Sunday Things - miscellaneous edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday July 8 2012

First, we celebrate CERN's discovery of the Higgs boson and their gloriously inappropriate use of Comic Sans! At last, the world of physics has cast aside the dreadfully tedious Computer Modern and replaced it with the idiot's font of choice.

Flipping 'eck!
RP FLIP - FLoating Instrument Platform - ludicrous research vessel which upends itself, turning from a long and skinny ship to a hugely stable vertical platform. Extra: Wikipedia article, video.

Note the use of available light in all the shots.
Stanley Kubrick was a photographer - seriously, watch his films as photography. Visually they make perfect sense. He's undoubtedly spinning in his grave at the use of this font, too.

Anyone else feel hungry?

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Exposure Render - extremely fancy GPU-powered renderer, available for download - complete with CT scans for maximum offal-exploration. Needs a beast of a GPU to work quickly, but gives surprisingly decent results on my old 8800 GTX.

SPAAAAAACE, etc.
ESA Astronaut with a Flickr account - annoyingly, I only discovered it after he returned to Earth. Extra: his NASA crewmate was doing educational physics experiments on YouTube too...

Bonus Horrifying Biology corner

  • Symbion pandora - tiny parasite of Norway lobsters' mouthparts with a fantastically complex life-cycle. It even includes a Prometheus larva. Thought the xenomorphs were complicated? Think again! Also, New Scientist has an entire blog of similarly peculiar beasts.
  • Facetotecta - crustacean known only by its common larval stage, nobody knows what the adult form is. "In 2008, a juvenile form was produced by treating y-larvae with the hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone, which stimulated ecdysis and the transition to the next life phase. The resulting animal, named the ypsigon, was slug-like, apparently unsegmented, and limbless." Possibly another parasite, similar to...
  • Sacculina - a barnacle that foregoes the usual immobile, armoured lifestyle and instead lives as a parasitic castrator of crabs, growing as a tendril-like mass through the host crab's body. Extra: gratuitously high-resolution shots of a related barnacle's protruding gonad - 1, 2, 3 - via LOLRhizocephalans.

Now, has all that biology dislodged this particularly hideous parasite, that of Comic Sans? We can only hope so. ... Wait, we're free! At last! The agony is finally over! Oh crap.

Antiquated Polish Explorations - Modlin

posted in Photography by Cargo Cult on Tuesday July 3 2012

Finally getting around to uploading photos I took nearly four years ago - here's a wider selection from the Modlin Fortress, a vast 19th century fortress north of Warsaw.

Next time, we'll get further inside...

Hopefully coming within another four years - more from Gdańsk!

Sunday Things - science and engineering edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday July 1 2012

Almost a month of the blog-thing. How's it going? Plenty of people reading, not so many commenting. Like it or not, I'm going to continue! BWUAHAHAHA, etc.

Solaris?
Deep Blue Sea - splendid imagery of our nearest star by Alan Friedman, sun-photographer extraordinaire. Extra: He has a blog!

Alien?
Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition winners - weird and wonderful micrographs from across the world. I think their microscopes must be a little better than mine...

Like expensive Lego?
Airbus A380 - from construction of infrastructure to test flights. Extra: Mark Power has plenty of other projects to look at too.

I wonder if it'll be friends with me?
Continuing from last week's Mars-landing videos: How Curiosity Will Land on Mars, part one and part two. Extra: detailed JPL paper (PDF) on the landing.

Bonus Soviet Links From Non-Soviet Friends corner:

Mystery packages from the former USSR

posted in Photography by Cargo Cult on Monday June 25 2012

How to scare the postal operatives. Nuclear materials? Explosive devices? WHO KNOWS???? Wait. That looks familiar... I've got one like it already, but bent! LOMO BIOLAM microscope, now in focus!

eBay is brilliant for potentially terrifying US Postal Service operatives with dodgy-looking packages from Belarus. What's inside? Bit of Soviet-era optical equipment. Why did I need it? Well, some idiot (namely me) forgot to properly bolt his chunky old USSR-constructed LOMO microscope into its carrying case properly when emigrating to the USA, allowing it to rattle around inside without any kind of protection - resulting in ... a slightly bent monocular head for the eyepiece.

Apparently, Soviet-era optical equipment is built to last.

With the replacement, everything is back in focus again! I'll post micrographs of microscopic things on Flickr as soon as I figure out how to align my dSLR-carrying tripod correctly.

Stupidly enough, it wasn't this purchase that got my credit card temporarily blocked - it was trying to buy $5-worth of groceries at a nearby Safeway. And this reminds me, I still need to post packages out elsewhere...

Sunday Things - SPAAAAAACE edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday June 24 2012

What’s your favourite thing about space? Mine is space.

Now try putting them back together again.
Decommissioning the Space Shuttles - now neatly installed in museums, they required gutting first.

Now try putting THAT back together again.
Fate of the Soviet Buran shuttle - still, the US shuttles had a less traumatic fate than the Soviet version...

I hope it works I hope it works I hope it works (breathe!)

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Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror - how do you land a giant nuclear-powered rover on another planet? Extra: full animation is similarly dramatic...

Lookin' good!
Cosmonaut survival training - forget landing on a runway in Florida, or splashing down in a tropical bit of the Pacific. Extra: Soviet space-pyjamas!

Bonus Antiquated Soviet Rocketry corner:

Also, dear readers - who are you people? I've already got loads of subscribers to the RSS feed - but you're all remarkably quiet. Do post comments. Don't be shy!