of strangers who are expecting you to do just that. Swearing before god might make you look more trustworthy to a judge or jury, while refusing to swear before god might make you look less so, and could have serious outcomes for your case. The comic isn’t funny because we might be brave enough to ask for a secular affirmation before testifying. Or we might not. It’s a tough position to be in.

Putting out a comic strip that is published in over 800 newspapers which 1)encourages public misunderstanding about the connection between atheism and evolution and 2)makes light of atheists who are in the difficult position of having to either swear an oath they don’t believe in or ask for a secular affirmation which might damage their case – isn’t funny, it’s potentially damaging, thoughtless and cruel.

Tattoo Thoughts

July 14, 2011

I received my first tattoo when I turned 18, for typical 18 year-old reasoning: “Ooo naughty!” and “Only $100 you say?” $100 was just enough to make it seem like a meaningful decision – money was sacrificed, therefore the commodity which was purchased was worthwhile.

I’m not proud of my first tattoo, although neither am I embarrassed or ashamed by it. My first tattoo is a piece of flash which was chosen right off of the wall with hardly more consideration than I had probably given that day’s lunch. The placement is horrible and unflattering to the art (such as it is), and was chosen because the artist said it wouldn’t be a very painful location to have tattooed. To be fair, at the time I envisioned my entire torso covered in ink by the time I was in my mid-20s – at the least the area reasonably covered by a work-appropriate skirt hem, a short-sleeve shirt and a modest neckline.  I remember thinking that if the first tattoo wasn’t great, then I could hide it or incorporate it into a more complex piece later down the line.

About a year later I purchased my second tattoo. It has much more personal meaning to me, but it was still flash – this time picked out of a book while a mountainesque woman sighed impatiently over my shoulder and waited for what she probably thought was a spontaneous college girl to decide on a pattern that she had etched onto dozens of other spontaneous college girls. She in fact had me dead to rights; I had driven from Winona where I attended WSU to LaCrosse specifically to get a tattoo from that shop, which means I gave the whole process about two hours of cogitation, and that includes the 30-minute commute. When I walked in and told her that I wanted to get a tattoo, she said “Been drinking?” I said “No ma’am.” An hour-and-a-half and $120 later I had my second tattoo.

I haven’t gotten any more ink since that time. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s just that I want my next tattoo to be original art, and that means finding an artist and commissioning a piece. And that means money. I have ideas for future work, but no real desire to seek out an artist with whose work I connect. I also want a larger piece – no more attempting to capture grand ideas in one-frame comic-sized daubs of ink.

If I had wads of money to blow, I’d probably continue getting new bits of art here and there, fulfilling my younger dreams of covering my body in art. But I don’t want to hire more strangers to put impersonal marks on me. I’d love to have tattoos from powerful events and moments in my life. I’d get tattoos from people who mean a lot to me,  for all of you special people to leave physical signs on my skin to go along with the emotions and memories you leave in my mind and heart. But…ahem…I’ve seen some of y’all draw, and uh…you ain’t coming near me with a sharpie, let along a permanent tattoo gun!

These thoughts of tattoo came about after reading a neat article in Jezebel about Jessie Knight (article by Irin Carmon, tweeted by @ClinicEscort), a British female tattoo artist who practiced in the 1930-60s. There are some great photos in the article, and when I went looking for more information about Ms. Knight, I found this YouTube video – replete with classic 1950’s “little woman” music. The video manages to be charming, patronizing and inspirational all at once.

Books – How They Work

June 3, 2011

I’m out of town traipsing around the woods this weekend, so I’ll most likely be unable to respond to comments and the like (we’ll see how good the 3G is in the state park this year). But I do have a few posts queued up until I return to regular blogging on Monday (or so). Have a great weekend.


The is one of the most motivational Demotivation posters I’ve ever come across:

Seen on Facebook via J.Blaze Ward. Original source is

I can haz camera?

February 16, 2011

I would love to graduate from my point and shoot camera. I did move up when I bought my HTC Incredible smartphone. With 8mp, I have twice the resolution of my old 4.1mp Sony Cyber-Shot. But I want a camera that can take action shots (multiple frames per second – the fast click, click, click of fancy cameras), the ability to capture images in low-level lighting, and multiple lens options for wide angle shots and super-crazy zoom.

I haz no dinero for camera. *sniff* Suuuuure, I could swing it. But we’re trying really, really hard to get out of the debt. But when I am reminded of what a fancy camera can do it makes me want to look a little more closely at the no-interest for 12-months loan they were offering at the Ritz Camera I visited not too long ago.

And I was recently reminded of what a fancy camera can do.

Last Saturday I visited Como Park Zoo in St. Paul with Craig from the Minneapolis Skeptics for Darwin Day. He owns a Nikon D7000. It looks like this:

Image source

*drool* He was using a zoom lens and took bunches and bunches of photos. I was having fun snapping along. I have a pretty good eye for composition, but I think I’ve reached the limit of my current technology. Have a look – what do you think?

These small photos do not do Craig’s photos justice. I encourage you to click on his photos to see the incredible detail on his flickr stream.

Monkeys in the primate house. Challenges: Low, filtered light, fast-moving subjects, thick glass with reflections.

My photo – HTC Incredible, Auto settings, camera lens pressed to the glass to avoid reflection.

Craig’s Photo:

Emperor Tamarin DSC_1664

Snow Leopard enclosure. Challenges: Dark subject against snow, outdoor natural light – cloudy, fast-moving subject, fencing.

