Science Feed

Paintings inspired by neurons

kirsten fischler's neural imagery

Kirsten Fischler captures neuronal imagery in her paintings. She has been inspired by her partner, a neuropathologist. Neurons are nerve cells that communicate information electrically/chemically with other cells. In her artist’s conception neurons are the “essence that occurs inside the mind that helps develop the mind” or “the spark that makes the mind happen.” Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, Francisville. Watch video interview here.

Losing the sense of smell

A young woman who realized in college that, without a doubt she wanted to become a chef, grabbed the offer to start as the dishwasher in a famous Boston restaurant and she loved it, covered in butter, chicken fat, sweat. One morning, on a morning jog before work, she was hit by a car and among other bad injuries, had shattered her skull. Two weeks later, making a recovery at her father's house, she made a bad discovery - her sense of smell was gone. Heat was all she sensed of the cinammon-laced apple crisp, a favorite dish, when it was just drawn from the oven and held under her nose.

Birnbaum went on to study the sense of smell and her experiences with its loss(a condition called "anosmia") and wrote about in her 2011 book,"Season to Taste." Along her journey she spent much time with the olfactory scientists the Monell Chemical Senses Center with whom she presented "Forgotten Sense: Exploring a World Without Smell" as part of the Philadlephia Science Festival.

Also attending the event is a doctoral student in information sciences at Drexel University, (shown below) who speaks about her own experience with anosmia.

Can't Smell

At the National Mechanics Bar and Restaurant in Old City, Philadelphia.

Watch video here.

Exploding Carbon Dioxide


Fred Schaefer of the University of the Sciences, conducts an explosion experiment with liquid carbon dioxide at Earth, Bread and Brewery in Mount Airy, Philadelphia. Tonight's experiments were part of the 10 day Philadelphia Science Festival  and here he was assisted by Faye Flam, who writes about evolution in her "Planet of the Apes" column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Schaefer holds "tabletop science" evenings once a month at the restaurant! Watch video here.


Brings deconstructed astronomy book to science high school interview


My book is called a deconstruction book and it’s like when you get a plain old book that nobody reads, sits on the shelves at stores and stuff and getting it and exposing the information in a 3-dimensional work of art. WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT? It’s about astronomy, all about the planets, the moons, suns, stars… I can name you everything inside. Right here there’s an asteroid and it’s called Hyperion and Hyperion back in Greek mythology was one of the Titans of the East. 

Javier Peraza, of South Philly, with his project for an application interview at the Science Leadership Academy.

Watch video interview here

Re Clamming Barnegat Bay

Re Clam bay

Martin Sedlacko, of Forked River, New Jersey volunteers with ReClam the Bay, an environmental organization with an educational focus that grows up seed clams and oysters until they are large enough to be transferred to protected reefs in Barnegat Bay.

The native oyster and clam populations died off substantially in the 1950s and ‘60s due to land development in the shore community and environs, Sedlacko explains. One significant factor is eutrophication; nitrogen (found in fertilizers, acid rain) from runoff contributes to excessive underwater plant growth. In the subsequent dieback and decomposition process, bacteria consumes the oxygen the shellfish depend on.

On Monday afternoons, volunteers gather at a shellfish station on Barnegat Bay off of 24th street in Seaside Heights, not far from the extensive Island Beach State Park on the south side of Long Beach Island. They clean the growing shellfish and introduce bay water into several tanks called “upwellers.” The juveniles feed on plankton in the water.

The Seaside Heights station is one of ten such locations on the bay that participate in the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program, a partnership between Rutgers University/Ocean County Cooperative Extension and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Employees from Subaru of Cherry Hill complemented the regular volunteer contingent at the Seaside Heights station on a recent Monday afternoon. In the morning the employees had participated in a bay cleanup. According to one employee, Subaru partners with the Ocean Conservancy because this kind of volunteering is a good fit with its brand and the values held by its customers.

Watch video here

For more information about Barnegat Bay and restoration efforts visit

reclam bay 3

Tasting like a lion

in lions mouth.jpg

Guests sample six different concoctions to understand how animals taste. Cats don't taste sweet so a sweet substance was tasted followed by a sweet blocker followed by another draft of the same sweet substance- which tasted like not worth eating or drinking! At the Philadelphia Science Festival event at Rembrandt's Restaurant produced by the Philadelphia Zoo and Monell Center where they study the sense of taste. Watch video here.

Body odors signal threat?


Amy Gordon,left, a first year grad student who works at the Monell Center, welcomed guests to a Philadelphia Science Festival program on how animals, smell and taste at Rembrandt's Restaurant and Bar. Gordon studies how humans communicate with body odor, especially how a stranger's body odor may influence threatening visual stimuli from the stranger. Fairmount neighborhood, Philadelphia.Watch video here.

Members' Night at Academy of Natural Sciences

Members Night Academy Natural Sciences Philadelphia 2010


Eli: I found a shell and the picture I colored and another picture of a bird

Michael: a red knot

Eli: eating something

Michael: horseshoe crab eggs.

Eli: The shell looks like this. It’s a crown conch.

Michael: Do you know the guy giving out the pictures is also a resident of Chestnut Hill? Doug Wechsler.

Eli Zickler of Chestnut Hill with grandfather, Michael left, father Joel and sister Lucy, right, at the Academy of Natural Sciences members’ night. Watch video interview here.

Continue reading "Members' Night at Academy of Natural Sciences" »

Time between screams down black hole


This is an illustration from a kids’ course on black holes. I’m teaching black holes in elementary school now and some kid did an illustration of a guy falling in. What happens when you fall into a black hole is that you slow down or you seem to slow down. This is your first scream, second scream, third, fourth, fifth, and it’s taking more and more time between each scream . . .So we think we understand something about time . We think we know something about quantum mechanics and we have no idea how to fit the two together. John Ashmead, “Time and Quantum Mechanics.” From his blog entry of July 11, 2010:"Spoke at noon yesterday (July 10th, 2010) at the Chestnut Hill Book Festival; in spite of heavy rain a nice crowd. This was my Balticon Time & Quantum Mechanics talk, adjusted for a general (rather than a science fictional) audience. I covered over a hundred years of physics in less than an hour — a lot — but the audience survived & even seemed to prosper, asking some good questions!"Click here to see video excerpt from talk and 9 second interview.