making plastic precious

Studio Swine

inspired by nautical craftsmanship and folk art, the designers at Studio Swine went in search of plastic in the ocean for their Gyrecraft project – and found a lot to choose from. sailing 1000 nautical miles from the Azores to the Canary Islands, they passed through through the North Atlantic Gyre: one of five points on the planet where swirling megacurrents concentrate vast quantities of floating debris, including plastic

“it’s one of the biggest problems facing our civilisation,” says Studio Swine’s Alex Groves, “plastic is in every part of the ocean and the effect it’s having on plankton is only just beginning to be investigated. plankton are the base of the entire planet’s food chain, and they are responsible for producing one third of the oxygen we breath. if we lose plankton we are headed for another mass extinction. in the swirling gyre, most of the plastics have broken down into tiny fragments which are spread over massive stretches of the ocean. due to their size, they are incredibly difficult to recover in any large quantity – making this once disposable material very precious”

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overwatch 🔭


for the first time, NASA has consolidated all of its planetary impact detection projects into a single organisation to help keep us safe from asteroids and comets: the Planetary Defense Coordination Office. beyond liasing with various ground and space-based systems, like the Arecibo Radio Telescope and the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System shown above, the new office will oversee asteroid deflection missions and provide input to agencies like FEMA to prepare an emergency response to predicted impacts. with more than 90% of Near Earth Objects bigger than 1km across already discovered, NASA is now focused on finding objects that are slightly bigger than a football field – 140m or larger

related: Death From Above / Adventures in the Asteroid Field / Arecibo

species of the week: 紅脖游蛇

© Robert Ferguson

fittingly on the day that sees our first event in Hong Kong, our species this week is 紅脖游蛇 – aka the red-necked keelback snake, or Rhabdophis subminiatus. as Robert Ferguson, the photographer who took this picture, explains: the red-necked keelback unique in that it’s the only animal that is both venomous (with a deadly bite) and poisonous (as it can secrete the poison from toads that it eats via a groove in its neck. despite this, the species is essentially harmless as it very rarely bites and is not at all aggressive

ice on Mars

Mars-Ice-House_Dusk 01_lr

following the recent confirmation that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars, we caught up with the winners of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat challenge to find out more about their ingenious design – which uses ice mined from below the surface to shield explorers from radiation while providing expansive views out over the Martian landscape and a unique ‘garden’ space

read our full interview for Uncube

15 photos that show nature recolonising Chernobyl 🌿

a new study from researchers at the University of Portsmouth shows that wildlife is alive and well in the abandoned areas around Chernobyl, scene of the catastrophic nuclear meltdown in 1986 that left the landscape largely uninhabitable for humans

“There is continuing scientific and public debate surrounding the fate of wildlife that remained in the abandoned area,” explain the study’s authors. “Our long-term empirical data showed no evidence of a negative influence of radiation on mammal abundance. Relative abundances of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are similar to those in four (uncontaminated) nature reserves in the region and wolf abundance is more than 7 times higher. These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures”

when we traveled to the region in 2011 with Unknown Fields, we were struck by just how abundant nature is in former towns like Prypiat, where most of these photos were taken

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deep impact

Meteor Crater by Joe King

drive out along Route 66 east of Flagstaff in Arizona and the familiar icons of the American roadscape soon materialise out of the shimmering desert heat. truckstops, casinos and RV parks mark your progress through the flat landscape at regular intervals, oversized retro diner signs compete with billboards for your attention and wondrous attractions, you’re promised, are never far ahead. among these is Meteor Crater, which features a rad 80s logo and its own radio station playing an endlessly repeating promotional loop as you get closer…

visit Meteor Crater with us in our latest Where On Earth column for AnOther

sample of the week: quartz arenite

Cerro Sarisariñama

quartz arenites are the most ancient exposed sedimentary rocks on earth. a type of sandstone, they’re incredibly hard, and form the basis of South America’s incredible ‘tepui’ mountains – vast flat-topped table formations that rise above the forests and clouds of the northern Amazon. over the eons the relentless action of water has hollowed out four giant sinkholes on the Cerro Sarisariñama plateau in Venezuela. measuring more than 350m across and 300m deep, these circular voids in the forest contain their own miniature jungles – tiny worlds within worlds

read more about Cerro Sarisariñama in our latest column for AnOther



every hour of every day, a growing armada of earth observation satellites are peering down on our planet, gathering petabytes of images and data about our changing world. a new online course from the Open University’s super slick Future Learn site lets you take a more detailed look at these incredible spacecraft, and explore how the information they collect is used. it’s free and the first online course from the European Space Agency, so sign up if (like us) you’re interested in how space technology can help save the planet. we’ll see you in class

the floating world


located in China’s Hunan province, Zhangjiajie’s incredible landscape began to form over 60 million years ago, when warm tropical seas covered the land. in deeper waters, the accumulation of marine organisms formed limestone while in shallower regions hard quartz sandstone predominated. the seas slowly receded and eons of rains and rivers wore away at the softer stone. small outcrops began to appear; craggy and covered by trees. the action of their roots and the constant freezing and melting of ice as winters passed inexorably carved the towering pillars, which aren’t smooth and eroded but angular and rough. today, there are over 3000 individual towers – some rising a thousand feet into the sky

read more about Zhangjiajie in our Where On Earth column for AnOther


Owen Gildersleeve – Discoverers Alliance

at first glance, the incredible crystals unearthed by the Discoverer’s Alliance during its illustrious one hundred year history are a tribute to the brave men and women whose exploration and fieldwork led to some of the century’s most important scientific discoveries. look a little closer though, and questions about their provenance – and indeed the organisation’s mysterious origins – emerge…

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mirror mirror

Observation 123

ahead of the forthcoming dark frame / deep field exhibition at BREESE LITTLE, we’re previewing a number of artists featured in the show. Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field (2013) and the Observation series (1991/2013) are the result of a collaboration with Dr Roderick Willstrop from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. Rickett’s works (which employ unseen test shots from when everything was still done on film) juxtapose deep time with history on a human scale by resurrecting these astronomical photographs. although they are only a few decades old, they are already technologically obsolete, making Rickett’s work analogous to the archaeology of astronomy itself

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review: Voyager – The Grand Tour


Martin Eberle’s Voyager – The Grand Tour, published in an edition of just 300 by Berlin-based Drittel Books, is, as the press release humbly states ‘a new publication about the NASA Voyager mission’. comprising three cloth-bound volumes within a slipcase bearing a silhouette of the mission’s famous Golden Record, it seems more fitting to describe it as an exhaustively detailed chronicle of an endeavour as complicated and contradictory in its planning as it was audacious and astounding in its (on-going) execution

so cemented is the Carl Sagan-ized version of the story in public consciousness that, as Eberle demonstrates, it’s easy to forget that when the mission was first conceived, a human-launched object had only just made it as far as Mars: the Mariner 4 flyby in 1965

in fact, for VGR77-2, VGR77-3 (the ‘real’ names of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2) and VGR77-1 (the baby sister that stayed at home at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory), the narrative of a solar-system conquering, intergalactic ambassador of human achievement came later. against the socio-political context of 1970s America it took some convincing to get the project off the ground

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sample of the week


our featured sample this week can be found in abundance at Pamukkale in Turkey, where it flows from hot springs to cover the landscape. precipitating from the calcite-rich rich waters when they become exposed to the atmosphere, calcium carbonate forms a type of limestone called travertine. over the eons, it has built a series of cascading cliffs and pools – used since ancient times for bathing and healing

read more about Pamukkale in our latest column for AnOther

fire & ice


the Calbuco volcano in Chile was a booming explosion which hit international news a few weeks back; footage of ash-laden streets and boiling pink clouds putting its power back on the map after decades of inactivity. volcanic eruptions aren’t quite as rare as they seem – at any time there are likely to be about twenty volcanoes erupting around the world – but not all are as cinematic. scientists think that three quarters of all eruptions happen under the ocean, along the mid-Atlantic ridge, as the dark sea-floor tip-toes apart

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another planet

Photo by Klaus Thymann

it’s early days, but in our new column for AnOther we’ll be exploring the geological and scientifical wonders of the world – from pink waterfalls and blue sinkholes to remote telescopes and mysterious markings in the landscape

sample of the week: “Kryptonite”


this week’s #CrystalsandMineralsMonth sample comes courtesy of Amy Freeborn, an in-house writer at the Natural History Museum who’s awesome job it is to tell the stories behind the museum’s collection. just one example is the innocuous-looking sample shown: a piece of jadarite discovered in Serbia in 2006. a white-ish mineral composed of sodium, lithium, boron silicate and hydroxide – pretty standard, right? except that when NHM mineral expert Dr Chris Stanley found the specimen’s make-up didn’t match anything else known to science, he looked up the mineral’s combination of chemical elements and made a strange discovery

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guest post: Fred Butler


Fred Butler is a multicoloured ball of energy who divides her time between accessories design, blogging, music and running. the latter has led her to a place in the London Marathon to raise money for The Music Circle and its protection projects for women in the Democratic Republic Of The Congo. along with her physical training, Fred is creating a visual diary of the colours of the DRC including a section on minerals curated in her typical rainbow style

all this month, we’ve been celebrating the beauty of crystals, but as Fred reminds us, minerals have a darker side too. in this guest post, she writes about the conflicts caused by our hunger for the Congo’s vast mineral wealth

you can see more of Fred’s work on her website and support her campaign here

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sample of the week: pyrite cubes


the mineral pyrite can be found in a variety of crystal forms, but none is as surreal and beautiful as these perfect, naturally-occurring cubes. found outside the town of Navajún in the Rioja region of Spain, the cuboid crystals are prized around the world by collectors for their incredible geometry – with single cubes ranging in size from 1mm to 20cm plus all kinds of combinations, variations and offset angles

profile: Carly Waito

'Vesuvianite' by Carly Waito

at first glance, Canadian artist Carly Waito’s work appears to consist of beautifully-composed photographs of crystals and minerals. closer inspection, however, reveals that these are meticulous oil paintings – each hyperrealistically capturing the beauty of the specimen while at the same time adding another dimension of artistry in the tiny details that mark these out as lovingly hand painted works. we caught up with Carly to find out more about her incredible work and chat about our mutual love of minerals

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guest post: Mineralia


to mark Crystals and Minerals Month here on super/collider, we’re asking some of our favourite blogs, mineralogists, photographers and artists to share their favourites

this week Emily Walsh of Mineralia shares her top five orange minerals, with further colours to come

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crystals and minerals month

we’re making March ‘Crystals and Minerals Month’ month here on super/collider – celebrating all things angular and atomically ordered. we’ll be running guest posts, interviews and giveaways on the site, plus on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (take your pick) we’ll be presenting our pics from a visit to Mindat founder Jolyon Ralph’s mega collection

guest post: Planet Labs

Sanliurfa Croplands imaged by Planet Labs

in the first in a new series of guest posts, the lovely people over at Planet Labs share their favourite images of the Earth from above. captured by the project’s constellation of 71 micro-satellites, each image is freely available with a Creative Commons license, as part of the company’s goal of “working around the clock to create a more transparent and accessible planet.” our first image was captured on October 5, 2014 and shows circular patterns created by irrigation in Turkey…

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designs of the year


London’s Design Museum have revealed this year’s contenders for their annual Designs of the Year exhibition, opening next month. here are our top science(ish) picks…

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profile: Tim Stoelting

Tim Stoelting in his studio

working at the busy intersection of art, design and narrative, artist Tim Stoelting explores concepts and materials by creating art ‘systems’ – rich playgrounds for ideas in which to work. one such project sees the 27-year-old Winsconsonite acting as NASA’s artist-in-residence: a programme long since cancelled by a sceptical US Congress

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profile: Alice Dunseath


artist Alice Dunseath creates incredible stop-motion animations that visualise space, stars and the universe. here, she shares her thoughts on crystals, science and the creative process

I love crystals – the way they grow and form and suggest life but aren’t technically alive. they are beautiful and unpredictable to work with and they grow well in plaster and colour nicely with inks. it was great to be able to work at Imperial college. I co-directed ‘Where To Go’ with Annlin Chao and we both went and worked in the chemistry labs for some of the shots. it was the summer term so none of the students were around but the lab technician was there to help whenever we needed him. we used a specially adapted microscope which allowed us to attach a digital stills camera to it to shoot high-res timelapse footage of crystals forming

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sample of the week: dinitrogen tetroxide

ESA image

this week’s chemical sample hit the headlines today for all the wrong reasons following the massive explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket bound for the International Space Station. first rising, then exploding, falling and exploding again, the giant craft carried the toxic compound amongst others, leading NASA officials to warn the public about approaching the area. used since the early days of rocketry, dinitrogen tetroxide is a powerful oxidizer which reacts on contact with hydrazine in what’s called a hypergolic reaction – making it ideal for launching rockets, but highly hazardous when things go wrong


James Bridle

assembled by artist Gustav Metzger and curators Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans-Ulrich Obrist, this year’s Serpentine Marathon will see dozens of leading artists, writers, scientists, musicians and intellectual types pondering the theme of extinction over the course of eighteen furious hours. science-y highlights for us science-y types range from talks by folks like UCL’s Professor Georgina Mace – who asks “Are We in the Midst of a Mass Extinction?” – and Astronomer Royal Martin Rees expanding on his book Our Final Century? to more art/science stuff like sonic de-extinction specialist Marguerite Humeau’s recreation of Cleopatra’s voice and artist Trevor Paglen – whose incredible work The Last Pictures is currently in geostationary orbit aboard an EchoStar communications satellite. throw in appearances by Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, sound recording legend Chris Watson and eco-conscious model Lily Cole and it becomes a no-brainer: if you go to one nerd rave this year, make it this one

extraterrestrial ice


for the first time, researchers have uncovered mineralogical evidence that towering glaciers once flowed across the surface of Mars. previous clues have come in the form of satellite images, but scientists from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and the Freie Universitaet in Berlin say a layer of the acid-sulfate mineral jarosite found in cliffs in Valles Marineris could point to past glaciation. the canyon is among the biggest in the solar system, stretching more than 2500 miles across the region east of Tharsis. the mineral deposit, formed by atmospheric sulphur reacting with the ice, is located halfway up the three-mile-high cliffs of Ius Chasma at the western end of the canyon system – pointing to glaciers that towered a mile and a half above the valley floor



these sparse, art-like images show the Kholod scramjet – a Russian-built prototype air vehicle that reached Mach 6.47 back in the late 90s – making it the fastest machine to fly within the earth’s atmosphere. part of a joint programme between the Russian Institute for New Propellants (CIAM) and NASA, the Kholod series was carried aloft aboard a modified surface-to-air missile before launching and switching to supercooled liquid hydrogen. one of the systems (complete with missile, engine and display stands) is up for auction this September if you’re looking for a nice loft centrepiece

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SALT: a northern odyssey

Sandviksanden 014

tucked away amid the twisting, endless shorelines of northern Norway, the island of Sandhornøya will be the starting point for SALT – a year-long exploration of art, architecture, food and sustainability high above the world. we caught up with founding curator Helga-Marie Nordby for AnOther

preview: T-R-E-M-O-R-S


when we heard ace art/chitecture magazine T-R-E-M-O-R-S had done a space issue, we couldn’t wait to see what they’d covered – so we got in touch. editor Maksymilian Fus Mickiewicz kindly shared an advance proof of the mag, which we’ve chosen some visual highlights from, and his thoughts on ‘why space?’ and ‘why now?’

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guest post: Edgar Martins


in this exclusive post, photographer Edgar Martins selects his favourite images from, and writes about the inspiration behind, his vast photographic documentary project, which captures the craft, materials and facilities behind the European Space Agency

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Q&A: Cosima Gretton

Cosima Gretton

in this Q&A from the new issue of House, we catch up with AXNS Collective founder (and occasional super/collider contributor) Cosima Gretton ahead of their upcoming event on neuroaesthetics…

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weekend art/science round-up


lots of science-related art opening in the UK this weekend, so let’s dive right in…

following on from The Arts Catalyst’s successful Republic of the Moon exhibition in London, a new group show curated by Alessandro Vincentelli brings together artists from Pakistan, Croatia and the UK to explore the enduring presence of the moon and the rich iconography of space on the popular imagination of artists. They Used to Call it the Moon at the Baltic Centre’s Newcastle space, Baltic39, features lunar- and space-related film, photography, sculpture and collage alongside a programme of events where scientists, environmentalists, astronomers, artists and writers will share their knowledge and experiences in relation to the future possibilities of the moon. their fieldtrip to the Kielder Observatory on June 14 looks especially tempting

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sample of the week: Ringwoodite


an ultra-rare mineral discovered inside a diamond suggests there could be vast amounts of water hundreds of miles below the earth’s surface. the sheer volume trapped deep down in the mantle is mind-boggling – possibly as much as all the world’s oceans combined. the accidental discovery was made by researchers at the University of Alberta, who found a tiny sample of water-rich ringwoodite inside a diamond mined in Brazil, which was blasted up from the depths by a diatreme eruption. created only under extreme pressure, it’s the first time the olivine mineral has been found naturally on earth – it’s previously only been seen in meteorites or created artificially in labs

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“the astronomy or the art?” we wondered when trying to decide how to cover artist Sophy Rickett’s current show at Camilla Grimaldi – which draws in part on photographic negatives created in the 80s by Dr Roderick Willstrop, a retired astronomer/physicist affiliated with the Institute of Astronomy. his unique innovation was the development of a working three mirror telescope, which allowed for a wider field-of-view than had been previously possible. Rickett’s work, using unseen test shots from the telescope back when everything was still done on film – and the output from her conversations with Willstrop – is equally compelling, but we opted to ask the astronomer more about the original images and how they were captured. his highly detailed but fascinating explanation of the optics breakthrough follows, while two upcoming events at the gallery will further explore this meeting of minds

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out of ice


taking our long-running Sustainable Culture series for AnOther into icy new territory, Abby‘s latest column looks at the work of artist Elizabeth Ogilvie (pictured) whose new Out Of Ice installation is a meditation on “structures born long before our time, that we must ensure last long after we are gone”

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profile: Nina Tandon


launching tonight, the latest issue of Protein®’s superlative journal features a special section on the future of health. ranging from emerging food, wellness and health entrepreneurs to technological breakthroughs set to disrupt medicine, it’s a stylish look at the innovations and innovators transforming how we care for our bodies and minds

in this exclusive preview, Protein®’s Shepherd Laughlin asks “Are we on the brink of a medical revolution?” and discovers that tissue engineer Nina Tandon’s approach to artificial organ building could change the world

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higher states


we’ve all seen a zillion of those drugs and booze under the microscope things and they’re always a bit ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, wow, how edgy’ but Sarah Schoenfeld‘s recent images of drugs on film negatives take things to a whole new level. dropping class As, Bs and Cs onto exposed film to induce chemical reactions, the Berlin-based photographer creates surreal art pieces that reflect the altered states of mind created by (top to bottom) LSD, speed, MDMA, ketamine, heroin, ecstacy

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Jorge De la Garza

Jorge De la Garza

Mexican-born artist Jorge De la Garza’s work is an amalgamation of ethereal terrains, geology, minerals and monotonous domestic interiors. occult practice and mythological are threaded through his work, resulting in a concoction of reality and fantasy; an absurdist universe, simultaneously existing in fictional galaxies and banal, wallpapered rooms. many of his works create juxtapositions between the cold truth of geological stones and minerals and the encroachment of a mythical universe, as they bleed into each other

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ace arts curatorial project Grand Neue is raising funds for the Disaster Emergency Committee in support of their relief efforts in the Philippines, with an online auction of prints donated by leading contemporary illustrators and designers. Grand Kind features a few surreal and science-ish pieces already, with new art being posted daily, so be kind and get bidding!

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profile: Jessica Herrington


in the first in a new series of short profiles of people working along the border of science and creativity, we meet crystal cave-maker Jessica Herrington

Plaster, wire, fibreglass, enamel, glitter
Private Collection

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is consciousness an illusion? or a mere epiphenomenon; a byproduct of brain activity? is it even generated by the brain, or is it part of some wider context ‘beyond the individual?’

whatever the answers, conscious awareness is incredibly empowering. the very ability to experience our own experiences creates a further stimulus, the stimulus of the self in the world for us to respond to. which is exactly what a team of panelists will do tomorrow evening, at a discussion tomorrow night organised by the Society for The Preservation of Wild Culture

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species of the week: Greta oto


displaying a rare example of terrestrial translucency, the tissue between the veins of this stunning butterfly is almost clear, leading to its common English alias of ‘glasswing’ or the charming ‘epijiotos’ (little mirrors) in Spanish. native to the neotropical zones of South America and Southern Florida, the males are assumed to be toxic due to their diet of alkaloid-high nectar from flowers such as Asteraceae



this week the Andromeda Project launch Round 2 of their crowdsourced search for star clusters in our closest neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda (M31). last year saw an incredible 10,000 participants compile over one million classifications in just three weeks. with new data released into the project they’re looking for more citizen scientists to help build the most complete map of any spiral galaxy anywhere

it’s hoped that the data you collect could determine rare stages of stellar evolution, the structure and evolution of star formation and the way in which the Andromeda Galaxy has changed and evolved over billions of years – and all you need to get involved is an internet connection, a computer and a few minutes of your time read more



a surreal sight in space, this cloud of luminous debris was captured by astronaut Mike Hopkins as the space station crossed over Iran heading towards Mongolia. according to Universe Today, it was likely the trail of a Topol/SS-25 missile launched from Kazakhstan



until 16 October, the ever-awesome World Land Trust is focusing its efforts on protecting a key rainforest corridor along the Kinabatangan River in Malaysian Borneo. with each donation matched by wealthy backers, it’s a rare chance to link up fragmented forest habitats used by orang-utans, pigmy elephants and other endangered wildlife. super/collider will be making a contribution and we urge you to consider helping too

update: as of 5pm on the 16th over £636,054 has been raised, but the donations are still being counted. though the appeal is now over, it’s never too late to donate and help support the trust’s preservation work

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AnOther Magazine: Eileen Collins

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 12.25.05

earlier this year, we had the privilege of speaking to Eileen Collins – the first female space shuttle pilot – for AnOther

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with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releasing the first part of its fifth assessment report today, much of the focus and debate will be on the so-called pause in global temperature rise over the last decade – a worrying trend which has given ammunition to climate change skeptics even as CO2 levels continue to rise, potentially storing up rapid change for the future


working and living primarily amid the solitude of Scotland’s western islands, artist Julie Brook incorporates land and landscapes into her work – which she describes as both a response to and a reflection of the environment’s effect on her. for her ‘Sand Drawing’s series, she spent four weeks in the volcanic region of Al Haruj in Libya read more


Super K

Covariance – a physics-art collaboration initiated by the Institute of Physics – ignited discussions between physicist Ben Still and artist Lyndall Phelps, leading to a unique experiential particles installation in the ice caves buried deep below the London Canal Museum

this subterranean treasure trove is strongly influenced by the main research project Ben Still works on, the Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) experiment – an international hunt for neutrino oscillations. the depths of the earth are a favourite place for particle physics experiments, rays of energy from the sun bring all sorts of particles for the ride but only a select few can penetrate the earth’s surface. this convenient filter is why one part of T2K, the awesome Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector, was built in a Japanese mine 1km below ground. it is a spectacular sight, the glassy surface of the purified water mirroring the hundreds of light detectors that echo around the chamber – an epic vista of the physics world that few ever get to experience

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nature reserves

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 13.56.37

“Nature is a language, can’t you read?”
The Smiths, ‘Ask’, 1986

categorising, labelling, and the violence of human imposition of meaning on the natural world are some of the themes tackled in a conceptually rich exhibition curated by Tom Jeffreys at GV Art. in striving to discover the world around us, the significance of how we give meaning and identity to the knowledge gained is often overlooked. Nature Reserves examines the archive and catalogue, and their implications as human endeavours, through the works of 12 contemporary artists complemented by archival materials from museums and universities

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meteor crater competition

it’s August. it’s hot. the sun is shining. all your colleagues are relaxing on the French Riviera while you’re stuck in your office / art studio / biology lab / field research station (delete as appropriate)

we feel your pain, loyal readers, which is why we’re running our GREATEST COMPETITION YET – your chance to win a genuine meteorite fragment from Arizona’s massive Meteor Crater, along with an 80s-tastic fold-out impact sequence postcard set and highly desirable plastic bag

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species of the week: Orobanche Californica

Orobanche californica ssp. californica

growing in clusters on California’s harsh and precipitous coastal bluffs the Orobanche Californica or California Broomrape is one of a small number of plant species that is Holoparastic. lacking chlorophyll in its stem, the plant is unable to photosynthesise and instead wholly reliant on a host plant for nourishment. its striking and thickly veined tubular flower holds a capsule containing minute seeds

summer holidays


we’re out and about for the next month or so – visiting the island of Inis Oírr (above) to build an astronomical installation for Drop Everything, checking in with the Motherboard guys in Brooklyn and exploring the flora, fauna and geology of Acadia National Park



launched way back in 2004, NASA’s MESSENGER probe became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around Mercury and has since beamed back incredible images of the planet’s blisteringly hot surface, discovered ice at its shadow-shrouded poles and even snapped a family portrait of the solar system, looking back out from the centre. this nifty enhanced-colour animation shows a combination of images taken through eight of the probe’s cameras

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though we’ve only just finished celebrating the 40th anniversaries of the Apollo moon landings, the programme itself is already notching up some 50 year milestones – including President Kennedy’s famous challenge to congress in May of 1961 that America “should commit itself, to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth”

what came next was a massive, unprecedented push to develop the systems and vehicles needed to send humans to our nearest neighbour in the sky. the Apollo project employed more than 400,000 people at its peak and cost about $170 billion in today’s money – but succeeded in landing twelve astronauts on the moon and returning countless samples and images. to mark the programme’s anniversary, Zenith Press is re-releasing David West Reynolds comprehensive Apollo: The Epic Journey to the Moon, 1963-1972

congratulations to Becky Whitmore, who won a copy of the book in our competition. to hear about future giveaways, subscribe or join super/collider here



the first satellite able to ‘weigh’ the earth’s forest biomass has been given the go-ahead by the European Space Agency and will launch in 2020. the BIOMASS spacecraft will help give us a better assessment of forest cover, glacial melt, warming trends and climate change read more



from the outer rings of Sun Ra’s native Saturn to the depths of Drexciya’s undersea cities, the realms of afrofuturism provide a fertile space for forward-thinking imaginations. The Arts Catalyst’s next Kosmica night, guest curated by Jareh Das, explores the theme with guest artist Kapwani Kiwanga. beyond an amazing looking film/project about repatriating the aforementioned interplanetary jazz god to his home planet, Kiwanga will present AFROGALACTICA, a short history of the future mapping the progress of her imagined United States of Africa Space Agency


Star Towers: Elysium Planitia

our new series of collage works feature monolithic structures set amid distant landscapes, connecting various locations around the known universe – in this case Gusev Crater on the edge of Mars’ vast Elysium Planitia with the centre of the Milky Way galaxy via three gateways, each imparting a different arrival velocity



of all the incredible stuff out there in space, globular clusters are surely among the most mind-blowing when you pause and consider what could be going on deep inside their luminous cores. these vast blobs of light are made of millions of stars, some of which could be the cradle of civilisations, distant in time and space. to make sense of the sheer numbers and possibilities, Dr. Frank Drake devised a famous equation while working as a radio astronomer read more



there are tons of photos of earth taken from space, but few as good as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s recent series from the International Space Station, where he’s been living since November last year. while up there, he’s been posting photos on Twitter, answering questions from space and recording folky songs that aren’t entirely terrible. this photo from yesterday shows spring around Lake Balaton in Hungary

sample of the week: Malachite


used to make green paint in ancient times, Malachite is a rich green copper carbonate hydroxide mineral with the formula Cu2CO3(OH)2. usually found deep underground, where hydrothermal fluids and water reservoirs can create Malachite stalagmites. this particular sample is from Zaire



with the passing this week of visionary architect Paolo Soleri, I’ve been thinking about the time I spent at Arcosanti – his experimental desert settlement – last November while writing a piece for AnOther. one morning, up early to take photos with the rising sun hitting the concrete, I wandered through the empty city; home to 60 or so people but deserted at that hour, except for a bobcat which padded noiselessly past. inside the silent, sun flooded rooms and offices, Soleri’s visions of soaring arcologies hung on the walls and filled endless, carefully preserved scrolls. in one room, an architectural model of one of his hyperstructures caught the sunlight, its monumental scale lit up over the miniature landscape

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from exquisite gemstones and the rings of Saturn to stripey tights and eye-popping prints, Patternity‘s first festival of pattern explores the enduring magnetism of stripes in all their forms. the jam-packed events programme includes workshops ranging from t-shirt printing to neuroscience, all investigating an aspect of this particular pattern

we’ve made a short film about stripes in space which will be screening on Sunday 14 April as part of science day

tropical ice


snow and ice may not be features you normally associate with Africa, but high in the Rwenzori Mountains, year-round subzero temperatures keep the top of the continent permanently capped in white. as the highest source of the Nile, the upper reaches of the range are home to about twenty glaciers – a precious treasure located less than a degree north of the equator. we recently caught up with Project Pressure, a not-for-profit which set out to photograph the continent’s hidden icecaps…

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stretching 3.7 million square kilometres across the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, the Congo Basin is home to a vast rainforest covering over one and half million square kilometres. it extends from the ice-capped peaks of the Rwenzori range (also known as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’) down into lush lowlands, following the Congo River and its tributaries flowing down towards the Gulf of Guinea. home to thousands of unique animal and plant species, as well as indigenous forest-dwelling people, the region generates its own weather systems and sequesters massive quantities of CO2

now, like many of the world’s tropical forest areas, the Congo Basin is under threat from a new enemy: palm oil. in addition to logging, poaching and other pressures, the forests now face a rapid expansion of palm oil plantations to help fuel demand for this increasingly lucrative product, which is used in products like cakes, biscuits and chocolate Easter eggs. you can help by avoiding low-scoring products on the Rainforest Foundation’s list of chocolate brands and supporting work like WWF’s long running Congo Basin campaign

species of the week: Xanthoria parietina


an uncommonly beautiful example of common orange lichen aka Xanthoria parietina, maritime sunburst lichen or shore lichen. it thrives in sunny hardwood forests and on exposed seacliffs, where bird droppings provide a rich source of nitrogen. incredibly tolerant of air pollution and heavy metal contamination, it can be used as a bioindicator to measure things like air quality

Material Matters


housing everything from delicate fulgurite structures created by lightning strikes to an ultra-dense ball of silicon nitride which can dent concrete, the Institute of Making is home to some of the world’s most wondrous substances. tomorrow, after years in an increasingly-crowded university basement, the collection and its curators are moving to a bigger, brighter more public space where you’ll be able to handle samples, experiment with new materials and create stuff in a state-of-the-art workshop read more


located 254 metres above sea level with gas intakes at 116m and 232m above the streets of San Francisco, the Sutro Tower acts as a climate sentinel, stretching up into the atmosphere to measure CO2 levels. the first US sampling site to be located in an urban centre, it’s equipped with automated flask sampling systems that provide daily measurements of a suite of greenhouse gases, carbon isotopes, halocarbons and other compounds. together with other stations, it has witnessed a steady rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, with recent figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration making for grim reading. there’s a good summary of the new data on The Guardian and a great apocalyptic climate disaster round-up on Motherboard

Gemma Anderson: Isomorphology


among the endless array of forms, functions and designs found in nature, a series of repeating patterns and similarities have emerged over the eons. spirals, hexagons and branches appear throughout the biological and mineralogical world, forming a kind of visual identity for the planet. could other worlds contain different, but similarly repetitive motifs?

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scientists at the European Food Safety Authority announced this week that they have identified a number of risks to bees from neonicotinoid pesticides – adding to the growing consensus that such chemicals are behind the worrying decline in bee populations. the insecticides work by messing up insect nervous systems and can remain active in the soil for years – harming birds, fish, amphibians and other species. you can get involved by adding your signature to UK, European and US petitions calling on governments to act on the mounting evidence


first pioneered in the 1960s, cryonics involves the rapid cooling and storage of the human body or brain after death, offering a tantalising shot at immortality. despite the obvious allure of being awoken in some futuristic tomorrowland, only a couple of hundred people have as yet undergone the procedure, which starts with the injection of anti-freeze chemicals as close to possible after death

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briefing: coming comets

we’re super excited to start the new year with the first in a series of ‘briefings’ – which we’ll be publishing when there’s something big going on we think more people should know about

the first covers the approach of comets ISON and Pan-STARRS, which could make 2013 the best year for astronomy in living memory. we look at the prospects for seeing a comet in the daytime and catch up with the Hampstead Observatory’s Doug Daniels, who you may remember fondly from our rooftop Science Fair™ astronomy session back in 2010

printed on 100% recycled paper on our RISO printer, each double-sided A4 briefing is matched up to an online gallery with colour, animated and credited versions of each image

download as PDF

2O12 in 12 seconds

from the Transit of Venus, laser fusion and Himalayan glaciers to jellyfish, crystals and hypergiant stars, here are some of the images we transmitted via our weekly email this year, along with a few from the cutting room floor. we hope you’ve enjoyed – have a lovely holiday and we’ll meet you back here for more visual science in 2013
♡ s/c

the art of Apollo 17

forty years ago tonight, mankind’s last mission to the moon touched down in the Taurus-Littrow valley, located in the Taurus mountains just east of the Sea of Serenity. for the next three days, commander Eugene Cernan and geologist Harrison Schmitt lived and worked in this most dramatic of Apollo landscapes, collecting a record haul of moon rocks, taking measurements, setting up experiments and taking pictures on a range of cameras. some, like this one showing Schmitt next to big boulder, became well-known while hundreds of others languish in the archives. here is just a small sample…

