Taxonomy term


Isotopes reveal sources of centuries-old alabaster artifacts

When geologists think of alabaster, they likely envision blocks of gypsum, its main mineral constituent; when art historians hear the word, statues crafted from the soft rock may come to mind. A new study focused on the sources of centuries-old alabaster artworks has geologists thinking about art history, and art historians pondering geochemistry. In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used isotope fingerprinting along with historical records to tie medieval and Renaissance alabaster sculptures to the quarries from which their materials were excavated.

26 Feb 2018

Science meets art: Tiny trilobite gets huge makeover

At less than a centimeter in size, Agnostus pisiformis might not look like much, but a new series of larger-than-life sculptures is giving the arthropod its due as one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable Cambrian fossils.

01 Jan 2018

Geomedia: Mixed media: Geo-art collaboration shifts perspectives on earth materials

“Arts and Sciences.” The phrase is familiar to students and faculty on most campuses, often serving as the moniker of colleges or other curricular subdivisions within universities. While the pairing suggests a joint enterprise of some sort between the two fields, it might more aptly be termed, “Arts or Sciences,” as curricula rarely encompass both.

23 Jun 2017

Down to Earth With: Planetary geologist James W. Head III

In the late 1960s, as James W. Head III was finishing his graduate degree in geology at Brown University in Providence, R.I., he decided one day to take a look at a college placement annual, a phone book-like publication that listed prospective employers according to the types of jobs they had available. When Head looked up geology in the index, he saw several consecutive pages of related listings, as well as one separate page number. Curious about the outlier, Head flipped to it — and never looked back. Covering that entire page was a photo of the moon, a D.C.-area phone number, and a single line of text: “Our job is to think our way to the moon and back.”

29 Mar 2017

Cave paintings confirm mystery European bison species

Ice-age hunters had an intimate knowledge of the animals they coexisted with — and this familiarity is clearly depicted in paintings on cave walls throughout Europe. Inside a cave in France, scientists recently identified artistic evidence dating to about 17,000 years ago of a previously unknown hybrid species of cattle crossed with bison. The paintings confirm findings from recent genetic studies of fossil bison, the researchers say.

25 Jan 2017

Artists draw inspiration from fire and ash

Volcanoes have been shaping human culture and art for millennia — from Roman art to Victorian paintings and literature to modern poetry.
28 Jul 2016

Illustrating Geology: Great images that transformed the field

“The Map” is perhaps the single-most recognized depiction within geology, but it is just one of many historically transformative images in a field that relies heavily on illustration and visualization to help convey information and shape our understanding of the natural world.

17 Jul 2016

Science Illustrators: Making the invisible visible

Science illustrators visualize data, revealing what otherwise can’t be seen: the deep Earth, distant worlds, quantum particles and extinct life.

16 Jun 2015

Tools of the trade

Until a few decades ago, illustrators most often plied their trade with pencil and paper, ink, watercolors, or maybe airbrushed paints. While some still work in these media, most now rely heavily on computers, at least for the finished product. Some artists, like New Jersey-based illustrator Frank Ippolito, made the switch early on. “The promise was already there, so I was one of those early adopters who jumped in with both feet,” he says. For others, going digital became a necessity when clients started changing their expectations, says Lynette Cook, who previously worked as an artist and photographer at the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. 
16 Jun 2015

Ancient cave art discovered in Indonesia

Europe has long been thought to have been the home of the oldest art in the world — including a stash of cave paintings in northern Spain that date to about 40,000 years ago — but a new dating technique may put Indonesia on the ancient art map as well.

06 Feb 2015