Nature

[box]This post originally appeared on the FTMF.info planning blog.[/box]

In this post, let’s explore the link between the twin worlds of microbiology and creative thought, drawing inspiration from three brilliant scientific discoveries. Labcoats on, people!

1. Sponges

If a sea sponge (phylum porifera) is forced through a sieve to disintegrate it down to its cellular level, those cells, if left alone, will recombine into a sponge again:

Lesson: some ideas only make sense as a whole – passing them through a ‘sieve test’ can reveal whether they were ever meant to be, while others may naturally merge together.

2. Slime Molds

A single-celled slime mold (physarum polycephalum) can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu – and all this without a brain or nervous system:

Lesson: deploy resources efficiently – really smart solutions often arise naturally, yet knowing what’s best still requires lots of prior research. But hey, if a slime mold can do it…

3. Artificial Jellyfish

Scientists have created an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart:

Lesson: even the most difficult concept can be somehow ‘brought to life’ – be it in a new context, through the addition of a couple of key ingredients, or sheer appliance of science!

First Contact with Galactaron

Girl meets synth-rock band from Outer Space; animated weirdness ensues. Well, that’s the elevator pitch, anyway. See for yourself:

Galactaron were dreamt up as an art/music project by Owen Dennis, a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation, and are comprised of Singer (centre right), Bass (bottom left), Guitar (centre left), Synth (right), Drums (top left) and their human friend Emily Wong:

Galactaron Album Cover
Album Cover as featured on iTunes

The virtual band have a presence across Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, SoundCloud and iTunes, with each platform offering new information and imagery to enrich Galactaron’s back story:

Drawn by radio waves, Galactaron focused in on Earth and they traveled a great distance to learn about us. When they finally reached our planet, they landed their massive, red, egg-shaped ship on a frozen lake in the upper Midwest of the America. There they met Emily Wong, a young Chinese-American woman who lives with her father. Emily quickly befriended Galactaron and decided to give them a personalized tour of planet Earth. That’s when they started to discover what earth is, what humans are, and what we have to offer.

A ‘sighting’ of their ship forms one of several on their website.

It’s an admirable project: the band have a truly unique sound, a strong visual identity, a cool backstory, and they’ve even sold a few albums.

Their creator shows real ingenuity, having formed a small yet growing community around snippets of content such as cosmic ring-tones; science-themed status updates; user-contributed artwork; merchandise and not forgetting the music itself.

But despite being an excellent case study in transmedia storytelling, their single ‘First Contact’ has reached a surprisingly low 20,000 plays on YouTube, and far fewer elsewhere. Mission aborted? Or as I suspect, are their thrusters still warming up?

Justice: Audio, Video, Disco

If I’m to make good on my resolution to blog something every single day, then I currently owe a whopping eleven blog posts.

I ought to get on with it, hadn’t I?

In the spirit of getting on with it, the new Justice video features electro-rockstars Gasparde and Xavier doing exactly that, while preparing for the release of their track ‘Audio, Video, Disco’ from the eponymous album.

The video documents the pair living and breathing their work in the studio at all stages of the track’s life cycle, from conception to critical acclaim. You’ll like it, because it’s confident, it’s awesome, and it’s very very French:

One more post by midnight… time to get on with it!

Midnight Magic: Beam Me Up

Father Xmas brought me a Sonos S5, which has been duly blasting out the grooves ever since.

But there’s one track that’s had more airplay than any other in the last couple of weeks, Midnight Magic’s ‘Beam Me Up’, a superb piece of modern disco that I just had to share:

You gotta love that video, right?! Oh yeah, and here’s a brilliant remix by Jacques Renault to kick it up a sonic gear. Can’t tell you much else about this group I’m afraid, except that I’ll be on the lookout for more.

Long live disco.

30 Day Song Challenge – Week Two

Day 6: a song that reminds you of somewhere

Faithless – Sweep / Insomnia

Mind-blowing first ever gig with all sorts of crazy lights, at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. You’ll be missed, Faithless!

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Day 7: a song that reminds you of a certain event

Sister Sledge – We Are Family

Every single New Years Eve ever spent with family, and who can blame us?

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Day 8: a song that you know all the words to

Jamiroquai – Space Cowboy

Haha – yeah, I went through an extended Jamiroquai phase. It was a difficult time for my family.

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Day 9: a song that you can dance to

Pop Levi – Dita Dimoné

I’m not a very good dancer, but I could clap my hands convincingly to this, I reckon.

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Day 10: a song that makes you fall asleep

Pat Metheny – The Truth Will Always Be

Dad used to play this on long and sleepy car journeys, so I associate it with dreaming. Works every time.

Are You Ready For Your Close Up, Miss Colada?

BevShots have discovered what you’d call a niche: they take your favourite alcoholic drink, crystallise a single droplet of it in an airtight container, photograph it at 1000x under a microscope, and then sell the resulting image on a printed canvas.

And man, are these things selling! Since August last year BevShots estimate sales of over 20,000 prints ($24.99-$549). The product is aimed at the ‘hedonist with a mind for science’ segment: those who appreciate good photography, laboratory conditions and a damn-tasty cocktail now and then.

Here’s my favourite image, the classic Vodka and Tonic:

The shots are taken in Florida State University’s chemistry department, where founder Lester Hutt developed the approach, which can take up to three months to produce an image.

Lester says:

“What you can see in the magnified pictures are the crystalised carbohydrates that have become sugars and glucose. With my background in chemistry, I saw the potential in these kind of pictures and am so glad to be able to offer them up as art works. It is a pleasure to show people what makes up their favourite drinks and how beautiful it can look.”

Most alcohols are blends, with varying levels of carbohydrates, sugars, acids and glucose, so each shot taken is entirely different from the last. Some favourite drinks are so pure that when they crystallise  into their component parts, they fall apart or don’t dry out properly. So, not unlike the perfect Margarita, they’re pretty hard to get ‘just right’, sometimes taking up to 200 attempts.

Here’s some more of their work – click through for the full images or visit BevShots.

I’m thirsty! Who’s for a drink?