Category: science meets design


Wednesday 06.06.12

I thought I had lost these somewhere along the way. Perhaps in our last move. With a sigh of relief, I recently unearthed them along with some beautiful French boxes of insect specimens. I was less concerned about the loss of the bugs because, while quite unusual and striking, they posed no safety threat. Not so for the hydrometers. Those big silvery bulbs at the ends contain mercury. And lots of it. I just happened to have finished reading a disturbing article about South America and how, as a result of the gold boom, mercury contamination has spread at astonishingly high levels in both air and water. So the question of what to do with these things is front of mind. Suggestions are welcome. I don’t mean to be glib, but poison aside, these are pretty amazing.

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Tuesday 05.08.12

Yesterday I posted an image of a masonry brush. A few weeks ago it was these animal feeding nipples. Today it’s a fermentation airlock and some bondo spreaders. I might wager that the nice people behind the register at the local Farm and Garden store are, if they have even noticed, a little baffled by my purchases. I find the form of the airlock to be particularly arresting and wonderfully abstract. Can I also admit that I am quite pleased with the photograph? And those flesh-colored bondo spreaders have just the right radius corners.

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Wires & Pipes

Wednesday 04.25.12

Most forms of work possess a certain level of artistry. Wiring and plumbing are no exceptions. Like most of us, I have a fear of my home catching fire or of the pipes bursting. I don’t think about it all that often until I come face to face with evidence of a really bad job. Or, for that matter, a really good job. Regardless, I am fascinated by schematics, and especially so with those that either represent a system that is highly functioning or one that is on the verge of failure.

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Duck and Cover

Monday 04.23.12

It doesn’t smell, we can’t taste it and we definitely can’t see it, so it only makes sense that there would be a whole host of devices to aid in its detection. I speak, of course, of radiation. This exceptional collection of monitors and scalers is the property of Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Their Health Physics Historical Instrumentation Museum has a somewhat singular purpose: to chronicle the scientific and commercial history of radioactivity and radiation. I wonder if Dieter Rams would like these?

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A Little Botany

Friday 03.02.12

In the early glory days of ebay, I came across some unusual and quite large botanical charts from 1850s England. There were four of them. They were listed in the furniture section of the site because they came housed in their original schoolhouse/mission style oak cabinet. Consequently, the charts went relatively unnoticed by the voracious collectors who, in a blink, buy up these types of illustrated images. Regardless, the bidding price started to rise…quickly…and well beyond what I was equipped to pay. So, a friend and I decided to go in on them together. Through sheer tenacity, adrenaline, the refresh button and a healthy dose of stupidity, we prevailed in the auction. She paid one quarter of the price and I forked over the rest. Two of them hang in our apartment in Brooklyn, one is in my studio and she has the fourth. I never ever tire of looking at them. Here are a few details from the one in our living room.

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Feed Your Animals

Friday 01.13.12

Just to be clear, I’m not trying to be lewd here. To explain: One weekend before the holidays, I went into the local upstate Farm and Garden store to see if I could find some canning jars, and somehow ended up in the farm animal feeding section. There are implements and objects on the shelves that I have never seen before. And, furthermore, have no clue as to what purpose they serve. However, it wasn’t a big leap to guess at what these are. (One of the best experiences of the past couple of years was bottle feeding our friends’ baby goats. OMG!) Anyway, as I did a little more digging, I realized that there is an entire industry devoted to animal feeding nipples. All shapes and sizes. Each suited to a different species. As usual, the range and variation in shape of a single item is what’s got me hooked.

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3D Schematics

Tuesday 01.10.12

No sense denying the warmth and beauty of these Russian camera schematics. I have spent an unhealthy amount of time on But there is so much to look at. And, inexplicably, I’m feeling a little nostalgic for The Cold War.

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