The Duelity of Nature

Thanks to a post on my friend David’s blog, I just ran across Duelity. It tells two creation stories—one from Genesis, one from modern science—using contradictory visuals and verbiage.

The introduction to the site hints at the conceit:

“According to the records of the General Organization of Development labs [GOD] it took a mere six days to manufacture a fully-operational universe, complete with day, night, flora and fauna, and installing Adam as its manager to oversee daily functions on Earth.

“If thou shalt believe the Book of Darwin, [’tis] five billion years after The Big Bang that we behold what the cosmos hath begat: the magma, the terra firma, the creeping beaste, and mankind, whose dolorous and chaotic evolution begat the gift of consciousness. ”

You get the idea. What I find interesting is that the approach is mirrored not just in the language used but also in the imagery that tells the stories. The General Organization of Development flick uses the visual language of a corporate training video, while the Book of Darwin employs an illustration style that recalls renaissance prints and stained glass. Brilliant stuff, really, and particularly impressive when viewed side-by-side, with the separate narratives intertwined.

I would say that I kind of object to the final tag line, though: “Duelity is a split-screen animation that tells both sides of the story of Earth’s origins in a dizzying and provocative journey through the history and language that marks human thought.” “Both sides”? As if there were only two…

CG Takes Flight

A press release from Brown University describes the evolution of structures required for flight. Turns out that a specific ligament (labeled “AHL” in the above image) provides stabilization to maintain a gliding posture in pigeons—computer modeling permitted the calculation of the necessary forces and also resulted in a pretty spiffy image to illustrate the findings. It actually took me a moment to see the symmetry in the image, but as soon as I “read” the pigeon’s beak pointing to the right, it snapped into place. Nice work.

The caption for the above reads, entertainingly enough, “Using computer modeling, treadmills and the fossil record, researchers have shown that the acrocoracohumeral ligament (AHL), a short band of tissue that connects the humerus to the shoulder joint in birds, was a critical element in the evolution of flight.” The treadmills, BTW, came into play when alligators (close but obviously flightless relatives of the birds) were x-rayed while walking; researchers found that muscles, not ligaments, supported the shoulder. The fossil record seems to indicate that the ligament structures evolved gradually.

Also, it’s worth noting that the image is credited to the researcher himself, David Baier, who seems to have recently gotten his Ph.D. It’s great to see imagery coming directly from the person doing the work. The Brown University Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Newsletter from May 2004 describes some related work and makes mention of Baier.