Archives for posts with tag: APT Gallery

The fascinating and perilous journeys made by migrating birds has been a natural wonder for centuries with the first records of this phenomena made more than 3,000 years ago. The innate knowledge of migratory birds is mentioned in Job and Jeremiah and the ancient Greek writers Homer, Hesiod and Aristotle noted their passage.

Sensing the Earth’s magnetic field allows birds and other animals to determine their approximate position on the Earth. Research looking at how birds navigate over vast distances has shown many species are able to sense the compass direction of the Earth’s magnetic field and process this information. Non-migratory birds also have this ability using magnetoreception to orientate themselves in a local sense to map habitat.

There are two basic mechanisms involving magnetism used by animals; one method uses the iron based mineral magnetite found in the body’s cells and the other involves a protein found in the eye which is sensitive to light of different colours and intensities.

In plants and some animals, the light sensitive cryptochrome molecules are also involved in the control of the body’s circadian rhythms by tracking the difference between night and day. They can be found in cell nuclei of mammals and in the retina of several bird species. Ilia Solov’yov from the University of Southern Denmark has found the particular structure of cryptochrome Cry4 is unique and when light hits Cry4 cryptochromes in the eye of a migrating bird, they undergo chemical reactions that are influenced by the direction of Earth’s magnetic field, providing a signal of the bird’s orientation.

This light sensitive magnetic compass used by birds is affected by the polarisation direction of light. This was discovered by Rachel Muheim in a study where zebra finches were set the task of finding food in a maze. The birds were only able to use their magnetic compass when the direction of the polarised light was parallel to the magnetic field, when the polarised light was perpendicular to the magnetic field the birds became completely disorientated.

Researchers have put forward a theory that polarised light at sunrise and sunset accentuates the magnetic field at times when birds are ready to migrate or roost but in the middle of the day when the polarised light is approximately perpendicular to the magnetic field and less visible to them they can rely on sight to hunt and spot predators.

Magnetite is the most magnetic of Earth’s naturally-occurring minerals and microscopic particles are found in the cells of animals. Unlike the cryptochrome protein found in the eye and used by birds to perceive the Earth’s magnetic field, a magnetite-based magnetic sense does not need light to function.

Mole rats navigate their tunnels using this method which works like an internal compass. Birds also use this mechanism based on magnetite as an additional method to determine their position.

Sensing Earth’s geomagnetism is a functional ability seen in many creatures from bacteria and birds to turtles and bats. It is an evolutionary advantage to be able to orientate and navigate. Joseph Kirschvink and researchers at Caltech have completed experiments testing the human capacity to sense the magnetic field. Volunteers inside a chamber shielded from electromagnetic interference were subjected to an altered magnetic field while their brainwaves were monitored. The team found clear evidence that the subjects’ alpha brain waves were effected suggesting a rudimentary magnetic “sense”. The scientists believe that cells containing crystals of magnetite could register changes in magnetic fields and report this information to the brain. It is already known that magnetotactic bacteria have structures containing nanoscale magnetite crystals called magnetosomes that act as biological compasses, allowing the bacteria to navigate.

This research suggests that human alpha brainwaves react to a changing magnetic field. Alpha waves are always present, but are more prominent when in a relaxed and idle state of mind. Noticing a dip in the amplitude of the alpha waves would indicate the neurons in the brain becoming engaged in a task. The experiment was conducted to mimic how the Earth’s magnetic field would be experienced by the brain. The laboratory field was similar in strength to the Earth’s and the researchers moved it slowly to simulate how the field would change when turning one’s head. 

More experiments with iron filings, etchings and magnets.

Large etching on steel plate and small polymer etching.

Also some green screen filming towards the video work I am creating on this subject.

While back in the print studio I made some more prints of the mossy forest and added a little burst of colour.

A little progress with building the cosmic ray detector. I have drilled the holes in the plastic scintillator which was quite stressful as the project notes say it is easy to break. I did a test first in acrylic to gauge the size of the drill bit needed. The scintillator turned out to be much softer though and so I am hoping the holes are not too big now. I sent the Printed Circuit Board off to get the components soldered. I really wanted to do the soldering myself but am glad I went for help as there have been some issues with getting the voltage correct for the connection to the SiPM PCB.

I was lucky to grab a bargain box of Super 8 filming kit though haven’t had time yet to explore this fully and see if I can work out how to operate everything.

Out of studio

A visit to APT Gallery to see Periastra curated by Paul Malone looking at methodologies of curiosity within the fields of art and astrophysics.

I really like the presentation by Nicola Rae of a collection of fireball videos collected by the meteor watch group UKMON

I was excited to meet John Berman who was showing a muon detector he had built. He has used a Geiger Müller (GM) tube, for his detector which can be bought as a kit . A GM tube will detect alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and Cosmic Muons. It can be adapted to run in coincidence mode – this is when two or more tubes are connected and only when all tubes register a particle passing through at the same time can it be certain it is a cosmic particle and not background radiation. There is some downtime in a GM tube after each ionisation is recorded so it is possible not all particles are registered. When a particle passes through the tube the LED’s will flash.

I have been getting up close to mud and matter and thinking about the makeup of the environment around us.

It’s hard to look at a cup say and imagine the structure of its atoms. To think about the solid and then the squishy and how it all works.

From thinking about the origins of things, like the first plants and forests. Evolution and yet how all matter existed from the beginning and it’s just a huge process of recycling.

Deptford creek

Deptford creek

A great place for a new perspective on your surroundings is the Deptford Creekside Centre where you can join a low tide walk.

Low Tide Walk

Low Tide Walk

Equipped with thigh length waders and a long stick you are led down to the creek and given lots of insight into the history and wildlife of the creek.

Deptford Creek Crab

Deptford Creek Crab

It is stunningly beautiful and feels a real privilege to enter this world below the horizon.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The river has carved intricate sculptures into the wooden posts along the banks.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The look posts look totemic and hung with vibrant algae quite primordial.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The creek bed is thick with mud and slime creating wonderful patterns as the water recedes.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

There is the possibility of finding treasure swept along and revealed after each tide but you must ask if you want to take anything away. They have quite a collection of finds they like to add to at the discovery centre.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

On a previous trip artist Lizzie Cannon had been lucky to find a wonderful rusty object which she has since embroidered with threads and beads to continue the growth of the rust giving the object a new organic dimension

Lizzie Cannon - Corrosion

Lizzie Cannon – Corrosion

A Matter of Substance exhibition and salon curated by Caroline Lambard and Elizabeth Murton at APT Gallery encouraged their audience to look beyond the surface of the material to the very structure of the crystals, atoms and particles that form them.

1307 A Matter of Substance

Catherine Jacobs beautiful photographs show tensions of surface sometimes broken by an indeterminate object that works as a disruption to the surface and our perceptions of what we are looking at.

Catherine Jacobs Uncertainties

Catherine Jacobs Uncertainties

Elizabeth Murton’s scroll flows out across the floor in symbiosis with the marks upon it like a cascade of data presenting itself as a record of the inks journey.

Elizabeth Murton

Elizabeth Murton

Cool work for a hot day.

Phillip Hall-Patch

Phillip Hall-Patch / Caroline Lambard

There were salt crystals that sparkled like snow in magnified form like Icelandic landscapes and in salt block form eroded by a constant drip of water.

Phillip Hall-Patch Salt LIcks

Phillip Hall-Patch Salt LIcks

Caroline Lambard’s ethereal sculptures help to imagine 3D form from all perspectives through their delicate drawing in thread to delineate a space.

Caroline Lambard

Caroline Lambard

I have started on a new piece of work, the idea of an oasis, an escape, a view through to another place so it has been interesting to think about form and space.

A solid outer that hides a world inside.

1307 Oasis collagraph 1

It starts with the construction of a collagraph which I am slowly building up from cut card and carborundum.

1307 Oasis collagraph 2

Once made the idea will be to rip a section out to reveal an internal space.