Friday, March 16, 2012

Stupendous Shuttle Scenes

I am a big fan of space research, and space travel.  So allow me a brief foray outside the usual topics of this blog, and watch this.  Full screen, at high definition, if you can.

Pretty amazing.  It's incredible to think that even after detachment from the shuttle and fuel tank (and after they have ceased to produce thrust) the boosters gain an additional 13 miles of altitude. Truly awesome.

( i09)

(You might ask, what's that little squiggle mean? It means "via" and you can find out more about using it to attribute content online by clicking on it.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Intersection

It may interest you to know that I have a Bachelor's degree in Studio Art.

Art and Science have never seemed to be separate to me, a position held by some quite respectable minds over the years.  In my view, both are ultimately about applying a process of experimentation and refinement to a problem, until a solution is arrived upon.  Over time, others build on that work, and expand it into a deeper understanding of the world.  

That process and the blurry division of Art from Science sometimes pops up in a very elegant fashion.
Take, for instance, this:

I haven't yet looked into the actual apparatus, but I can make some educated guesses.  The "tone-arm" of the turntable is set to slowly track in across the slice of tree.  Instead of a stylus, it has a high magnification digital camera (hence the very bright light).  The image is then treated as raw sound data and fed into a sampler, where it triggers a piano sample.  Variation in the ring produce different notes: dark areas such as old injuries or burns produce bass notes.  Lighter areas produce higher notes.  The distance between them determines the timing, hence the cacophony of notes produced by the second "album", which is much more tightly grained. The width of the features may determine the sustain of the note.  

I quite like it, as it transforms the events in a tree's life into a music of sorts; the thin darker rings at the end of the growing season and impending senescence contrast with the light spring wood, injuries pop out any time they occur, and uneventful periods of even, continuous growth are silent.

(tip o' the hat to friend and cultural maven Theremina)