Tag Archives: National Geographic

An art initiative that enlists artists, curators, and scientists to work on environmental issues and discovered bioluminescent turtles*

Thanks to Mark Dwor of the Canadian Academy for Independent Scholars for sending me a link to this piece about bioluminescent sea turtles by Hili Perlson in a Sept. 29, 2015 posting on artnet news,

A marine biologist studying coral reefs off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific made an amazing discovery this week when he noticed a “bright red-and-green spaceship” approaching his way in the pitch dark waters. The glowing underwater body turned out to be a hawksbill sea turtle, a critically endangered species.

The scientist, David Gruber, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, was on site as part of a TBA21 Academy expedition, an art initiative that enlists artists, curators, and scientists to work on projects related to environmental issues. In 2002, art collector Francesca von Habsburg founded Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), which has long been dedicated to ambitious projects that defy categorizations.

Here’s what the ‘spaceship turtle’ looked like,

SpaceshipTurtleI encourage you to read Perlson’s piece in its entirety or to check out her blog posting for the embedded National Geographic video profiling the discovery.

For anyone interested in TBA 21, there’s this site homepage which seems focussed on the art/science projects and this site webpage which seems to be focussed on the organization’s art museum in Vienna, Austria.

*”and discovered bioluminescent turtles” added to headline Oct. 9, 2015 at 0950 hours PST.

Spider skin image winner of FEI/National Geographic contest

In a July 4, 2012 posting, I described an FEI/National Geographic image contest “Explore the Unseen” which was then open for entries. FEI, a microscopy company, runs the contest annually and in 2012 partnered with National Geographic to offer a grand prize that featured two coach class tickets to a US destination of the winner’s choosing and inclusion of their image in a special gallery promoting National Geographic’s film, “Invisible Worlds.”

The grand prize winner has been announced in a Feb. 13, 2013 news item on Azonano,

FEI is proud to announce that María Carbajo of the Electron Microscopy Unit in the Research Support Services of the University of Extremadura has been awarded the grand prize in the 2012 FEI Owner Image Contest for her entry “Spider Skin”.

FEI asked vistors to their website to vote for their favorite image among the monthly winners. A total of nearly 1000 votes were received and María Carbajo’s image, Spider Skin, narrowly beat out other worthy images.

María’s entry shows the texture of the skin of a spider, with a hair root and brochosomes from a leafhopper preyed upon by the spider.

The following “Spider Skin” image and its technical details were downloaded from FEI’s 2012 contest winners (undated) news release,

Image Details: Instrument used:QUANTA 3D FEG Magnification: 12000x Horizontal Field Width: 24.9 Vacuum: 2.7e-3 Pa Voltage: 10kV Spot: 5 Working Distance: 10 Detector: ETD Credit: María Carbajo of the Electron Microscopy Unit in the Research Support Services of the University of Extremadura

Image Details:
Instrument used:QUANTA 3D FEG
Magnification: 12000x
Horizontal Field Width: 24.9
Vacuum: 2.7e-3 Pa
Voltage: 10kV
Spot: 5
Working Distance: 10
Detector: ETD
Credit: María Carbajo of the Electron Microscopy Unit in the Research Support Services of the University of Extremadura

You can find more images that were submitted to the contest here.


Google Science Fair (encouraging the new generation of scientists) opened Jan. 30, 2013

Here’s a little information about the recently opened 2013 Google Science Fair for students around the world, aged 13 – 18, from the Jan. 30, 2013 posting on the official Google blog,

At age 16, Louis Braille invented an alphabet for the blind. When she was 13, Ada Lovelace became fascinated with math and went on to write the first computer program. And at 18, Alexander Graham Bell started experimenting with sound and went on to invent the telephone. Throughout history many great scientists developed their curiosity for science at an early age and went on to make groundbreaking discoveries that changed the way we live.

Today, we’re launching the third annual Google Science Fair in partnership with CERN, the LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American to find the next generation of scientists and engineers. We’re inviting students ages 13-18 to participate in the largest online science competition and submit their ideas to change the world.

For the past two years, thousands of students from more than 90 countries have submitted research projects that address some of the most challenging problems we face today. Previous winners tackled issues such as the early diagnosis of breast cancer, improving the experience of listening to music for people with hearing loss and cataloguing the ecosystem found in water. This year we hope to once again inspire scientific exploration among young people and receive even more entries for our third competition.

Here’s some key information for this year’s Science Fair:

  • Students can enter the Science Fair in 13 languages.
  • The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm PDT.
  • In June, we’ll recognize 90 regional finalists (30 from the Americas, 30 from Asia Pacific and 30 from Europe/Middle East/Africa).
  • Judges will then select the top 15 finalists, who will be flown to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. for our live, final event on September 23, 2013.
  • At the finals, a panel of distinguished international judges consisting of renowned scientists and tech innovators will select top winners in each age category (13-14, 15-16, 17-18). One will be selected as the Grand Prize winner.

