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Conjurer's Kitchen

14 Cakes Inspired By Scientific Concepts

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Conjurer's Kitchen

We already featured anatomical cakes, which are great for anyone obsessed with biology, but if you’re interested in any other scientific fields, don’t worry—there are plenty of cakes for you too. From geology to physics, we’ve got all sorts of scientifically inspired confections to satisfy your educated sweet tooth.

1. Earth’s Internal Structure

The realistic depiction of our planet's landmasses on this cake is pretty impressive—but the realism doesn't stop there. Slice the cake open, and it reveals the interior composition of the Earth’s core. It’s hard to think of a better way for a teacher to present the topic to a group of elementary school students, which is precisely what LiveJournal user Cake Crumbs’ sister did with the tasty creation. The lesson was fun and delicious!

2. Geological Stratigraphy

Here’s another tasty treat showing what’s underneath the surface of our planet—only this time, the cake focuses on the immediate layers of sediment just below our feet. While it’s no doubt scientific, Flickr user Khol?’s design was actually part of the Threadcakes competition, which involves turning Threadless tee shirts into cakes (in this case, the shop’s Geology shirt).

3. The Solar System

It would be easy to make cake pops representing the solar system. But the fact that these pops—made by Paper, Plate and Plane—feature swirled surfaces on all of the gas giants make these sweet solar system treats orbit worlds above the competition.

4. The Sun’s Active Regions in Multi-Wavelengths

Ain’t no party like a NASA party cause a NASA party features cakes that show active regions of the sun in multi wavelengths! Yes, this cake was actually prepared by a scientist working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for the center’s 2010 annual Sciences & Exploration Directorate (SED) New Year's Poster Party.

5. Coronal Mass Ejection

This interesting coronal mass ejection cake creation was part of NASA’s 2011 Science Poster Party and ended up winning first place in the Science as Food category. If you’re wondering about the equipment beside the cake and the demonstration time beside it, this cake went on to be an experiment involving some kind of burst of air erupting from the orange mass. While I don’t know exactly what happened, I’m sure it was messy based on the photo of the experiment as it began.

6. Canine Facial Anatomy

NASA workers aren’t the only professionals creating science-based cakes involving their careers. The Nottingham Veterinary School created a whole series of odd and gory cakes based on their profession as a fundraiser for Red Nose Day. Here is one student’s confectionary take on the superficial facial muscles of a canine. Personally, I’m particularly impressed by the seriously realistic-looking teeth.

7. A Canine Testicle

Here’s another cake by The Nottingham Veterinary School, this time depicting something vets see all too often –the testicle of a dog. At least it looks more like a medical illustration than the real thing.

8. One Very Dead Sheep

This oh-so-cheerful culinary creation by another Nottingham Veterinary School student depicts a dead sheep beside a snail and what is presumably either an infected organ or a diagram of a particular virus-infected cell. Whatever the thing beside the sheep, this piece won the prize for best depiction of an infection. According to the photo’s notes, it was also very moist and had a rich, deep chocolate flavor.

9. An Animal Cell

DeviantArt user NicholeWilliam created this tasty model of a cell as part of an assignment for her Biology 330 class. The piece is even more impressive when you learn that it was her first attempt at using fondant.

10. Failed Abdominal Surgery

This cake, featuring a failed abdominal surgery, was created for a company that designs the computer game “Surgical Simulator 2013.” While the surgery might be a failure, the cake sure isn’t—it not only looks great, but also features intestines made with removable truffles. The brilliantly bloody masterpiece was created by Conjurer’s Kitchen.

11. Anatomical Wax Model

Conjurer’s Kitchen has actually made quite a few weird anatomy cakes, though the most impressive may be their set that looks just like anatomical wax models, including a head, an arm, and a chest section.

12. The Periodic Table of Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of Rosanne Cook

In 2009, The Chemical Heritage Foundation held a party to celebrate the first anniversary of their museum opening. To celebrate, they commissioned this Periodic Table of Cupcakes by Jennifer McCafferty of JPM Catering in Ardmore, PA.

13. Schrödinger’s Cat

Is the cat inside a box dead or alive? According to Schrodinger and Cake Guru, it is simultaneously alive and dead, as illustrated in this delightful cake.

