Seeing Science!





Katherine Johnson, NASA Physicist.

All of these are from Seeing Science, and there’s so much there! They also have a marvelous timeline, which starts in 1021:



Alhazan (965–1040), an Arab physicist, publishes the 7-volume Book of Optics, in which the pinhole camera and camera obscura are described. Leonardo da Vinci doesn’t show up until 1508.

There’s so much to explore! Seeing Science. * Seeing Science at Hyperallergic.

Batman Pushes Up Daisies, New in Comics.


Cover for Batman #48. Cover illustrated by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and Francisco Perez. Photo courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Written by Scott Snyder, pencils by Greg Capullo, ink by Danny Miki, colors by Francisco Perez.

Everyone thinks Bruce Wayne died (gasp!) with the Joker (double gasp!) a few years back, so the mantle of Batman is held by Commissioner Gordon. With this wildly striking cover by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and Francisco Perez, issue #48 revolves around a new villain named Mr. Bloom. Mr. Bloom is a giant plant-creature whose seeds are churning up the bodies in Gotham. As he snatches Commissioner Gordon in his titan grasp, Bruce has to decide if it’s finally time to come out of hiding. The artwork in this issue is unsettling, with Mr. Bloom portrayed as a garden variety “Slenderman,” and the writing (though monologue-heavy) does a good job of asking hard questions about equality among citizens.

Cover for Captain Marvel #1. Cover illustrated by Kris Anka. Photo courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Cover for Captain Marvel #1. Cover illustrated by Kris Anka. Photo courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Written by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, art by Kris Anka, colors by Matthew Wilson

Carol Danvers, a.k.a., Captain Marvel, got supernatural powers after an alien ship explosion. Now she’s a tough-as-hell badass who talks smack and punches things very hard. In this first issue of her new series, Captain Marvel takes a job with an intergalactic defense force. Her first order of business? Punching asteroids. The writing by Fazekas and Butters (showrunners and writers for Marvel’s Agent Carter on ABC) is snappy, crisp, and playful. The art by Anka showcases characters of all different shapes and sizes, and shows them all as equally capable. And Wilson’s coloring takes a cue from Guardians of the Galaxy, with glowing neons contrasting against solid primaries. Captain Marvel #1 is firmly set in the sci-fi world, but it’s a great jumping-in point for new fans.

Also new in comics this week, Copra #1 and Immolation #1. Read all about them at The Creators Project!

400 Sparkling Nipples.



In a new artistic statement against censorship, this time in response to Facebook’s anti-nipple legislation, the Madrid-based artistic group Luzinterruptus lit 400 plastic breastfeeding nipples with LEDs at the entrance of Facebook’s Madrid headquarters. For an hour, the 400 nipples shone brightly outside of the office, beautifully illuminating the sidewalk and reminding passersby of just how harmless nipples are.


The project took five hours to set up and was removed completely after the exhibition was finished. Luzinterruptus wrote on their website that they now have 400 nipples available for any artists who would like to install a related project. And, it is possible that this project will morph into related anti-censorship statements, just as Luzinterruptus’ environmentalist projects have continued to make powerful statements about global warming in different incarnations, filling the fountain in Trafalgar Square with glowing garbage and raining condoms.

In addition to protesting the censorship of Facebook policies, Luzinterruptus wants to call attention to other elements of the restrictive policies. Specifically, they are reacting to what they see as a hypocritical stance on potentially disturbing images. While Facebook removes photographs of breastfeeding women, they allow violence, racism, and misogynistic content to roam free. Finally, Luzinterruptus wants to make viewers aware of the third-world workers who they believe are exploited by Facebook to as they work for very low wages to censor Facebook content. Even in reactions to the installation, Luzinterruptus has seen backlash. “Many magazines commented that they couldn’t publish articles [about the installation] because of editorial politics,” Luzinterruptus tells the Creators Project. The reactions to the installation have shown the artistic group just how much influence Facebook has. Will 2017 be the year we finally #freethenipple? We’ll have to wait and see.

The Creators Project has the full story.

Hengki Koentjoro: Miksang.

All images © Hengki Koentjoro.

All images © Hengki Koentjoro.

Born in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia, fine art photographer Hengki Koentjoro is best known for his breathtaking landscape photography of Indonesia amidst the shades of black and white.

Through his work, Koentjoro discusses his true purpose in life’s journey of expression, exploring along the borderlines of light and shadow, such as yin and yang. His focus lies on complexity in the minimalist, diving into the spiritual and the physical.
Koentjoro exerts Miksang, a special form of photography in which the artist uses the camera to express his visual perceptions exactly as he experiences them. Translated from the Tibetan, Miksang means “good eye”, asking the beholder to see the world in a new way, without overlays of meaning and value, pleasure, dislike, or disinterest. Miksang photography tends to bring the observer back into the original contemplation state of the artist’s picture. By bringing our mind’s attention, our awareness, in our sense of sight, it is possible for us to see vivid and mind stopping insights fully and completely without distraction. If this state is reached, the beholder connects with what he sees deeply and intimately.




Born and bred amongst thousands of Indonesian islands, Hengki Koentjoro is a Californian-educated fine art photographer who finds solace in the monochromatic realm. A platform towards an idealism he believes to be his true purpose in life’s journey of expression. Follow Hengki clicking his cameras away, here.

Get lost in thoughts.

Hengki Koentjoro at iGNANT.

Alice King Chatham.

A helmet from the 1961 Mercury spacesuit. The space helmet wouldn’t be the same had it not been for Alice King Chatham’s contributions. NASA.

A helmet from the 1961 Mercury spacesuit. The space helmet wouldn’t be the same had it not been for Alice King Chatham’s contributions. NASA.

Who is the real Alice King Chatham, sculptor of helmets worn by monkey astronauts?

That was the question posed to a panel of four celebrities—one of whom was Betty White—in the August 31, 1964 episode of the game show To Tell The Truth. The host, Bud Collyer, presented three people to the panel, all of whom claimed to be King Chatham.

Straight out of the past, here’s that episode of To Tell the Truth. I remember watching that show when I was a sproglet. King Chatham is the last contestant.

During the height of 1960s space and flight exploration in the United States, Alice King Chatham worked behind the scenes creating partial-pressure pilot suits, test dummies, oxygen masks, space beds, and helmets for NASA and the U.S. Air Force. She even helped design suits for the television show Star Trek.

In the early 1940s, King Chatham was working as an artist and sculptor when she was recruited by the Air Force to help make the first successful oxygen breathing masks worn by all American World War II pilots. She was involved in an array of major experiments, studies, and projects, from creating space helmets for the 1963 first man-in-space program Project Mercury to designing prototype suits for monkeys that flew in the Aerobee sub-orbital rocket tests during the 1940s.

It was not uncommon for female artists to be recruited into the U.S. Army for their skills during wartime. Around 1943, King Chatham had been sculpting ducks, dogs, and horses at the Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio, when she received a request from the head of the anthropology unit at Wright Field’s Aero-Medical Laboratory, Francis Randall. “As an artist and sculptress she understood the human body,” reported Lee Street for The Baltimore Sun in 1953.


King Chatham became an expert of the flight helmet and the lab’s equipment specialist for personal protective gear. She is credited with developing a new pressure helmet that improved an iteration of the 1946 S-1 pressure flight suits, and special ear counter-pressure devices.

Scientists came to King Chatham with a list of different criteria for different kinds of helmets—one with a breathing tube, a microphone, and an opening for liquid feeding. She would, over several months, fashion experimental models out of rubber, plastics, and fabrics.

 “The professional men at the Laboratory admit they don’t know how she does it,” Street wrote.

The full story of King Chatham’s contributions is at Atlas Obscura.

The Best Bookstore Ever.


A bookstore you can sleep in. My dream come true. The Book & Bed Hostel is established in Tokyo, with another one now in Kyoto. Your sleep cubicle comes equipped with an outlet, a light, a privacy curtain, clothes hangers, and a wireless connection. There’s also beer.


Book & Bed is a self-described “accommodation bookshop” with beds built into bookshelves. When the first Tokyo location opened last year, bibliophiles were obviously overjoyed because, for the first time, it was socially acceptable to wander into a bookshop, pick up a book, and then doze off to sleep. Now, the popular concept hotel is getting a 2nd location in Kyoto.



beds are embedded into bookshelves and surrounded by over 5000 books.

Rates are low and start at just 4,445 yen (about $40) for a compact bed. But if you’re a light sleeper, or privacy is your big thing, the Book & Bed hostel may not be for you. Sleeping areas are semi-private with just a curtain separating you from other book dwellers. And bathroom areas are shared too. In fact, the bookshop hostel doesn’t promise “a good night’s sleep.” Instead, the promise “the finest moment of sleep”: dozing off in the middle of your treasured pastime, immersed in books.




Book & Bed.

Book & Bed on Instagram.

I think I’d want to stay…for always. What a wonderful idea. Via Spoon & Tamago.


NOTE: this post is stickied, there is new content!


© C. Ford. All rights reserved.

There will be no politics here today. No reporting of ugly people doing ugly things. No evil assholes. Today, I’m going to ignore reality, and dive into all the good things, art, photography, cool stuff, neat science, the whimsical, geeky, fun, and informative, all that. If you’re paying attention to reality today, and need a break, I’ll do my best to provide one, all day long.

Budget Slasher Horror.


© Jorgel007, via

Trump is preparing his own slasher flick, featuring The Budget. Most Trumpoids won’t care, they will most likely cheer this massacre on, but those of us who cherish things like art, social justice, education, the environment, because our earth sustains us, and other commie hippie stuff are in for a very bad ride. As per usual in the rethug agenda, anyone who isn’t rich is gonna get screwed.

Incoming President Donald Trump’s administration is already working on preparing his budget. And it looks like it will be far more extreme than anything the Republican Party has proposed so far.

The blueprint Trump’s team is working with as it crafts the plan would cut federal government spending by $10.5 trillion over a decade, according to The Hill’s sources.


To get such deep cuts, the Trump budget contemplates completely eliminating a number of programs, particularly at the Departments of Energy, Justice, State, Commerce, and Transportation.

On the chopping block, according to The Hill, would be the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Department of Justice’s Legal Services Corporation and Violence Against Women Grants; funding for the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Electricity, and Office of Fossil Energy, among others.

It’s likely many other programs will be cut as well, even if they aren’t eliminated entirely. […] But if the House Republican budget is any guide, programs that serve the most needy are likely to be in danger. That proposal derived 62 percent of its cuts from low-income programs, such as food stamps and Pell grants, even though those programs account for just 28 percent of non-defense spending.

Think Progress has the full story.

The Fine Art of Calling Bullshit.

Carl T. Bergstrom (left) and Jevin West, of the U. of Washington, want to teach students how to survive the avalanche of false or misleading data shaken loose by shifts in media, technology, and politics.

Carl T. Bergstrom (left) and Jevin West, of the U. of Washington, want to teach students how to survive the avalanche of false or misleading data shaken loose by shifts in media, technology, and politics.

Facts and figures are like cow pastures. Unless you squint, you can’t always tell how full of bullshit they are.

Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin West, a pair of scientists at the University of Washington, think it’s time to arm students with boots and shovels. They have published the outline of a course, titled “Calling Bullshit,” which would try to teach how to spot bad data and misleading graphs at a time when bending statistics has become a popular art form.

“Pending approval from the administrative powers-that-be at the University of Washington, we hope to offer the seminar in the near future,” they wrote on a website they built for the course. “In the meantime, connoisseurs of bullshit may enjoy the course syllabus, readings, and case studies that we have lovingly curated.”

The Chronicle caught up with Mr. Bergstrom, a biologist, and Mr. West, an information scientist, to talk about their course.

The full interview is here. All I can say is that we need these courses everywhere. On street corners, even.

I notice a poster of a squid over the door – this must be a Cthulhuian plot!

What Art Under Trump?



Margaret Atwood has an excellent article up at The Nation about the chill which is already sweeping over the artistic community at large. Atwood is no stranger to dystopian scenarios, but thankfully, those were fiction. We may well be facing an artistic dystopia very soon.

Of what use is art? It’s a question often asked in societies where money is the prime measure of worth, usually by people who do not understand art—and therefore dislike it and the artists who make it. Now, however, the question is being posed by artists themselves.

For American writers and other artists, there’s a distinct chill in the air. Strongmen have a well-earned reputation for suppression and for demanding fawning tributes: “Suck up or shut up” has been their rule. During the Cold War, many writers, filmmakers, and playwrights received visits from the FBI on suspicion of “un-American activities.” Will that history be repeated? Will self-censorship set in? Could we be entering an age of samizdat in the United States, with manuscripts circulating secretly because publishing them would mean inviting reprisal? That sounds extreme, but considering America’s own history—and the wave of authoritarian governments sweeping the globe—it’s not out of the question.