Nick Summers in a Jan. 30, 2013 posting for TheNextWeb describes the prizes,

The grand prize also includes a Google scholarship worth $50,000, which can be used to further the students’ education in any way they like, digital access to Scientific American and a grant worth $10,000 for the students’ school, a hands-on experience at either CERN, LEGO or Google, as well as a Mindstorms LEGO set signed by CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp himself.

It’s an incredible prize, although there will also be a handful of age category winners, who will receive a slightly smaller, but no less impressive reward that includes a $25,000 Google scholarship, as well as the aforementioned custom LEGO set, hands-on experience and digital access to Scientific American for their school.

There is also a second prize from the journal, Scientific American, from the Jan. 30, 2013 press release on Nature,

Today marks the launch of the second annual $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action award, powered by the Google Science Fair. The Scientific American Science in Action award honors a project that can make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge. …

“Kids are born scientists and have wonderful ideas about how to make the world a better place,” said Scientific American editor in chief Mariette DiChristina. “We are thrilled to once again sponsor the Scientific American Science in Action award as part of the Google Science Fair to recognize their great projects.”

The finalists and winner of the Scientific American Science in Action award will be drawn from the entry pool of the Google Science Fair by a committee of esteemed judges. In addition to the $50,000 cash prize, the winner will receive one year of mentoring to help realize the goal of her or his project and will be recognized at the 2013 Google Science Fair finalist event in September. More information is available at www.ScientificAmerican.com/science-in-action and www.google.com/sciencefair.

The winning project in 2012 was a Unique Simplified Hydroponic Method, developed by two 14-year-old boys, Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela, both from Swaziland. Shongwe and Mahlalela were also finalists in the 13-to-14-year-old age category at the overall Google Science Fair.

The deadline for entries is April 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm PDT. Good luck!

FEI/National Geographic image contest: Explore the Unseen

It’s not unusual to see contests for the best ‘nanoimage’ but this one offers some special prizes including exposure (pun intended)  in a National Geographic project on nanotechnology. From the June 27, 2012 news item on Azonano,

FEI is excited to announce this year’s FEI Image Contest, “Explore the Unseen” and invites owners and users to submit their best nano-scale images online at fei.com. This year FEI are pleased to partner with National Geographic on a film tentatively titled “Invisible Worlds”.

Winning images will be posted on National Geographic’s website and all images will be considered for inclusion in the film’s promotional materials.

Inspired by the upcoming film, the FEI Image Contest offers owners and users an opportunity to explore their creativity and share their images with National Geographic’s worldwide audience.

I was a little curious about FEI and found it’s a microscopy company, from their About FEI page,

FEI  is the world leader in the production and distribution of electron microscopes, including scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmission electron microscopes (TEM), DualBeam™­ instruments, and focused ion beam tools (FIB), for nanoscale research, serving a broad range of customers worldwide. Nanotechnology is the science of finding, characterizing, analyzing and fabri­cating materials smaller than 100 nano­meters (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter). FEI’s global customer base includes researchers, scientists, engineers, lab managers, and other skilled professionals.

Here’s more about the contest from the FEI’s 2012 contest page,

Contest Benefits

What’s in it for you?

All images submitted will be considered for inclusion in the National Geographic film promotional materials. This may include a companion game, book, education guide and poster.

Monthly Category Prizes

Everyone who enters will have the opportunity to win one of four monthly prizes. Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: The Human Body, Around the House, The Natural World, and Other Relevant Science. Monthly winners will receive a custom 24 x 24 inch bamboo mounted print of their image to put on display.

Plus, the four winning images will be posted to the Nat Geo Movies section of their website and Facebook page.

Grand Prize

At the conclusion of the contest, a grand prize will be awarded for the best image received from the monthly category winners. The grand prize is two coach class tickets to a United States destination of the winners choosing.

In addition, the winning image will be part of a special photo gallery promoting the film “Invisible Worlds”.

Here are more details about the individual categories,

Image Categories

This year, we’ve chosen image categories with broad audience appeal. The following examples, while not an exhaustive list, provide an idea of what we’re looking for:

The Natural World:

  • Insect parts – wings, eyes, etc. (ideal insects include moth, ladybug, fly, dragonfly, butterfly, cicada, cricket, etc.)
  • Spider silk / webs
  • Pollen, allergens, leaves, tree slime, fungus, bacteria & mold
  • Micro-invertebrates seen in water-quality testing
  • Plants, flowers, blades of grass
  • Rock, minerals, sand, etc.
  • Ice/snow/snowflakes, other crystals, raindrops
  • Close-up of animals or animal parts: dog, cat, bird, fish (pets a kid would own)

The Human Body:

  • Insects that live on your body (eyebrows, lashes, etc.) lice, bacteria
  • Body parts: bone (including fractures/breaks), human hair, skin flakes
  • Bodily fluids: snot, sweat, blood, saliva, tears, etc
  • Hands (finger, skin) before and after washing
  • Viruses
  • Endoplasmic reticulum, cell walls, etc
  • What a tattoo looks like under the skin

Around the House:

  • Things you would find in a kids room: t-shirt fibers, stuff on the soles of dirty shoes, dust mites, carpet fibers, hair inside of a baseball cap, sloughed skin, dust, pencil lead, crayons
  • Food: ice cream, candy, bread, french fries, apples, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  • Creatures that live on the mouthpiece of a phone, in the kitchen sink
  • Tires, cars, bikes, toys
  • Lint from clothing
  • The inside workings of a clock, computer, smartphone or TV
  • Gems and jewels: rubies, diamonds, other gems
  • Sports equipment: baseball, basketball, soccer ball, bathing suit, etc.

Other Relevant Science:

Do your best images not fit into the categories above? Are you interested in sharing what you’re working on today? Whether you are investigating advanced materials, working to understand complex chemical reactions, or researching the 3D architecture of tissues and cells, this is the category for submitting your best work.

Here’s FEI’s 2011 winning image (from FEI”s 2011 Owner Image Contest Winner announcement page),

Microcanyon: a micro-crack in steel after bending tests Credit: Martina Dienstleder of the Institute for Electron Microscopy at the Graz University of Technology

The reasons it was selected as the ‘grand’ prize winner (from FEI”s 2011 Owner Image Contest Winner announcement page) were,

Overall, the entries were judged on their aesthetic appeal, application and scientific relevance, and overall creativity.

Given that there is mention of a micro-crack and the grand prize winner is titled Microcanyon, I’m assuming last year’s theme was less specific than this year’s invitation to submit ‘nanoscale’ inflected images.

Given there are monthly winners I assume there are monthly deadlines but I couldn’t find them on the FEI contest webpage however, the  final deadline for submissions is Sept. 14, 2012.

Good luck to the 2012 entrants.

Art/science project (Clipperton) in Mexico

This art/science project (Clipperton Project) is taking place off Mexico’s Pacific coast. From the Feb. 29, 2012 news item on Physorg.com,

Twenty artists and scientists from eight countries set sail Thursday [March 1, 2012] for Clipperton Island, an isolated French atoll off Mexico’s Pacific coast, to investigate effects of climate change and the island’s history.

Named after British pirate John Clipperton, the uninhabited island, also known as the “Island of Passion,” is some 2.3 square miles (six square kilometers) in size, has no drinkable water and is home to poisonous crabs and rats.

Here’s more about the Clipperton Project from a Feb. 25, 2011 news item on Huffington Post,

The Clipperton Project is a multi-disciplinary, four-nation arts and science project which aims to take some of the very best practitioners in the arts and sciences from Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and France on an expedition to the forgotten island of Clipperton in October 2011.

The participants will then produce work based on the history of the atoll (specifically Mexico’s damned colony of 1917) and its ecological, geological and human history in order to paint a cross-cultural portrayal of this unique island in the middle of the Pacific, displaying its work at some of the most important forums in these countries between 2011 and 2014.

I gather from the item on the Huffington Post that this expedition has been rescheduled at least once. I’m glad to see they’ve been able to pull it off.

The latest news from the expedition organized by Jonathan Bonfliglio (from http://www.clippertonproject.com/ Note: this looks like the home page so it might not always feature the latest news and images but the Expeditions webpage is sure to feature the most up-to-date information live from the ship.),

The team has arrived in Cabo Pulmo National Park. They will be spending the day there with the local community and will be involved in a series of events in association with Greenpeace México. The events are intended to promote the fascinating story of this threatened marine reserve. Accompanying them on this leg of the journey are TV Azcteca (Mex), France 24 (France) and National Geographic (international).

One of the latest images from the expedition,

Clipperton Island on Day 2 (March 2, 2012) of Clipperton Island art/science project

ETA June 26, 2013: A commenter has noted that [this] is not an image of Clipperton Island. In reviewing the project website’s Gallery of images, I’ve not been able to find this picture and am at a loss to explain this error.

Sometimes you just have to love the internet. One minor question, why aren’t there any Canadians on this expedition? It just seems odd since we are part of North America along with the US and Mexico and we have strong ties historically with the UK and France not to mention that we do a lot of ocean-based research ourselves. In fact, GrrlScientist one of the Guardian science bloggers featured a video from Ocean Networks Canada Observatory on her March 1, 2012 posting, which you can view there or on the Ocean Networks Vimeo channel. Here’s one of the earlier videos from their channel (it’s a bit heavy on the marketing),

Canada’s Ocean Observatory from Ocean Networks Canada on Vimeo.

Personally, I think they could have done with a poet or two helping out with the narration. I hope that in the future they’ll be inspired by the Clipperton Project approach.