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on this day in 1973, NASA’s Pioneer 10 made a close fly-by of Jupiter, plunging through the gas giant’s magnetic fields to beam back the best images yet of the distant planet. fittingly, tonight sees Jupiter at opposition: the point in space where its closest to earth and brightest, so look out for it in the eastern skies on your way home tonight

printed projects

starting in 2013, we’ll be returning to our roots in publishing with a series of lovingly-crafted science projects printed on our RISO RP3700. a cross between a photocopier and a screen printer, Risograph printing uses eco-friendly soy inks and we only ever print on recycled paper from Paperback, a UK pioneer in recycled papers

up first will be AS001, the first in a series of ‘briefings’ covering timely science topics like the two comets currently headed our way. also in January, we’re proud to present Gemma Anderson‘s introduction to Isomorphology – a creative science classification system developed during her time sketching specimens at the Natural History Museum. a book on particles by Sister Arrow will follow, and we’ll also be putting out an open call for issue 1 of super/collider magazine

sign up to our mailing list and we’ll keep you posted

national tree week

an annual event since the early 1970s, the Tree Council’s National Tree Week has seen thousands of volunteers planting trees up and down the country. originally a response to the widespread devastation caused by Dutch elm disease, this year’s celebration takes place under the looming shadow of the Chalara fraxinea fungus – which threatens to wipe out most of the UK’s ash trees. you can help fight back by planting a tree, or for extra credit, becoming a tree warden

people, places and space

out this week, Pharrell Williams’ new coffee table book with Rizzoli features the N*E*R*D/Neptunes producer in conversation with some pretty varied names – ranging from Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Design Miami founder Ambra Medda to Zaha Hadid and Buzz Aldrin. discussing style, green buildings and prefab architecture with the first three, he chats to the second man on the moon about all things outer space



techniques and devices used to detect nuclear weapons are being deployed in the search for dark matter – the mysterious material that makes up perhaps 25% of the universe but which we know almost nothing about. located in an abandoned mine nearly a mile underground beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota, the LUX experiment is shielded from cosmic rays by the rock, and immersed in a tank of ultra-pure de-ionized water to keep out stray radiation. beyond observing dark matter particle interactions, which have so far eluded direct detection, the experiment could lead to smaller, more capable devices to search for rogue nuclear material



the world’s newest, largest and most complicated telescope is now officially open for astronomy. located high in the deserts of Chile, the European Southern Observatory’s Atacama Large Milllimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) is made up of a series of interlinked antennas stretching across an ultra-arid plain 5000m above sea level read more


like dinosaurs? get yourself down to Protein‘s  Hewett Street space for GIF masterminds Reed + Rader‘s first solo show in the UK – ‘Cretaceous Returns’. expect dubstep dinos, prehistoric paper foliage and primitive animation – plus signed Mini Dinosaur sculptures, limited edition video pieces and prints of the Brooklyn-based duo’s prehistoric world for some early Christmas shopping


an urban laboratory in the desert north of Phoenix, Arcosanti is a living prototype for architect Paolo Soleri’s vision of a city set in – and in tune with – nature. combining architecture and ecology, the ‘Arcology’ is designed to eventually house 5000 people on 15 acres of land, instead of the usual 500 acres required by your average sprawling suburb. we’ve spent the past few days here interviewing the people who live here for a forthcoming piece in AnOther, so stay tuned for more photos soon


big news this week from the La Silla Observatory in Chile, which has detected an earth-sized planet in the star system next door, Alpha Centauri. using the HARPS fibre-fed high resolution echelle spectrograph (as you do) the team monitored star Alpha Centauri B over the course of four years, watching for tiny fluctuations that reveal the presence of orbiting bodies. though the planet is far too hot to visit (and not yet 100% confirmed) news of a new world just 4.37 light years away has already got folks discussing the possibility of sending an interstellar probe to the system



we’re not entirely sure what to expect from Cosmicmegabrain‘s group show in London this weekend, but if nothing else Emily Candela‘s krustapseudicals alone should make it worth seeking out. created live on the night, the (theoretically) edible crystals contain vitamins, minerals, proteins (harvested from the artist’s hair) and tiny amounts of skin and dental care products like lip gloss and mouthwash – what Emily calls “basically crystallisations of magazine articles offering beauty advice”

info on the event here, hat tip to and full interview on Dazed Digital

Tristram Lansdowne: islands in the sky

we first came across Canadian artist Tristram Lansdowne when his surreal island paradise graced the opening pages of Landfill Editions’ epic Mould Map project. now we’re wishing we lived in Toronto, as a retrospective of his meticulously hand-painted works opens, showcasing a breathtaking series of imagined worlds. since we don’t, we caught up with him via email to find out more about the natural inspiration behind his paintings
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radio silence


couldn’t not post an image from Derek Mead’s photographic tour of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s facility in West Virginia: a series of telescopes nestled amid lush forests and hills read more

Jiggling Atoms

October 2012

Richard Feynman won the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work in particle physics – namely drawing diagrams. his magical insight was to visualise the complex mathematics of particle interactions as a series of simple paths on a page. Feynman was also a keen educator and was great at getting even the most ardent non-mathematicians to comprehend the many aspects of physics, which is exactly what the Jiggling Atoms team set out to do. they got a bunch of illustrators to attend a series of physics lectures and now they’re showcasing the work made in response in a big exhibition. there will also be a series of accompanying talks and workshops – look out for the Feynman Diagram Print Workshop and Handcrafted Particle Accelerator talks we are co-hosting on Thursday and Saturday. all the events are free and will take place at the Rag Factory from 1-7 October


after a voyage of more than 62,000 nautical miles, the French environmental research vessel TARA will next week dock in London as part of an ongoing educational sailing. we’ll be co-hosting an exclusive evening tour and talk onboard the ship with AnOther Magazine, and there are also a series of other events and an exhibition at the Covent Garden branch of agnès b, who have sponsored the two most recent expeditions: a two-year drift through the Arctic pack ice and a circumnavigation of the globe to study plankton. the following article appears in Issue 23 of AnOther, on newstands now

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after touching down on the western side of Mars’ Chryse Planitia in 1976, the Viking 1 lander beamed back the first images from the surface of another planet read more

species of the week

the Shield mantis is just one of millions of species found in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador – one of the most biodiverse places on earth thanks in part to the fact it never froze over during the last ice age. the rainforested area is home to an incredible array of wildlife ranging from fish and birds to reptiles and amphibians, as well as several uncontacted human tribes

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our nearest star may be 4.2 light years or 39,900,000,000,000 km away but how do scientists know that? there are lots of clever methods for measuring these insane distances, one of which relies on the Transit of Venus – part of the reason we were all so excited about it earlier this year read more

Neptune rising

with the skies darkening and the most distant planet in our solar system shining high in the sky, we thought the next few weeks would be a good time to launch our new Pop-Up Astronomy Club – a series of impromptu events around East London that take place when there’s something good to see and the skies are clear. our first target will be Neptune, which reaches opposition tonight – making it brighter and easier to see. if you’d like to come see it with us in the coming weeks, check out the project page for more

ps: it will look nothing like this image


early next Monday morning, 154 million miles from earth, a white and gold UFO-shaped spacecraft will hit the Martian atmosphere traveling at nearly 6km per second. after some hypersonic aeromaneuvering (as you do) NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory will deploy this parachute – the largest ever made to fly on an extraterrestrial flight – and start its treacherous final descent. if all goes to plan, a series of rockets will then fire to slow the craft down, enabling it to lower a 1-ton rover called Curiosity towards the surface. if it makes it, the SUV-sized rover will spend the next Martian year (687 Earth days) exploring the Gale Crater for signs of life

you can watch the landing, scheduled for 6:31am GMT on Monday August 6, on NASA TV


from a solar-powered tanning bed to a lunar ‘scratch and sniff’ card, UK/German duo Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser’s work together as We Colonised The Moon explores outer space in a charming, playful way, combining Sue’s love of performance and printing with Hagen’s use of scientific artifacts and instruments. if you missed their recent installation as part of Republic of the Moon, a retrospective opening today at Ebb & Flow showcases just a few of their far-out projects

image: Figoris (2012) by Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser


on Tuesday night, physicists began camping out at CERN to await an announcement that’s been nearly five decades coming: the potential discovery of the Higgs boson. researchers at the Large Hadron Collider have spent the last fourteen years working towards finding the elusive elementary particle – which fills the universe with an invisible energy field, giving every other particle its mass and so allowing us, the stars and indeed everything to exist read more


the city’s streets can seem like a no-fly zone sometimes, but the air around us is alive with often-unseen fellow urbanites – and this week brings two chances to learn more about species who overfly us daily and nightly. the first is Jeremy Deller’s new collaboration with bat scientist Kate Jones for Invisible Dust: a series of walks around East London’s Greenway to look for (and listen to) bats. then on Thursday lunchtime, The Honey Club will be outlining their plans to create the biggest bee-friendly community in the world in King’s Cross. the event is the first in a summer series at the King’s Cross Filling Station – a new public space and pop-up restaurant which will also see events from Wired, Wallpaper* and something called super/collider


good news for native wildlife this week with the release of 34 frankly adorable dormice into the Warwickshire countryside as part the PTES National Dormouse Monitoring Programme – the world’s longest running national mammal monitoring project. such reintroductions are only done in areas where historical populations of dormice have become extinct and where the woodland and hedgerows have been managed to encourage native species like this little fella. if you don’t know the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, check out their wildlife encounters programme, where you can go walking with wolves, hedgehog tracking or cruising for basking sharks

image: British Wildlife Centre


if you missed the first-ever interim show from Central St Martin’s new MA Art and Science course, there’s another chance to see some of the artists (whose inspiration ranges from the occult sciences to neuroaesthetics to nanotechnology to astrophysics) at V22 Workspace later today and tomorrow, including Rafaela Miranda Rocha‘s study on the visual interpretation of the concept of Abiogenesis, pictured above


with only a few hours left to go until the final Transit of Venus in our lifetimes, the weather is looking decidedly cloudy in London – but that doesn’t mean you can’t see it. a number of ground and space-based telescopes will be tracking the event; something early astronomers could only dream of. most webcasts begin just before 10pm GMT – Sky & Telescope has a good list of sites. enjoy – we’ll be the last people to see it until 2117

guest post: Why Observe the Transit?

Dr Suzanne Aigrain was our guest at Science Fair™ in May, and is with us in Sweden for Worlds In Transit. this is the second of her posts for Exoclimes.com – in which she explains why modern science is interested in this Transit…

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guest post: waiting for Venus

our friends and collaborators over at Floda 31 have been busy getting ready for our upcoming Worlds In Transit event – creating outdoor kitchens and toilets, salvaging ovens and building an incredible Transit of Venus observatory from reclaimed wood. here’s a summary of what they’ve been up to so far…

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space camp


Mars missions have already been simulated in the Canadian Arctic, off the coast of Florida, in the deserts of Utah and most recently inside an Austrian ice cave, but none look as fun as the one currently underway on New York’s Upper East Side read more

species of the week: Lycoperdon perlatum

the surface of this mushroom is described, variously, as being covered in warts, spiny bumps, jewels or spikes. early on, when still crisp and white, these mushrooms are edible, with an apparently aromatic taste to them. when older, the matured and now slightly brown-coloured puffball reproduces by opening its upper surface to liberate and disperse spores

warning: super/collider does not recommend eating wild mushrooms unless you are an expert, as insanely poisonous varieties can resemble edible ones

life on Mars

In this exclusive excerpt from Dazed & Confused’s forthcoming space-themed June issue, Dr Pascal Lee writes about his time on Mars

For the past 15 years, I have been going up to the Arctic every summer to study one of the most Mars-like places on Earth: Devon Island. Devon is the world’s largest uninhabited island. It is about the size of Croatia. When we are on Devon, we are its population.

The island is home to Haughton Crater, a mighty 20 km-wide meteorite impact crater that formed 39 million years ago when an asteroid or a comet – we are still not sure – slammed into our planet. Haughton is the only known crater on Earth that is located in a polar desert, an environment that is at once very cold, dry, rocky, dusty, packed with underground ice, and drenched in UV light. The similarities with Mars don’t stop here. Aside from Haughton Crater, Devon Island offers us an astounding array of other geologic features that look just like what we see on Mars: canyons, gullies, valley networks, rock glaciers, polygonal terrain, ancient lakebeds, and more read more



the geological age of The Anthropocene (the most recent age of man) has been defined by humanity’s collective actions upon the planet. Gabo Guzzo, a London-based Italian artist and economist will present a diagram in relation to this epoch. using this diagram he will explore the effect we have had on the earth by fostering collaborative conversations and responses to his offering. the artist is calling on people from across the sciences and humanities to get in touch and join in The Geological Turn residency and exhibition at Banner Repeater. on 31st May, the opening night of the exhibition, Guzzo will also hold a discussion chaired by writer TJ Demos between a Nobel-prize winning atmospheric chemist, an artist and a geologist – for more info on the exhibition and how to get involved see the information below

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last week a new particle, the Xi(b)* (pronounced csai-bee-star) was discovered at CERN by a Zurich-based team working on the CMS detector. classed as an ‘excited beauty baryon’ – this new beaut is known to be made up of three quarks: one ‘up’, one ‘strange’ and one ‘beauty’ (also known as ‘bottom’) quark. any particle made up of a trio of quarks is called a baryon – neutrons and protons are also types of baryon. the stuff holding these three quarks together are called ‘gluons’, a super-glue strong force which means we have never been able to observe a single quark on its own!

to celebrate this new find check out our gluons on sale in the shop from the wonderful Particle Zoo…and more info on tracking down the new baryon can be found here

image: CMS detector at CERN

credit: CERN


out this week, America’s Other Audubon tells the story of Genevieve Jones, a young American illustrator inspired by the work of naturalist John James Audubon. after seeing his groundbreaking illustrations of birds at the 1876 World Fair, she set out to document the nests and eggs he had skipped over read more

species of the week: Cephea cephea

the jellyfish Cephea cephea is captured here in the mobile stage of its life cycle. the term jellyfish or medusa only refers to the free-swimming members of the greater phylum of Cnideria, whereas when attached to the sea-bed, they are called polyps. instead of tentacles they have eight highly-branched oral arms, along which there are suctorial mini-mouth orifices. Cephea cephea wafts in the tropical water of the Indo-Western Pacific, and is fished for cooking purposes despite consisting of up to 98% water


photo by Klaus Thymann

incrementally flowing down into valleys, lakes and oceans, the slow motion march of glaciers has etched the earth’s surface for eons – but today these remote white worlds are under threat. with the puzzling exception of the Karakoram range, the world’s glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate, with geologists predicting that some of Africa’s little-known ones could disappear completely before the decade is out

created by the accumulation of snow over centuries, glaciers are found on every continent bar Australia. surprisingly, many remain unmapped and unphotographed, which is where Project Pressure comes in. founded in 2008 by lifestyle photographer Klaus Thymann, the not-for-profit initiative is slowly creating an archive of glacier photography which will form the basis of a touring exhibition and global glacier atlas. working in collaboration with the World Glacier Monitoring Service and NASA, the project carefully records GPS co-ordinates to compare glacial retreat, and has been recognised as an official contributor to the Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers

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slowly built up using tiny pieces of wallpaper before painting, David Wightman’s painstakingly-created canvases show a strange greyscale world of mountains, rocks and glaciers cut through by striking colour rivers. taking kitsch mountain scenes as their starting point, the fifteen works now on show at Halcyon Gallery transform traditional landscapes into something starker and altogether more foreboding



in our most recent The Scientist column for Topman Generation, we look at the monolith on Phobos and other space oddities…

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on now at Brancolini Grimaldi in London, Transmission: New Remote Earth Views sees one of our favourite artists tackling landscape in a new way. working with data from the United States Geological Survey, Dan Holdsworth has created a series of images of a geology neither imagined nor real read more



of all the lovely stuff on show at Pick Me Up to choose from, we’re totally loving the cosmic back-story behind Miles Donovan’s Ulysses collages. inspired by the NASA space probe and its Jupiter-assisted plane change and subsequent trans-solar adventures, the series presents an alternate take on the spacecraft’s wandering journey around the Jovian system, past Comet Hyakutale and out into the unknown

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acclaimed physicist Richard Feynman revolutionised the world of Particle Physics with his visualisations of particle interactions – ‘Feynman Diagrams’. last week we helped out as Camberwell Press editor Natalie Kay Thatcher hosted a workshop based on Feynman’s iconic graphics read more

mars / nudes

we don’t often show nipples on super/collider, but it’s not often that an internationally-renowned artist simultaneously exhibits two shows based on photographs of porn stars and the surface of Mars read more

scrapbook: Paris

we’ve just got back from a cosmically-inclined trip to the French capital, so what better time to launch our new ‘scrapbook’ feature – a collection of images and ephemera

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opening today at Haunch of Venison’s new space, a mini-retrospective of work by Katie Paterson sees 100 Billion Suns sitting alongside other intergalactic projects – both past and future. first staged at last year’s Venice biennale, the title work consists of a small canon which will fire at 1pm daily, releasing a burst of 3,261 pieces of confetti colour-matched to recorded gamma-ray bursts: cosmic explosions which burn with a luminosity 100 billion times that of our sun read more

guest post: dispatches from paradise

for the past three weeks, twelve scientists and supporting team members have been recording, logging and observing sea life in the Chagos Archipelago as part of the first full scientific expedition since the area was declared a no-take marine protected zone in April 2010. in this special guest blog from the middle of the Indian Ocean, the team investigate the Salomons Atoll…

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with spring just around the corner and migratory birds returning north, this timely lunchtime lecture at The Royal Society looks at Francis Willughby – the man who basically invented ornithology. Professor Tim Birkhead FRS will explore how he and John Ray produced the landmark publication The Ornithology of Francis Willughby in the mid 1600s, which set the scene for future studies of birds, fish and insects

image: plate 42 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting the Orchard Oriole


delicate and highly detailed studies of the flora and fauna of the Pacific islands provide the inspiration for Carlos Noronha Feio’s latest work, now showing at IMT Gallery.  Plant Life of the Pacific World  is a series of gracefully collaged photos of nuclear explosions, alluringly echoing the forms of the natural world as classified by American botanist E.D. Merrill’s book from which the exhibition takes its name. the book’s dry classification of plant forms is transformed by Noronha Feio into an explosive revelry of intense, amoebic forms bursting forth as deadly chain reactions


this weekend’s Oxford Mineral Fossil Show will be preceded by a special meeting co-organized by the Russell Society, the Mineralogical Society and Gem-A (the Gemmological Association of Great Britain). entitled Nature’s Treasures, the day will see talks ranging from “Re-creating 3D models of fossils” to “Minerals at the Nano-Scale: Exploring our Crystalline World” read more


filmed by Jonathan Gales during last summer’s Unknown Fields expedition to the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Factory Fifteen’s GAMMA blends footage from the Aral Sea, Baikonur and Prypiat with computer generated skyships and nuclear waste munching organisms to tell one man’s story of a not-so-distant possible future read more


from artists like David Lynch and Patti Smith to mathematicians like Cédric Villani and Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere is a true meeting of minds at the Fondation Cartier in Paris read more


when seen side by side with, say, the planet Venus, our sun looks pretty huge – but lurking out beyond our solar system are millions upon millions of much bigger stars read more


a rare meteorite sample that could help unravel the mysteries of Mars has been acquired by the Natural History Museum in London. the space rock is about the size of a paperback book and is the largest known fragment of the Tissint meteorite, which fell as a shower of stones in the deserts of southern Morocco last July. eyewitnesses heard two sonic booms and saw a bright fireball trace through the night sky

