The Physics of Otters

This strip from Karl Kerschl’s The Abominable Charles Christopher sits at the intersection of art, science, and otters – a place I like to call “home”.

Anatomy of an Otter Slide - The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl (All Rights Reserved, Used & Adapted with Permission)
Anatomy of an Otter Slide – The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl (All Rights Reserved, Used & Adapted with Permission)

Neither Karl nor I vouch for the equations represented as being either perfectly accurate or the most relevant. Rather they serve as symbols representing the mechanics that go into making something as delightful as an otter sliding into the water. We do, however, provide a comment thread, if you would like to engage in a few rounds of cathartic pedantry (I know I do from time to time).

You can and should follow Karl on Twitter and The Abominable Charles Christopher on tumblr.


Linkonomicon 14

1. Fixing the “saddest graph” makes it more & less depressing.
2. One equation to rule them all.
3. I like this free equation editor (via @labroides).
4. How to fold a fitted sheet (The Finch & Pea tested & approved).
5. Making a better mousetrap was Newton’s Sin #5.

The Art of Science – Particle Accelerator Art

Aten by Todd Johnson

There’s more to do with a particle accelerator than find the Higgs Boson. Artist Todd Johnson uses electron beams to create amazing fractal artworks on acrylic slabs . He calls them “shockfossils”.   Johnson described the process briefly on DeviantArt:

“These pieces are created with the help of a particle accelerator. This machine produces up to five million volts and is used to accelerate a beam of electrons. The electrons are fired at pieces of acrylic plastic and penetrate deep within the slabs, resulting in a pool of electrons trapped under tremendous electrical potential within each piece.

The trapped charge is then carefully released by applying mechanical shock with a sharp insulated tool, and the electrons escape with a bright flash and loud pop. As the charges leave the plastic, they gather into channels following fractal branching rules just like river deltas, plants, and capillaries.

Controlling the energy and placement of the electron beam determines the final shape and character of the resulting figure.”

More information on the process and lots more art here.  It’s worth looking at the larger images for the amazing detail. (H/T to Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing)


I think my major concern about physicists successfully developing a Theory of Everything (TOE), from which everything in the Universe can be described in a series of equations, is that it would absolutely ruin Pictionary:

The Art of Science: Solar Burns

Charles Ross, Year of Solar Burns, 1992

The work of American artist Charles Ross uses natural light sources to create intriguing and stunning effects.  After working for many years with using prisms to create dynamic color and light effects in architectural spaces, Ross decided to change his focus.   Rather than dispersing sunlight through a prism he decided to focus it into a single point of raw power to create a solar burn. Each day for one year he burned the path of the sun through a large lens into a wooden plank. The burns were exhibited side-by-side  in an exhibition titled Sunlight Convergence/Solar Burn (1971-72). Continue reading “The Art of Science: Solar Burns”