Star flares in space telescope photos

Watched The Genius Geometry of the James Webb Space Telescope by Stand Up Maths from YouTube

What I assumed to be some aperture deal — the star points coming off of artsy shots by the James Webb and Hubble telescopes — are actually the result of the supports for a secondary focal mirror (both) and the hexagonal mirror shape (James Webb).

Humor Science

Watched The Traumatizing Reality of Being An Ant


I was impressed at how many ways this guy managed to not say the word “die.” I think my favorite was “remove itself from the census” 😂

Cool Science

Dragonfly biology is awesome

Watched The Insane Biology of: The Dragonfly from YouTube

I had no idea the little colored bit on their wings acts as a counterweight 😍 It keeps the wingtips from fluttering and lets the dragonfly fly 10-20% faster than they’d be able to otherwise.

They also have direct flight muscles that allow them to control all four wings individually so they can fly all directions and maneuver super fast. They have different patterns and rhythms of movement for different flight patterns, which reminds me of how land animals have different paces that you can see in their track patterns.

Apparently there are two main types of aerial hunting techniques: tracking and intercepting. Interception is when the predator predicts where the prey will travel and flies there instead of merely chasing, which relies on greater speed and uses more energy.

Art and Design Science

Read Soviet Space Graphics

Read Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR

This otherworldly collection of Soviet space-race graphics takes readers on a cosmic adventure through Cold War-era Russia. Created against a backdrop of geopolitical uncertainty, the extraordinary images featured, taken from the period’s hugely successful popular-science magazines, were a vital tool for the promotion of state ideology. Presenting more than 250 illustrations – depicting daring discoveries, scientific innovations, futuristic visions, and extraterrestrial encounters – Soviet Space Graphics unlocks the door to the creative inner workings of the USSR.

I truly appreciate when an art book is primarily art — I’m here to look at the pictures 😉 Love the cover on this. They chose a nice matte paper that complemented the soft style of artwork throughout. I appreciated that they mostly dedicated full pages to each piece. I was drawn by the bright color palettes in use through many of the illustrations. Overall the selection felt relatively limited, representing mostly the same few magazines.

Illustrated by K. Artseulov, 1958

The color palette is striking, the blue nearly glowing against the orange sky. I like the soft, colorful illustration style applied to technology.

Illustrated by V. Skumpe, 1966

The gray-green background scattered with energetic white dashes is what catches my eye here. You’d think it would be too distracting, but it complements the main illustration instead by adding more liveliness. I have fountain pen ink similar to that greeny-blue color, which feels properly retro.

Cool Science

Paint without pigment

Liked This Is the Lightest Paint in the World by Max G. Levy (WIRED)

An energy-saving coating needs no pigments, and it keeps the surface beneath it 30 degrees cooler.

Some of nature’s most vivid looks—the kind worn by peacocksbeetles, and butterflies—do their thing without pigment.

Those colors come from topography. Submicroscopic landscapes on the outer surfaces of peacock feathers, beetle shells, and butterfly wings diffract light to produce what’s known as structural color.

See also: Life in Color: Seeing in Color

Environment Science Society

Last chance on climate

Replied to Scientists deliver ‘final warning’ on climate crisis: act now or it’s too late by Fiona Harvey (The Guardian)

In sober language, the IPCC set out the devastation that has already been inflicted on swathes of the world. Extreme weather caused by climate breakdown has led to increased deaths from intensifying heatwaves in all regions, millions of lives and homes destroyed in droughts and floods, millions of people facing hunger, and “increasingly irreversible losses” in vital ecosystems.

I’ve dedicated my career to the environment, and particularly climate change. I studied ecology in college — the systems of nature that surround us. I consider it tragic when species that have developed over millenia to be specialized to their niche — a perfect puzzle piece in their ecosystem, complementing the other plants and animals there — are dying out because climate change and habitat destruction are occurring too fast for them to keep up. These intricately balanced systems are devastating to lose. Each species a wonder of nature that can never come back once it’s gone.

Species coming and going is the natural way of things, of course, but the rate of change is stupendous, and this time it’s caused by humanity.

We like to think we’ve made progress since the 1800s, but we have not when it comes to our perspectives on the value of ecosystems: we see their value as extractive, with anything not monetizable easy to dismiss.

I will keep hoping and working to stave off the worst. But I believe we’re locked in to at least 1.5c.

I try to always keep an upbeat attitude when talking about the environment because when people get too bummed out they give up on doing anything or feel disempowered — and every partial degree increase we can prevent actually does make a meaningful difference (even if we can’t hit 1.5, 2c would be much better than 2.5c or 3c! Especially if we want to avoid positive feedback loops of warming.). But an insistence on relentless positivity is toxic. Our society doesn’t make time to feel — emotions get in the way of productivity — so I wanted to counter that and take a moment to mourn.




And now, I can return to the long effort.


Tonight’s science and math video edutainment


Tonight’s menu of science and math learning:

Delightfully pedantic.


Lol the flat earther intro had me going… but was a good segue into the real topic.

Some really great metaphors, like “vaccine dojos” versus just-get-sick “natural dojos” — this team is ace at science storytelling.

Interesting genetics info I was out of date on! 🧬

Nature Science

Deep sea ecosystems

Watched Deep Sea Hub | Natural World Facts from Natural World Facts

The hub for facts, news and discussion about the deep sea. Scroll through the successive zones of the sea to discover its inhabitants.

Whale pump — nutrient transfer between water elevations

Autogenic ecosystem engineers — creatures that modify the ecosystem with themselves / their own bodies — e.g. corals leave their exoskeletons when they die, offering more substrate for future corals to grow on, creating environments for fish and other creatures while alive too

We’ve been watching a bunch from this series the past couple weeks — the narrator has a soothing voice that’s good for winding down. I studied terrestrial ecology so it’s interesting to see the same concepts applied to ocean ecosystems. And the creatures and colors of the sea are so interesting!

History Science

Watched “That time the American West exploded”

Watched That Time the American West Blew Up from YouTube

How is it possible to have cataclysmic eruptions without any real cataclysm?

Mid-Tertiary ignimbrite flare-up

Cool Nature Science

Watched The Secret Life of Brine Pools


There is water at the bottom of the ocean 🌊