Tour The International Space Station.

Float in space w/ new @Google Street View of @Space_Station! See Where crew exercise, conduct @ISS_Research + more: bit.ly/2uMmTif

Very cool!

Via Raw Story.

Conservation Lab: Glass Flowers.

Scott Fulton working on a model of an Emperor Alexander apple affected by apple scab disease: Malus pumila (Model 813).

Luffa cylindrica (Model 272), Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, 1892. The Archives of Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka and The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, Harvard University © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

You can read all about this fascinating restoration at The Creators Project.

The Birth of Milk Bones.

Spratt’s ad, c. 1876 Public Domain.

The first dog biscuits did not resemble the bone-shaped delights of today. Developed by James Spratt in 1860, these so-called Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes were woefully square.

Spratt, an American electrician, came up with the idea for a dog biscuit after he witnessed sailors dropping hardtack—an unleavened bread—for the local dogs. He decided he could do the same—and monetize it. His flagship company, Spratt’s, was founded soon after. Their lead product, the Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes, were developed from a combination of wheat, beetroot, vegetables, and prairie meat. (The particular kind of meat in Spratt’s formula was apparently highly confidential; until his death, Spratt “kept in his hands the contract for his meat supplier.”)

At the time, the concept of a food specifically for dogs was alien. According to Katherine C. Grier, author of Pets in America, “until well into the 20th century, most household dogs lived off scraps from the kitchen, often cooked with a starch into something that people called ‘dog stew.’” But by the late 1800s, Spratt’s had shuttled dog biscuits into the mainstream—especially for dog show contestants. In 1895, the New York Times labeled Spratt’s a “principal food” of dog shows.

Spratt’s success soon spawned competition.

Over a decade later, in 1907, organic chemist Carleton Ellis received an urgent request. The owner of a local slaughterhouse was having problems with all of his excess “waste milk,” and he wanted Ellis to help him find a use for it. Ellis would eventually accrue over 753 inventions to his name and would serve as the force behind the creation of margarine, polyester, paint and varnish remover, and anti-knock gasoline. If he found the milk request odd, he did not show it. He agreed to help.

Likely inspired by Spratt’s, Ellis decided to turn the waste into food for his dog. After some experimentation, Ellis mixed the excess milk with malt, grain, and other products to form a dog biscuit—baked into what he assumed would be an appealing, rounded shape.

But when he tested the biscuits, his dog refused to eat them.

Ellis was frustrated. Clearly, the biscuit should have tasted great to a dog. He was a MIT graduate; he knew perhaps more than anyone at the time about the compounds in petroleums, oils, and varnishes. He had authored such dense, technical manuals as Hydrogenation of Oils Catalyze and The Chemical Action of Ultraviolet Rays for biscuit’s sake! Developing a treat that a dog would eat should not have provided this much of a challenge.

So he decided to do something strange: he changed the design of the biscuit rather than the ingredients. “I had some more biscuits baked from the same stock, but in the shape of a bone,” he told Popular Science in 1937, “and I found that my dog manifested a tremendous interest in the bone-shaped biscuit.”

You can read more about the origin of milk bones here. Oddly enough, I’ve always ended up with dogs who have never been terribly interested in Milk Bones.

Relics of A Cold War Satellite Program.

Julie Anand and Damon Sauer, “Calibration Mark AD48 with Satellites,” from Ground Truth: Corona Landmarks (courtesy the artists).

Strange colossal shapes dot the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, x-shaped relics of a once top-secret Cold War spying project. Known as the Corona program, the surveillance initiative by the CIA and US Air Force involved using satellites to take aerial photographs of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. The cameras on these satellites were calibrated with concrete crosses 60 feet in diameter. Their exposed 70mm film was later jettisoned in space, the parachuting capsules caught in mid-air by plane. The calibration markers helped assure that the film was in focus, and that there was a landscape measure to accurately assess the size of pictured objects.

Approximately 256 of these markers were placed on a 16-square-mile grid in Arizona, spaced a mile apart. Long after Corona’s end and its declassification in 1995, around 100 remain. Phoenix-based artists Julie Anand and Damon Sauer have spent three years tracking them down for a project called Ground Truth: Corona Landmarks.

You can read all about this, and see more at Hyperallergic.

Religious Shroomin’ and Snorting Chocolate.

Photograph: Fredrik Skold/Alamy.

Researchers are once again feeding shrooms of the magic kind to religious leaders, well, some of them anyway. I noticed a glaring absence of a representative of the Religious Reich. I have no idea why this is being done, it’s already been done, back in the psychedelic ’60s. Pretty much the same response of anyone who has their first experience with shrooms: “Cool, man, cool.” Of course, it if persuades any of the religious to mellow the fuck out, it’s all good. Shrooms have always had a mild effect on me, but it’s one of the sweetest rushes on the planet. We’d all probably be happier naked apes more likely to put energies into play rather than war, if we were all allowed a pocketful of shrooms. I wouldn’t mind a pocketful of shrooms.