14. A Microscope and Fruit Flies

CakeCentral user doughking has a daughter who is a biology major at California State Long Beach and requested her dad make her a science cake for her birthday. He certainly did not disappoint when he presented her with an impressive microscope cake accompanied by fruit fly cake pops. They may not be the tastiest-looking treats around, but they are certainly scientific.

Sure, baking is a science, but baking cakes that actually look scientific is an entirely different discipline. What scientific concepts would you like to see illustrated in sugary goodness? I’d still really like to see a Large Hadron Collider cake myself.

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The Body
7 Essential Facts About the Pelvis
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The human body is an amazing thing. For each one of us, it’s the most intimate object we know. And yet most of us don’t know enough about it: its features, functions, quirks, and mysteries. Our series The Body explores human anatomy, part by part. Think of it as a mini digital encyclopedia with a dose of wow.

The pelvis, which crooner Elvis was famous for thrusting around in ways that raised eyebrows, is not actually a single body part but a term that refers to a collection of bones, muscles and organs below the waist. We spoke to Katherine Gillogley, department chair of obstetrics and gynecology with Mercy Medical Group in Sacramento, California, for these seven facts about the pelvis.

1. SO WHAT IS THE PELVIS, EXACTLY?

"The pelvis refers to the lower abdominal area in both men and women," Gillogley says. "An important function of the pelvis region is to protect organs used for digestion and reproduction, though all its functions are crucial," she says. It protects the bladder, both large and small intestines, and male and female reproductive organs. Another key role is to support the hip joints.

2. THE PELVIC BONES FORM A BASIN.

Four bones come together to form a bowl-like shape, or basin: the two hip bones, the sacrum (the triangle-shaped bone at the low back) and the coccyx (also known as the tailbone).

3. YOUR PELVIC FLOOR IS LIKE A TRAMPOLINE.

At the bottom of the pelvis lies your pelvic floor. You don't have to worry about sweeping it, but you might want to do Kegel exercises to keep it strong. The pelvic floor is like a "mini-trampoline made of firm muscle," according the Continence Foundation of Australia. Just like a trampoline, the pelvic floor is flexible and can move up and down. It also creates a surface (floor) for the pelvic organs to lie upon: the bladder, uterus, and bowels. It has holes, too, for vagina, urethra, and anus to pass through.

4. IT PLAYS A KEY PART IN WALKING.

Anyone who has ever broken a pelvic bone or pulled a pelvic muscle will know just how key a role the pelvis plays in such functions as walking and standing. "The pelvis also acts as a solid foundation for the attachment of the spinal column and legs," says Gillogley.

5. THE FEMALE PELVIS STARTS OUT LARGER, BUT NARROWS OVER TIME.

Gillogley says that the female pelvis "tends to be larger and wider" than the male, most likely to accommodate a baby during pregnancy and to make childbirth possible. However, women's pelvises narrow as they age, suggesting that they start out wider to accommodate childbearing and then shift when that is no longer necessary. A shifting pelvis shape is thought to be a key part of our evolutionary history, as it changed as when we began walking upright.    

6. PREGNANCY CHANGES THE PELVIS FOREVER.

During pregnancy the body secretes a hormone known as relaxin to help the body accommodate the growing baby and soften the cervix. However, what happens is, "the joints between the pelvic bones actually loosen and slightly separate during pregnancy and childbirth," Gillogley says. Sometimes, however, relaxin can make the joints too loose, causing a painful syndrome known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), causing the pelvic joint to become unstable, causing pain and weakness in the pelvis, perineum and even upper thighs during walking and other activities. Many women with the condition have to wear a pelvic belt. It usually resolves after pregnancy is over, though physical therapy may be necessary.

7. IT'S ACCIDENT PRONE.

According to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, about 8 to 9 percent of blunt trauma includes pelvic injury, Gillogley says. "These accidents include falls, motor vehicle crashes, bicycle accidents, and pedestrians being struck by moving vehicles. With these serious injuries, pelvic bones can fracture or dislocate and sometimes bladder injury even occurs." So take care with your pelvis—in worse-case scenarios, breaks of the pelvic bones can require pins, rods, and surgery to fix.

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science
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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