Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tree of Life Diagrams

In previous blogs about Ernst Haeckel I pointed to his amazing drawings of animals and sea creatures. He also published the evolutionary tree, below, showing how humans and animals evolved from single-celled creatures.

Haeckel's diagram was published in 1879, forty-two years after Charles Darwin wrote "I think" above his sketch, probably the first diagram of it's kind.

With DNA sequencing we now have this amazing diagram of the evolutionary tree. See the University of Texas source and a New York Times article.

Mac users can download a 3-D version of the diagram by M. J. Sanderson here: http://loco.biosci.arizona.edu/paloverde/paloverde.html

More on the tree of life here: http://tolweb.org/tree/phylogeny.html

Zimmer, Carl (2009). "Crunching the Data for the Tree of Life", The New York Times online, Feb. 9, 2009.

Wikipedia contributors, "Kunstformen der Natur" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Kunstformen_der_Natur (accessed February 11, 2009).

Wikipedia contributors, "Charles Darwin", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Charles_Darwin&oldid=269994913 (accessed February 11, 2009).

David M. Hillis, Derrick Zwickl, and Robin Gutell, University of Texas. "Download Graphic Images from the Hillis/Bull Lab, Tree of Life Poster and Other Graphic Images", http://www.zo.utexas.edu/faculty/antisense/DownloadfilesToL.html
(accessed February 11, 2009).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Alicia Boole Stott

Alicia Boole Stott, 1860-1940, was born in Cork, Ireland. Although she never studied mathematics she was able to visualize geometric forms in hyperbolic space. She is remembered for finding all three dimensional sections of the four dimensional polytopes and for discovering many of the semi-regular polytopes. She coined the term "polytope" to refer to a convex solid in four dimensions. She built beautiful models of polytopes.

"Perpendicular sections of the 600-Cell. Section number 7." Alicia Boole Stott
The University of Groningen, Netherlands

Riddle, Larry (LRiddle@AgnesScott.edu). "Biographies of Women Mathematicians, Alicia Boole Stott". Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo Credit
Blanco, Irene Polo and van der Zalm, Lotte. "Mathematical models of surfaces, Alicia Boole Stott, 600(P), nr. 7". University of Groningen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Google Earth Oceans

Two recent software releases have huge potential for influencing art based on nature and technology. The new release of Google Earth and Adobe's Creative Suite family with Flash CS4 will tempt artists open to the concepts and imagery of science. Google Earth gives us the ability to see the ocean scape, and Flash CS4 includes basic 3D object manipulation capabilities. Web designers and developers have increasingly influenced artists, opening their eyes to all sorts of possibilities. Designers and developers working with technologists are changing the way we access science like never before. The new release of Google Earth reveals huge, amazing geological patterns in the ocean scape. The animation, data visualization, and interactive graphics capabilities of software like but not exclusive to Flash are giving scientists powerful ways to communicate ideas to the rest of us. (Also see Processing, and Rhino.)

In "Art and Nature", Arcy Douglass (writing for PORT – www.portlandart.net) brought us up to date on how artists have used natural processes and math to influence their work. A few artists have been interested in and able to absorb what science and technology have to teach. Now, science becomes more accessible, through the efforts of huge undertakings like Google, and because on a small scale thousands of technical artists and designers are working with scientists and mathematicians to improve our visualization of natural processes. Our exposure doesn't stop with our last science or math class in school. Science journals and graduate level books aren't required to tap into a lot of the amazing work going on.

Sylvia Earle said to Google, “You’ve done a great job with the dirt. But what about the water?” (See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/03/science/earth/03oceans.html.) The February issue of Scientific American has an excellent article explaining the origin of continuous undersea "ridges that wind around the globe like seams on a baseball." See "The Origin of the Land Under the Sea", by Peter B. Kelemen.

From Google Earth. The Pacific Ocean floor, off the coast of Maui.

From Google Earth. The Pacific Ocean floor, off the coast of southeast Mexico.

This gratuitous image from my Squared Spiral series has nothing to do with the ocean scape, but it was built in Flash Actionscript, and is influenced by the math concept of tessellation or tiling of the plane.