CLOSE

This Mesmerizing Chandelier Was Inspired By Murmurating Starlings

In a perfect example of art imitating life—wildlife to be more precise—this gorgeous chandelier from designers Richard Harvey and Keivor John is inspired by the murmuration of starlings.

As you can see in the video above, the Murmuration Chandelier is a kinetic lighting sculpture that twists and turns in a way that’s reminiscent of the phenomena in which large groups of starlings fly together in an almost wave-like motion.

According to Vice, the designers explain of the piece: “When you look at a murmuration, the birds can seem randomly scattered across the sky—but then in a moment they align to make a beautiful shape and pattern. Like this, the chandelier fleets in and out from seeming disorder to precise spiralling patterns and shapes.”

The three-story sculpture contains 20 patinated stainless steel rings, each with its own counterweight to keep the piece consistently in balance. Starling-esque shapes appear as cut outs in each ring, and all align at a particular moment in the spiraling sequence. From below, the piece looks a bit like an animated spirograph.

The chandelier is even customizable, as every ring has its own controller and motor, and the entire sculpture can be manipulated by an App to alter the color, speed, and direction of motion.

See the sculpture in action above, and when you’re done, treat yourself to some viewings of the real thing. You won’t regret it.

Banner image via Vimeo.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Pigeons Are Secretly Brilliant Birds That Understand Space and Time, Study Finds
iStock
iStock

Of all the birds in the world, the pigeon draws the most ire. Despite their reputation as brainless “rats with wings,” though, they’re actually pretty brilliant (and beautiful) animals. A new study adds more evidence that the family of birds known as pigeons are some of the smartest birds around, as Quartz alerts us.

In addition to being able to distinguish English vocabulary from nonsense words, spot cancer, and tell a Monet from a Picasso, pigeons can understand abstract concepts like space and time, according to the new study published in Current Biology. Their brains just do it in a slightly different way than humans’ do.

Researchers at the University of Iowa set up an experiment where they showed pigeons a computer screen featuring a static horizontal line. The birds were supposed to evaluate the length of the line (either 6 centimeters or 24 centimeters) or the amount of time they saw it (either 2 or 8 seconds). The birds perceived "the longer lines to have longer duration, and lines longer in duration to also be longer in length," according to a press release. This suggests that the concepts are processed in the same region of the brain—as they are in the brains of humans and other primates.

But that abstract thinking doesn’t occur in the same way in bird brains as it does in ours. In humans, perceiving space and time is linked to a region of the brain called the parietal cortex, which the pigeon brains lack entirely. So their brains have to have some other way of processing the concepts.

The study didn’t determine how, exactly, pigeons achieve this cognitive feat, but it’s clear that some other aspect of the central nervous system must be controlling it. That also opens up the possibility that other non-mammal animals can perceive space and time, too, expanding how we think of other animals’ cognitive capabilities.

[h/t Quartz]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
The Queen's Racing Pigeons Are in Danger, Due to an Increase in Peregrine Falcons
iStock
iStock

Queen Elizabeth is famous for her love of corgis and horses, but her pet pigeons don't get as much press. The monarch owns nearly 200 racing pigeons, which she houses in a luxury loft at her country estate, Sandringham House, in Norfolk, England. But thanks to a recent boom in the region’s peregrine falcon population, the Queen’s swift birds may no longer be able to safely soar around the countryside, according to The Telegraph.

Once endangered, recent conservation efforts have boosted the peregrine falcon’s numbers. In certain parts of England, like Norfolk and the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire, the creatures can even find shelter inside boxes installed at local churches and cathedrals, which are designed to protect potential eggs.

There’s just one problem: Peregrine falcons are birds of prey, and local pigeon racers claim these nesting nooks are located along racing routes. Due to this unfortunate coincidence, some pigeons are failing to return to their owners.

Pigeon racing enthusiasts are upset, but Richard Salt of Salisbury Cathedral says it's simply a case of nature taking its course. "It's all just part of the natural process,” Salt told The Telegraph. "The peregrines came here on their own account—we didn't put a sign out saying 'room for peregrines to let.' Obviously we feel quite sorry for the pigeons, but the peregrines would be there anyway."

In the meantime, the Queen might want to keep a close eye on her birds (or hire someone who will), or consider taking advantage of Sandringham House's vast open spaces for a little indoor fly-time.

[h/t The Telegraph]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios