friday clippings 7/12/19; shapes of things

With this July being the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, it’s been nonstop space coverage here at home. I doze off and on, but Marty is absolutely rapt, so I can always quiz him afterwards on what I missed.

 photo poppy-northcutt-first-woman-mission-control.jpg
Poppy Northcutt — via Time
(engineers come in all shapes — do you think there was any mansplaining going on at mission control?)

I was awake, though, to learn about Poppy Northcutt, the first female engineer in mission control, who was hired as a “computress” — where’s the movie on Poppy? It’s such an enthralling story. And she bears a remarkable resemblance to Kirsten Dunst, so the casting practically takes care of itself.

 photo 1U6A0055-X3.jpg
it came from outer space…bearing tillandsias
photo by MB Maher

The shapes that inspire artists, engineers and designers are all around, and I can’t wait to learn more of the back story behind Josh Rosen’s latest creation pictured above and below.

 photo 1U6A0015-X3.jpg
photo by MB Maher

The airplantman has devised a new structure/habitat that maximizes the conditions for tillandsias to flourish — in a celestial shape that the eye just doesn’t want to let go. Hopefully we’ll all know more in the next few weeks.

 photo SS2817004.jpg
magnification of the structure of tillandsia trichomes, the gatekeepers and mediators of moisture for these epiphytes
via Science Source
 photo IMG_3483.jpg

More mesmerizing shapes. This silo belongs to the Denver Botanic Garden’s Chatfield Farms. We just got back from a road trip up the California coast into Oregon, where silos, barns, and granaries gracefully dot smallish farms with their intensely green geometric grids of summer vegetables. Whether in space or here on Earth, there’s so many inspiring shapes all around, whether purpose-built by natural selection or by us for our various schemes. I’m a city kid, born and raised, which might be why farm buildings exert such a powerful pull on my urban imagination. Buildings crafted to facilitate specific tasks are so incredibly stripped down and pure. Very reminiscent of the adaptations of plants in a way.

 photo GasWorksPark3.jpg
Gas Works Park, Seattle, Washington

Here in Los Angeles, the local gas refineries, with their low tanks and slim minarets lit up and sparkling at night, were exotic, glittering cities before I knew any context for their real purpose. Incredibly, the Saturn 5 rocket that took us to the moon burned more fuel in 1 second than Lindberg’s trip across the Atlantic. Ask Marty, he’ll tell you all about it. My next question to him will be: Can we get the manned mission to Mars off the ground with biofuel?

Have a great weekend.

This entry was posted in clippings, MB Maher, science. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to friday clippings 7/12/19; shapes of things

  1. Nell Lancaster says:

    OMG OMG those trichomes! The big tillandsia structure’s pretty cool, too, but… wow.

    The silos were an essential part of what appealed to me so much about the southern Ontario landscape my partner and I used to drive through every year, especially in the low-angled light of late afternoons. (Glad we don’t make the trip anymore; the Michigan relatives report that the ugliness of Border Patrol is so intense on the return that they don’t even go to Ontario hockey tournaments any more, something that was a regular part of their and their parents’ lives.)

  2. Kris P says:

    Your summary of Poppy Northcutt’s role and the story in Fast Company had me quizzing my own spouse about whether he’d ever had any interaction with or knowledge of her but it appears that she’d left TRW around the time he came on board. I agree that she’s the perfect subject for a movie on women involved in the space race. Now that you put the idea out there to the universe, maybe it’ll take off.

    I love the Tillandsia creation, although I have to wonder about plant maintenance.

  3. Elaine says:

    All sorts of cool stories emerging about the role women played in the space programs.
    I agree there is something about farm buildings that takes you back to a gentler slower time. The one at Chatsworth sits well within the new gardens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *