Category Archives: The Art of Science

The Art of Science: Claire Moynihan’s Beautiful Bugs

Dragonfly by Claire Moynihan, Mixed Media, 2012

Dragonfly Ball by Claire Moynihan, Mixed Media, 2012

British textile artist Claire Moynihan riffs on traditional insect collections with her “bug balls” – tiny hand-embroideries of insects on felted wool balls. Moynihan uses a variety of embroidery techniques and materials which allow her to produce highly dimensional effects. She then mounts the balls in cases like old-fashioned entomological collections – or perhaps boxes of candies. She exhibits her work at art fairs and through Byard Art in Cambridge, England.

Claire Moynihan, Moth Balls II, Mixed Media, 2013

Claire Moynihan, Moth Balls II, Mixed Media, 2013

The Art of Science: Density Fluctuations

Crustacean 11

Ellyn Weiss, Unidentified Specimen, Wax and Pigment

Concepts of time and change center the work of three artists in a show entitled Density Fluctuations that opened yesterday at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. The exhibition features work inspired by physics and biology by Shanthi Chandrasekar, Stephen Schiff and Ellyn Weiss in a variety of media. Chandrasekar, who studied physics before becoming a painter, explores the differences in the understanding of time as expressed in science and myth. Stephen Schiff morphs photographs, starting with images of nature and multiplying them and reconfiguring them like cells to create new, complex geometries. Ellyn Weiss uses layers of wax and pigment to create her imagined versions of creatures discovered by science as layers of ice melt. The intriguing shapes of her sculptures hint at unknown species of animals or strange mineral deposits. Together, the work of these three beguiling artists in approaching such heady topics is sure to provide plenty of food for thought.

Density Fluctuations is on display at the American Center for Physics until April 2015. More information is here.

Shanthi Chandrasekar, Chakra-Neer, Acrylic on Canvas

Shanthi Chandrasekar, Chakra-Neer, Acrylic on Canvas

The Art of Science: Beautiful Chemistry


Today is Chemistry Nobel day, so it’s a perfect time to spotlight a new site that explores the beauty of chemistry though ultra-high-definition videos and interactive graphics. Beautiful Chemistry is a collaborative project by the University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University Press.

The Beautiful Reactions section features videos taken with a 4K UltraHD camera and special lenses to capture chemical reactions in remarkable detail.  The Beautiful Structures page uses computer graphics and interactive technology to showcase some of the most classic and beautiful chemical structures, including crystals, DNA and amorphous solids.

Beautiful Chemistry, which launched last month, hopes to use digital media and technology “to bring the beauty and wonder from the chemistry world to a wide audience. In addition, we want to achieve a unique aesthetic of chemistry, making chemistry approachable and lovable.” You can find more information on the video techniques and coming attractions on the Beautiful Chemistry blog.


Darwin bench

This past summer, several famous British books were scattered across London, in the shape of benches. The “Books about Town” benches were grouped in different trails, to make it easy to walk past all of them on a few walks, and still I didn’t manage to catch more than one bench in the wild before all of the benches were removed and prepared to be auctioned off.

Thankfully, the University of London kindly arranged to have all of the benches displayed for one last weekend, all together in Gordon Square Garden. Finally a chance to see them all!

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I photographed the Paddington bench and the Neverwhere bench, and fifteen others, including  some of books I didn’t know, but I managed to forget to take a snap of the one science book in the collection: Darwin’s On The Origin of Species. Here’s the official photo from the site instead:


Today, this bench, and all the others, will be auctioned off. Having seen similar projects in other cities, I suspect that some of the benches will be bought by organisations that will display them to the public again. I hope the Darwin bench gets a good home, so that you can visit it – wherever it will be next.

The Lovelace & Babbage Countdown Begins

"The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage" by Sydney Padua (All Rights Reserved; Adapted with Permission)

“The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage” by Sydney Padua (All Rights Reserved; Adapted with Permission)

If you were the NSA and “asked” for my order history, you would discover that I almost never pre-order anything. I am not an early adopter. I like to let other people sort out the bugs and kinks before wading in.

I said “almost never” for a reason. The exception is Sydney Padua’s new book, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage, which is scheduled for release in April 2015. The book is based on the adventures of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage as described in the webcomic of the same name at 2D Goggles.

Why pre-order? Well, one, won’t you feel stupid if they run out? You will. Two, pre-orders can help those “bestseller” list numbers, depending on the list and how they tally things up. Robust pre-order numbers certainly are good for the author’s fragile psyche. Three, you will probably forget you ordered it by April. So, when it arrives, it will be like Christmas in April – four months late or eight months early, depending on the kind of person you are.

Go. Now. Don’t make me judge you.