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today, like every February 2nd, marks World Wetlands Day – a celebration of the world’s damp areas and the abundance of life that springs from them read more

the plant journal

if the lush images, elegant illustrations and handy potting ideas from Issue 1 are anything to go by, tonight’s launch of The Plant Journal number two should be a cause of celebration. essentially plant porn, each lovingly-crafted issue is dedicated to a particular species – in this case one of our personal favourites: Monstera Deliciosa read more

star power

in the middle of the night, as the rest of America sleeps, a small group of physicists in California stand in a hushed control room. the clock steadily counts down towards zero and then, in a fraction of a second, everything happens at once

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enjoy the silence

already feeling frazzled by the rush to catch up back at work? take a minute to check out John Hooper’s new Landsounds project – a work-in-progress that combines still photography and sound recordings of life’s quiet little corners

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what are you looking forward to in 2012?

to celebrate the arrival of 2012, super/collider  teamed up with our pals at Protein® to give you the chance to win one of their sleek Chromo-coded calendars – the perfect way to keep track of the final days of planet earth! read more

death from above

to mark the first month of the Mayan year of doom, super/collider will be publishing stories about and predictions for 2012 throughout January. we start with a look at one man’s efforts to save the world from cataclysm via a DIY asteroid observatory in rural Wales, originally published in Dazed & Confused

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twice in a lifetime

artwork by Wolfgang Tillmans

pay attention folks – this is the most important heads-up we can give you for the next 105 years. this June, the planet Venus will be visible as it passes in front of the sun for the second – and last – time in our lives

the first transit of our era took place in 2004, but thanks to the way the planets turn the next one won’t take place until 2117. watching a small disc pass in front of the sun may not sound all that thrilling, but seeing this rarest of cosmic alignments unfold gives you a true sense of our place in space. indeed, it was from observations 17th and 18th century transits that we first able to measure the distance between the earth and the sun, and modern observations have helped researchers learn more about how to detect exoplanets orbiting distant stars

Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans captured seven images of the 2004 transit of Venus, one of which formed the cover of his book Truth Study Center – recently re-released by Taschen as part of a three volume boxset. writing recently in The Guardian, Tillmans called it his favourite shot, and recalled that “observing the 2004 transit through my telescope, which I still have from my astronomy-obsessed teenage days, had no scientific value, but it was moving to see the mechanics of the sky”

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closer to god

later today, researchers working at the Large Hadron Collider will host a seminar to (quote) provide an update on experimental progress over the last 12 months (end quote) at the Atlas and CERN experiments. and though the CERN press office says “we are told that there will be NO announcement confirming or refuting the existence of the Higgs boson” the rest of the world is buzzing about the possibility they’ve found hints of the elusive ‘God Particle’ read more

the universe in 140 characters

having explored the solar system with Björk, our favourite pop physicist Marcus Chown has turned his attention to the universe, neatly summarising everything you’ve ever wanted to know in 140 characters – well, kind of. originally written as a series of Tweets, the book takes on questions ranging from “What makes the sky blue?” to “What happened before the Big Bang?” and answers them in short, sharp summaries – perfect for those of us with short attention spans

all this week we’ll be retweeting excerpts from Tweeting the Universe and giving away five copies to the most prolific retweeters. click here to see the posts and retweet for your chance to win

Mould Map launch party

our pals over at Landfill Editions are unleashing their latest, biggest, brightest and most ambitious project to date tonight: the awe-inspiring explosion of psychedelic insanity that is Mould Map 2. drawing on surrealism, science, sex and all points in betwixt, it is – as they ably describe it – 28 artists’ visions “of the distant past recalled from a point in the distant future, alternate realities / alternative histories, mislaid technologies and knowledge, forgotten scientific visions, evolving visual cultures resurrecting, distorting and mutating period styles and a bewildering mix of contrasting chronological visual and sociological clues and signs in a 24 page A3 mega-book and 7 piece print set”

see you there


with Dawn’s adventures in the asteroid field entering month five, amazing images and videos continue to arrive from deep space. first it was a close up view of Vesta, then a 3D tour of the asteroid, and now NASA have released these beautiful images of rocks from Vesta – found right here on earth

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adventures in the asteroid field

read more


despite the failure of Russia’s ambitious Phobos sample return mission, the next chapter in our exploration of Mars began over the weekend with the launch of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory read more

species of the week: Linepithema humile

one of the most successfully invasive species on earth, the humble little Argentine ant thrives by linking up with neighbours instead of fighting them. this ‘unicoloniality’ results in giant supercolonies – one of which stretches more than 6000 km along the Mediterranean coast. indeed, researchers now believe that the three giant Linepithema humile colonies in California, Europe and Japan are in fact genetically identical, and thus one massive ‘global supercolony’

read more


on Friday and Saturday, we’ll be covering a new Intelligence² conference dedicated to all things futuristic – from extreme architecture and endless cities to longevity research and life in outer space. alongside the usual more tech- and business-oriented stuff, the iq² If Conference has packed in a lot of science, including Hugh Broughton Architects’ spacecraft-like pods for the British Antarctic Survey read more

another earth

super/collider’s own John Hooper was involved in the making of this amazing promo for Another Earth, which tells the story of a second planet approaching ours. filmed at a school in West London, it shows the textbooks literally being re-written as a solar system forms inside the school and the earth’s climate changes. to make the video, John shot still images of the backgrounds, which were then animated by director Rupert Cresswell of Glint

read more


experts from academia and industry are gathering today and tomorrow at the Royal Society in London to discuss the latest innovations in solar power and ask the stark question of whether this clean, green power source can really deliver read more


following on from photographer Neil Berrett’s Souvenirs of Chernobyl exhibition in Berkeley, further creative work is beginning to emerge from the Unknown Fields expedition to the atomic and cosmic regions of the former USSR read more

profile: Julie Peasley

the world of particle physics is full of huge detectors and complicated machines searching for unimaginably small particles. the Particle Zoo – in contrast – is a colourful little workshop in LA created and run by self-taught physicist Julie Peasley. visiting the studio is like entering a subatomic world of stitching, sewing machines, buttons, zips, multi-coloured felts – and a few cats to keep Schrödinger happy. her immaculately-ordered shelves echo the grid-like standard model structure, with ‘boson eyes’ at one end, ‘beta decay zippers’ at the other. even every thread colour is ‘charm’ or ‘strange’, ‘truth’ or ‘beauty’

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AnOther Magazine: Sylvia Earle


Few people on earth can tell the kind of stories that Sylvia Earle can. We’re huddled around a speaker phone, leaning forward intently as the legendary oceanographer recounts one of the most memorable moments of her long career. The year was 1979, and Earle was about to embark on the deepest undersea walk ever attempted. At a depth of 381 metres beneath the surface, she stepped off the edge of a submersible – and into the abyss read more

species of the week: Dendronephthya

there are over 250 species of Carnation Tree Coral, including this peach-colored specimen found in Komodo National Park, Indonesia

sample of the week: Gallium

a soft, silvery metal whose melting point is so low that it turns to liquid in your hands. used in semiconductors, neutrino detection and, possibly in the future, in hydrogen energy transfer and storage systems


Frozen Planet

it’s taken us days and days and days to even start this post – possibly because we can’t actually bring ourselves to acknowledge that after almost sixty years of nature broadcasting, Sir David Attenborough might well have completed his last major TV epic read more

species of the week: Tapirus terrestris

like its Asian cousin, Tapirus indicus, this snouty South American is an excellent swimmer, is on the endangered list and produces insanely cute stripey babies. you can learn more about Tapirs – and the upcoming Tapir Symposium – at the excellent tapirs.org

Seana Gavin: cosmic worlds

on distant moons and remote mountaintops, crystals slowly grow starwards, while lichens, mosses and funghi creep across the landscape. mushroom clouds bloom on the horizon, while planets and insects hover under orange skies. as strange figures dance on hilltops, expressways cut through canyons made of rock and cities

this is the strange and wonderful world of collage artist Seana Gavin’s mind and art: a surreal set of worlds composed of images from our world, but utterly different. with her first three dimensional work opening this week at b store, and being fans of a good diorama, we thought it high time we caught up her to talk all things cosmic…

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music: the planets

one of our top thrift store finds is another obscure copy of Holst’s classical music opus The Planets to join the others on the shelf – which so far includes everything from a sedate record collector’s edition to a bunch of tripped out 70s ones with Stoneghenge on the cover

with a new take on our cosmic neighbours, tonight’s Galvanised festival of other music presents a series of performances inspired by the five pre-telescopic planets of Chaldean astronomy: Saturn, Mars, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter read more

guest post: a new physics?

with all the recent talk about faster-than-light particles, we thought it timely to bring you selected excerpts from physicist Ben Still’s Neutrino Blog looking at how such speeds might be possible, what that means for physics and how we might have seen this all once before read more

sample of the week

a 22.70g fragment of the Carancas meteorite, an H chondrite breccia containing clasts of petrologic types 4 to 5 which impacted the Puno Region of Peru on 15 September, 2007


after nearly three decades of smashing particles together, physicists at America’s forerunner to the Large Hadron Collider will be raising a glass as the Tevatron is shut down for the final time later today. and while many are talking about the closure in the context of increasing international competition (like China’s recent space habitat launch), the team at Fermilab (whose amazing offices are pictured above) will probably be remembering the good times, like discovering the elusive top quark particle, and looking ahead to the mysteriously named Project X

read more


as we mentioned back in April, the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy is home to a series of experiments relying on a beam of neutrinos generated at CERN, some 732km away. in a development that has shocked the physics world and even made mainstream headlines, researchers have found that the neutrinos are arriving a tiny fraction of a second faster than the speed of light – a finding that would turn the conventional theory of a ‘cosmic speed limit’ on its head. like all good scientists, the physicists behind the results are now seeking to verify the results – so we’ll have to wait a little longer before rewriting, um, basically everything we know

image: the OPERA experiment at Gran Sasso
credit: Gran Sasso National Laboratory / CERN


blurring the boundaries between design and science, Patrick Stevenson-Keating‘s Quantum Parallelograph uses the famous double-slit experiment to give you a brief glimpse your life in an alternate universe. turning the dial lets you choose how far you stray from your current reality, while pressing the button activates a laser, sending photons steaming out across, possibly, parallel universes to determine where and when you end up

Patrick is one of the designers featured in our forthcoming publication, DesigningScience

image: The Quantum Parallelograph


good news for otters and rivers this week with two of the lovable scamps (Lutra lutra to be precise) spotted building their holts on the banks of the Medway and Eden rivers in Kent – confirming their return to every county in England. the Environment Agency have been working hard to clean up the country’s rivers for the last two decades and the otters’ return after near extinction in the 70s is an important indicator of a healthy ecosystem. now, go make more otter babies

image: a Lutra lutra (aka ‘Fischotter’ in German)
credit: Gunnar Ries


yesterday evening, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft began surveying Vesta, one of the largest asteroids we know of – and the brightest as seen from earth. after a spaceflight of 2.8 billion kilometres, the probe became the first to orbit an asteroid in the main belt last month, and has been slowly approaching its rocky surface even since. click here for a 3D image and more on what comes next


if all goes to plan, today will see the launch of Juno: a heavily-shielded space probe bound for the radiation-drenched magnetosphere of Jupiter. the spacecraft and its three passengers will enter the Jovian system in 2016 and approach the planet over its north pole, avoiding the worst of the deadly radiation belts. once in orbit around the gas giant, the solar-powered probe will make 32 passes, skimming to within 5000 miles of the cloud tops. you can launch today’s launch live over on nasa.tv

image: technicians at Astrotech’s payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida watch as NASA’s Juno spacecraft is tested for center of gravity, weighing and balancing on the rotation stand
credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett


even as the clock ticks down to the final shuttle launch, we’re counting down to the launch of very different but equally far out mission. next week, we’ll be joining Unknown Fields and students from the Architecture Association School of Architecture on the start of an epic journey through the atomic and cosmic regions of the former Soviet Union. you can join us for the public forum on Monday, then follow the trip, our Colossal Space curation and the work of various participants on our live blog, which will launch on the same day as the mission

caption: the abandoned town of Prypiat, near Chernobyl
credit: Flickr user Wolfhowl

species of the week: Sciurus vulgaris

the lovable but unfortunately-named Sciurus vulgaris hit the headlines again recently after four baby red squirrels were knocked out of their tree by Hurricane Katia. while the family-run wildlife sanctuary now caring from them is receiving lots of extra attention, the plight of the species as a whole remains uncertain – so a donation to the Red Squirrel Survival Trust may be more useful in the long run

worlds in the making

turning away from the star that has inspired much of their previous work, film/art duo Semiconductor’s first major UK solo show at FACT in Liverpool looks at the volcanic processes that have shaped the earth from within. the main work is projected over three screens, juxtaposing the work of the Instituto Geofisico Volcano Observatory in Tungurahua, Ecuador alongside stunning videos of the volcanoes and animations of crystals growing deep below the ground


if you missed Katie Paterson‘s 100 Billion Suns in Venice there’s another chance to see it at Constellations in Manchester, where a canon will fire 3261 pieces of confetti whose colours correspond to specific gamma ray bursts – the brightest explosions in the universe. for us non-Mancunians, July 4 is a good day to go thanks to a screening and Q&A exploring the special effects that went into creating Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe


with the days stretching long into the night, summer solstice is nearly upon us – a traditional time of celebration and worship. but what causes this annual change, and why was it so important to the ancients? come find out on Monday as Science Fair™ delves into the fascinating world of archaeoastronomy with Professor Andrew Gregory of UCL for our first outdoor event of the summer



opening today at London’s Sumarria Lunn Gallery, David Rickard’s Time+Trace centres on Exhaust – a 24-hour experiment during which the artist collected his exhaled air for an entire day in a series of foil bags. other science-leaning works include mediations on constellations and pigeon droppings, random chance and, in Stored Capacity #1, the transmutation of lead into gold on heavily-laden shelves



plenty of cosmic happenings next week, starting with Nelly Ben Hayoun and Nahum Mantra’s ongoing Kosmica series at The Arts Catalyst with guests like Dr Jill Stuart, Alicia Framis and Jem Finer – artist in residence in the astrophysics department at Oxford University. next up, Science Fair™ drops by The Amwell Street Knocking Shop for a night of vintage shopping, astronomy, film and badge-making. and finally, if you’re up super early (or out super late) look out for a clutch of planets in the morning sky




the strange land between science fact and science fiction has produced some the most inspiring ideas, images and imaginings yet seen, which is why the British Library’s new Out of This World season has got us freaking out. combining far-out legends like Alan Moore and George Clinton with serious real life business like tonight’s ‘Fixing the Planet: Have we Finally got some Concrete Options?’ it’s science meets fiction uptown, in a library!



opening today at Saville Row’s Hauser & Wirth gallery, Matthew Day Jackson’s new show features coloured skulls, re-covered LIFE magazines, a repurposed B-29 and this work: a long, panelled landscape based on a Mercator map that replicates the moon’s surface through laser etching on drywall



with NASA’s space shuttle program drawing to a close in the coming months, next week’s Science Fair™ night will be marking the end of an era with a special send off party – fitting, as the second-last space shuttle mission is now scheduled for Monday. we’ll be joined by space expert and author Piers Bizony and photographer David Ryle to discuss the wider cultural impact of the end of the dream before rounding off the night with a screening of the Motherboard documentary Space Shuttle Parking Lot



a temporary installation in a derelict space in Dalston, Urban Fog is a site specific response to a hidden pocket of empty space. transformed into a minimalist teahouse by art/architecture practice Atelier ChanChan, it’ll be serving up tea and cakes amid  ghostly transparent walls – with all proceeds going towards Japanese disaster relief efforts



if NASA’s penultimate shuttle launch goes ahead tomorrow – and the skies clear – the orbiter Endeavour will put on a final farewell show over the UK just after lifoff. two minutes after rocketing skywards from Kennedy Space Center, the shuttle will shed its two solid rocket boosters and head up over the Atlantic. five minutes later, its bright orange external tank will separate too – gliding along with the shuttle towards Europe. if you look up fifteen to twenty minutes after launch (which you can watch online) you should be able to spot them flying alongside each other like two little stars


we thought we’d mark Earth Day tomorrow with a familiar but slightly different view of the planet we call home: not the famous Earthrise image taken from Apollo 8, but one snapped during the unmanned Russian Zond-7 mission on August 9, 1969. a two-person spaceship designed to circle around the moon but not land, the Soyuz 7K-L1 also photographed ‘earthrise’ – whose contrast between the dead moon and living earth became an emblem of the early environmental movement – during other missions around the moon and back


you might know recent RCA graduate Nelly Ben Hayoun from her immersive, science-leaning installations – which range from Super K inspired tunnels to a chair that recreates the launch of a Soyuz rocket. now, working with explosives designer Austin Houlsdworth and in consultation with volcanologist Dr. Carina Fearnley from UCL, she’s only gone and created a volcano that slowly spews smoke and debris into your living room. ‘The Other Volcano’ is currently on show at East London’s Space In Between gallery and will later and will also be part of the Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference later this year


fifty years ago tomorrow Major Yuri Gagarin became the first human to leave the earth below and fly into space, orbiting the planet once in his Vostok-1 capsule for 108 minutes before parachuting down in the Saratov region of Russia to be greeted by confused locals. the launch of Chris Riley’s First Orbit promises to be among the highlights of the anniversary, which reminds us that although our progress into space sometimes seems to move at a glacial pace, it’s only been fifty short years since the voyage began


set underground in the shadow of the Abruzzo mountains, the just-inaugurated ICARUS experiment at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory is designed to detect the passage of neutrinos coming from space – and others emitted by CERN, over 700km away. made up of 54,000 steel wires immersed in 600 tons of liquid argon, it detects the passage of these tiny particles by reading the electric charges released along their tracks by ionization processes, offering a new way to study the universe and hopefully learn more about dark matter




all across the former USSR, a series of strange concrete monoliths stand in silent testimony to the final few decades of the Soviet Union – and the diverse architecture it produced. over the past seven years, Citizen K editor-in-chief Frédéric Chaubin has set about capturing these relics for his book Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, which includes facilities like the Polytechnic Institute of Minsk, the Ukrainian Institute of Scientific and Technological Research and Development and even a  lunar base-inspired youth summer camp

read more


created and designed by the highly-talented William Rowe of Protein® fame, the Chromo™ colour system tracks daily and lunar cycles through the use of beautiful, vivid colours. building on this, their 2011 calendar takes the lunar positions for the whole year and maps them out using a CMYK colour fade. it’s plastified, so feel free to drool away at its niceness (and enter our competition to win one!) over on super/reader





entitled Cosmolology + 1, Peter Coffin’s new show at Herald St starts with the premise that “if cosmology is the study of the universe (from the Greek cosm-, universe, order + -logy, systematic study of), then cosmolology is the systematic study of the study of the universe, and +1 perhaps the study of the study of the study of the universe.” the result is an installation of floor-to-ceiling neon lights, photographs of clouds alluding to a 19th century method for Photoshoping skies onto landscapes, and this rather random but lovely doorway full of vines

_Peter Coffin, Cosmolology + 1, Installation view, 2011, Herald St, London. Courtesy of Herald St, London


big news to end the year, with the confirmation that a new species of human – the denisovans – intermingled and even bred with our ancient ancestors. joining the ‘hobbit-like’ Homo Floresiensis on our family tree, the discovery reminds us that we have much to learn about our origins, our early travels and our fellow humans. happy holidays to you all, and we’ll see you in 2011!


_graphic derived from an illustration in Nature, showing the diverging branches of the human family from top to bottom: African, French, Han, Melanesian, Neanderthal and Denisovan

into the void

in September 1977, the Voyager 1 space probe blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, bound for the outer planets and beyond. having passed Jupiter, Saturn and even Pluto, it is now sailing for truly deep space: the empty void between star systems. recent data from the probe – which now takes 16 hours to reach us – indicates that Voyager has passed into a zone where the solar wind is blowing sideways, and may soon cease altogether as the lonely spacecraft plunges beyond the influence of our sun


_artwork: NASA


it looks uncannily like an old Apollo mission returning to earth – right down to the red and white parachutes – but this is private space firm SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which completed its first big test this week: reaching low earth orbit before successfully splashing down in the Pacific. if further flights go well, the spacecraft could soon be ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station, freeing NASA up to concentrate on new missions to the asteroids and beyond. cue The Blue Danube Waltz


_the Dragon’s first drop test, from a helicopter, in August 2010. image: Chris Thompson/SpaceX


chances are that – like us – you’re still waiting for that invite to the Nobel Prize awards and gala dinner in Oslo next week? thankfully, they’ll be screening the whole thing live – you can watch it over on super/reader. besides the actual awards, the week-long build up includes lectures by the laureates. we’re particularly looking forward to Physics award winners Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov’s talk about their work with graphene: a one atom thick carbon-based material that’s essentially a 2D solid (!)


_a graphene molecule under extreme magnification / Condensed Matter Physics Group, Univesity of Manchester


typical. you wait all week for a nice science image, then two come along at once. both images below are surprising examples of the way particle physics experiments are being used to study nature, something that will be discussed at a workshop in Paris next week. the first shows something called a scintillation hodoscope close to the crater of Mount Etna, which is being used to study both cosmic rays and help predict volcanic eruptions. the second is part of the

CLOUD project at CERN, which is looking at cosmic rays in relation to cloud formation and climate science. nice to see the sciences playing so well together


_image: D.Gibert et al, CNRS/INSU/IN2P3, INGV/Catania_image: CERN

_image: CERN


at its brightest, the full moon reaches an apparent magnitude of –12.92, casting shadows and illuminating the ground here on earth. fitting then, that East London’s lovely Luminous Books is celebrating this weekend’s full moon – known in folklore as the Hunter Moon – with an evening of rare books, lunar maps, art by Nahoko Kudo and, of course, hula hooping


_cover detail from The Moon In Focus by Thomas Rackham, courtesy of Luminous Books

head on

we usually steer clear of CGI, but this week we had to break with tradition to bring you this breakthrough from the Large Hadron Collider: the first lead-ion collision ever recorded inside the ALICE experiment. generating temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of our Sun, these collisions will create conditions similar to those that existed during the Big Bang at the very beginning of time itself


just a quick one this week as we’re sending this from the top of a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma, in the Canaries. we’re at the European Northern Observatory high above the clouds, where some of the world’s most advanced telescopes are based, to shoot a film as part of the 24 Hours, Here series. after a disastrous first night in which high winds claimed our camera (!) we’re heading back to the summit now to try again tonight. you can see more pictures and follow our progress here


_the Gran Telescopio Canarias at sunset


in Werner Herzog’s 2004 documentary The White Diamond, we are introduced to Dr Graham Dorrington – a London-based aeronautical engineer who builds airships to explore the ethereal canopy layer high above the world’s tropical rainforests. we caught up with Graham over on the reader this week to chat all things aerial ahead of the Treetop Odyssey event at the ICA this weekend


_the various strata of a typical forest


another week, another crater. but unlike the volcanic one in last week’s post, Meteor Crater in Arizona was formed when a 50m nickel-iron meteorite careened into it at up to 20km per second. if you missed Science Fair™ on Monday, there’s another chance to hear about such impacts from Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s Close Encounters series, which also includes screenings of Alien and Barbarella, plus plenty of crater-making fun for the little ones


Frieze week may have seen the opening of a new exhibition by the legendary light/sky/space/land artist James Turrell at Gagosian London (pictured below), but the agonising wait for his long-term Roden Crater piece goes on. set inside an extinct volcano in Arizona, the mysterious installation could finally open next year, offering the chance to see Turrell’s imagination at work on a grand scale. in the meantime, you can always check out spy pictures and learn more about craters (the meteoric, not volcanic kind) at Science Fair™ on Monday


once every hundred years, there is a day you can write out as 10/10/10. in the 21st century, that day falls this Sunday, and to mark the occasion Eames Office will be celebrating Charles and Ray Eames’s classic Powers of Ten with screenings, events and the launch of a new website and educational initiative. originally released in 1977, the short film (below) puts things in perspective by zooming out from a picnicking couple in Chicago to the outer fringes of the known universe…


thirty years ago this week the American public broadcaster PBS aired the first episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, an epic and somewhat new age journey into time, space and science – from ancient civilisations to the last days of a dying earth, billions of years from now

to celebrate, we gave away a DVD boxset of the series. the question was ‘which spacecraft is Carl standing next to?’ and the answer is a replica lander from the Viking program to explore Mars – or as Kim Plowright so eloquently put it: “that is, I believe, a prototype model of the Viking 1 Lander Mars Probe, designation 1975-075C, innit. As Viking 1 has alternate names of Viking-B Lander, Viking Lander 1, Thomas Mutch Memorial Station and 09024, I’ll hazard a guess that the prototype might have been called Viking-A lander.” thanks to all who entered and congratulations to our winner, Pam Newall


_image: Carl Sagan in Death Valley / JPL


if you’re out and about in the woods this weekend keep an eye out for the telltale signs of one of Britain’s best-loved creatures: the hazel dormouse. you can find their discarded hazelnut shells in woodland and hedgerows, and help the People’s Trust for Endangered Species monitor population numbers by reporting back as part of the awkwardly-named “Golden Great Nut Hunt”. beyond the satisfaction of helping this noble creature, there’s a bling golden hazelnut up for grabs


_image: hazelnut shells chewed by dormice (centre), woodmice (left) and squirrels (right) © Patrick Watts-Mabbott/ENPA


on now at Matt’s Gallery in east East London, Alison Turnbull’s Observatory show takes starcharts, graph paper and the architectural plans for Thomas Jefferson’s observatory as starting points. painstakingly recreating pages from Czech astronomer Antonín Bečvář’s sky atlases, Sea the Stars and Observatory are masterfully hand-painted reminders of an era before digital sky mapping, when artists and astronomers alike relied on the connection between our eyes and the stars


_detail from Observatory, 2010. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 150x180cm

_detail from Observatory, 2010. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 150x180cm


strange goings on in the atmosphere high above Jupiter of late, with ghostly flashes and disappearing clouds spotted by amateur astronomers in recent weeks. it all began in June, when a small bright spot appeared briefly in the clouds. another followed in August, which professional and amateur astronomers have now identified as comets or meteors hitting the gas giant – the first such impacts ever observed. meanwhile, one of the famous planet-wide storm belts that ring the planet has suddenly faded, leaving Jupiter looking markedly different. when – and whether – it reappears remains a mystery


_images by amateur astronomers Anthony Wesley (left) and Masayuki Tachikawa (right)


to kick a season of exploring the archives, we’re pleased to bring you the complete text of Piers from Cocadisco‘s talk at The Book Club last October – a brief history of cosmic disco. you can check it out over on super/reader, where we’ll be posting more goodies in the coming weeks


_cosmic scene


following on from his Light After Dark series, which captured softly-glowing coal stations running through the night, photographer Toby Smith has turned his lens on renewable energy infrastructure – starting with hydroelectric facilities like the 305MW Foyers plant shown here. now on show at The Print Space in London, Toby hopes to continue and expand The Renewables Project to cover other forms of cleaner power and the strange places and machines that make it possible


_Foyers Turbine Shaft by Toby Smith



Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans’ long-term interest in astronomy led him to photograph the 2004 transit of Venus (pictured), a twice-in-a-lifetime event that next happens in 2012 – and then not again until 2117! as part of a retrospective of his work at Serpentine Gallery, Tillmans and Professor Dimitar Sasselov of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative will be in conversation next Friday as part of a night of astronomy in the park. you can read our interview with Professor Sasselov on Dazed Digital

image: Venus, transit 2004 C-type print 40.6 × 30.5 cm / Courtesy the artist and Maureen Paley, London. this work has been rotated 90° to avoid cropping



at the end of each week, we try to pick one stand out science-related image for super/weekly. the idea is to keep the wordcount down and let the picture tell the story, making it quick and easy to check out. but sometimes there’s more to say – not to mention the stuff we write for other people, plus random thoughts and ideas, and all the images that don’t quite fit…

so to bring you more hot science action, we’ve created super/reader: a new hub for everything we do. over the coming weeks we’ll be posting loads from the archives, ranging from Chris’ visit to CERN to Rod’s interview with James Lovelock and Vivienne Westwood, plus new articles (like this one about spaceports) live updates and stuff we’ve found for AnOther Magazine’s Loves website. we hope you enjoy…


_Esrange Space Center, Sweden © SSC


ever wanted to search for buried treasure? on our Science Fair™ summer fieldtrip you’ll get the chance to do just that among the crumbly white cliffs at Samphire Hoe, near Dover. we’ll be guided by mineralogist Jolyon Ralph of Mindat.org, who will show you how to find crystals and minerals to take home with you, plus other geological goodies. due to the sensitive nature of the site, numbers are very limited so if you’re interested do book soon


nothing newsworthy about this week’s image, just a lovely shot from the Smithsonian we found while researching astronaut gloves. it shows the lunar south pole, as seen by S-band radar signals at 12.6-cm wavelength probing 1-5 meters below the Moon’s surface. read more about lunar mapping and grab the stunning high res version here

_image: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum


fifty years on from his famous two cultures speech, British scientist and novelist CP Snow would be pleasantly surprised to pick up Art + Science Now, a hefty tome covering the increasing crossover between science and various fields of art. on Tuesday 13 July, the book’s author Professor Stephen Wilson and featured artist Gina Czarnecki will be our guests at Science Fair™ – a special collaboration with our pals at The Arts Catalyst


_‘Species Reclamation’ by Brandon Ballengée


a tale of two clever cubes this week, both designed to educate people about carbon in various ways. the first is Eurban’s Carbon Cube, lower photo, created in 2006 from offcuts produced by the architecture firm’s various eco-friendly timber structures. measuring precisely 360mm x 360mm x 360mm, each cube is designed to act as a piece of furniture containing 10kg of carbon. design consultancy Ramboll’s new project, also called The Carbon Cube, is similar in showing how much timber is required to absorb the average UK citizen’s annual CO2 output represented by a 2.4m cubic volume, with members of the public invited to make a pledge to reduce emissions and decorate a small cube of spruce

you can see Ramboll’s cube on Store Street as part of the Pocket Park, and sit on one of Eurban’s cubes at our GREEN/SPACE event tomorrow, where they’ll also be on sale at 30% off RRP

_Ramboll’s Carbon Cube

_Eurban’s Carbon Cube


like NASA’s spindly Lunar Excursion Module, the ultra-mobile creations of Milan based Lab Zero can be deployed on a variety of surfaces, from rocky seashores to mountain meadows. inspired by the highly functional and flexible opportunities presented by standard sized international shipping containers, their projects present an ideal for low-impact living anywhere on the planet – and perhaps beyond

Lab Zero’s Flavio Galvagni will be among the speakers at our next live event, GREEN/SPACE

_Lab Zero’s Drop-Off Unit


mobile, modular and designed to survive the extremes of the Antarctic, Hugh Broughton Architects’ new Halley VI research station consists of a series of pods which will house researchers from the British Antarctic Survey. built to withstand high winds and winter temperatures of -50°C, the raised habitats will also reduce the station’s impact on the continent’s pristine environment. now in place on the Brunt Ice Shelf, the futuristic structures take on an otherwordly appearance when seen in-situ against the blowing snowdrifts and icy blue sky of the frozen continent

Hugh Broughton Architects will be among the speakers at our next live event, GREEN/SPACE

_BAS project manager Karl Tuplin stands besides a completed Halley VI module


in the not-so-distant future, London-based architect Magnus Larsson dreams of a vast greenbelt stretching across the Sahara, providing eco-friendly housing while halting the drifting sands. sound impossible? it might be, if it wasn’t for Bacillus Pasteurii, a microorganism which can turn sand into solid sandstone. in Larsson’s mind, this simple biological reaction could create a vast network of hollowed out habitats across the Sahara, sculpted by the wind to provide cool shade and shelter

Magnus will be one of the speakers at our next live event, GREEN/SPACE

_Bacillus Pasteurii, in the lab



early this morning, Japan’s Akatsuki space probe blasted off from Tanegashima Island, bound for Venus. its serious mission is to study the climate and atmosphere of our cosmic neighbour, but this being the Japanese space agency, they’ve also created some ultra-cute anime characters and a DIY paper model to get people involved (here’s one we made earlier). to celebrate the successful launch, we want you to get crafty and create your own customised Akatsuki. just download our blank cut-out pattern, design your own exterior, then send us your results in the next two weeks. our favourite will win a copy of Mikhail Marov and David Grinspoons’ epic 464-page book about Venus


_T+Cs: the prize is one copy of The Planet Venus (£50 RRP), described as ‘Used – Very Good ex-Library copy’. all entries should consist of a photo of your space probe (3MB max) and be received by 03/06/2010. winner will be chosen at our discretion.


when we were putting together _S3magazine back in 2006, we paid a visit to one of London’s best-kept secrets: the antique and lovingly volunteer-run observatory high atop Hampstead. since then, we’ve been dying to do an event with them, and on Monday it’s finally happening. Doug Daniels and friends from the Hampstead Scientific Society will be bringing their 6″ telescope to the roof terrace at The Queen of Hoxton to show us what’s up. at the moment, that’s quite a lot – with Saturn, Mars, the moon and Venus strung out in a line as the sun sets. you can find all the info on our Science Fair™ page, hope to see you there


_Mars at opposition, sketched by Doug Daniels


if you fancy a little learning at lunchtime, pop down to the Royal Astronomical Society at Burlington House next Tuesday for what promises to be an interesting talk by the Open University’s Professor John Zarnecki, who designed the Surface Science Package for the Huygens probe which landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005 and collected over 3.5 hours of data from this distant, mysterious world


__drawings: accommodation of the payload and the major subsystems on the top and bottom of the Huygens experiment platform, with Surface Science Package (SSP) highlighted in green. other components include ACP: Aerosol Collector Pyrolyser; BAT-1/5: Batteries; CASU: Central Acceleration Sensor Unit; CDMU-A/B: Command and Data Management Unit; DISR: Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer; DISR-E: DISR Electronics Box; DISR-S: DISR Sensor Head; GCMS: Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer; HASI: Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument; MTU: Mission Timer Unit; PCDU: Power Conditioning and Distribution Unit; PYRO: Pyro Unit; RASU: Radial Acceleration Sensor Unit; RUSO: Receiver Ultra Stable Oscillator; RX-A/B: Receiver Antennas for Radar Altimeter A/B; SEPS: Separation Subsystem; SSP-E: SSP Electronics Box; TUSO: Transmitter Ultra Stable Oscillator; TX-A/B: Transmit Antennas for Radar Altimeter A/B


get up early or stay out late this month and you’ll be rewarded with one of nature’s grandest symphonies: the dawn chorus. starting around 4am, birds of all persuasions begin calling out to mark their territory and attract a mate – with blackbirds, robins and wrens soon joined by finches, doves and even owls. if you’re keen to learn more about which one’s which, you can join an organised breakfast event as part of International Dawn Chorus Day, or if you can’t be bothered, here’s what it sounds like in the UK…



