This blog is now rarely updated, but remains as an archive of bits and pieces I've collected from around the internet. To see what's caught my eye more recently, find me on twitter.

Sunday 21 October 2012

#163; Pigeons

Anyone who's had the, er, pleasure of reading my undergraduate research project on pigeon navigation using miniature on-board cameras will see why this (below) is so interesting. In the project, I wrote of "recent technological advances". Er, perhaps not so recent after all...


 and now...

Monday 27 August 2012

#162; Mechanical Biology

Our mechanical biology - I love Fritz Kahn's illustrations of the body as an industrialised world. Click here for tons more.

Those Who Make is a curated list of videos showcasing people who do and make things. Lovely.

Can fonts make you more trustworthy? Very interesting experiment by Errol Morris in the New York Times. Times readers answered a quiz written in one of six different fonts, to see whether the font a passage is displayed in can make it seem more or less believable. I wonder if there's been any more substantial, "real" research into this?

If you're looking for some nuggets of interest, take a look through PBS' Off Book series on everything from typography to microscopy to glitch art.

Thursday 28 June 2012


The evolution of evolution - these images chart the development of Darwin's On the Origin of Species as he published updated editions


Code Club - I wish there had been something like this while I was at school... and someone to force me to join...


And two just for fun:

and animation anatomy:


This week's long(ish)form articles:

What Facebook Knows - There's no shortage of paranoia and fear-mongering (not that those fears are necessarily unfounded) about Facebook's data collection habits, but this is a very interesting insight into what they're trying to do with it.

Snowbound - a surprisingly touching account of a trip to Savoonga: the community at the end of the earth, struggling with very modern issues of depression and identity-crisis.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

#160; Fishing and measuring

Nice visual explanation of overfishing. I mostly like the animation style, but the part about the (in)efficiency of fish farms is particularly interesting:

Via Flowing data, which also has the more dramatic "story of sushi"


Absolutely unbelievable wildlife footage. More at the youtube channel



My iPad has come in to its own since I downloaded the Longform app, which shoots brilliantly selected long articles at you. It's productive procrastination at its best. One gem is the story of Daniel Kish - the blind man who 'sees' with sonar.
"The first thing Daniel Kish does, when I pull up to his tidy gray bungalow in Long Beach, California, is make fun of my driving. “You’re going to leave it that far from the curb?” he asks. He’s standing on his stoop, a good 10 paces from my car. I glance behind me as I walk up to him. I am, indeed, parked about a foot and a half from the curb."
Bewilderingly impressive.


This is a fantastic animation. Equally engaging is the Making Of, if that's your thing

THE EAGLEMAN STAG from Mikey Please on Vimeo.


This video about measuring the universe is well worth a watch, if because it is one of the best examples I've seen of crystal clear communication of fairly complex ideas. Deceptively smart.

Measuring the Universe from Royal Observatory Greenwich on Vimeo.

Thursday 17 May 2012

#159; Coupla videos

Brilliant, beautiful video from TED-Ed. Life and sex underwater. "I was a rocket ship"


 More elegant beauty in this little clip of some of America's endangered animals. Watch the first video, then make sure you watch the "making of" out-takes, after.

now watch this:


Monday 7 May 2012

#158; Orwell & Comic-Con

On the train the other day I read this brilliant article from George Orwell, complaining about the 'modern' (this was written in 1946) trends in English language. What particularly struck a cord with me, and is certainly as true today as it was then, is the point about a lack of precision. Using unnecessarily long and confusing words to create an illusion of intelligence, which generally results in the actual meaning of a piece of writing being lost entirely. Bullshitty flouncey language used to obscure the fact that the person speaking has no real understanding of what's going on themselves.

"The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose"

Here is his solution:
I think the following rules will cover most cases:
  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never us a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable.  
Evidently his advice hasn't been particularly well heeded. But this is well worth a read.


On that same train ride, this film was my other source of entertainment:

Comic-con seems to be a completely unapologetic celebration of people who are genuinely passionate about something. It's a shame that people often feel shy about the quirky hobbies that they really love. One day, I will go to Comic-Con. It just looks like buckets of fun.

