In a mix of artistry, geometry, and technology, San Francisco-based Earthscape artist Andres Amador creates massive sketches in the beach sand – sometimes geometric, and sometimes more abstract and serendipitous – using rakes and ropes. The designs are temporary; where the waves don’t wash away his work, walking beach visitors and the wind will naturally muddy and dissolve the precise lines.
Amador has become keenly aware of how impermanent his work is, and has embraced nature’s tidal rhythm, starting one hour before low tide and continuing to work until an hour afterward. In this KQED Arts video, he explains:
People are really… they’re enthralled that i would do something that is destined to wash away. That really strikes a chord with people because really, truly, it’s the story of our lives. Our lives are impermanent, and the tide is unstoppable.
And though this art form is tied directly to nature, Amador makes great use of modern technology. The designs can be both checked and appreciated-in-full from high above the beach using a remote controlled helicopter.
Maple trees + good timing + basic chemistry = maple syrup. But Science Friday takes us behind the scenes of maple syrup research to show that there’s much more to it than that. While the tradition has been to tap fully grown wild trees – commercially with lots of plastic tubing – recent experiments at University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center have found that harvesting from the cut tops of juvenile trees might yield 5 to 6 times per acre, surprisingly without harming the young trees.
Lots of questions about this one: What are the other differences between the farm vs forest model of growing trees? Does this new process affect the local birds or creatures underground? What do these young trees look like in 20 years? What questions do you have?
A few years ago, U.K. wildlife photographer William Burrard-Lucas started building a series of remote controlled DSLR camera vehicles as a DIY project. Named the BeetleCam, it’s now better protected, has space for a GoPro, and is a commercially available product.
Continuing to improve on his ideas and invent new ways to observe wildlife, Burrard-Lucas developed a gyro-stabilized BeetleBot and a BeetleCopter, which filmed the above scenes in the Serengeti, though they’re working on a quieter version. (A note for sensitive kiddos: half of a fresh kill shown at 2m14s.)
Below, a project update that shows all of his “camtraptions.”
If you caught Episode Two of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, you will have seen how, over time, dogs evolved from wolves into the breeds that we know now. (And if you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out.) But Neil deGrasse Tyson didn’t touch on this specific evolutionary detail:
In the mountains of Ethiopia, the BBC’s Steve Backshall and his Deadly 60 team track a group of graminivorous (grass-eating) gelada baboons to observe their amazing, lion-sized, canine teeth, which are central to the primates’ social communications. From Mary Bates at Wired’s Zoologic blog:
The gum-bearing yawn was most common with males, especially high-ranking ones. This kind of yawn exposed the gelada’s impressive canine teeth, which stood out against the reddish-pink color of their gums and the inside of their mouths. It was often accompanied by a loud call, and the researchers believe the yawn functions as a long-distance display. Males used this yawn during periods of tension, such as the time right before feeding, suggesting it may serve to intimidate other geladas.
The other two less intense types of yawns were seen most in females during friendly interactions. The researchers found these yawns to be more contagious, and observed females mirroring the intensity of other females’ yawns. They believe these yawns are part of a complex communication system between geladas that often engage in friendly interactions. The contagiousness of the yawns in these contexts suggests the behavior might play a role in synchronizing the activity between two geladas, strengthening the emotional connection between them, or signaling the quality of their relationship.
Gelada males and females might use yawns differently, but all three types of yawn contribute to the smooth workings of gelada society; they function to let everyone know who’s in charge and which geladas are friends.