Category Archives: art

How to make an Albert Einstein head from a mango seed

Ripe mangos are sweet, juicy and delicious.  Sometimes you cannot stop sucking on the seed to get every bit of pulp.  When all the pulp is gone, you are left with a hairy seed that is perfect for making doll heads. You can draw facial features with a pen, or cut out faces from magazines and paste them on the seeds.  Mango seed dolls have real hair that you can comb and trim.  Here is a step-by-step guide for making mango seed doll heads.

Eat the mango and remove all the pulp from the seed.  Let it dry and comb the hair from time-to-time as it dries to prevent the hair from matting.  This is the way the mango seed looks after combing.
Cut out a picture of your favorite rock star or scientist.  Make sure the size of the face is approximately the size of the seed.  Paste the picture on the mango seed and comb the hair in a suitable style.  For Einstein we leave the hair a little bit wild.

Here is the finished Einstein head at a party with several clowns.

You can make a two-faced doll by gluing another face to the back side of Albert Einstein.  Since the mango hair is nice and blond we can choose a picture of Marilyn Monroe, but it looks like she had a bad hair day.

World Geography Scrambled

A New World Map
Australia has the shape of a dog’s head. Africa looks like a human skull with a horn in the forehead and Lake Victoria forms an eye. Italy is shaped like a boot, and the other boot is New Zealand, but it is broken. Are there enough geographical pieces to create a human figure?

The new world map has a man with two boots accompanied by a dog. The biggest problem was to find a torso for the body parts. It was not an easy task, but by turning Eurasia on its side, we can pretend that it is a torso. In this new map, Russia corresponds to the back, and the Bering Strait is the neck. Spain ends up as a pubic appendage, India takes the place of a breast, and the Arabian peninsula is a hip. It is not a pretty map, but there are not enough well-shaped pieces to work with.

Just like the ancient astronomers were able to imagine celestial figures for the groupings of stars that we call constellations, this new map adds an imaginary dog’s body to Australia’s dog head, and the human figure gets a hat. America is not on the map, but you can imagine it as a beautiful young woman who has lost her dog and has not come into the picture yet.

The shapes of the continents are determined by the level of the ocean. Fifteen thousand years ago, a large volume of water which is in the ocean today existed as thick ice sheets that covered the continents. The sea level was 130 meters lower than today and this created a Bering land bridge between Alaska and Siberia that allowed human migration from Asia to America. Melting of the ice deposits on Greenland and Antarctica by global warming will change the shapes of our continents in the future.

Learn more about the geological history of the world

Optical illusion with three colors

The eye provides us with basic perceptions that are interpreted by the brain.  Sometimes, these perceptions differ so much from reality that we understand that our senses are fooling us.

The image above consists of only three colors: a greenish blue (RGB 0, 255, 150), dark orange (RGB 255, 150, 0), and bright pink (RGB 255, 0, 255).  When the greenish blue field is overlaid with pink lines, the blue color predominates, whereas the green color predominates when the greenish blue field is overlaid with orange lines.  The figure appears to be made of four colors, rather than three.

Patches of color that are physically close to each other are interpreted by the eye as being a single color.  This is the principle used for color halftone printing which overlays dots of several basic colors of different sizes to simulate a wide spectrum of colors.  The technique is used extensively for cartoon illustrations.

An image of Charlie Brown in the Sunday comics page, when enlarged, reveals the pattern of dots that form the picture. The rows of tiny dots are oriented at different angles to avoid Moiré patterns.

Learn more about optical illusions

Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph Body Types

Body Types

In the 1940’s, psychologist William Herbert Sheldon proposed a classification of human physique into three categories.  An ectomorph is a thin person with small muscles and a delicately built body.  A mesomorph has well-defined muscles, large bones, and a torso that tapers to a well-defined waist. An endomorph has a rounded stocky body.  The words endomorphic, mesomorphic and ectomorphic are still used to describe body types in association with weight training for the purpose of gaining muscle, but modern science is dispelling the idea that body shape is an intrinsic feature that cannot be altered.  Only the bones seem to remain constant as a person gains or loses weight.

When I developed the Calorie Restriction Calculator, one of the criticisms was that it does not take into consideration the body types.  If it were possible to quantify the body type, the calculation of %CR could be made more accurate.  Recently, I came across some digital human modeling work done under Professor Zoran Popović at the University of Washington.  His team has used measurements from 250 human body models and created a parametrization set that allows generation of a variety of applications for human body modeling, including: morphing, texture transfer, statistical analysis of shape, and the modification of  multiple correlated parameters such as the weight and height of an individual.[1,2]  The software makes it possible to visualize how persons look when they get fat or lose weight.

[1] Digital Humans. [link]
[2] The space of human body shapes: reconstruction and parameterization from range scans. [link]

Bethesda in the Fall

Bethesda in the Fall

We have had a few frosts in the Washington, D.C. area and the leaves of the deciduous trees have started to turn yellow and red. The pines and magnolias retain their verdant hues and will stay green throughout the winter.

A favorite pastime of local residents at this time of the year is to take a day tour of the Shenandoah National Park which is about 75 miles from Washington.  The park is in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has campgrounds, hiking trails, and many natural attractions.  Along the crest of the mountains, the Skyline Drive allows visitors to drive through the woods and get a view of spectacular panoramas.  The Appalachian Trail takes visitors through a wonderful wilderness that has been preserved for many generations.  On previous occasions, I have seen fleeting glances of black bears crossing the road and groups of wild turkeys feeding along the roadside.

Today is a bright sunny day.  The temperature is a crispy 58 degrees Fahrenheit, and the air is calm.  I think I will go out for a walk and enjoy the view.

Wild-life Painter Clementina Rivera

Clementina Rivera - Wild-life painter
Clementina Rivera

Clementina Rivera, noted for her realistic paintings of coastal sea creatures, visited the Washington, D.C. area recently.  Clementina has won many artistic awards for her portrayal of wild life along the East shore of the United States.  Her studio in Rockport, Texas is located just minutes from the sea and provides magnificent opportunities to observe the migration of birds and the activities of the local fishermen.

Pelicans - Painting by Clementina Rivera
Click here to see Clementina Rivera’s Paintings