The Guardian has the full story.

On the naked apes behaving stupidly department, we have a new thing, snorting cacao.

Now meet Coco Loko, a “snortable” chocolate powder being marketed as a drug-free way to get a buzz. The product, created by Orlando-based company Legal Lean, includes cacao powder, as well as gingko biloba, taurine and guarana, which are commonly found in energy drinks.

Nick Anderson, the 29-year-old founder of Legal Lean, says he heard about a “chocolate-snorting trend” in Europe a few months ago. He ordered a sample and gave it a try.

“At first, I was like, ‘Is this a hoax?,’” he recalled. “And then I tried it and it was like, okay, this is the future right here.”

Yeah, okay, whatever. All I thought when I first saw this was “fuck, that sounds messy.” Might give brown nose a whole new meaning. My second thought was “I wonder how many people are gonna die.” True chocolate allergies are rare, and most all of them involve raw cacao. Those allergies are most often anaphylactic in nature, also. I think everyone would be better off with a light menu of shrooms.

The Washington Post has the story.

The Lady of Cao.

A replica of The Lady of Cao face, a female mummy found at the archaeological site Huaca El Brujo, a grand pyramid of the ancient Moche pre-hispanic culture, is seen at the Ministry of Culture in Lima, Peru July 4, 2017. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo.

The discovery of the Lady of Cao’s mummified remains in 2005 shattered the belief that the ancient Moche society, which occupied the Chicama Valley from about 100 to 700 A.D., was patriarchal. Several Moche female mummies have been found since in graves with objects denoting a high political and religious standing.

Archaeologists believe the Lady of Cao died due to complications of childbirth but otherwise lived a healthy life.

Her arms and legs were covered with tattoos of snakes, spiders and other supernatural motifs. Discovered near her funerary bundle was a strangled adolescent, who might have been a sacrifice to guide her into the afterlife, according to the museum at the El Brujo archaeological site where she was found.

The Lady of Cao is a reminder of the complex societies that thrived in what is now Peru long before the Inca empire dominated the Andes or Europeans arrived in the Americas.

The Moche built irrigation canals to grow crops in the desert and were known for their ceramics and goldwork that have been looted from their gravesites.

The replica of the Lady of Cao, a collaboration that included archaeologists, the Wiese Foundation and global imaging company FARO Technologies Inc, will be displayed in Peru’s culture ministry in the capital Lima through July 16. It will later be shown at the museum at El Brujo.

There’s more to read and see at Reuters.

Wild Horses Return to the Steppes.

A Przewalski’s horse leaves its container after being released in Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny.

A quarter-century-old project to repopulate the steppes of Mongolia with wild horses was kept alive as four animals made the long trip back to their ancestral home from Prague Zoo.

Driven to extinction in their homeland in the 1960s, the Przewalski’s horses survived in captivity before efforts began to re-introduce them to the arid desert and mountains along Mongolia’s border with China.

Zoos organized the first transport to Mongolia of the strong, stocky beasts in 1992.

For the past decade, Prague Zoo has been the only one continuing that tradition and it holds the studbook of a species whose ancestors – unlike other free-roaming horses such as the wild mustangs of the United States – were never domesticated.

The zoo completed its seventh transport last week, releasing four mares born in captivity in the Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark in the Gobi desert. They will spend the next year in an enclosed area to acclimatize before being freed.

“All the mares are looking very well, they are not hobbling, they are calm, eating hay and trying to test the taste of the new grass,” Prague Zoo veterinarian Roman Vodicka said after making observations a few days after the release.

Prague has released 27 horses in total and officials estimate around 190 are now back in the wild in the Gobi B park, where the most recent arrivals were sent.

What a wonderful project, one that fills my heart with happiness. There are many more photos at Reuters.

A 3,000 Year Old Prosthetic Device.

Toe prosthesis of a female burial from the Theban tomb TT95, early first millennium BCE (all photos by Matjaž Kačičnik, © University of Basel, LHTT).

About 3,000 years ago, a woman from Upper Egypt had her right big toe removed. Her anatomical anomaly may have been lost to time, had it not been for the discovery of her mummy in 1997, with a wooden toe still attached to the skeletal foot. Smoothly sculpted and complete with a neatly trimmed toenail, the artificial toe is likely one of the oldest prosthetic devices ever made. It has resided in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum since being excavated from its owner’s tomb near Luxor, but is currently undergoing new study by researchers from the museum, the University of Basel, and the University of Zurich.

Thanks to the team’s use of microscopy, X-ray technology, and computer tomography, we now have new insight into the toe’s functionality, materiality, and fabrication process. Like today’s prostheses, it was acutely tailored to its wearer — it was even refitted for her foot several times, the researchers found. More than a cosmetic accessory, the toe consists of three sections — two of wood, one of leather — and would have helped the woman walk, which attests to the skills of an artisan with intimate knowledge of human physiognomy.

