Art at the intersection of archaeology and space geekery

Ancient Egyptians made some really nice jewelry out of meteorites.

A proper Victorian poop table

This table is not for pooping. It's for tea. But it is made of poop — specifically fossilized hunks of fish poop, encased in a crunchy shell of clay and rock. The fossilized poops — called coprolites, which is basically just fancy Latin for "fossilized poop" — are the spiny-looking bits in the center of each circular inlay on the table top. (Technically, the name translates as "dung stone".)

The table belonged, appropriately, to the Rev. William Buckland, the man who gave coprolites their fancy name and proved that they were, in fact, fossilized poops.

The table resides at England's Lyme Regis Museum. You can read more about Buckland's work and the details of the craftsmanship and restoration behind the table at their website. Earth Magazine also has a lovely article on coprolites, including important information that will help you distinguish between fossilized poop and stuff that just looks like fossilized poop.

Via The Earth Story. Thanks to my Dad for forwarding this to me!

Tell Me Something I Don't Know 012: Shelton Drum, owner of Heroes Aren't Hard To Find


Shelton Drum is a first-generation outlier in the world of comics retail and convention organizing with his Charlotte NC store, Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, celebrating 30+ years in existence and Heroes Con growing stronger over a similar span of time. The TMSIDK gang traveled to Heroes Con 2013 to record the show live and the conversation spans the history of comics from the mid-60s forward through the eyes of a store owner who's seen it all.

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Nifty experiments and mesmerizing clip art from vintage chemistry manuals

Evil Mad Scientist has a great collection of photos taken of the booklets that came with the sort of old-fashioned, you'll-put-your-eye-out chemistry sets regularly sold to children in midcentury America.

It's a treasure trove, not only for those of us interested in science, but also for anyone with a special place in their heart for the era's graphic design.

Tell Me Something I Don't Know 011: Jon M. Gibson, co-founder of iam8bit


Jon M. Gibson is the co-founder/co-owner of iam8bit -– a production company, creative think tank, art exhibition, and gallery space in Los Angeles. iam8bit’s projects include a music video for Radiohead, A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong for the King of Kong DVD, Street Fighter Club, a custom vinyl picture disc for Tron Evolution, and marketing and artwork for Mega Man 9. After the success of the initial iam8bit shows (hosted at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight), they opened their own space and have continued to produce a variety of art exhibitions in addition to their work in the video game, film, fashion, and music industries.

Tell Me Something I Don't Know is produced and hosted by three talented cartoonists and illustrators:

Jim Rugg, a Pittsburgh-based comic book artist, graphic designer, zinemaker, and writer best known for Afrodisiac, The Plain Janes, and Street Angel. His latest project is SUPERMAG.

Jasen Lex is a designer and illustrator from Pittsburgh. He is currently working on a graphic novel called Washington Unbound. All of his art and comics can be found at jasenlex.com.

Ed Piskor is the cartoonist who drew the comic, Wizzywig, and draws the Brain Rot/ Hip Hop Family Tree comic strip at this very site, soon to be collected by Fantagraphics Books and available for pre-order now.

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Travel to the stars with The Intergalactic Travel Bureau

If you're in New York between now and the 21st of July, you should stop by 266 W. 37th Street — home of The Intergalactic Travel Bureau. This tongue-in-cheek travel agency offers opportunities to sit down and discuss your interstellar dreams with real astrophysicists who can answer questions, offer suggested itineraries, and help you explore the wonders of the Universe.

What would our night sky look like if other planets were as close as the Moon?

The Atlantic has a fantastic piece on the work on space artist Ron Miller, showing pictures of the night sky on Earth with other planets swapped in where the Moon should be. Jupiter is my favorite — if that were hovering over us every night, we'd all have deep inferiority complexes.

Two new Amy Crehore paintings

Artist Amy Crehore has two new excellent surrealistic paintings on her website. This one is called "A Gymnast's Memory of Fall."

The happiest little plankton in the world

Artist Hiné Mizushima makes these super adorable models of microscopic crustaceans called Daphnia out of felt. Scientists like to get the real-world versions of these creatures drunk, and use them to study how alcohol affects the nervous system. I suspect that Daphnia are cute drunks.

Via David Ng

One reason you can't take photos in the art museum

Many art museums don't hold the copyrights for the paintings and other artworks they own. So, while protecting the art from damage by exposure to 50 bazillion flashes is part of the motivation for banning museum photography, this is also a copyfight issue — and museums are starting to side with the phone-camera-toting public.

53 years of nuclear tests as electronic music

I've seen this video described as a musical depiction of all the nuclear bombs ever detonated. But that sort of makes it sound like you're about to get a particularly bombastic version of the 1812 Overture. Instead, "1945-1998" by Isao Hashimoto is more like an infographic with sound effects — or, possibly, a mash-up of the games Simon and Global Thermonuclear War.

What you get is an interesting depiction of nuclear tests through time — 2053 of them (including the non-test explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki). I found it particularly interesting to watch the slow ramp up over the course of the late 1940s and early 1950s, when months or years would tick by between tests. After that, beginning in the late 1950s, you see these patterns of sudden flurries of explosions, usually happening in the US and the USSR almost simultaneously. The cultural sense of panic is almost palpable.

A beautiful bacterium

David Goodsell of the Scripps Research Institute made this lovely watercolor illustration of a cell of Mycoplasma mycoides. This bacterium is the cause of a deadly respiratory disease that affects cattle and other cud-chewing animals.

If you've ever read much about zoonoses — diseases that pass from animals to humans — then you know that the domestication of livestock played a huge role in introducing many diseases to people. Living in close proximity to the animals we ate provided ample opportunities for those animals' diseases to jump over to us. What's interesting about Mycoplasma mycoides is that it represents a disease of animals that seems to have its origins in domestication, as well.

In 2012, scientists found evidence that suggests domesticating livestock — a process that resulted in closer living conditions for the animals and in animals from one herd being moved to other herds they likely wouldn't have otherwise had contact with — helped Mycoplasma mycoides evolve and spread. Today, different species of Mycoplasma mycoides cause a range of diseases that can kill between 10 and 70 percent of the cows they infect.

Goodsell's illustration is an attempt to show all the different parts of the bacterial cell, in the shapes, sizes, locations, and concentrations that those parts take in the real world. If you go to his site, you can see a legend explaining what everything is.

Project: Recycle old scientific equipment into new tools for public engagement

When ocean scientist Andrew Thaler found an old, outdated water level gauge, he found a way to give it new life — turning it into a tool to measure public interest in sea level rise. Instead of tracking water, the Sea Leveler tracks how much people are talking about water on Twitter.

Science at Fashion Week

From bodices made of green beetle wings to a skirt studded with embroidered-on bits of meteorite, the clothing of designer Mathieu Mirano draws inspiration from the natural world and the obsessions of science. Popular Science's Susannah Locke went to the designer's show and has a gallery of photos that you should really check out.

The men who designed space colonies

If your mental image of futuristic human colonies in space involves tubular ships, rolling hills, and a population seemingly plucked from a cocktail party in Sausalito in 1972, chances are good that you've been influenced by the art of Rick Guidice and Don Davis — illustrators commissioned by NASA to envision human homes among the stars. At Discover.com, Veronique Greenwood writes about these artists and the lasting impact they've had on science and science fiction.