Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

05 MARCH, 2014

The Science of Our Warped Perception of Time, Animated

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Why the same amount of time can seem to fly or slow to a crawl depending on the context.

In 2013, a mind-bending read on the psychology of why time slows down when we’re afraid, speeds up as we age, and gets warped when we’re on vacation became one of the year’s most popular articles. Now, Australian science communicator Vanessa Hill, mastermind of the wonderful BrainCraft — a series of animated science explainers that fall somewhere between Vi Hart and AsapSCIENCE and yet feel entirely unique — explores the science of our warped time perception in a charming animated synthesis of six major studies that shed light on this cognitive perplexity:

For a deeper dive into the subject, see Claudia Hammond’s excellent Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, one of the best psychology books of 2013.

Thanks, Joe

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23 JANUARY, 2014

The Life-Cycle of a Single Water Drop, in a Pop-Up Book Animated in Stop-Motion

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Nature’s rhythms in masterful paper engineering.

Given my soft spot for pop-up books, I was instantly taken with this collaboration between paper engineer extraordinaire Helen Friel (who brought us those amazing 3D paper sculptures of Euclid’s elements), photographer Chris Turner, and animator Jess Deacon, visualizing the life-cycle of a single drop of water as a pop-up book animated in stop-motion, nearly a year in the making:

To fully appreciate the incredible craftsmanship that went into the project, here is a timelapse of the making-of:

Complement with a different kind of 3D papercraft labor-of-love, celebrating favorite books.

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12 DECEMBER, 2013

A Miraculous “Accident of Physics”: Carl Zimmer Explains How Feathers Evolved, Animated

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“Feathers are some of the most remarkable things ever made by an animal. They’re gorgeous in their complexity, delicate in their construction, and yet strong enough to hold a bird thousands of feet in the air.”

Charles Darwin devoted nearly three chapters of his famed treatise Descent of Man to feathers — one of the most miraculous products of evolution. In his book Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle (public library), conservation biologist Thor Hanson marvels that “nothing competes with feathers for sheer diversity of form and function” — they can be soft or barbed, can store water or repel it, can conceal or attract, and are “a near-perfect airfoil and the lightest, most efficient insulation ever discovered.” But how did feathers actually come about?

In this lovely short film from TED Ed, animated by Armella Leung, the inimitable Carl Zimmer — one of the finest science writers working today, and the author of the delightful Science Ink — explains how feathers evolved, a case of “an accident of physics” that took fifty million years to unfold:

Myriad more such fascinating stories can be found in Zimmer’s Evolution: Making Sense of Life (public library), a collaboration with evolutionary biologist Douglas Emlen. Pair this particular marvel of evolution with this great explanation of how bird wings work and an illustrated anatomy of the unfeathered bird.

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