On a related note, this short film is great. Settler's of Catan anyone?

Monday 9 April 2012


A gang of urban explorers climbed up the nearly constructed Shard in London. Check out their photos here (I'd give the written account a miss, if I were you). And click on this image for a great panorama:

How the New York Times graphics department brings stories to life, visually:

Best use of lego I've yet seen. This is so inventive, so efficient, so cool:

Sunday 1 April 2012


I used to manage BPoD - Biomedical Picture Of the Day. That involved image sourcing, uploading, promotion, and occasionally writing the image summaries. I still contribute regularly.

This video, produced to celebrate BPoD's launch, was one of my first forays into the world of video editing.

Click here to scroll through the ever-growing archive of my pieces on the BPoD website.

Wednesday 14 March 2012


It's been a while. Feast on this bunch o' goodies.

Inside the creative process of a medical illustrator - wicked awesome:



Sticking with the illustration theme, check out Thomas Sullivan's food chain illustrations:


I really like the sentiment behind this rant/essay from Stephen Fry. A love of language is not the same as inane pendantry.


I think there was other good stuff to share, but it's now lost in my readers and read-laters. Just a quick reminder to finish. Check out BPoD - Biomedical picture of the day (which is one of the projects I'm working on at the moment, in my current job). Showcasing the beautiful side of biomedical research.

Saturday 11 February 2012

#154; small world

Wired has a selection of videos from the Nikon Small World In Motion competition. Go check out all of the videos. Here's the winner - Ink injection into blood vessels:


Sticking on the micro-theme, look at these amazing photographs of insects peeled off a car's windshield. By Voker Steger



Have a look at Minjeong An's art. A lovely mix of dataviz, mathematical and scientific abstractions and artistic flair.


I mentioned it a while ago, but I only just got around to going to the London Transport Museum's Painting By Numbers gallery. A small but brilliant selection of classic data visualisation posters from around the 1930s. The visualisingdata flickr stream has some images. It's well worth a visit (despite the £13 entrance fee). The best part is that after taking in the classic data posters, you move through to the "Sense and the City" exhibition, that looks towards how transport will change in the future, and how we can harness movement data to improve services. This section of the museum has some stunning modern data animations, and the movement from the 1930s design to modern work is splendid.


Finally, if you only read one online article today, make it this one about the impact of spending too much time absorbing internet crap on our happiness. It uses as its springboard a study that showed that excessive time online leads to reduced happiness and"social well-being" in 8-12 year old girls. While studies like that always need to be read with a significant degree of caution, this article regardless raises points about online (and, really, any consumption) that are well worth thinking about.

Friday 20 January 2012

#153; Videos

Watch this video. It's a trailer for "Getting Up". I'm a huge fan of graffiti & street art. It's not often that that interest falls in line with amazing innovation and scientific progress, but this looks like an incredible story:

VIA Wooster

While I was at university I did a research project on bird flight using video cameras strapped on pigeons' backs (you can read it all here, if you're that way inclined), but the jerky, grainy footage I was using didn't quite match up with what you see in this clip, from BBC's new(ish) series, Earthflight. They've managed to get some stunning footage, and although the actual series itself isn't quite as entertaining as i'd hoped, this is remarkable:

On a related note, Wired have a great gallery of amateur high-speed flight clips. This is my favourite, but go check out the whole gallery:


Continuing the theme of beautiful videos of nature, take a look at Drew Berry's animations of the unseen beauty of biology:

Friday 6 January 2012

#152; Pretty science stuff

A sciencish post today:

If you have an iPad, download the NASA visualisation app now, from the brains at the "scientific visualisation studio". It's lovely.


A new study has drawn detailed new maps of science based on online "clickstreams" to determine the links between science journal topics. Interesting stuff.


Scientific American's top 5 animal videos of 2011. The gorilla video is well worth a watch, but my personal favourite is this peacock spider mating dance. Unusually good music selection in this video, too, I thought:


Finally a beautifully calming video from Malaysia: