This Is What Flowers Look Like When Photographed With an X-Ray Machine

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Peruvian Daffodil” (1938)
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Peruvian Daffodil” (1938)

Many plant photographers choose to showcase the vibrant colors and physical details of exotic flora. For his work with flowers, Dr. Dain L. Tasker took a more bare-bones approach. The radiologist’s ghostly floral images were recorded using only an X-ray machine, according to Hyperallergic.

Tasker snapped his pictures of botanical life while he was working at Los Angeles’s Wilshire Hospital in the 1930s. He had minimal experience photographing landscapes and portraits in his spare time, but it wasn’t until he saw an X-ray of an amaryllis, taken by a colleague, that he felt inspired to swap his camera for the medical tool. He took black-and-white radiographs of everything from roses and daffodils to eucalypti and holly berries. The otherworldly artwork was featured in magazines and art shows during Tasker’s lifetime.

Selections from Tasker's body of work have been seen around the world, including as part of the Floral Studies exhibition at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in San Diego in 2016. Prints of his work are also available for purchase from the Stinehour Wemyss Editions and Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)

X-ray image of a rose.
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “A Rose” (1936)

All images courtesy of Joseph Bellows Gallery.

We Could Be Just Days Away From Seeing the First-Ever Photo of a Black Hole

An artist's rendering of a growing supermassive black hole
An artist's rendering of a growing supermassive black hole
NASA/CXC/M.Weiss, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Lots of people have created simulations and illustrations of black holes based on what is currently known about these incredibly dense objects, but to date, the public has never seen an actual picture of one.

As NBC News reports, that could change next Wednesday, when a team of international scientists releases the “groundbreaking result” of a project that has set its sights on capturing the first image of a black hole. Six simultaneous press conferences will be held around the world, and the U.S. announcement in Washington, D.C. will be livestreamed starting at 9 a.m. on April 10.

The reason black holes are so hard to see is because no light can escape from them. However, scientists know they exist because of the gravitational pull they exert on nearby objects, including stars and gas. The latest endeavor to observe a black hole, dubbed the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, has built a “virtual Earth-sized telescope” by creating a network of eight radio observatories around the world.

It is believed that the announcement will concern a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way called Sagittarius A* (pronounced “Sagittarius A-star”). If scientists are successful in capturing an image of the distant black hole, it would be the equivalent of “standing in New York and counting the individual dimples on a golf ball in Los Angeles,” according to an EHT video.

As for what Sagittarius A* might look like, that remains to be seen. “We might see a crescent, brightened on one side—or a bipolar, jet-like structure,” Dan Marrone, an experimental astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, told Mental Floss in 2017. “We honestly don’t know.”

To livestream the press conference on Wednesday, visit the National Science Foundation's website.

[h/t NBC]

Dogfish Head and Kodak Team Up to Create Beer That Develops Super 8 Film

Dogfish Head
Dogfish Head

As digital technology has advanced and smartphones have become ubiquitous, the Super 8 movie cameras of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s have practically gone extinct. Dogfish Head and Kodak are collaborating on a product that makes the format a lot more convenient for modern amateur filmmakers. According to the Associated Press, their new SuperEIGHT beer doubles as a developer for Super 8 film.

Unlike digital video, which is ready to view as soon as its recorded, Super 8 film needs to be chemically processed first. In 2018, the founder and CEO of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Sam Calagione went on Kodak's podcast The Kodakery to talk about analog film. There he learned that certain beers with high acidity and vitamin C content can be used to develop old-fashioned film.

Following that conversation, Dogfish Head joined forces with Kodak to create a beer specifically for that purpose. The new SuperEIGHT beer is a sour German-style wheat beer with 5.3 percent alcohol content. The key ingredients include blackberry, boysenberry, elderberry, raspberry, kiwi, mango, prickly pear, quinoa, and Hawaiian sea salt. According to Dogfish Head, the drink "has a slightly tart taste and pleasantly refreshing finish, with delicious flavors of berries and watermelon." And if imbibers can resist drinking it all, they can use some to develop their home movies.

The SuperEIGHT beer from Dogfish Head will be available at retailers across the country this April. To see how well it works as a processing agent, check out the short film Kodak developed with the beer below.

[h/t AP]

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