The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

Post 4757

Robbie Gonzalez

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

The brain-bending animations of Dave “my name is david and i make gifs” Whyte are among the most captivating we’ve ever seen.

Whyte, a Dublin-based PhD candidate studying the physics of foam, tells Colossal‘s Christopher Jobson “his first geometric gifs riffed on computational modules he was exploring while in undergrad.” His Tumblr, Bees & Bombs, is updated regularly with new animations created withProcessing, an open-source programming language. (The programmatically inclined would do well to check out Whyte’s twitter feed, where he often links to his source code.) He’s also available for freelance work.

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte2

The Spellbinding Mathematical GIFs Of Dave Whyte3

[ Dave Whyte via Colossal]

This Is How NASA Tests Planes for Safety

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Post 7041

Ria Misra

This Is How NASA Tests Planes for Safety

This Is How NASA Tests Planes for Safety

NASA has been working on ways to improve search-and-rescue after a plane crash. But how do they test it? Simple, they hoist planes 100 feet into the air and drop them… over and over again.

This footage of a Cessna 172 being dropped into the dirt 100 feet below is just the latest test at NASA Langley into how to create emergency transmitters that are more likely to survive a crash—and it’s already yielded some surprises.

What kinds of surprises? Well, for instance, it’s not usually better to hit softer ground. A previous test of the same model plane had the Cessna running directly into concrete instead of soil. Curiously, this brush with the concrete was actually lessdestructive, as the plane skipped like a stone upon first hitting the ground, making the final crash slightly less damaging.

But without that initial skid to throw off some of the force, all the impact was absorbed by the plane itself, which crumpled up like a tin can:

This Is How NASA Tests Planes for Safety

…before completely flipping over:

This Is How NASA Tests Planes for Safety

…to general dismay on the ground:

This Is How NASA Tests Planes for Safety

After this latest test, researchers say they plan to use the crash data to come up with better ways to install emergency transmitters, so that they’re more likely to make it through.

GIFs made via footage from NASA Langley

X-Rays Reveal a Mysterious Component of Human Hair

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Post 7040

Jennifer Viegas

X-Rays Reveal a Mysterious Component of Human Hair

X-Rays Reveal a Mysterious Component of Human Hair

A new and surprising component of human hair has just been discovered, according to research recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association. Remarkably, it’s a discovery that could lead to improved hair products.

Above: An electron microscopy image of a human hair cross section. The top region shows the external part of the hair strand (cuticle). The bottom shows the internal “macrofibrils” that exist in the cortex region. (Fabiano Emmanuel Montoro/LNNano, CNPEM)

Human hair has been extensively studied for decades, but until now, a complete understanding of its structure had proven elusive.

“Hair traditionally has been constituted of three regions: medulla (central part of the hair), cortex (biggest volume fraction of the hair) and the cuticle (external part of the hair),” project leader Vesna Stanic, a scientist working at the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Source, toldDiscovery News.

Related: How Hair Turns Gray

“We discovered a new intermediate zone, which is in between the cuticle and cortex,” she added.

Stanic and her team made the discovery by combining an ultra powerful submicron X-ray beam with cross-sectional geometry. The original goal was to just study materials used in hair treatments, and how they affect hair. While doing this, Stanic wondered about the diffraction patterns of hair.

Diffraction is the bending of waves around obstacles and openings. X-ray diffraction patterns of a given material can therefore reveal the local arrangement of both molecular and atomic structures.

Diffraction patterns of human hair have been documented before, but they usually involved pointing the X-ray beam perpendicular to the hair fiber axis. Stanic and her team decided to do something different.

“We performed a full diffraction map from a 30-micron-thick cross section of hair, with an incident beam parallel to the hair axis, and then compared it to the diffraction map with the beam perpendicular to the hair axis,” she explained.

Before this study, human hair was thought to be composed only of a fibrous protein called alpha keratin, as well as certain minerals and lipids. The scientists were therefore extremely surprised to find that a key diffraction feature of alpha keratin was absent in the area between a hair strand’s cuticle and cortex. The pattern instead corresponded to beta keratin.

Related: Plucking Lots of Hairs Grows More Hairs

Previously, beta-keratin was associated with reptiles and birds. It is what makes claws, scales, beaks and feathers strong, tough and, in the case of feathers, also flexible and elastic.

Alpha and beta keratin are similar molecules, but they have very different sizes and shapes.

Stanic explained, “The basic difference between alpha and beta keratin is the molecule conformations. We can say that beta keratin is essentially stretched alpha keratin. Alpha keratin has a helical structure, while beta is typically arranged in sheets.”

The discovery comes on the heels of other research helping to explain why humans from different parts of the world have distinctive hair types. The reason can be summed up in one word: Neanderthals.

Daven Presgraves, an associate professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Rochester, told Discovery News that people of non-African heritage today retain Neanderthal alleles (alternative gene types) at genes affecting keratin filaments.

“The implication is that these Neanderthal-derived alleles were particularly well adapted to Eurasian environments in which they’d evolved for several hundred thousands of years,” Presgraves told Discovery News. “Modern humans who interbred with Neanderthals on their way out of Africa were, in effect, able to borrow these keratin-associated alleles, perhaps accelerating adaptation to a Eurasian environment that was new to them.”

Both this study and Stanic’s will likely lead to new and improved hair products.

As Stanic said, it “is important to know the structure of hair in order to understand how this structure will change with different hair products.”

Fido might also enjoy a better shampoo in future too, since the researchers next plan to study animal hair using the same submicron X-ray beam/cross-section geometry technique.

This article originally appeared at Discovery News and is republished here with permission.


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