Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Visual Explanation of DNA

BBC Knowledge Explainer DNA from Territory on Vimeo.

BBC Knowledge and Learning is exploring a wide variety of topics from social history to science in a series of three-minute online Explainer documentaries, and commissioned Territory Studio to produce an animated film on the subject of DNA.
Three minutes is a short time to explore a subject where most doctorates only scratch the surface, so writer Andrew S. Walsh teamed up with molecular biologist Dr. Matthew Adams to distill the script down to the most fundamental elements required to understand not only DNA’s form and function but how our understanding of these discoveries has affected the wider world. While this length may feel restrictive, the team found that this limitation acted as a lens, focusing the piece on the essentials.
The Explainer series is designed to intrigue and inform, encouraging those who discover the documentaries to further explore through links to additional information found on the BBC website.  Lead designer and animator Will Samuel explained the process behind it on Vimeo:

We needed to find a graphic style to communicate the beauty and intricacy of DNA. We wanted to create nostalgia; taking the audience back to the days of textbook diagrams and old science documentaries, such as Carl Sagan's COSMOS and IBM’s POWER OF TEN (1977). Using the double helix circular theme as a core design we focused on form, movement and colour to create a consistent flow to the animation, drawing on references from nature, illustrating how DNA is the core to everything around us.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Many Alien Civilizations are there in the Galaxy?

That question is a popular one amongst scientists, sci-fi authors, and the casual dreamer alike. The Are We Alone? infographic from the BBC was designed by Information is Beautiful to illustrate the Drake equation. The Drake equation is used to calculate how many potential aliens may exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. This is an equation that American astronomer Frank Drake formulated in the 1960s to calculate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations may exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. What's interesting about this interactive infographic is that it lets the user change the assumptions and recalculate the results.

Monday, August 19, 2013

StarTalk Radio: The Science of Sex

StarTalk Radio trades the cosmic for the orgasmic in “The Science of Sex (Part 1).” Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Kristen Schaal, author of The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex, tread not so lightly into taboo territory with guests Mary Roach, author of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, famed sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and astrophysicist Charles Liu

But it’s still StarTalk, so the focus is on the science, not the lasciviousness, of sex. You’ll learn that females can have nocturnal clitoral erections just like the male equivalent, what the other erectile tissue in the human body is (it’s not the nipples!), and why pharmaceutical research has moved beyond Viagra™ to developing pills for post-menopausal women with flagging sex drives. Dr. Ruth explains how Fifty Shades of Grey changed perceptions of female sexuality, while on a more humorous note, Kristen discusses sex in labs and “the worst STD of all.”

Update: StarTalk Radio "The Science of Sex (Part 2)" is now released as well.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Curiosity's First Year in Two Minutes

The past year, the Mars rover Curiosity has been driving around the surface of Mars, drilling and collecting samples (and every once in awhile drawing inappropriate body parts for fun).

JPL just published a video shortening the past year in Curiosity's journey down to 548 images, taken with the fish-eye lens mounted on the rover's back. It's a great first-person look at Curiosity as it collects its first samples and explores the surface of Mars.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What Pangaea Would Look Like With Today's Political Boundaries

About 300 million years ago, the supercontinent of Pangaea started to break apart into the continents we live on today. An Italian designer—who goes by the name Massino—put Pangaea back together, then added on modern political boundaries. This created the map you see below:

political pangaea
Political Pangaea via Massino