Gravity Map of the Moon

The GRAIL mission was launched by NASA on September 10, 2011 and consisted of two small spacecraft, GRAIL A and GRAIL B. The acronym GRAIL stands for Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory and aimed to measure in very high quality the gravitational field of the moon. The two spacecraft, nicknamed Ebb and Flow, orbited the Moon for almost a year, starting on 31 December 2011, and ending on December 17, 2012 when they both impacted the surface of the moon. In the images generated, see above, the red zones are areas of above average gravitational pull, while blue areas are below the average gravitational attraction. The data gathered by Ebb and Flow will be used to help create much more accurate fuel consumption models for future missions to and around the moon.

Images 1 and 2: Living pluteus larva of the sea biscuit Clypeaster subdepressus under polarized light microscopy. Only the skeleton remains visible. Photos by Bruno C. Vellutini (Wikimedia; Flickr); cc-by-sa

Image 3: Pluteus larva via ccNeLaS

Image 4: Developing pluteus larva. Via Wikimedia. Public domain

Image 5: Sea urchin development tattoo via The Loom

Caption: “Greetings! Here’s a pic of my science tat. I studied sea urchin development for my dissertation. Upon completion 2 yrs ago, I awarded myself this tat for my academic achievement. The tat is of a sea urchin egg, 2 cell embryo, blastula, gastrula, prism stage and pluteus larval stage. Or as my friend’s say, an orange developing into an Alien face-grabber.”

Black Hawk Rotor Vortex Wake

“Aft view of the UH-60 helicopter rotor detatched eddy simulation showing the 3D nature of the vortex wake. Note the separated flow leaving the centerbody in the middle of the image, and the uneven wake separation due to the blade motion.

Investigator: Neal Chaderjian, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Ca
Visualization: Tim Sandstrom, NASA/ Ames

More info available here:

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Animated top view here


From The Earth Story Facebook:

While it certainly looks as though someone has taken a great deal of paint to these hills, these colours in fact formed naturally.
This unique geological formation is known as the Zhangye Danxia landform, found in southern China. It was formed by sediments laid down in a low-elevation fault basin during the Cretaceous period, which then experienced uplift due to their position on top of various fault zones. The various colours are a result of the erosion of the thick-bedded red sandstone and conglomerate: from running water erosion, biological effect, chemical precipitation and organic staining.

Eye organ of a Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) third-instar larvae pictured in the confocal technique at 60 times magnification.

Credit: Dr. Michael John Bridge | University of Utah HSC Core Research Facilities – Cell Imaging Lab

7th place, Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition, 2012

Haha! It’s an eye-heart! Get it?

I <3…

Image 1: B-factor plot for 1AV1 truncated human apolipoprotein A-I


Caption: “B-factor plot of 1AV1, refined at 4 Å using the PMB B-factor patch for isotropic B-factor restraints. Note that even the side-chain b-factors are well-behaved, and that the molecular motions are modeled more accurately by these individual B-factors than they could be by a series of group B-factors.”

What is a B-factor plot? I don’t know, but these folks say: “Blue means helix, red means strand and green means turns and random coil.”

Image 2: Another view of 1AV1 structure

Source and more info:

What is apolipoprotein A1? According to Wikipedia, it’s “the major protein component of high density lipoprotein (HDL) in plasma” i.e. the good cholesterol. It helps clear fats! Good job, apo A-I!