_image from: Naumann, Naturgeschichte Der Vögel Mitteleuropas


opening this weekend at Somerset House, new graphic art fair Pick Me Up is a veritable who’s who of art and illustration – including stuff from our pals at Nous Vous and Peepshow, like this cosmic piece by Miles Donovan. check out their online shop to see the full image…


_‘Arctic’ by Miles Donovan


with solar storms battering the magnetosphere, meteors lighting up the night and volcanoes spewing lava and ash you might think the world was coming to an end. but could the Icelandic volcano actually help save the earth? the cooling effects of sulphur dioxide are well documented, and this is the first time UK airspace – and beyond – has been completed free of commercial flights since mass aviation began. in addition to the thousands of tons of CO2 that won’t be produced by grounded planes, the quiet sky will give climate scientists a chance to take a second look at a world without contrails


_UK airspace emptying on Thursday, from flightglobal.com


we all know about these ice caps melting down, but scientists are still unsure why it’s happening so quickly. in 2005, the European Space Agency tried to launch a satellite called Cryosat to measure the thickness of the ice, but the Russian rocket carrying it exploded shortly after launch. the mission is considered so vital that a second probe – Cryosat 2 – was built, and yesterday launched successfully from Baikonur Cosmodrome. once in operation, its measurements should give us a clearer picture of just what exactly is going on, and how bad things really are. gulp


_artist’s impression of Cryosat in orbit


nearing the end of its run at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery, Star City is an exploration of the future under Communism, combining Eastern Block art from the 60s and 70s with more modern and Western pieces. the exhibition also includes artifacts like propaganda posters, a life-size replica of a Sputnik, Soviet space food, a collection of Polish space toys and even a giant walk-through sculpture inspired by Valentina Tereshkova’s spacesuit


_Jane & Louise Wilson, Star City, 2000. Projection. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York


despite being one of the key icons of the scientific world, the humble labcoat has changed little over the years – with the odd ‘zany’ exception. all that is set to change tonight, at the Bethnal Green WMC’s science night, when young designers present their take on this classic garment. it’s all part of the British Science Association’s National Science & Engineering Week, which continues into the weekend


_graphics: Kwik Sew / _montage: super/collider


vast, white, frozen and forbidding, the Arctic and Antarctic hold endless fascination for artists and explorers – but are also the ideal setting for some of the latest research in physics, astronomy and climate change. join us for a special (and free!) Science Fair™ on Monday as we discuss the polar regions of the earth in terms of art, culture and science. our guests will be Nicola Triscott of the Arts Catalyst’s Arctic Perspectives Initiative and New Scientist journalist Anil Ananthaswamy, whose forthcoming book The Edge of Physics took him to Antarctica to visit cutting-edge physics experiments and meet the people behind them


_image: a photograph of the snow surface at Dome C Station, Antarctica by Stephen Hudson


you know that feeling where you think you know about every place on earth, and that there’s there nowhere left to discover? we had that feeling blown clear away last week when we first heard about the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. located about 280 nautical miles south of the Maldives, this remote paradise is off limits to everyone excepts scientists and B-52 pilots (the island of Diego Garcia is home to a US airbase). it’s virtually untouched and unblemished – with pollution at one part per trillion – and best of all there is a chance the UK government will declare the vast 210,000 square mile area a Marine Protected Area. their consultation ends Friday, so find out more and add your voice at protectchagos.org


native Chagos brain coral ‘Ctenella chagius’ photographed by Charles Sheppard, University of Warwick



as part of this year’s If You Could project, filmmaker Michael Moloney and photographer John Hooper spent 24 hours on a hill in the Lake District called Pavey Ark. their stunning 720° panorama starts with the last light of day fading, rotates with the earth as the moon rises and, with Orion finally dropping beyond the hill as the sun rises, continues into the daytime. throughout the night planes and stars traverse the sky, as camera flashes illuminate the landscape, transforming the film from a Koyaanisqatsi-like timelapse into something very special


_still from 24 Hours, Pavey Ark


brave the snow and ice this weekend and you may just be lucky to spy the elusive bittern (pictured). rangers from the Lee Valley Park will be leading a bittern-spotting walk through the marshes of East London. “warming drink and biscuits” are promised, but you may not be so lucky on the bittern front – they’re among Britain’s rarest birds because of loss of their reedbed habitat through drainage


_image: Russell Spencer / RSPB


humans are great (example: your friend Dave) but let’s face it, there are now too many us here on the planet. of all the environmental problems we face, there are few that wouldn’t be helped by there being fewer of us, which makes the Optimum Population Trust’s new pop offsets such a good idea. much cheaper than planting trees, installing wind turbines or building solar arrays, they aim to reduce emissions by encouraging family planning and working on ways to stabilise population fairly. if it all sounds a bit suspect, their FAQ provides an in-depth breakdown of the reasoning

_animation by super/collider

win win

hot on the heals of last week’s good news about the Amazon, it’s great to see the government backing calls to reduce carbon emissions by cutting down on meat production and consumption. like bicycling, it’s a win win situation which would not only make us healthier but less carbon intensive too

_meat montage by artist unknown


it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to climate change, which is why we think Sandbag‘s idea of focusing on global power producers makes a lot of sense. the sector accounts for a third of all emissions, is relatively easy to regulate and could make a significant dent in the amount of CO2 we produce. of course, there’s lots we can still do personally, as highlighted by DIY Kyoto’s new 20TEN campaign, which stems from figures showing their customers have managed to save an average of 20% on electricity alone. if you’re in London next Monday evening, come find out more at our second Science Fair™ night


_a nuclear power station, yesterday


we’ve been so busy programming our new Science Fair™ night and building our CultureLabel shop that we kind of slacked off a bit on the mailout, which is a shame because in the last three weeks the Tokyo Motor Show has come and gone with a bunch of new eco-cars, the awesome Settle Hydro community project have installed their green energy turbine and some beavers in Scotland have built a lodge. but we’re back just in time to tell you about an event this weekend in Suffolk that sees legendary nature sound recordists Chris Watson (who has worked on David Attenborough’s documentaries) and Bernie Krause (who also did the synth music in Apocalyse Now!) coming together for a unique collaboration curated by Russell Haswell and FasterThanSound. this is just a sample of Bernie’s work; you can hear more here


_image: edenpics.com _sound: Bernie Krause / wildsanctuary.com


with this week’s Worldwide Star Count now on, the concerns of space-nerds and environmentalists come together with the issue of light pollution. showing just how much energy we waste throughout the night, skyglow blots out the stars, affects wildlife and can even mess with our sleeping and, um, mating habits. need-less.org has more on the problem and how you can help, plus a handy sky simulator to see what you’re not seeing


_image: Mexico City at night by Fernando Tomás


this year, Friday marked Earth Overshoot Day – the annual date at which we’ve used up this planet’s resources and begin consuming those of a non-existent second earth. when first recognised in late 80s, the day fell pretty close to January 1, but is getting earlier every year. you can read more about the calculation here and take a quiz to calculate your own ecological footprint


_original earth image: NASA (Apollo 15)


OK, so it’s not directly fighting climate change, but the great thing about the Marine Conservation Society‘s annual Beachwatch weekend is that you can actually get out there and do something tangible to help the environment. it’s all part of the larger International Coastal Clean Up, which last year saw nearly half a million volunteers collecting more than 6.8 million pounds of trash in 100 countries


_image: Alun ap Rhisiart


later today, Prince Charles and Sir David Attenborough will officially open the Natural History Museum’s new Darwin Centre, a 78 million pound state-of-the-art cathedral of nature housing over 20 millions specimens of plants and insects inside a giant concrete ‘cocoon’ designed by Danish architects CF Møller. inside, you’ll be able to watch scientists doing scientist stuff, learn about climate change’s effect on the natural world and marvel at what’s at stake


__Erythrina folkersii / coral tree © 2009 Natural History Museum, London


on now at Hackney’s Space Studios, Sound Escapes comprises a number of science-leaning sonic art installations. passing a series of abstracts from the Positive Soundscapes Project, you come across Nikolaus Gansterer’s ‘The Eden Experiment’ – an astoundingly in-depth look at how plants are affected by either classical music or Norwegian Black Metal. next, you can put a series of olde fashioned ‘Listening Glasses’ to your ear while contemplating Dan Holdsworth‘s image of a soundless anechoic chamber; rearrange street sounds; and marvel at Simon Elvins’ all-white ‘Silent London’ etching of the city’s noise map. all in all, worth a look listen


_image from Dan Holdsworth’s ‘No Echo’


from an extended shuttle mission to the ongoing Apollo stuff and a giant impact on Jupiter, it’s been a busy week in space. yesterday also marked the ten year anniversary of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, an orbiting telescope which sends back trippy multicolour images of supermassive black holes, gas jets, supernova shockwaves and other cosmic ephemera


forty years ago this afternoon, Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Canaveral to deliver Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon

read more


we couldn’t decide between the Barbican’s Radical Nature event and all the different Apollo-related stuff happening this month, so this picture of Richard Buckminster Fuller’s US Pavillion for Expo ’67 is perfect. part of the Barbican’s amazing architecture-meets-nature summer spectacular, it also happens to show the parachutes and capsule from the Apollo program – at that point, still untested and waiting to make history in the years ahead


_image courtesy of the Barbican / the estate of R Buckminster Fuller


while we’re busy partying on the moon this weekend, the folks over at the Royal Observatory Greenwich are off exploring Saturn and its immense moons. there’s some kids’ stuff this weekend, but also an exciting series of talks from NASA experts and mission planners


_image: Titan’s thin atmosphere _credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


with the 40th anniversary of the moon landings fast approaching, our Apollo season continues with apollo +at + apollo – an evening of live music, art, video and spacecraft construction in an abandoned video shop in South London



in the days leading up to today’sconference on new energy materials to fight climate change, we decided it was finally time to put pen to paper and sketch out an idea we had for self-replicating solar cells.

dropped into the Sahara, these miniature robots would mine sand to produce adjacent cells, then replicate exponentially, eventually covering hundreds of square kilometers. the discussions at the Royal Society promise to be a bit more realistic, but no less interesting. you can read our updates here or via Twitter


_concept for Self-Replicating Solar Cell (SRSC) by super/collider


we wanted to tell you about Friday’s release of wild beavers in Scotland but due to overwhelming press interest the pictures didn’t arrive in time. so instead, we’d thought we’d preview the latest work from United Visual Artists, whose upcoming show at The Smithfield Gallery comprises a series of photos taken at various sites around the UK of a glowing, moon-like orb


_image: Deus by UVA

_image: Deus by UVA

_image: Deus by UVA

double club

a ‘we’re living in the future’ photo from earlier this week, with the space shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour side by side at Kennedy Space Center. with Atlantis now way out in space repairing the Hubble space telescope, the second shuttle is on stand-by for a rescue mission if worst comes to worst. another double act blasts off later today, with the European Space Agency launching both the Herschel and Planck space probes on a single Ariane 5 rocket. you can watch the lift-off live this afternoon


_image: Atlantis and Endeavour / NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis



Friday 22 May 2009

to kickstart our Apollo season, super/collider is proud to present the UK premiere of Orphans of Apollo, which tells the story of a group of space entrepreneurs who flew to Moscow in the late 1990s to takeover the Russian space station, MIR. after negotiating one of the most ambitious business deals on earth, they hired and launched a group of astronauts into space to visit the station – a momentous but often overlooked moment in history. though ultimately doomed, their bold plan set the stage for the current private space race and the space tourism industry. definitely one for space nerds, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director, Michael Potter

The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews (off Dean Street), London W1D 3DH | 7pm for a 7:30pm start


two good reasons to get up in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning: the dawn chorus is at its peak, as is the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. the best time to witness both starts around 4am, once the bright moon has set but before the sun starts to rise. as it does, you’ll be treated to the odd shooting star and the unbelievably loud and complex spring symphony of birds calling for a mate


_Eta Aquarids colourgrammes from radiometeor.plus.com


trust Werner Herzog to find the weirder side of any story. in Encounters at the End of the World, the German documentary master sweeps away the pristine white snow of Antarctica and uncovers the grimier, more real and more surreal side of this continent at the end of the world, and the nutcases who work there. a bit long towards the end, but worth it for the incredible and seemingly never-ending descent into an ice tunnel formed by a volcano – surely one of the most beautiful and silent places on earth


_still from Encounters at the End of the World


with UK Aware opening today, we’ve been thinking about all things green – and specifically the colour.
to find out exactly what “eco green” is these days, we took a look at what some of the big players use. although far from comprehensive, this composite of green colour codes used by Treehugger, The Green Party, the World Wildlife Fund, The Guardian Environment Network, Discovery’s Planet Green, the UK Green Building Council and Ecover shows the average is a pale, slightly yellow green – with the crisp, popping greens used by Treehugger and WWF offset by more old school earthy shades traditionally associated with the environmental movement. it’s RGB 148-201-61, if you’re curious


_image: a colour composite of seven different green logos


congratulations to Zara Mirza, who won our Materiology competition, and also to the long-tailed tit (pictured), which has made a comeback and reached the top ten list of birds spotted during the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. the full results are here, or for more wildlife-spotting survey action, check out the RSPB’s ThamesWatch and ‘Mind the Bird’ programs or the British Waterways Wildlife Survey


_illustration: Mike Langham / rspb-images.com


as people around the world prepare to switch off their lights, technicians at the National Ignition Facility in California are switching on the world’s most powerful laser. originally designed to test nuclear weapons without actually blowing one up, the giant facility focuses 192 lasers onto a tiny sphere to recreate conditions inside an H-Bomb. now, the principle is being used to attempt controlled fusion – the ultimate clean energy source. if they can crack it, we’ll never have to worry about turning off the lights again


_image: Laser Bay 2 at the National Ignition Facility


with the Space Shuttle Discovery up there installing a final set of solar panels, the International Space Station will become visible over the UK this week, and the weather is finally looking fine. if you haven’t seen the station before, it’s worth watching out for as it passes from West to East in the evening sky ? and weird to think six people will be living and working there around the clock. to help you find it, we’ve created a new project/page, where we’ll be posting astronomy-related updates. though centered on where we are, in Hackney, the info applies to most people in the northern hemisphere


_the ISS over London, taken with our run-of-the-mill digital camera


the hunt for distant planets should take a giant leap forward tonight, with NASA’s Kepler space telescope poised for launch aboard a Delta II rocket at Launch Complex 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. once in space, it will scan 100,000 far-off stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region with sensors so powerful that if turned towards earth could detect someone in a small town turning off their porch light


_image: NASA


if you’re into green architecture, low-impact homes and solar power, Ecobuild is basically like Disneyland, except it’s free and there’s no queue. with everything from staw-bale insulation and bat-boxes to ZEDfactory‘s new landARK on display, the exhibitors’ map looks a little overwhelming. we’re going tomorrow to sit-in on a conference about Passivhaus – a German-pioneered technique that uses insulation, south-facing windows and ultra-efficient heat exchangers to create homes that require little or no additional energy and in some cases even feed power back to the grid. if you can’t make it, we’ll be sending updates throughout the day


_solar architect Rolf Disch’s Heliotrop house / image: Rolf Disch

_image: Rolf Disch

_image: Rolf Disch


rising from the bombed out WWII wasteland north of St Paul’s, the barbican is possibly the world’s ultimate venue for a Le Corbusier retrospective. this is far more than that, though, with everything from talks and music to a film programme and, best of all, a guided tour of the barbican’s secret spaces


_Unité d’Habitation / Frank Bauer / www.frankbauer.com

_Unité d’Habitation / Frank Bauer / www.frankbauer.com

_image: Unité d’Habitation / Jonathan Bailey

_Palais de l’Assemblée, Chandigargh / FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009

_image: Unité d’Habitation / FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009



this Thursday and Friday, we’ll be sitting in on a conference organised by The Mineralogical Society entitled New Views of the Earth’s Interior, which will cover everything from “the thickness of the post-perovskite boundary” to stuff we might actually understand, like how the moon was formed and what’s inside the Earth and Venus. you can follow our updates on the live page or via Twitter, we’ll hopefully be able to post some new pictures here too


_illustration from a (hopefully) out-of-copyright textbook

drowned world

from JG Ballard to, uh, Kevin Costner, the idea of a flooded earth has long gripped the imaginations of great thinkers. with global ice sheets looking increasingly precarious, the idea behind artist/architect Chris Bodle’s Watermarks project is to show us just bad things could get. a series of high water marks projected around Bristol from today, the project aims to stimulate debate and discussion about how we predict, prevent – and deal with – the rising tide


_Watermarks projection by Chris Bodle


from plain old plastics like Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene to more exotic substances like aerogel, Materiology is an up-to-the-minute guide to materials and how to use them. divided into processes, families of materials and an A-Z of stuff, the eye-friendly tome is designed with creatives in mind – they even had a launch party last week with hipster Paris bookstore Ofr System at mat?riO. super/collider has one copy to give away, to enter just email us the name of at least one NASA mission that used aerogel


_sample page from Materiology


people across Britain – including you – are being invited to take an hour this weekend to sit, pen and paper in hand, counting birds. now in its thirtieth year, the RSPB‘s Big Garden Birdwatch draws on observations from thousands of backyards, balconies and city parks to form an overall picture of bird numbers in the UK. a nice break from the winter gloom, it’s a good excuse to get outside and relax to the soothing sound of birdsong, like this Cetti’s Warbler sample from über-birders The Sound Approach



