Friday, March 27, 2015

Dark Matter: Now Even Stranger Than Before!

Fascinating, important science news from BBC:

Dark matter 'ghosts' through galactic smash-ups
By Jonathan Webb
Science reporter, BBC News

By observing multiple collisions between huge clusters of galaxies, scientists have witnessed dark matter coasting straight through the turmoil.

Dark matter is the mysterious, invisible stuff that makes up 85% of the matter in the cosmos - and these results rule out several theoretical models put forward to explain it.

This is because it barely interacts with anything at all, including the dark matter in the oncoming galaxies.

The work appears in Science magazine.

To conduct their study, astrophysicists looked at 72 smash-ups between galactic clusters, using two space telescopes: visible light was recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope, and X-rays by the Chandra Observatory.

Scouring multiple views of the collisions, the researchers tracked the movement of the three main components of galaxies: stars, clouds of gas, and dark matter.
The violently swirling clouds of gas are hot enough to glow with X-rays, which Chandra detects. And stars can be seen in regular, visible-light images from Hubble.
Dark matter is more difficult to "see" - but not impossible. Although it does not emit or absorb light, it does have gravity, and so it bends the path of light passing nearby. This warps our view of anything on the other side of it, in an effect called "gravitational lensing".

"Looking through dark matter is like looking through a bathroom window," said Dr Richard Massey from Durham University, one of the study's authors. "All the objects that you can see in the distance appear slightly distorted and warped."

Using this distortion allowed Dr Massey, with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh, University College London and Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), to "map" the dark matter in the clusters as they collided.

Galaxy clusters are vast and contain huge amounts of dark matter, so when they collide - over billions of years - it offers a unique glimpse of how the stuff behaves.
"We like these collisions because it's exactly what we'd do in the lab," Dr Massey told BBC News.

"If you want to figure out what something is made out of, you knock it, or you throw it across the room and see where the bits go."
In this case, the bits went straight through each other.

Unlike the gas clouds, which grind to a turbulent halt, and the stars, which mostly glide past each other, the ubiquitous dark matter passes through everything and emerges unscathed, like a ghost.

"It seems not to interact with anything at all," Dr Massey said.

Earlier observations of the "Bullet Cluster" - a bust-up between two particularly big groups of galaxies, now in its final stages - had already demonstrated dark matter's weird lack of interactions, including with itself.

But this new, major survey was able to deliver much more precision, concluding that there was even less interaction than the previous work allowed for.
"If you bang your head against the wall, the electrostatic force between the molecules in your head and the ones in the wall cause a collision. This is what dark matter doesn't seem to feel," Dr Massey explained.

Dark matter does "feel" gravity; those interactions are the reason we know it is there, and the reason it is bound up in the galactic collisions to begin with. But the lack of almost any other interaction makes it even more mysterious than before.

Link to the original BBC article:

The original article in Science Magazine:

BEAUTY: Painting--Lisa Ericson

For her most recent project, Lisa Ericson created sweet little field mice with moth or butterfly wings. The hybrid is tender, endearing, and unexpected. And I have a soft spot for mice...I had a few when I was a little boy...

Top to bottom: Artista; Bliss; Gatherer I; Gatherer II; Hover; Perch

"Invisible Heartbeat" by Helado Negro

I've just discovered the experimental, electronic music of Helado Negro (Roberto Carlos Lange) and I am so glad I did. He is on the Asthmatic Kitty label along with such acts as My Brightest Diamond and Sufjan Stevens. Lange, based in Brooklyn, is the son of Ecuadorean immigrants and sings in both English and Spanish. I love this peculiar video for his song "Invisible Heartbeat" which is so dreamlike, a great accompaniment to the floaty but subtly rhythmic music.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

BEAUTY: Men in Antique Paintings

Portraits of sexy men in antiquarian art...

Top to bottom: Desnudo recostado by Adolfo Lozano Sidro; by Albert Edelfelt; Mars, God of War by Diego Velazquez; Half Nude Model (1871) by Garnier Arsene Jules; Portrait de l’athlète Maurice Deriaz by Gustave Courtois(1907); Man With Staff by Hugh Ramsay; Self Portrait by Ivor Henry Thomas; Half Nude Model (1872) by Léon François Comerre; by Manuel Benedito; by Nino Cesarini; Der Sieger by Ottilie Roederstein; Male Nude by William Adolphe Bouguereau

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Subconscious Cinema" by Dreamscience Films

"Hey, are you a dreamer?
They say dreaming's dead. No one does it anymore.
It’s not dead, it's just it's been forgotten.
I’m trying to change all that and I hope you are too."
--from "Waking Life" by Richard Linklater

This is a marvelous supercut of dream sequences from both classic and recent cinema by Dreamscience Films (owned and operated by Gabriel Adelman).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Savage Beauty at the V&A, March 14 - August 2, 2015

After its record-breaking run at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011, "Savage Beauty," the retrospective of the work of the late Alexander McQueen (previously here), is once again mounted, this time at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It is quite appropriate that the show has returned to London, McQueen's hometown.

The show is now open and is set to close on August 2, 2015. But if the phenomenal response to the New York show is any indication (it was extended and the museum stayed open until midnight on regular operating days and opened its doors for special Monday viewings, a day most museums are closed) the V&A show might be around a little longer as well. If you are in London, do go... it's a spectacular chance to revisit McQueen's staggering genius.

Monday, March 23, 2015

BEAUTY: Photography--Kristoffer Axén

The eerie images in Kristoffer Axén's Events In Nature series convey a narrative of foreboding. Axén says,"My main interest is basically to make aesthetically interesting images based on what is underlying and hidden in things – an undefined fear in an otherwise ordinary scene, something off and slightly surreal creeping into the atmosphere. I wanted to make these filmic scenes in which the story itself is quite ordinary, but the mood, the strangeness lies in what is not completely visible – in the light and atmosphere, or in certain details. A feeling of something approaching, both a calmness and a general fear, in a world where the people becomes objects of nature like any other thing, and where the landscape becomes the main focus."

Top to bottom: A Procession; It Will Come From The Shadows; New Nature; Onward We Trudge; Practicing Being At Home; Trail

Sunday, March 22, 2015

BEAUTY: Ceramics--Jae Yong Kim

Sculptor and ceramicist Jae Yong Kim has created a series of amazing donuts in clay and glazes. I wish they were real--I would LOVE to eat some of these colors and shapes!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

BEAUTY: Sculpture--David Baerwalde

David Baerwalde's cakes look delicious but are, whimsically, made entirely of wood and sawdust. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go hunt down a German Chocolate Cake...and devour it.