The Real Bee’s Knees: Stunning Micro-View of the Workers Behind Your Mother’s Day Flowers

Detail of Bee: Halictus ligatus, side view, covered in pollen from an unknown plant.

Detail of Bee: Halictus ligatus, side view, covered in pollen from an unknown plant. Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. US Geological Survey Bee Inventory, January 2013. Image #PA_2013-01-04-14.53.42 ZS PMax

Spring is finally here for those of us in the Northeastern United States, and Mother’s Day seems like an appropriate time to share this stunning photographic portrait of Mother Nature. Here we have just one relentlessly efficient, always-present, yet frequently-overlooked, female worker that powers a major part of our ecosystem as well as an entire  industry.

This amazing image is courtesy of the artful scientists of the United States Geological Survey’s Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab (USGS BIML). View more awe-inspiring images of Mother Nature’s busy bees at the USGS BIML Flickr photo stream.


GLIMPSE journal is an interdisciplinary supercollider presenting the work of leading and emerging scholars, researchers, scientists and artists from around the world, on the “art + science of seeing.” Some of our contributors are independent thinkers and doers with no formal institutional affiliations, and others are affiliated with the most respected research institutions in the world. Read all about them.

Newly discovered! The earliest color motion pictures

Lying dormant in the archive of Britain’s National Media Museum for decades, what everyone thought were black and white films, turned out to be the first color motion pictures ever made. British photographer Edward Turner made the films using his 1899 patented color film process in about 1903, shortly before his untimely death:

A complicated process, it involved photographing successive frames of black-and-white film through blue, green and red filters. Using a special projector…these were combined on a screen to produce full-colour images.

Highlights of these never-before-shared test films can now be seen on YouTube via our 21st-century RGB screens, and of course, at the museum itself, where the specially-formatted projector can be viewed as well.

Thanks to GLIMPSE subscriber, Francis H., for sharing this with GLIMPSE readers! A very well-timed discovery with our Cinema issue.

Che Guevara: Life after Death Part 1

Che Guevara mural in Havana from Library of Congress Archives

by Myya McGregory

Chevolution” is a documentary on Che Guevara and the journey of his iconic image. The film makes the case that Che was not only an important figure in the history of Cuba and revolution but also in the history of photography and art.

Che was an Argentine doctor who left his middle class life to join the fight against poverty and corruption being waged by guerilla regiments across South and Central America. Scholars say he was strongly motivated by the rampant poverty he witnessed in his travels. With his interest in Marxism it was no surprise that Che would end up joining Fidel Castro’s “Movimiento 26 de Julio” to take down the long reigning Batista regime in Cuba.

Che was a very well liked figure. He was charismatic, skilled in combat, intelligent, he led by example, and he was the type of activist that Cuba needed at the time.

While aiding in a Bolivian rebellion against Rene Barrientos Ortuño in 1967, Che was killed  by a group of CIA trained guerilla fighters.

Che’s life was profoundly influential in Latin American politics, and his legacy in the arts also continues to intrigue.

A lover of  photography himself, Che insisted on documenting every step of the revolution. When he attended a mass memorial for victims of a terrorist attack at the Plaza de Revolución, Alberto Korda, fashion photographer extraordinaire, snapped the iconic image that would travel around the world inciting revolution in ways that Che could have only imagined.

At the time the Leica M2 was one of the best cameras on the market. Made by a German optics company, the Leica M2 used regular 35 mm film, groundbreaking parallax compensation, and focal-plane shutter.

Leica M2 from Flickr by Shane Lin

Using celluloid film (which had been around for almost a century at that point) and homemade developing solution, Korda and the other photographers traveling with Che would develop, enlarge, and print their own images.

Che came along in a time when photography was becoming more public. Nitrate based celluloid film was no longer commercailly available by the early 1950s because it was highly flammable and toxic. In fact the Northeast Document Conservation Center points out that because cellulose nitrate was so unstable, many of the images taken on this film have deteriorated drastically. It is more likely that Korda took his iconic photo using 35mm acetate based celluloid film. Cellulose acetate was considerably less toxic that cellulose nitrate however its decomposition was equally as autocatalytic and just as caustic (it would produce vinegar as a byproduct in decomposition). Luckily for Korda, copying negatives of photos was a relatively simple process and creating an interpositive could lessen the risk of diluting the image quality along the way. It seems that Che  lived at just the right time in photographic history.

How would history would have changed if Che arrived in different place along the photographic history timeline? What about other leaders and cultural/historical icons?

Visualizing Sound with the Ruben’s Tube

by Myya McGregory

Is it possible to visualize sound? The Rubens’ Tube invented in 1905 by Heinrich Ruben, a German physicist, might be able to help us answer this question.

Students of physics might be very familiar with this contraption, but for those that are not, it might be helpful to think of a gas grill burner. Just like a gas grill burner, a Rubens’ tube is just a tube with holes in it attached to gas tank. The only difference is the other side is attached to the speaker of a frequency generator.

The idea of being able to see sound is predicated on sound traveling in waves. Humans can only hear frequencies from approximately 12 hz to 20 hz. In addition to hearing the sounds, we can also feel the vibrations from these sounds.

Rubens’s Tube by Flickr member, Pete

The height of the flame is determined by Bernoulli’s Principle since pressure is equal throughout the tube. When sound waves travel through the tube combining with the pressure from the gas, flames peak at the antinodes of the sine wave. When the gas pressure is lowered the amplitude of the flames will be higher at the nodes.  Mythbusters explains it well.

Now that we have established that sound waves can be visualized, let’s have some fun with it!

Jared Ficklin takes the concept one step further in his most recent TED talk. He brings out a flame table and digital renderings to examine eigenmodes, the vibrational modes of oscillating systems. This way he can analyze the effects of more than one frequency and show the complexity of sound. He even created a rendering of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

How do you visualize sound? Have you ever seen a sound wave? Share your stories below!

Visualizing the Higgs Boson Particle

by Myya McGregory

If you follow science news you probably already know about the discovery of the Higgs boson particle. Having eluded scientists for years the so called “God particle” was detected in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Unfortunately those who need to see it to believe it might be a little disappointed. Most heavy particles live fast and die young. The Higgs boson is no exception. It’s mass is between 115 and 158 GeV and it’s half life is less than a billionth of a second. Much like the famous yet elusive designer, Martin Margiela, the Higgs boson doesn’t want its picture taken.

Known as the God particle because its field is believed to give mass to every other particle before it decays, the Higgs boson is in fact omnipresent. We just can’t see it.

So how do we visualize the Higgs boson particle?

The short answer is: we don’t.

We do however see the effects of its energy and we can watch it decay. The Large Hadron Collider is basically a giant particle accelerator. When the particles hurdle towards each other and collide, they release energy and decay into lesser particles upon impact. As explained in CERN’s animation of their experiment, they hope to excite the Higgs field through the collision of two protons. At that time the Higgs boson will be present, but it will quickly decay into other standard model particles.

If you want a GLIMPSE of the experiment click through these pictures to see particles collide, and read more on CERN’s website here.

 

Zoopraxiscope

by Myya McGregory

The Zoopraxiscope- a couple waltzing from the Library of Congress archives

Eadweard Muybridge developed the zoopraxiscope in 1876. The zoopraxiscope was a very complicated device that featured a large lense, a lamp, and a motor to show successive images printed on 16″ glass in simulated motion. This invention garnered much praise for Muybridge and he is credited as the father of the motion picture.

The National Museum of American History is exploring an interesting aspect of Muybridge’s work. They question whether his photogrpahic invention was science or art. Muybridge was able to capture incremental elements of motion and expose them in ways never seen before. While at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1880s, Muybridge began the project of documenting human and animal locomotion. Using up to 36 different lenses and two dozen cameras each placed at 30, 60, and 90 degrees to the subject, Muybridge produced 36 negatives. The negatives were enlarged and then inked on glass plates. The succession of images, when showed on the zoopraxiscope revealed an almost scientific precision. Find out more in the Cinema Issue.

Pioneers of Color Photography

The history of color photography features many key players and pioneers. In anticipation of the Cinema Issue, GLIMPSE is taking a brief look at some of them, and their contributions to the world of photography.

Paris, France 1864

Louis Ducos du Hauron, a French physicist, developed a motin picture device in 1864. In 1869, he patented a series of practical methods of color printing based on the tri-color theory and the heliochrome system. Using a series of filters, he was able to print color photographs by printing the negatives on sheets of bichromated gelatin that were complementary colors of the negatives themselves. When the positive images were superimposed over the negatives, the resulting image was in color.

Meanwhile, Charles Crocs, another French physicist, developed the similar process in his physics lab. Unfortunately he published his findings 48 hours after de Hauron patented his.

London, England 1861

James Clerk Maxwell, prominent physicist and mathematician, projected a color photograph through a series of filters to show a photograph of the original image in its original color.

West Kill, New York 1851

Levi Hill, an American minister, claimed to be the father if color photography. He presented what he claimed was the first color photograph while experimenting in an early photographic process known as the “daguerreotype.” Hill failed to patent his eponymous “Hillotype” process but did not give up on what he discovered, making a series of Hillotype photographs in color.  Over 160 years later, the Smithsonian Institution now boasts a collection of 62 Hillotypes that have been under severe scrutiny. Using spectroscopy the Smithsonian Institution has finally given substance to the myth. It was found that though Levi Hill enriched his photographs with a series of chemical pigments, the photographs the he produced were in fact faint color photographs.

How about it, all you photographers/photo-appreciators? Who are your favorite historical heros of color photography?