My photo, zoomed in as far as possible (unable to get close enough to fence to place camera between links):

Craig’s Photo:

Snow Leopard DSC_1920

Yeah, I’m jealous.

Endless Loop Diving

January 20, 2011

Here’s a cool video of an “endless loop” of  swimmers diving from the high platform:

Live Scorpion Christmas Ornament

December 23, 2010

Via 22 Words – So cool!

22 Words has given me quite a few laughs over the past couple of days, and I’ve wanted to repost just about EVERYTHING that he has had up lately.  But instead of doing that, I’d thought I’d post the link to his website. 

Click here to visit

22 Words

He has a lot of thought-provoking short videos and stories, amusing pictures, AND he’s in Minneapolis, so he posts local (for me, anyway) interest stories and pics.  Popular topics seem to be arts and entertainment, poking fun at the human race, talking about his family and language/vocabulary.

Lab Supply Gingerbread Houses

December 16, 2010

A small group of us at work gathered together to celebrate the holidays.  A coworker and I planned the event and we decided to have a contest around building gingerbread houses…made of lab supplies! 

We supplied the glue guns, the cardboard bases and the little blue and green plastic squares (the first person who can tell me what they are will win my admiration and a hand-drawn picture by me!  Of course a drawing by me is more of a punishment than a prize…).  Five groups of two participated, and these are the results.

Now, it is important to remember that one can be a scientist AND an artist.  Indeed, I think science can open our eyes to beauty and elegance in all types of environments and situations which might otherwise go unnoticed. 

Ahem.  All types of environments.  Yeah…


Update: 12/23/10

I finally got around to drawing MPM’s prize for being the first one to correctly identify the blue/green plates in the pictures above.  His answer is in the comments.


August 5, 2010

Okay, back at the travel-blogging!

Last Tuesday was another outing day – we decided to go to Florence (Firenze).  We left Perugia and took an hour-or-so train ride into the huge Florence rail station.  The first thing I noticed as we left the station was the speed of the city.  We had spent the past week in a (relatively) small Italian hill town, and now we had landed in a hustling, bustling metropolis of street vendors, tour groups, business people, students, restaurants with menus in two to four languages, souvenier shops and tabachhis.  One of the upsides of being in a touristy area like this was that more people had a familiarity with English, so among the chaos we were able to communicate a little more easily for directions and navigating menus.

A street vendor selling…small camera stands?

The Duomo, or more properly, the Basilica of Santa Maria di Fiore (since duomo is a generic Italian term for a cathedral) is probably one of the most notable attractions in Florence.  There are three buildings located in the Piazza del Duomo, including the Baptistery (octagonal and ginormous), the bell tower (tall and ginormous), and the main cathedral (ginormous with a big dome). 

Baptistery in the foreground, the bell tower, the facade of the main cathedral, the doors of the baptistery, a representation of God near the top of the cathedral facade, the dome of the cathedral (Mom in the foreground), another view of the bell tower and the length of the cathedral.

I wanted to go to the top of the Duomo to look over the city, but…

So, this entire trip I was craving fried calamari.  Don’t ask me why foods fried in wheat product don’t upset my stomach like other gluten-containing products, but they don’t.  I never eat too much fried food because the fear of being decimated by gastric upset is great, but not so great that I completely eschew fried calamari.  So it was with great delight that I discovered that the World’s Best Fast Food Calamari is located in Florence, Italy.  I give you: Re Calamaro!.  Even the fast food in Italy kicks American food’s butt!  Yum, yum, yum.

Another famous area of Florence is the Palazzo degli Uffizi, a palace that houses the Uffizi Gallery.  The gallery contains words by da Vinci, Boticelli, Michelangelo, Rafael, Caravaggio and many other famous artists.  The Uffizi requires reservations (or a five-hour wait in line in July), so we chose not to go inside, but outside of the Uffizi in the Piazza della Signoria are many incredible statues. 

Under the Loggia dei Lanzi (the set of three arches alongside one edge of the Piazza della Signoria) is one of my favorite statues, Perseus with the head of Medusa.  The detail is mind-boggling; one expects Perseus will step down from his pedestal to show you the final death throes of Medusa’s serpentine locks.

I call this piece Big scary dog, indifferent pigeon.

We all have our tourist moments.  This was (one of) mine.


Over the  River Arno (Fiume Arno)



Mom and the Hubby on a bridge overlooking the Arno toward the Ponte Vecchio, close up of the Ponte Vecchio, buildings along the Arno, a view of the Uffizi and Galileo Science History Museum from the opposite bank.

We saw locks all over Florence; we figured it was a habit to leave your bike lock hooked to your “parking space”.  But outside of the Uffizi we overheard a tour guide explaining that the tradition is you leave a lock in Florence and your true love will find you.  Another blog site, Students in Europe, has a different story:

It turns out the locks are a tradition in Florence. Couples bring a lock and lock it to the chains, then throw the key into the river as a declaration of the strength and eternity of their love. As I looked closer, I saw that many of the locks had the lovers’ names or initials written or inscribed on them.

Here is one of the chains near the Ponte Vecchio covered with wishes for, or declarations of, true love. 


There was a ton of motor traffic in Florence.  Like Perugia and Rome, scooters and small motorcycles appeared to dominate the vehicular traffic in Florence.  This is a street along the Arno River chock-full of parked bikes.

I love this video I took of Italian drivers and their odd relationship with stop signs.  Or, lack thereof:

Florence was a day trip – we were in town a mere six hours or so, and look at all we saw!  It was a beautiful, exciting city, and I would definitely spend more time there if the opportunity presented itself.