“So far no prosthetic devices are known from this period,” Dr. Susanne Bickel, an Egyptologist at the University of Basel, told Hyperallergic. “The level of sophistication makes this a unique piece.”

[…]

Aside from wood, the toe was made with leather, rope, and textile bands, which its owner would have used to attach it to her foot. As Finch described, it features holes through which a series of bands tie its pieces together; it even has a hinge, perhaps to mimic the movement of the metatarsophalangeal joints. The woman would have even been able to wear it with sandals, and while it likely would have eased her mobility, it also would have helped her foot appear natural to others, at a glance.

“Balance might indeed have been an important reason for wearing such a device,” Bickel told Hyperallergic. “The idea of having a complete body, which was central to Ancient Egyptian minds, might have been a reason for seeking an aesthetic aspect to it.”

Hyperallergic has the full story.

Cool Stuff Friday.

Bamboo coral. Credit: Rob Zugaro.


Gorgeous red spiny crab. Credit: Rob Zugaro.

Last month, a team of 58 scientists from around the world embarked on 31 day oceanic voyage to research the ethereal life forms living at the bottom of the ocean off the Eastern coast of Australia. On May 15, the Sampling The Abyss team set out from Bell Bay in Launceston, Tasmania. During their month aboard the Marine National Facility research vessel, appropriately named Investigator, the crew visited seven different Commonwealth Marine Reserves, which are essentially National Parks for sea creatures, before returning to port in Brisbane mid-June.

The expedition was initiated by Museums Victoria in partnership with the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub, and a government research organization called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The goal of the trip was not only to document undiscovered sea life, but to research how they have adapted to harsh living conditions two-and-a-half miles below the ocean surface.

Check out a daily blog about the voyage here, and check out more videos on the Marine Biodiversity Hub’s YouTube Channel.

You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

For years Westerners have experimented with wearing traditional Japanese clothing like the kimono and jinbei. The results have, at best, been mixed. Let’s just say that it takes a certain type of non-Japanese man or women to wear a kimono without looking out of place. I for one, have never even felt the urge to try, that is until my recent encounter with the T-Kimono.

Check out the T-Kimono, a truly great alternative to the uptight Western suit.

Anyone who questions baking as an art form should look no further than the cookies made by Okashi no Kobito. Professional cookie artist Nobuyo Toyono began this enterprise creating edible masterpieces out of Osaka after graduating from confectionery vocational school (yes, there is such a thing). Using all-natural ingredients, Toyono designs, bakes, and ices each and every cookie by hand.

According to her website, Toyono pledges to “put her heart and soul into making colorful iced cookies that will make you smile.” Most incredibly, the eye-catching colors she uses in the icing are made from natural pigments: beets (red), spirulina algae (blue), beni imo potatoes (purple), gardenia (yellow & green), and cocoa (brown). Her creations are intricate and whimsical and so beautifully made that it’s almost a shame to eat them.

Check out her Instagram for even more examples of her confectionery handiwork.

Via Spoon & Tamago.

Ribbonesia.

Absolutely check out all the amazing work of Ribbonesia! You can see and read much more at Spoon & Tamago.

Aficionados of Microsoft’s Clippy can now have an enamel pin. The Creators Project has all the info.

Cool Stuff Friday.

Images courtesy the artists.

Take a few moments from your day to get acquainted with Botanica, a blend of music, art, and science.

In 2012, Italian music group Deproducers launched a project of science-related albums, with the first, Planetario, exploring the topic of astrophysics. For their second musical science project, Botanica, Deproducers brought back the design studio Super Symmetry to create a multimedia live performance that highlights the beauty and artistic wonder of plants by merging music and scientific data. All told, there are 30 videos for Botanica, exploring things like plant roots, psychoactivity, and deforestation, amongst other topics, by way of grids, video footage, graphics, information, generative animation, and other visuals. Like Data Garden’s bio-reactive installation, Quartet, Botanica elevates the natural wonder of plants to a plane equal with human creativity.

While Planetario featured a collaboration with astrophysicist Fabio Peri, Botanica includes a collaboration with botanist Stefano Mancuso. During the live show, before the band begins to play, Mancuso gives a brief “science lesson” about the songs, and how each of the topics are interlinked. For each live show, Super Symmetry is tasked with visually integrating the musical and scientific aspects of the project.

There is much, much more at The Creators Project.

We could all use more Mr. Rogers.

Install shot of Topophilia. Image courtesy Wyoming Art Party.

Check out the Wild Wombs of the West!

Martha Wilson performing as Donald Trump in “Art Rising” at Trump Tower.

And don’t miss the art protest performance which took place at Trump Tower.