_image: a wren (Sue Tranter/rspb-images.com)

haute tech

from high tech fashion to far out films, designer Hussein Chalayan is always firmly future-facing. a retrospective opening next Thursday at London’s Design Museum will showcase some of his creations over the years, including this dress and its 200 servo-driven lasers. check out SHOWstudio for Nick Knight’s video of the entire collection


_image: Hussein Chalayan ‘Readings’ dress

cold war

if you live in London and you haven’t checked out the Cold War Modern exhibition at the V&A yet, you’ve got until Sunday before it moves on to Italy in March. worth tracking down for an impressive dose design and culture from 1945-1970, it includes a real Soviet model of Sputnik, experimental spacesuits, clips from films like 2001, fashion from Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabane plus all manner of futuristic architectural utopias, from Superstudio and Archigram to lesser-known Soviet and Japanese plans for dome cities, modular living and high rise towers. if super/collider was an exhibition, this would be it


_still from 2001: A Space Odyssey courtesy of the V&A


forty years ago this Sunday, the Apollo 8 spacecraft blasted off for the moon, carrying astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – who would go on to take the famous ‘earthrise’ photograph from lunar orbit. it marked the first human mission ever leave the earth for deep space, the first time anyone could see and photograph the whole earth, and the first time anyone saw the dark side of the moon; all welcome Christmas distractions after a turbulent year. re-live the journey at NASA’s image archive, have a great holiday and we’ll see you in the year 2009


_artist’s concept of Apollo 8 Command Module (NASA)

_Apollo 8 on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

_Apollo 8 Saturn V launch (with moon added by NASA)

_earthrise seen from Apollo 8 (NASA)

_artist’s concept of Apollo 8 jettisoning panels (NASA)

_Apollo 8 re-entering the earth’s atmosphere (NASA)

chemistry 4/4

the Biochemistry Department at Oxford University is internationally renowned for its research on understanding of DNA, cell growth and immunity. working 24h a day, researchers will use the shiny new labs to learn more about how cells work, which has already lead them to breakthroughs in malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, avian flu, cancer, strokes and other illnesses


_photo: Keith Collie

chemistry 3/4

throughout the building, specially commissioned art pieces bring the space to life, encouraging creative thinking and interdisciplinary working. visible here (L to R) are Annie Cattrell’s ‘chandelier’ of birds, Nicky Hirst’s Portal façade and Peter Fraser’s photographs of the building under construction


_photo: Keith Collie

chemistry 2/4

designed by HawkinsBrown, the brand new building features high-tech labs arranged around a tall central atrium. timber-clad and naturally ventilated, its glass ceiling is lined with small solar panels, visible here


_photo: Keith Collie


we don’t cover life sciences half as much as we should, so super/collider jumped at the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Biochemistry building at Oxford last week. an amazing fusion of art, architecture and leading-edge science, it’s a glimpse into new ways of encouraging creativity


_photo: Keith Collie

small world

Issey Miyake and Shigeru Ban first began discussing the idea of a Japanese design museum five years ago, the result being the Design Platform Japan‘s first exhibition. currently showing in Paris and London, Japan Car is an examination of how the country’s art, landscape, cities and environmental philosophy have shaped the latest generation of small and eco-friendly cars – and what the future may hold. from hydrogen fuel cells and sci-fi instrument panels to Toyota’s ambitious i-REAL personal transport, it’s a look at what’s out there now and what’s in store


of all the crazy stuff out there in the Universe, few things can top our relatively close neighbour, Saturn. from its sci-fi ring system to over 60 moons like Titan and Enceladus, it’s got the lot. inspired by the ongoing Cassini-Huygens mission, Jeff Mills and Mike Banks of Underground Resistance fame have revisited their 1992 techno opus: X-102 Discovers the Rings of Saturn. there’s a film screening / talk / club night next Thursday at London’s ICA, but you’ll need to be quick as it’s selling out fast


_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


if you haven’t checked out The Arts Catalyst’s nuclear art show yet, you might want to do so before next Friday, when they and the venerable Royal Society of Arts will be hosting a forum on nuclear power, art and culture. it’s free to register and speakers include Kate Hudson of CND and James Acord – the only private citizen in the world licensed to handle radioactive materials


_image: still from Chris Oakley’s Half-Life


we usually have a pretty strict policy of ‘no CGI’ – especially when it’s a bit pixelated – but there’s something awesomely artful and 80s about this simulated cosmic ray, as seen by the new Pierre Auger Observatory in the grasslands of Argentina. made up of 1,600 water tanks spaced 1.5 km apart, it detects the radiation emitted by cosmic rays as they hit the earth. the observatory, which will be officially inaugurated today, explains everything in more detail on their website, which also features some Google Earth images of the facility if you’re into that sort of thing


__graphic: auger.org

__water tanks awaiting installation


this week saw the launch of India’s Chandrayaan lunar probe, the country’s first venture beyond earth orbit. roughly translated as ‘moon vehicle’, it’s off to map the lunar surface and carry out a whole load of international experiments – with everyone from Bulgaria to NASA hitching a ride. back on earth, the probe was the inspiration behind the awesome Moon Vehicle project; a collaboration between British artist Joanna Griffin and design students at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore which saw school kids designing their own satellites. if only the real thing looked so rad!


_photo: Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology

_photo: Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology


remember Edwyn Collins? he’s back, but with birds instead of music. after suffering a brain haemorrhage in 2005, he began sketching them to help with his recovery. according to the press release, he was always interested in it, but “bird illustration soon became incompatible with the life of a pop star”. as it does. Collins’ work will be on show at the Smithfield Gallery from next week


_drawing: Edwyn Collins


Simon Norfolk is a war photographer, but not in the traditional sense. while he has covered the aftermath of conflicts in places like Afghanistan, he is increasingly interested in the ‘battlefields’ we don’t see – the murky realm of millitary supercomputers, signals intelligence and missile silos; the latter being the subject of his latest exhibition. for more, check out our interview with Norfolk in the forthcoming issue of Dazed




if you missed our live coverage of the International Astronautical Congress (aka Giant Space Show) last week, you can find a summary of our dispatches on our Twitter feed. things started with a bang on Monday morning, with the European Space Agency’s ATV burning up over the Pacific Ocean as they guided it down to a fiery end after its successful mission. check out the full video here


_one highlight was the spacefood tasting hosted by the Korean space agency, KARI. moving on from the freeze dried ice cream we all know and love from science museums around the world, their astronauts will be packing green tea, ginseng, hot sauce and kimchi for their trips into space / photo and styling: John Hooper

_SpaceX were celebrating their just-launched Falcon 1, the world’s first privately-funded carrier rocket to reach orbit. just before the champagne reception, the company showed an amazing video of the launch from the Marshall Islands; you can see the full 40min version on YouTube

_the European Space Agency’s ATV burning up over the Pacific

crystal castles

if you haven’t seen Roger Hiorns’ Seizure installation in south London yet, this weekend is a good time to do so. the house, flooded with copper sulphate crystals, will be open to those brave enough to don wellies and squeeze through the doorways, while on Sunday the 28th at 3pm Dr Wendy Kirk and Jayne Dunn will lead ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals’. while you’re in that neck of the woods, wander around the surreal Heygate Estate, now quiet and mostly boarded up. despite the wind turbine, skywalks and greenspaces, it awaits demolition – another artifact from the future past


_photo: super/collider

beach party!

if you can tear yourself away from all the architecture this weekend, why not make like this guy from Baltimore and help clean up your local beach? the Marine Conservation Society‘s annual Beachwatch event sees thousands of volunteers mucking in to help tidy up the nation’s shoreline


_photo: Mary Hollinger, NOAA


if you get the Sky Arts channel on some fancy cable package, check out their green season, which starts on Monday and concludes with Edward Burtynsky‘s documentary, Manufactured Landscapes. the Canadian photographer documents our impact on the planet, with large-scale images of mines, quarries, recycling yards and megaprojects like China’s Three Gorges Dam, pictured. he also recently proposed an eternal art gallery as part of the Long Now Foundation’s 10,000 year clock


_image: the Three Gorges Dam by Edward Burtynsky



back in May, super/collider travelled to CERN on the Switzo-French border to see the Large Hadron Collider before they sealed the tunnels to begin supercooling it. with the world’s most ambitious physics experiment set to start tomorrow, we thought it high time we take a look back at this underground marvel

safety first

our day began outside the ATLAS experiment, with the Alps towering in the background. it being the EU, everything is recycled

this looked really impressive at the time, but it probably just controlled the garage door. once we got inside we were blown away

so blown away, in fact, that we forget to set the camera back to auto-focus. luckily Angela from Mutable Matter took some better photos, like this one of the CMS experiment

otherwise known as the Compact Muon Spectrometer, this giant experiment sits in a cavern big enough to fit all the residents of nearby Geneva

the place was packed full of amazing-looking stuff like this

over at another site, we managed to get in to see the ALICE experiment, thanks to Dr David Evans from the University of Birmingham who gave us a tour – starting at the high security entrance with iris scanner

what struck us most about the whole project was its sheer size, complexity and permanence. if human civilisation were to suddenly dissapear, the LHC would stand, in its timeless underground tunnels, as the ultimate monument to our current state of knowledge and understanding

barring any more lawsuits, the LHC wil start-up on Wednesday when the first particle beams are injected into the LHC and accelerated around the 27km long tunnel (left). super/collider will be reporting live from the official UK start-up event, so if you’re bored at work, log on from 8am to follow what we’re promised will be “one of the most significant moments in modern science”


in his Formulas For Now project, über curator Hans Ulrich Obrist asked thinkers, artists and others to come up with a formula for the 21st century. as listed in the periodic table index shown here, contributors ranged from artists like Gilbert & George through to scientists like James Crick, who co-discovered the structure of DNA. their contributions vary from pretty clever to kind of half-assed, but the finished book (published this month by Thames & Hudson) provides an unique insight and, as Obrist puts it, “asks a very fundamental question of us all: what is your formula for now?” (answers to the usual address)


_periodic table of contents from Formulas for Now


we were planning to show you some pictures of our trip to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to celebrate the start of experiments there, but that’s now been pushed back ’til September. in the meantime, we instead mark the launch of the second Pioneer probe to Venus, which blasted off thirty years ago today to release three small probes designed to impact the planet’s north, night and day sides. all very 1970s sci-fi, especially when you see the NASA artwork from that era


_photo: NASA


we were going to do a round up of all the clever little green cars on show at this year’s motor show in London, but even they look a little last century compared to this week’s big news – the rollout of Virgin Galactic‘s new mothership in the Mojave Desert. the lightweight, carbon-composite aircraft will take SpaceShipTwo (in grey) up to an altitude higher than most airliners fly, which will then drop down, fire its eco-friendly engines and blasts off into space. roll on 2010


_graphic: Virgin Galactic


“a brain scan in 1999 triggered Susan Aldworth’s ongoing fascination with the relationship between the physical brain and the sense of self,” explains the press release for her upcoming show at Transition Gallery in East London. “since then, Aldworth has worked and collaborated with doctors, neuroscientists, artists and musicians in pursuit of this elusive subject.” her show, Scribing the Soul, will be complemented by two talks examining the relationship between art, science and the mind


_artwork: Susan Aldworth

bird of prey

despite the recent loss of a female who crashed into a building near London Wall, the RSPB is going ahead with its Peregrine Falcon watch at Tate Modern. starting this weekend, they’ll be on hand with telescopes to point out the birds, who nest in the Herzog & de Meuron designed chimney at the gallery. as the RSPB’s Tim Webb explains, “these magnificent birds have taken to London in a big way. we now have half a dozen breeding pairs living wild in the capital and probably double that in single birds”


air power

to mark the start of the bi-annual Farnborough Airshow on Monday, we thought we’d seize the opportunity to finally publish these almost art-like photos of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter under construction


_the finished product, currently being flight-tested. all these pictures, plus videos, are available on jsf.mil, the plane’s official site. yes, welcome to the 21st century, when even fighter jets have their own website

_a single, General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 engine powers the standard variant, while a more complicated engine is fitted to F-35B, which can take off and land vertically

_the tailfins and cockpit are added, making it look more like something from Transformers

_as construction of the prototype begins, the pieces come together like a giant Lego set ? if Lego made a 80 million dollar multirole strike aircraft with both carrier and Vertical Take Off and Landing capabilities

_photo: jsf.mil


back before the world was run by computers, painters and illustrators were employed to show what things would look like in outer space, under the sea or in prehistoric times. we found this hand-painted example on the European Space Agency’s site, rescued from the archive as they mark the end of the Ulysses mission, which orbited the sun to study its poles and the solar wind. the probe was launched in 1990 – making this probably one of the last such paintings before the world went CGI


_image: ESA


slowly rising on London’s South Bank, the Hyperbolic Crochet Reef is a very pretty fusion of science, math, craft and environmental activism. created by the Institute for Figuring, the project aims to highlight the plight of the world’s reefs. hand-crocheted by fellow artists and volunteers, the multicolored corals and anemones are showing at various venues on the South Bank until August 17, alongside other reefs made from discarded plastic bags dredged from the Thames. if you want to contribute to the ever-growing mass of brightly coloured craftiness, head down to one of the weekly crochet sessions and get your knit on


_photo: Institute for Figuring


kicking off today, the all-new London Festival of Architecture replaces last year’s Architecture Week event with a larger and longer celebration of all things architect-y. their excellent website lets you save the events you’re interested and even organises them by date – handy as there’s about two billion things to do. as for us? we’re definitely checking out What if:projects’ urban gardens, and a full English breakfast with Jon Snow sounds too delightful to miss


_photo: What if:projects


we first discovered Present&Correct when they crafted a series of handmade envelopes using old science textbooks and the like. now, they’ve expanded to all manner of paper goods, including this A to Z of endangered species. “I have a few favourites,” says P&C’s Neal Whittington of the list. “The otter seems to be liked by everyone… he has a certain charm – as if he should be wearing a bowler”

congratulations to Sue Man, who won our poster competition by naming her favourite endangered species: “The frog one, simply cos it looks old and desperately looking for a smoke”


_poster: Present&Correct


on until July 27 at Wolfgang Tillmans‘ East London gallery, Autotechnogeoglyphics is an aerial survey of America’s automotive test tracks, from vast slabs of black tarmac in the desert to a giant sandbox that Catepillar uses to test their diggers. created by the Centre for Land Use Interpretation, it’s part of their mission to explore the ways we use – and abuse – the landscape


we recently took a few months break to redesign the site and whatnot, so this week’s issue is a recap of some of the stuff we missed. nothing comprehensive, just some nice images we came across, like this photo of the ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle approaching the international space station


_lastly, we’d like to pay our deepest respects to the brilliant visionary Arthur C. Clarke, who passed away on March 19, with thousands attending his funeral in his adopted homeland, Sri Lanka. of all the images we could have chosen (think 2001: A Space Odyssey), we thought this simple cover from hisProfiles of the Future makes a fitting tribute. it shows a geosynchronous communications satellite, one of Clarke’s predictions, floating high above the sea, which he also loved. a keen scuba diver, being weightless underwater was sadly the closest he ever got to floating in space. rest in peace Arthu

_in April, CERN opened up the Large Hadron Collider for the last time before it starts smashing particles together in August. we visited our namesake for a tour of the tunnels and experiments, and took so many pictures our camera broke. we’ll do a full post in the next few weeks

_later in January, a joint team of UK, US, Chinese and Australian astronomers travelled to Antarctica’s remote Dome Argus ? a high plateau that’s been visited by fewer humans than have walked on the moon. in the cold, crisp air, they set up PLATO ? a fully robotic observatory should enjoy skies twice as clear as anywhere else on earth

_it looks like the moon, but this is actually Mercury. In January, NASA’s MESSENGER probe reached the planet closest to the sun, capturing images of its never-before-seen hemisphere and the Caloris Basin, a giant crater that’s probably filled with precious metals for us to mine in the year 3000

_photo: ESA

phoenix rising

another week, another Mars lander. on Sunday, NASA’s Phoenix Lander will (hopefully) touch down on the Red Planet. built from parts salvaged from cancelled Mars missions – hence the name – Phoenix will land in the planet’s arctic regions to look for signs of life. you can follow the mission live on NASA TV


_photo: NASA


hide and seek

got a quiet week ahead? NASA needs your help searching for the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander, which crashed somewhere on the red planet back in 1999. by sifting through loads of high-resolution photos of the Martian surface, you could become the first person to see the spaceship since it mysteriously disapeared – and help them figure out what went wrong


_illustration: NASA

modern life

on now at London’s Science Museum, a new exhibition mixing sci-fi comics with real world objects examines the rise of modern Britain through new advances like radar, penicillin and the jet engine. an interesting take on how fiction and imagination influence the real world and vice versa


_photo: Bristol Bloodhound anti-aircraft missile, Mark I


we’ll be back ‘properly’ next week with a full round up of the last few months, but we wanted to tell you about James Joyce‘s show at Kemistry Gallery since it starts today. ‘Drawings and Other Objects’ features new and existing work, including Joyce’s illustrations for Stop Climate Chaos – a mix of packaging, tips, slogans and, most importantly, elephants


_illustration: James Joyce

peace on earth

as the year comes to an end, we thought this European Space Agency photo would be a nice way to say goodbye to 2007. season’s greetings from everyone at super/collider… wherever you are on this planet, here’s to peace on earth and goodwill to men. and women. we’re taking some time off to revamp the site and hatch new plans, so see you again in spring 2008


