Scientists at MIT have developed a new simulation that traces 13 billion years of cosmic evolution. They start the simulation shortly after the big bang with a region of space much smaller than the universe (a mere 350 million light years across).  Still, it’s big enough to follow the forces that helped create the galaxies we see today, and correctly predict the gas and metal content of those galaxies.

At first, we see dark matter clustering due to the force of gravity (first two GIFs). Then we see visible matter — blue for cool clouds of gas where galaxies form, red for more violent explosive galaxies (second two GIFs).

Super massive blackholes form, superheating the material around them, causing bright white explosions that enrich the space between galaxies with warm but sparse gas (fifth GIF).

Different elements (represented by different colors in the sixth GIF) are spread through the universe.

We arrive at a distribution of dark matter that looks similar to the one we see in our universe today (seventh GIF).

The simulation is so complex it would take two thousand years to render on a single desktop. And it’s kinda beautiful.

Image Credit: MIT and Nature Video

(via fastcompany)


Dream Cars at the High Museum of Art

Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas

… [We] dream of cars that will float and fly, or run on energy from a laser beam, or travel close to the ground without wheels. Such research may border on the fantastic, but so did the idea of a carriage going about the country without a horse. 

From top to bottom:

  • General Motors Firebird XP-21, 1953
  • Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero, 1970
  • General Motors Firebird XP-21, 1953
  • Stout Scarab, 1936
  • Chrysler Thunderbolt, 1941
  • General Motors Le Sabre XP-8, 1951
  • Chrysler (Ghia) Streamline X “Gilda,” 1955
  • Tasco, 1948
  • Voisin C-25 Aérodyne, 1934
  • Buick Centurion XP-301, 1956

This collection of Dream Cars will be on display at the High Museum of Art from May 21st through September 7th in Atlanta, Georgia.



Fourier series is a way to expand a periodic function in terms of sines and cosines. The Fourier series is named after Joseph Fourier, who introduced the series as he solved for a mathematical way to describe how heat transfers in a metal plate.

The GIFs above show the 8-term Fourier series approximations of the square wave and the sawtooth wave.

Mathematica code:

f[t_] := SawtoothWave[t]
T = 1; 
nmax = 18; 
a0 = (2/T)*Integrate[f[t], {t, -(T/2), T/2}]
anlist = Table[(2/T)*Integrate[f[t]*Cos[(2*Pi*n*t)/T], 
     {t, -(T/2), T/2}], {n, 1, nmax}]
bnlist = Table[(2/T)*Integrate[f[t]*Sin[(2*Pi*n*t)/T], 
     {t, -(T/2), T/2}], {n, 1, nmax}]
fs[t_, nmax_] := a0/2 + Sum[anlist[[n]]*Cos[(2*Pi*n*t)/T] + 
     bnlist[[n]]*Sin[(2*Pi*n*t)/T], {n, 1, nmax}]
Manipulate[Column[{Plot[{f[t], fs[t, nmax0]}, {t, -1, 1}, 
     PlotRange -> All, AxesLabel -> {"t", "f(t)"}, 
     PlotStyle -> {{Thick, Black}, {Thick, Red}}, 
     ImageSize -> 700, AspectRatio -> 1/2.8], 
     Row[{"f(t)=", fs[t, nmax0]}]}], {nmax0, 1, nmax, 1}]

(via visualizingmath)


The Chance To Dance Again

by Michael Keller

We highlighted the TED talk of Hugh Herr a couple of weeks ago. But his work is too important and beautiful to leave to just one post.

The MIT associate professor of media arts and sciences is making prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons that restore function in those who have lost legs from injury or disease. This set of gifs focuses on his team’s BiOM powered ankle and foot prosthesis

"Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster," he said during the talk. "Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics."

To prove his point, Herr and fellow researchers studied dance movement to replace the lower leg that professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost after last year’s Boston marathon bombing. He concluded his talk by bringing Haslet-Davis on the stage to perform a bionic rumba. 

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