Nanoscale Saffman-Taylor instabilities

Photo 1: Pola Goldberg-Oppenheimer, University of Cambridge, Dept. of Engineering (source)

Another great photo here, but it’s a bit too wide to publish: Pola Goldberg-Oppenheimer, University of Cambridge, Dept. of Engineering (source, with more info on research)


Place a viscous fluid in the gap between two plates of glass and you have created a Hele Shaw cell. If a less viscous fluid is then injected between the plates, a fascinating pattern of finger-like protrusions results. This is known as the Saffman-Taylor instability. Because of the relative simplicity of the set-up, it’s possible to create such experiments at home using common household fluids like glycerin, dish soap, dyed water, or laundry detergent. (Photo credits: Jessica Rosencranz, Jessica Todd, Laurel Swift et al, Andrea Fabri et al, Tanner Ladtkow et al, Mike Demmons et al, Trisha Harrison, Justin Cohee, and Erik Hansen)

Viscous fingering: Saffman-Taylor instability in a Hele-Shaw cell

Image 1: Jessica Todd. Source

Image 2Dustin Grace, Jessica Todd, Marilyn Poon, Robert Neilson. Source: efluids image gallery

Caption: “Saffman-Taylor instability in a Hele-Shaw cell. When viscous fluid is displaced by a less viscous fluid in a thin layer, a fingering instability forms.

Contributors: Dustin Grace, Jessica Todd, Marilyn Poon and Robert Neilson, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Image created as part of Jean Hertzberg’s Flow Visualization: A Course in the Physics and Art of Fluid Flow.”

More info:

The Stomatopetrel: Awesome in every sense of the word… especially the sense of “inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear” (ref)

Similar sentiments have been expressed regarding the Pirahnamoose:

Art by JL Hirten: 


EDIT: How much extra weight can those remote-controlled shark balloons carry? This NEEDS to come to a burn…

The peacock mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus

Check out blog posts by Ed Yong and The Featured Creature

Photos 1 and 2: All over the interwebs, posted here among other places

Photo 3: via The Featured Creature; credited to

Image 4: A webcomic homage by The Oatmeal, complete with merchandise

Stomatopods rule! They have 16 photoreceptor classes!  Humans? A paltry 3! (Psssht, okay — and mayyybe up to 4. Rarely.) PLUS stomatopods can distinguish between linearly and circularly polarized light!

Slide by Michael Bok:

“This is a comparison of photoreceptor classes in human and mantis shrimp retinas. Each photoreceptor class has a distinct wavelength sensitivity curve. On the human plot, you can see our three cone photoreceptor classes; blue, green, and red. These receptors cover the electromagnetic light spectrum between 400 nm (violet) and 700 nm (red). Our brains are able to process relative stimulation between the three cone photoreceptor classes, allowing us to differentiate many colors.

Mantis Shrimp don’t have the advantage of a large brain for downstream processing, so they take another approach to seeing many colors: They have 16 distinct photoreceptor classes, packed via optical filtering into tight slivers of the spectrum. Of these, five classes are sensitive to UV light, below our visual range (these are the receptor classes that I am attempting to characterize). In addition, not shown in this slide, mantis shrimp can discriminate linearly and circularly polarized light.”

Comic from Abstruse Goose:

(Excellent reference in filename: if_the_doors_of_perception_were_expanded_everything_would_appear_as%20it_is-infinite.jpg)

Entimus imperialis, the aptly-named diamond weevil! Full of stars *and* nanoscale optics!

More info here:

Original article: Wilts et al. 2012. “Hemispherical Brillouin zone imaging of a diamond-type biological photonic crystal.” J. R. Soc. Interface 7 July 2012 vol. 9 no. 72 1609-1614. doi: 10.1098/​rsif.2011.0730

Photo 1: André Martins (2009):

Photo 2: André Martins (2009)

Photo 3: Composite of photos, posted here:

Photo 4: Arrangement from Wired article; photos by Bodo Wilts

Photo 5: Bodo Wilts

Pachyrrhynchus gemmatus, a weevil with opalescent photonic crystal scales

Photo 1: Robert Corkery: Natural self-assembled photonic paintings- inspiration for a post-pointillist

Photos 2 and 3:  Seago et al. 2009. “Gold bugs and beyond: a review of iridescence and structural colour mechanisms in beetles (Coleoptera).” J. R. Soc. Interface 6 April 2009 vol. 6 no. Suppl 2 S165-S184 doi: 10.1098/​rsif.2008.0354.focus