Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

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Visual effects: O2 Priority Moments advert


This advert for O2’s new Priority Moments service caught my attention recently, due to its use of visual effects (VFX) to create some wonderful illusions.

Matt Chandler is one of the VFX artists who worked on this advert, and he has written this blog post about it.  Here are some links to his personal website, blog, Vimeo page and LinkedIn page.

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Graphic design: Mysterious symbols

The Code - Initial symbols

BBC Two is currently broadcasting a fascinating documentary series in the UK called “The Code”, presented by the British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

During the title sequence of the episodes, various mysterious symbols are displayed, which are shown above.  They look to me like some kind of modern hieroglyphs or runes, or advanced mathematical symbols.  Their meaning is not revealed until the end of the title sequence.

Can you work out what these symbols are?  Continue reading this post to discover the answer!

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The warped space of M C Escher

Grid for Escher's Print Gallery (Lenstra and de Smit)

The Dutch graphic artist M C Escher is famous for his impossible objects, infinitely repeating patterns and surreal worlds.

Thumbnail of Escher's Print GalleryIn my opinion, his 1956 lithograph “Print Gallery” is his greatest masterpiece, combining an infinitely repeating image with a precise mathematical warping of space to create a truly mind-bending piece of surreal art.

In the bottom-left corner, a man is standing in an art gallery, looking at a painting of the Maltese city of Senglea.  Following the picture clockwise to the top-right corner, the painting expands, revealing an increasing amount of detail in the city’s buildings.  Continuing round to the bottom-right corner, we see that one of the buildings is an art gallery.  Returning to the bottom-left corner, we discover that this is the original art gallery in which the man is standing!

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Supernova in dark galaxy captured by Hubble

NGC 4526 galaxy with SN 1994D supernova

Some photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope receive large amounts of media attention, such as the recent “rose of galaxies” photo. But the telescope takes a lot of photos – 750,000 in its first 15 years! [1] So it’s inevitable that the archives will contain many beautiful images which few people stumble upon.

I recently came across the photo above, taken in 1994 and released in 1999, showing Supernova 1994D (the bright star near the bottom-left corner) in the galaxy NGC 4526, about 50 million light-years away.

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Photography: Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory

Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory - thumbnails

This photo gallery contains some incredible pictures of the Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory, under Mount Kamioka in Japan.

The observatory consists of a vast underground chamber in the shape of a cylinder, filled with 11 million gallons (50,000 tons) of extremely pure water. The inside of the chamber is covered with 11,146 photomultiplier tubes (extremely sensitive light-detectors). When a neutrino passes through the chamber and hits a water molecule, a flash of light is produced, which is recorded by the photomultiplier tubes.

Photo No.15 is particularly eye-catching, showing two technicians in an inflatable boat, checking the photomultiplier tubes while the chamber is being filled with water.

Hubble observes awesome star fields

Hubble ACS SWEEPS Field

Recently, NASA released two spectacular photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, showing very dense star fields in our own Milky Way galaxy and in the Andromeda Galaxy.

The photo above shows the Sagittarius-I Window “in the crowded central bulge of our galaxy, 26,000 light-years away”. [1]

The size of the field of view on the sky is roughly that of the thickness of a human fingernail held at arm’s length, and within this region, Hubble sees about a quarter million stars towards the bulge. [1]

I highly recommend you check out the larger versions of this photo, to fully appreciate the extraordinary quantity of stars.

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