Just an unusual image I ran across in the Journal of the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), in an article entitled “The Robot Butcher” (I can’t make these things up).
Why have a robot cut meat? Efficiency, it seems: the do-dad above can prep 250 kilograms of meat per hour versus the 100 kilograms per hour by its human competitor. And it does so with a smaller margin of error. No way to get a little extra from the butcher anymore. No special cut. And no one to flirt with, either (I’m thinking of Alice on the Brady Bunch here).
The oddness of the image, however, lies in the striking contrast between the mechanized butcher and the all-too fleshy substance of the meat. Somehow, it seems unfair to the cow, and moreover, seems like an intrusion of the mechanical into an utterly animalistic behavior—namely the consumption of one critter by another.
There’s a kinda interesting diagram of the Sun, too, but I found the robot butcher more engaging, for whatever reason.
A brief thought for the day. How does it make you feel, knowing that the image above represents fully seven percent of the world’s population of Devil’s Hole pupfish?
Interesting how knowledge changes context. A San Francisco Chronicle article from today discusses the fate of the pupfish, and it’s not exactly rosy. Forty-two of the fish remain, and the population doesn’t appear to be on the rise. But above, you see a picture of a few—a few members of a species about to disappear forever. How does knowing that change the image?
I think this may qualify as the oddest image about which I’ve blogged. But, um, wow. It speaks to the power of a simple photograph, although in this day and age, one could be forgiven for thinking that it’s photoshopped. At first glance, you might not even notice the people in the photo, but once you do, the image really plays with your sense of scale.
The photo comes from a landscape architecture blog, via my friend Allison Duncan. Many more pictures show up on the blog. And for more info on the caves, you can also check out the official Naica Caves website or news stories from the BBC and National Geographic.
Inspiration for today’s image comes from the Merriam-Webster “Word of the Day” today: stereotactic. (Because I subscribe to “Word of the Day” via email, I receive such tidbits on a daily basis. What better blogging inspiration than one’s inbox?)
As I read the definition, I felt that it cried out for an image, and sadly, Merriam-Webster doesn’t indulge its readers (at least its non-paying readers) with such niceties, so I did a quick Google image search. Most of the top results look fundamentally like the image above, but it immediately attracted my attention.
The image comes from the University of Arizona’s Biomedical Communications page of medical photography. It’s categorized as “Illustrative Photography,” along with images as varied as fall leaves, a sunset, and a palm tree silhouette. Ignoring those others for a moment, however, I have to express admiration for the “stereotactic” image.
I like it because none of the other drawings or diagrams I saw gave me any (or at least much) more information than I get from the above, although multiple views of the device could certainly make things clearer. The photo manages to illustrate its concept with remarkable clarity and aesthetic sense. Good work, in my opinion. Perhaps others’s opinions vary?
As an aside, I should add that the Wikipedia article on stereotactic devices actually has no illustrations whatsoever. I wonder if the U of A would put this one in the public domain…?
Okay, I just returned to New York from San Francisco and immediately had to present a Virtual Universe program at the Hayden Planetarium, so I’m a little worn out. A cross-country flight, an hour or so of talking, plus dinner with friends has left me a tad exhausted.
Therefore, I’m simply going to react to the image above. Taken by an astronaut (nameless, but perhaps not a would-be kidnapper) and stunningly subtle and moving in its content and composition. At first glance, it looks like something done by a member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists, but no… It’s a photograph taken from orbit.
It almost doesn’t look right to me—seems like the shuttle would be higher up than that, field of view strikes me as too small, hard to imagine an astronaut keeping the camera still enough for such an exposure, etc. But the directness of the image manages to overcome all that. The knowledge that a human captured the image makes it intimate, somehow, and the unusual perspective makes it striking. I dunno, maybe I’m just tired, but this picture speaks volumes to me at the moment.