Saturday, 23 January 2010

Re-visualizing Molecular Science.

I vividly remember being ed on occasion through secondary-school education because ‘atoms’ where consistently presented as these perfect slick round little spheres. At one time I even called the teacher a fabricator of lies and shouted: “Atoms aren’t balls!!”.

Of course the poor man couldn’t help it, as it was just decided to teach us high-school kids a outdated, simplified 19th century version of the atom , rather than confusing us with subatomic particles like protons, neutron, up-quarks, down-quarks, gluons and what do you have nowadays.

In retrospect I was just a kid trying to be witty after having flipped through some of the science magazines of my dad, who was a physicist. Nonetheless, I always remained keen on the underestimated role of simulations in modern science.

Are you still reading? Then this call for proposals might be for you. The STRP Festival, Institute of Complex Molecular Systems, and Animation Studio invite artists, designers and scientists to develop a new visual language for molecular structures.

Recently, a new problem has emerged for molecular scientists. For many decennia they have used a world-wide accepted way of representing molecules, even though these molecules have never really been seen. Unfortunately, this language is not suitable to represent the increasing complexity of the molecular systems and dynamic processes that are subject of modern research. … I think that a breakthrough in this area is only possible with ideas of people with different specialisms.

Download the full Call for Proposals (pdf).

Where's Commercial Lighting Going Next?

Bioluminescent Trees and Plants in the Street, Shop, School, Office and Home?

It's funny really. 20 years ago I worked at Concord Lighting - a top gun commercial lighting manufacturer - as a Design Engineer. I'd scratch my head as to where lighting - the common-a-garden artifacts in your den, bathroom and kitchen - would go next.

Most people know about light emitting organisms such as jellyfishes, fireflies and mushrooms. Some time ago, genetic engineers transferred genes responsible for the luciferin and luciferase proteins into a tobacco plant. These firefly proteins were then manufactured by the tobacco plant, causing it to glow and emit light.

What if this technology could be extended further to say, a maple tree or a juniper bush? Designer Audrey Richard-Laurent speculates on combining trees and streetlights into bioluminescent trees.

In urban areas, one usually sees a row of trees parallel to streetlights. Why not hybridize them? An elegant, yet far fetched idea? Don’t be to sure.

Bioluminescence works to replicate processes for creating light found in chemical reactions in the natural world–such as with certain jellyfish or bacteria–for human purposes.

Chemiluminescence refers to the emission of light with limited emission of heat as a result of chemical reaction. Many researchers feel that both of these processes have the potential to produce sustainable, non-petroleum-based light sources.

Other potential applications might be glow in the dark designer pets, agricultural crops and domestic plants that luminesce when they need watering, new methods for detecting bacterial contamination of meats and other foods and glowing grass on golf yards that allow you to play golf after dark.

Fancy a Photonic Tatto? Their coming!