This pretty much sums up my world view.

"Our World Needs You" from Indexed by Jessica Hagy (All Rights Reserved; Used with Permission)

“Our World Needs You” from Indexed by Jessica Hagy (All Rights Reserved; Used with Permission)

Like STEM and STEAM, SHTEAM is a lousy acronym; but it is infinitely preferable to the SHAT ME option.

Art of Science: Kelly Heaton’s Pollination Is Not Just for Plants

Detail from Kelly Heaton, The Beekeeper, 2015. Kinetic sculpture made with steel, cast resin, brass, electronics, wood and paint.

Detail from Kelly Heaton, The Beekeeper, 2015. Kinetic sculpture made with steel, cast resin, brass, electronics, wood and paint.

Kelly Heaton’s new exhibition, Pollination, uses the central motif of plant sex to explore subjects from the scientific (colony collapse disorder) to the romantic (human sexual attraction), to the technological (the spread of ideas). And she uses a dizzying array of media to do it.

The show, at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York through October 24, is dominated by The Beekeeper, a huge kinetic sculpture in which bees fly around an illuminated honeycomb rooted in a landscape of floral electronics.

Heaton also created eight perfumes for the exhibition. Bee The Flower is an “artist’s toolbox” for painting your body with perfume and “pollen.” The perfumes, which visitors can smell, include one made from bee-friendly plants and one actually extracted from dollar bills.

Other works in the show include paintings, pastels and sculptures exploring ideas about the changing world of agricultural production and about humans’ “infestation” by electronics.

If you can’t make it to New York to see Pollination, Heaton, who has degrees in both art and science, has also written a book about the show, which is available on Amazon. You can see more of her work on her website.

Science for the People: Fact Checking Elections

sftp-square-fistonly-whitebgThis week we’re back at the intersection of science and politics, comparing economic data to partisan talking points and polling predictions to election results. We’ll talk to Jim Stanford, economist at Unifor, about his report “Rhetoric & Reality: Evaluating Canada’s Economic Record Under the Harper Government.” And we’ll speak to pollster and consultant Donna Dasko about the science and art of polling in Canadian federal elections.

Finally, don’t forget to support the Science for the People Patreon Campaign to keep the sciencey goodness flowing toward your ear holes.

Support Your Local Podcaster

There are those groups where you keep wondering why they let you in. I’m not talking about impostor syndrome (I went to graduate school – I know that of which I speak), but the kind of group where you are pretty sure folks know exactly who/what you are and they let you stick around anyway. Maybe it was an older sibling letting you tag along when you were younger. Maybe it was a pick-up basketball team that doesn’t care about your lousy jump shot. Maybe it is your life partner.

If we exclude my partner (what was she thinking?), my “that group” is Science for the People*. Starting in 2010, I gradually migrated from fan, to brief guest, to occasional source of information, to official team member. I still maintain that I have the easiest job on the crew.

That is why I’m so pleased that we have launched the Science for the People Patreon CampaignScience for the People has been a labor of love by the entire team for years. The Patreon Campaign is designed to make it possible for those that labor the hardest on producing Science for the People can keep producing the best science podcast** you can find.

*Here, I am in the position to make people put up with me, the poor bastards.
**Conflict of interest disclosure.

Art of Science: The Shigir Idol is Older than Stonehenge, Just as Mysterious

The Shigir Idol Photo: The Siberian Times

The Shigir Idol
Photo: The Siberian Times

Most of the oldest surviving art in the world is made of stone. But scientists now believe that the Shigir Idol, a huge, enigmatic wooden sculpture found in a peat bog in Russia in 1890, is twice as old as the pyramids at Giza.

The Idol, which once stood about 15 feet tall, depicts a man with many faces and an elaborate pattern of carved lines.

The sculpture was carbon-dated in 1997 and determined to be about 9,500 years old. However, many scientists disputed the findings, so curators at the Sverdlovsk Museum decided to submit samples for re-testing.

A lab in Germany conducted tests using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry on seven tiny wooden samples. The results indicated the idol was in fact about 11,000 years old, from the early Holocene epoch.  It was carved from a larch tree using stone tools.

Professor Mikhail Zhilin, of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archeology, told the Siberian Times: “We study the Idol with a feeling of awe.  The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol.” While the sculpture’s carvings remain “an utter mystery to modern man,” Zhilin said the Idol’s creators “lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world.”