Intergalactic Planetary

HD_40307g_20x30A few weeks ago, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) released a series of three retro-travel posters promoting the exoplanet discoveries of the Kepler Space Telescope. The focus on travel to other planets and the style of the posters reminded me immediately of the artwork used by the Intergalactic Travel Bureau (art created by Steve Thomas) in their outreach. The Intergalactic Travel Bureau uses Thomas’ art in combination with in-person interactions with performers playing the part of a space travel agent to engage and excite audiences.

While the retro-poster concept is far from unique, the use of the phrase “Exoplanet Travel Bureau” made me wonder if the folks at JPL were inspired by the Intergalactic Travel Bureau project or if they had stumbled onto a similar idea independently. So I asked them; and they actually answered.

The concept for JPL’s posters was developed by David Delgado. Delgado collaborated with Joby Harris and Dan Goods to create the posters, according to Elizabeth Landau (JPL Media Relations Specialist). Joby Harris* said:

The existing posters by other artists out there were not inspiration for ours, but rather confirmation that our posters in progress would be well received.

While I’m a bit disappointed that the JPL team was unaware of Steve Thomas’ posters (the Intergalactic Travel Bureau has also received NASA funding), it is admittedly difficult to be aware of everything on the Internet these days. I do hope that the creative convergence of JPL and the Intergalactic Travel Bureau might lead to creative cooperation on science outreach efforts in the future.


Nature Makes Pretty Things, Not Art

Nature is an artist & lets paint swirl together in this pic of Saturn’s rings & cloud layers – @NASA 12:23PM 23 Nov 2014

For one moment, I’m going to be that guy who insists on taking a metaphor literally. Artists are not defined by their methods, nor by their ability to make pretty things.

The job of artists is to touch draw us out through sensory experiences in ways that convey understanding, challenge preconceptions, and move us in new, unique, and effective ways. Beauty is but one tool that can serve the artistic purpose.

I cannot define art coherently. I simply know that we need both robotic space probes taking pictures of other planets and creative human beings here on Earth devoted to artistic exploration – and that we conflate the two at our own peril.

Science for The People: Garden of Marvels

sftpThis week Science for The People learning about botany and the colorful science of gardening. Author Ruth Kassinger joins them to discuss her book A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of the Way Plants Work. And they’ll speak to NASA researcher Gioia Massa about her work to solve the technical challenges of gardening in space.

*Josh provides research help to Science for The People and is, therefore, a completely biased and cooperative member of the team. He does, however, insists on capitalizing the show name as he sees fit.

Meet the Tardigrade

Credit: William R. Miller Tardigrade Reference Center
Credit: William R. Miller Tardigrade Reference Center

Tardigrades are within the Superphylum Ecdysozoa and about 400 species make up the Tardigrada phylum. These 8-legged segmented bits of awesomeness live in water and are the some of the most extreme of all the extremophiles. Tardigrades are able to survive near absolute zero (-459F) all the way up to 304F.

Here is a short video from National Geographic:

Tardigrades are being utilized in research as a model system to examine development driving the evolution of morphology. Follow this link to the Goldstein lab at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.


Science Caturday: Meteor Kitty


Topical lolcat is topical.

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