_image: ESA


oh dear. we cancelled last week’s mailout thanks to a scrubbed space shuttle launch, and this week’s “issue” is really just an ad for our new online shop, where you can buy science-related giftery for the discerning scientist in your life. items include signed copies of Valerie Phillips’ Monika Monster Future First Woman On Mars (pictured) and it all helps keep super/collider advertising-free


_photo: Valerie Phillips


open late tonight as part of their after hours sessions, the Natural History Museum’s sleek new space, The Vault, features some of the world’s rarest gems. items range from giant diamonds to willowy gold but the highlight has to be the case of ultra-rare meteorites from the moon, Mars and beyond. the collection includes a tiny vial of diamond dust from the stars – the oldest thing you will ever see


_photo: Imalic meteorite c/o NHM

space age

opening tomorrow at Bethnal Green’s recently revamped Museum of Childhood, the Space Age exhibition looks at the influence of the now 50-year-old space race on toys, fashion and pop culture. artefacts range from Star Wars figurines to a gold 60s mini-dress, alongside furniture, space clothes and model rockets. free, on for a year and definitely worth a look-in


_lunar wallpaper by Michael Clarke, 1964


a coffee table book the size of a coffee table, Cosmos is a massive tome which takes you across the entire universe. starting on earth with stunning pictures like these irrigation fields in Kansas, you pass the moon and Mars, then travel through the asteroid belt and Jupiter’s swarm of moons before leaving the outer planets for deep space. quite a ride


_photo: NASA


if the sky stays clear tonight, take a look up and you’ll see something very few people ever get a chance to: an exploding comet. it sounds more dramatic than it looks – without a telescope all you’ll see is a little fuzzy patch in the sky – but Comet Holmes has amazed astronomers as it zooms away from earth, spewing dust in an ever-increasing cloud


_photo: Ginger Mayfield


made up of interviews with Apollo-era astronauts and rare NASA footage, In The Shadow of the Moon looks back at the lunar landings through the lense of history. while the interviews are excellent, for us it’s all about never-before-seen shots, like an amazing onboard camera sequence from inside a discarded rocket floating in space. high art


_photo: NASA


the massive Airbus A380 finally entered service this week, opening a new era of air travel. capable of carrying 850+ passengers between large airports like Singapore, Sydney and Heathrow, it could eventually form a key part of a greener global transport network – with large ‘hub’ airports and high-speed rail cutting the number of small flights. that is, of course, unless airlines decide to install bars, gyms and double beds like the ones Singapore Airlines showed off on the maiden flight


_photo: Airbus


with Brighton thinking of joining the likes of Modbury and San Francisco in banning plastic bags, 2007 may well go down as the ‘Year of the Canvas Bag’. following offerings from Anya Hindmarch and Lauren Bush, the latest in eco-friendly carriers comes from Progress Packaging’s Re-Bag exhibition, featuring work by artists including Supermundane (left)


_canvas bag by Supermundane


fifty years ago tonight, the world stepped outside to look for a new star in the sky, following the Russian launch of Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite. the simple sphere orbited the earth 1440 times, emitting the simple beeping noise you’re hearing now. since then, we’ve gone on to the moon, to Mars, to the moons of Saturn and even beyond the solar system – not bad for our first fifty years in space



_photo: NASA / _sound: Sputnik



ok, so the blogs have all done it to death, but we couldn’t just skip over Foster + Partners winning design for The New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building – aka the world’s first private spaceport. say it aloud: space. port.


_inside, visitors will be able to watch launch preparations, takeoffs and landings thorough tall glass windows with views over the slipway and runway ? where Virgin’s White Knight motherships (on the right and bottom) will carry the smaller SpaceShipTwo vehicles (far left) to 50,000ft before the final ascent into space. with construction due to begin next year, the future may finally have arrived

_designed as a launchpad for Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceflights ? currently scheduled to start in 2009 2010 ? the facility is futuristic in more ways than one. its low profile blends into the landscape for maximum energy efficiency, with visitors approaching down a long channel. the use of natural ventilation and lighting should ensure the spaceport earns top level LEED eco-building status

_image: Foster + Partners


beamed into deep space on November 16, 1974, the Arecibo radio message is the most powerful man-made signal ever created. encoded in binary – hence the Atari style graphics – it contains information about us, our DNA, the solar system and the telescope that sent it. to increase the chances of someone out there receiving it, the signal was aimed at M13: a dense globular cluster made up of hundreds of thousands of suns

despite numerous other milestones – including the discovery of the first exoplanets – and its ability to track asteroids that could hit the earth, the radio telescope that sent the Arecibo message is under threat, and could be forced to close down due to lack of funding. visit the website of The Planetary Society and voice your support

above: the Arecibo radio telescope and a section of the Arecibo message

high definition

shot by astronaut Bill Anders as he orbited the moon on Christmas Eve 1968, NASA image AS8-14-2383HR, better known as ‘Earthrise‘, has been called the most influential photo ever taken – inspiring us to see the earth as a fragile blue oasis in the black void of space. now, a Japanese space probe is on its way to the moon to record such scenes with a large high definition camera

update: super/collider will be screening the footage on January 28 2007 t London’s Science Museum


cover me

if, like us, you always judge a book by its cover, you’re probably already a fan of Penguin books. their imagery, typography and graphic design has made each cover a miniature work of art, now celebrated in a book. Seven Hundred Penguins features everything from murder mysteries to science books like Arthur Rook’s The Origins and Growth of Biology and everything in between


_cover detail from The Origins and Growth of Biology

pocket sized

lovingly handcrafted by the Leeds-based Nous Vous collective, Pocket Sized is a little book of drawings, musings and doodlings featuring work by the likes of Marc Alcock, Hannah Barton, Holly Stevenson and Superfamous. the first issue is themed, simply, SPACE – so contributions range from a chap in pants wearing a NASA shirt to a cat with a universe in its head. awesome!


_image: nousvous

fashion fwd

just published in paperback, Fashioning The Future is a themed look at futuristic fashion ranging from freaky stuff like Chanel’s branded skin (pictured) to the latest in tech/couture. chapters covering shape-shifting skirts, talking T-shirts and invisible coats sit alongside vintage images, illustrations and easily-digestible sidebars and quotes


_with creations by Victor & Rolf (pictured), Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Hamish Morrow and others, the only glaring exception is Gareth Pugh, whose luminous dresses and stealth bomber shapes surely point to a tech/fashion future beyond sewing an iPod into your sleeve

_the book seamlessly traces the history of technology’s influence of fashion, with examples from each chapter covering early pioneers of spray-on clothing, plastic dresses and, naturally, bubble helmets


zoom out

tucked away in the middle of Hampstead, high above London, sits our favourite little observatory. run by the Hampstead Scientific Society, its telescope can pick out the rings of Saturn, craters on the moon and close ups like this shot of the Pleiades. the Society’s new website has a whole load more, along with a winter lecture schedule ranging from sustainable energy to volcanos on Venus


_photo by Doug Daniels, HSS

i’m seein’ robots

at the European Space Agency, researchers have been putting Eurobot through its paces in a giant swimming pool to recreate weightlessness. the three-legged robot will eventually be sent up to the International Space Station, where it will be able to crawl around the exterior of the station to make repairs and install new parts


in case you missed artist Brandon Ballengée’s nature hike at the Artists Airshow a few weekends back, you’ll be pleased to know he’s doing it again. the artist/stroke/biologist is best known for mixing serious field study with art, like this series, in which he collected specimens from fish markets in New York in order to study biodiversity and changing marine populations


_images from The Ever-Changing Tide

dream on

Boeing unveiled its next-generation 787 Dreamliner this week, promising less noise and lower emissions. larger windows and a more humid cabin will make flying more pleasant, while sleekly curving wings and carbon-fibre composites will help improve fuel economy. whether this can match the giant Airbus A380 (which carries 850 people vs the 787’s 330) remains to be seen

photo: Boeing 



the do-it-yourself space race took another leap forward this week with the launch of Bigelow Aerospace‘s Genesis II space module. adapted from an abandoned NASA project, the inflatable habitat is now orbiting the earth with a crew of insects to test basic life support functions. the successful project could pave the way for future space hotels


_photo: Bigelow Aerospace


this weekend, strange goings-on will be going on above Gunpowder Park as the Artists Airshow takes fight. curated by The Arts Catalyst and now in its second year, the event will feature experimental and artistic aircraft, a symposium, inflight films and a midnight nature walk led by Brandon Ballengée, whose work combines field study with art



captured with high-quality Hasselblad cameras in the crisp, airless vacuum of space, the photos taken by astronauts during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs remain as striking today as they were in the 60s. collector Leslie Cantwell’s extensive collection of signed examples goes on display today at Proud Galleries, offering a glimpse of the astronauts’ thoughts, emotions and experiences via their scribbles


_image: NASA / Leslie Cantwell

future past

two unfufilled dreams had us feeling nostalgic for the future last week in Tokyo. the first was a Le Corbusier exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, which included the architect’s plans for the Ville Radieuse, an ideal city with green space for all. the second was Kisho Kurokawa’s Nagakin Capsule Hotel (pictured)


_the apartment block was once a gleaming monument to future living, with individual pods designed to be removed, upgraded and replaced. sadly, the building’s potential was never realised and today it just sits on a grimy stretch of highway, looking dirty, sad but somehow still beautiful. since the residents are trying to get it torn down, you can’t go inside anymore, but Arcspace has a great gallery of interior photos

_photo: super/collider


“My ideas for the future came from my love for crystals and the magnifying qualities they have,” says fashion designer Christopher Kane of his contribution to the ICA’s All Tomorrow’s Pictures project. “I wanted to capture perfection using the crystal to magnify and multiply the faces of women I consider beautiful and perfect”

read more

high rise

inspired and informed by the Barbican‘s utopian spaces and interconnected skywalks, Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrc’s Forest Rising is ‘an island community floated on some 40 trees, including a field, pier, helicopter platform and a school, complete with solar panelling and satellite dish’. an ideal for Amazonian life in the 21st Century, it will be on display until September 2007


_photo: The Barbican


developed in the late 80s, the SPI resin identifcation coding system helps recyclers identify which type of plastic they’re dealing with – from Polyethylene Terephthalate (call him Pete) to plain old Polystyrene. sustainability is just one of the themes of Plasticity exhibition, which runs until January 2009


_image: super/collider

blue mars

in february this year, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe captured these beautiful images of Mars’ surface from a distance of 240,000km. look carefully and you can just make out a thin atmosphere, or click here to see the full photo collection, which clearly shows the planet’s craters and polar caps


_photo: ESA

one off

with a new book about his long life coming out today, things are looking up for Lonesome George – the last remaining giant tortoise from Pinta Island in the Galapagos. long thought fated to live out his days alone, hope has arrived with news that a genetically similar tortoise has been found on a nearby island


hall of fame

a good week for the British space set: Stephen Hawking takes a step closer to orbit, scientists celebrate the 45th anniversary of the UK’s first satellite project and the revamped Exploring Space gallery opens at London’s Science Museum. the new room features more robot probes and computer graphics than when we were kids, but you can still marvel at freeze-dried space food

_photo: the Black Arrow rocket / © Science Museum

smash hits

deep beneath the countryside on the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s largest physics experiment is nearly complete. a joint venture between the UK and other European countries, the Large Hadron Collider is one of the most ambitious experiments ever undertaken

read more


published this week, XS Green is a small brown book about small green buildings – like this structure by Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa. among the other designs are eco-friendly sheds, lightweight houses and other compact, inspirational ideas for living


At Abrahams is a quarterly forum for new ideas, bringing together ‘thinkers, doers and makers’ for an evening of talks, performances and goody bags. their ‘Appliance of Science’ event next week features guest speakers from the Institute for Cancer Research, ARUP and The Division, plus a free copy of _S3


_image: The Division


white lines

how do we overcome our addiction to air travel? that’s kind of the concept behind our contribution to Don’t Panic‘s climate change issue. it’s free to use and reproduce so long as you include a credit. email us if you’d like a larger or higher resolution version


_photo + montage: super/collider

eco city

the RSPB‘s new centre at Rainham Marshes is just one of the projects featured in ‘Sustainable London’, a new exhibition at NLA. the building is – as you’d expect – über ecofriendly, with locally sourced materials, a heat exchanger, sheep wool insulation, a rain harvesting tank, solar cells plus natural vents on the roof


_photo: James Brittain


long before Future Systems started making curvy chairs and skycrapers, Luigi Colani was creating bio-inspired cars, trains, planes and even spacecraft. this is his vision of a Mach 5 airliner, designed to fly from London to Tokyo in just three hours


_Colani fans at an exhibition in Kyoto. be like them starting next week at London’s Design Museum, where the first-ever UK retrospective of Colani’s work runs until June 2007

_Colani was, and is, big on vehicles and designs aerodynamic supercars for the likes of Ferrari. this one, a Ferrari Lotec Testa d’Oro could hit a top speed of 218mph

_it wasn’t all about transport, though. Colani also created futuristic furniture, outlandishly ergonomic grips for cameras, 360? sofas and this ‘spherical kitchen’ ? designed to hang outside a residential module

_perhaps inspired by the time he spent living in Japan, Colani designed this high-speed train for the German state railway, alongside plans for ultra-fast maglev monorails

_image: Mach 5 airliner by Luigi Colani

close up

on Wednesday morning, a small, lonely space probe will come face to face with the biggest planet in the solar system. plunging into Jupiter’s massive gravity well, NASA’s New Horizons will use the close encounter to photograph the gas giant’s swirling storms and the volcanoes of its moon, Io. the fly-by will accelerate the probe to over 52000mph and send it off towards its destination: Pluto


_image: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRl


art is great, owls are great, and now art and owls are teaming up in a new art show about owls! works by Kid Acne, Dscreet, Matt Sewell, Mia Thittichai (pictured) and thirty other artists, illustrators, fashion designers and sculptors will be on sale at Hoowot, with all proceeds going to help the World Owl Trust‘s efforts to protect owls and their habitat. yay!


_artwork: Mia Thittichai

big bang

science meets religion next Tuesday evening, as Professor John Barrow explores the philosophical side of modern cosmology at St Mary le Bow church in The City in this year’s Boyle Lecture. his speech will be followed by a response by Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, Astronomer Royal and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cambridge


_image: the Boomerang Nebula // © NASA/ESA/STScl/AURA


originally released in 1972, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solyaris is a master stroke of psychological sci-fi, since remade by Hollywood. this Sunday, you can catch the original in all its Technicolor – sorry, ‘Sovcolor’ – glory at the Camden Arts Centre, which is also showing artwork by chemist-turned-artist Victor Grippo


_image: Japanese release poster for Solyaris


in the future, will we all laze around on plastic chairs wearing foil skirts? will wraparound shades ever make a comeback? find out Monday at the Dana Centre, where futurologists from BT, the Environment Agency and The Big Ideas Project will discuss how technological change could affect our lives in the years ahead


_photo: super/collider

heads up

over the past week, Comet NcNaught has unexpectedly become one of the brightest in decades. as it races towards the sun, trailing dust and vapour in a long trail, it will be visible to those of us in the northern hemisphere until mid-January. you’ll find it near the western horizon around sunset, clouds permitting


_image: Comet NcNaught over Iowa // Stan Richards

worlds apart

three years ago yesterday, the first of two robotic NASA rovers touched down on Mars. initially designed to explore their surroundings for three months, the two rovers are still going strong and have beamed back a wealth of information and amazing images, like this one: sunset on Mars


_end of the road. having travelled nearly ten kilometres across the barren surface, Opportunity is now circling this crater. if mission control decides to send it in, the tiny rover may spend its final days in this area, unable to climb out again. one of NASA’s most successful missions ever, the twin rovers have paved the way for future explorers, both robotic and, just maybe, human

_navigating around such features has to be carefully planned. this 3D map was created to help mission planners work out a safe route up the Columbia Hills ? seven peaks named after the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster

_the rovers face high winds, planet-wide dust storms, temperatures as low as -140?C and tricky terrain, like this formation near Endurance Crater which scientists believe may show evidence of erosion caused by waterthe rovers face high winds, planet-wide dust storms and tricky terrain, like this formation near Endurance Crater which scientists believe may show evidence of erosion by water

_after 672 Martian days ? or ‘sols’ ? on the move, Spirit surveys its dusty, desolate surroundings

_after seven months in space, the two capsules hit the Martian atmosphere at 5.4 kilometres per second. heat shields and parachutes, like this one being tested in a wind tunnel, slowed the spacecraft down and set up two perfect landings. ‘Spirit’ touched down in Gustav crater while ‘Opportunity’ glided down in Meridiani Planum, a vast swindswept plain on the other side of the planet

_prior to launch, the rovers were loaded into carefully prepared landing capsules designed to survive the tricky descent to the Martian surface. of the eleven attempts to land on Mars, five have failed, including Britain’s ill-fated Beagle 2

_image: NASA / JPL-Caltech


this month, the Science Photo Library celebrates 25 years of providing stunning science-related images, so we thought we’d end the year on a Christmas-themed note with this infrared satellite image of Mount Merapi in Indonesia. captured by the ASTER thermal sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite, it shows ash (grey) rising over the lush forests (red)


_image: NASA / Science Photo Library

crystal ball

this month, the Science Photo Library celebrates 25 years of providing stunning science-related images, like these oh-so-nu-rave Hornblende crystals, captured in something called a ‘polarised light micrograph’




this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show is showcasing a series of next-next-generation eco concept cars, like this virtually unrecognisable Hummer. an entry in the show’s Design LA competition, the Hummmer O2 would run on hydrogen, with panels filled with algae to filter the air and ‘give something back’ to the environment – which might start to make up for the damage today’s Hummers are doing!

_image: Hummer O2 Concept // © General Motors