In the face of such uncertainties and fears, the creative communities of the United States are nervously urging one another not to surrender without a fight: Don’t give up! Write your book! Make your art!

But what to write or make? Fifty years from now, what will be said about the art and writing of this era?


In the short run, perhaps all we can expect 
from artists is only what we have always expected. As once-solid certainties crumble, it may be enough to cultivate your own artistic garden—to do what you can as well as you can for as long as you can do it; to create alternate worlds that offer both temporary escapes and moments of insight; to open windows in the given world that allow us to see outside it.

With the Trump era upon us, it’s the artists and writers who can remind us, in times of crisis or panic, that each one of us is more than just a vote, a statistic. Lives may be deformed by politics—and many certainly have been—but we are not, finally, the sum of our politicians. Throughout history, it has been hope for artistic work that expresses, for this time and place, as powerfully and eloquently as possible, what it is to be human.

This is a do not miss article. Outstanding, and highly recommended.

Nano Lord Voldemort.


Auburn Engineering graduate student Armin VahidMohammadi won first place in a national research organization’s Science as Art competition for his depiction of an engineered nanomaterial as a character from the “Harry Potter” movie series.

VahidMohammadi, a doctoral student in materials engineering, created a digitally enhanced image of his research that bears a resemblance to Lord Voldemort, the villain in the “Harry Potter” series. After submitting the image for consideration to the Materials Research Society’s Science as Art competition, he won first place out of 168 submissions. The award comes with a $400 cash prize.

“I am honored to have my work showcased and recognized by such a prestigious organization,” VahidMohammadi said. “It was exciting that the competition allowed me to connect materials science with popular culture in a way that the general public can appreciate.”

Held since 2006, the Science as Art competition offers materials engineers and students the opportunity to transform their research into images renowned for their aesthetic qualities.

Using a scanning electron microscope, VahidMohammadi was examining particles of an engineered nanomaterial when he noticed a particular particle that resembled Lord Voldemort. He colorized the image and digitally enhanced it by adding eyes and teeth.

The particle pictured is known as Ti2C, which is a member of a family of two-dimensional, layered materials called MXenes. Ti2C has a wide array of applications, including as electrode materials for batteries and supercapacitors. The particle shown in the image is five microns in length, or roughly 10 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Very cool work, this! It would make a great poster.


The Glass Room.

The Glass Room installation view. All photos courtesy of Tactical Technology Collective and the artists.

The Glass Room installation view. All photos courtesy of Tactical Technology Collective and the artists.

The Glass Room, a pop-up exhibition organized by Tactical Technology Collective, a Berlin-based non-profit working to promote technological activism, done in collaboration with Mozilla, the non-profit behind the popular web browser of the same name.

The glitzy and pristine white space was filled to the brim with tech-inflected artworks, many of which were disguised as objects you would typically find in a high-end tech store. But the sterile appearance was ultimately a façade; there was no consumer tech for sale within the space. The works were joined by the desire to expose viewers to the malicious underbelly of the wonderfully convenient Information Age.


Separated into different categories depending on the type of issues explored in the works, the pieces were as compelling as they were harrowing. Forgot your password? by Aram Bartholl consists of a series of books where the artist compiled the 4.6 million passwords leaked by Linkedin in 2012 within their pages.


Located in the Data Detox Bar section of the exhibition, Julian Olivier and Danja Vasiljev’s Newstweek is a device that manipulates online news headlines that you don’t like or don’t fit your narrative into ones that are more “appropriate” to your sensibilities.


In Unfitbit by Surya Mattu and Tega Brain, a FitBit is attached to objects like a metronome or a drill to trick the device into thinking you are working out, thus selling fake, inaccurate data to your health insurance that hopefully lowers your premium.


The Glass Room was inspired by two things: First, a desire to make the questions raised by living in a data society tangible and accessible using real projects, humor, and good design. Secondly, to use the language of commerce as a way to critique our enthusiasm for new technologies,” says Stephanie Hankey, a co-founder of Tactical Technology Collective and an organizer of the event.


Although The Glass Room has already concluded, full documentation of the works can be found on the project’s website, along with a series of informative resources, and a hilarious 8-day “Data Detox Kit” meant to cleanse you of your over-connectivity and oversharing tendencies.

Check out more of Tactical Technology Collective’s projects and exhibitions here.

You can see and read more at The Creators Project. I wish I could have seen this one in person, it’s bloody brilliant.