Space Suit of the Week

SYMBOLS OF THE APOLLO X LM CREW - Snoopy - Charles Schulz - Stafford Cernan

During stressful launches, NASA’s jet Propulsion Laboratory mission control eats handfuls of peanuts for good luck. Peanuts have been a part of space exploration for a long time. A dedicated reader passed along the above Peanuts Snoopy astronaut action figure: Snoopy was the NASA Manned Flight Awareness Program mascot (with the blessing of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz) and spoke out for flight safety. NASA even awards a “Silver Snoopy Award” to employees and contractors for outstanding human flight safety achievements.

Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan of Apollo X named their Lunar Module (LM) Snoopy. The Command Service Module was named Charlie Brown.

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Alana Zimmer

March 22, 2013 / By

Space Suit of the Week

NASA Apollo - Iceland

NASA Apollo - Iceland

Like many countries, Iceland does not have a space program, although, Iceland has been intimately involved in space exploration by proxy. In 1965 and 1967 in preparation for latter Apollo Missions, NASA sent astronauts to the formally green areas of Iceland that are now barren. The US Space Program chose to send their space farers to areas on earth that resembled the surface of the moon so our future moonwalkers could practice trotting around on a similar environment. Nine of the twelve men that have danced on the lunar surface first danced upon the surface of Iceland.

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Alana Zimmer

March 15, 2013 / By

Space Suit of the Week

Jan Jinda - Space suit

Jan Jinda - Space suit

Jan Jinda - Space suit

Who will be on the forefront of the next stage of space exploration? You might remember some real life individuals that have taken upon themselves to brave the final frontier: Final Frontier Design & PSU Professor Cameron Smith.

Jan Jinda rendered a cheeky portrait of a textbook geek that created his own suit out of found items. While our real life space suit entrepreneurs have it more together than Jinda’s Poindexter, his charm is rendered is such amazing detail. I am quite fond of the water detail of the goldfish stripped of his helmet-like home. The space books, posters & paraphernalia nicely round out the composition. He’s got the confidence of someone to “be next.”

Alana Zimmer

March 8, 2013 / By

The science behind why we love beautiful things

Baptiste Alchourroun

There was a great opinion piece in the New York Times last week from Lance Hosey who wrote about the science behind why we love beautiful things. A lot of the things he wrote about I’ve heard before but he does a great job of speaking to so many interesting aspects of science influencing beauty. Certainly worth a read.

Certain patterns also have universal appeal. Natural fractals — irregular, self-similar geometry — occur virtually everywhere in nature: in coastlines and riverways, in snowflakes and leaf veins, even in our own lungs. In recent years, physicists have found that people invariably prefer a certain mathematical density of fractals — not too thick, not too sparse. The theory is that this particular pattern echoes the shapes of trees, specifically the acacia, on the African savanna, the place stored in our genetic memory from the cradle of the human race. To paraphrase one biologist, beauty is in the genes of the beholder — home is where the genome is.

Bobby Solomon

February 26, 2013 / By

Thinking about Color and Light

Hayward Gallery Light Show

I’m envious of Londoners for many reasons, this is one of them. These are images of the Light Show, an exhibition currently on view at the Hayward Gallery until the end of April. The show presents the work of artists generated over the past fifty years, all using light to create a variety of stunning effects. There’s just something about light that is so alluring. Even when it isn’t warm and inviting, it can still be captivating… like when it’s saturated and immersive as it is in several of these installations.

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Alex Dent

February 22, 2013 / By

Space Suit of the Week

Snurk - Astronaut Duvet

Snurk - Astronaut Duvet 2

Dream big. Dutch ‘horizontal living’ design firm Snurk unveiled their latest duvet cover featuring an exact replica of a European Space Agency (ESA) spacesuit, right down to the last buckle mirrors of the European spacewalkers. Now when you’re tucked up in bed, you’ll be counting exoplanets rather than sheep. As much as I love the concept and the beautiful product photographs that accompany it, I do really wish they included a young girl and/or someone with a little diversity. Astronauts/Cosmonauts is an exclusively bro club–but we all can dream.

Found via HiComsumption. Thanks to Alex, Jenny, & Isaac for the tip-off.

Alana Zimmer

February 22, 2013 / By

Dancing Inside a Microscope

PhD Dance Contest

PhD Dance Contest

I have to start by saying that while I understand dancing takes strength, grace and skill (attributes I’ve never been accused of having) for me watching dance performances has always been a little perplexing and inaccessible. I think I’ve seen the Nutcracker a half-dozen times and I still have no idea what’s going on for a majority of the ballet. Maybe I’m missing that part of my brain that figures out body language. But these dances are different, because these are folks dancing about science. And these are just a few of the results from the most recent Dance for Your Ph.D. contest, an annual competition where graduate students try to explain the basic idea behind their research using choreography instead of PowerPoint.

The most recent winner is a dance about creating aluminum as a strong as steel. Others are about cell signaling during cancer or what happens to the knee implants inside the body for years. That’s the one below. And what’s clear is that it is not easy to use dance to explain research, but the research isn’t easy to understand in the first place.

Alex Dent

February 21, 2013 / By

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