June 27, 2012

Help Me Promote Amoeboid

Amoeboid has been on the app store for about a month and a half now. It is doing a-okay, but the app store is a mighty beast, and it's easy for things like amoebas to get lost.

Sadly, I am not sitting on bazillions of dollars to launch an advertising campaign, but I do have dozens of dollars, and I used those to make some Amoeboid stickers!

If you would like to be a pat of the Amoeboid promotional ninja army and hand out a few stickers to people who might like Amoeboid and/or Beatrice, fill out this here form, and I'll happily send them over!

Update: The form no longer exists because all the stickers are gone!

Thanks for your help!

June 20, 2012

Solstice Punches

Today is the solstice. In the northern hemisphere, it is the longest day of the year and marks the start of summer. In the southern of the hemispheres, it is the shortest day of the year and kicks of the start of winter. Why does it mean different things in different places? It has to do with that 23.5-degree tilt to the earth's axis (which I've discussed before). The sun's rays are hitting different parts of the globe at different angles, and that makes all the difference when it comes to seasons.

When the sun is striking us at a near 90-degree angle like it does in summer, it's like getting socked square in the gut. When the sun hits us at a much softer angle as happens in winter, it's more like getting bumped in the shoulder. Here, let me show you:



June 14, 2012

Aliens, Unlimited

Watching Prometheus this past weekend got me thinking about movie aliens. I get annoyed at how humanoid they tend to be. There are exceptions (Prometheus has one, which I won't spoil for you) but on the whole, Hollywood alien morphology is rather predictable.

I understand why aliens were human-ish back when actual people had to wear the costume and attack Sigourney Weaver. I appreciate that. But now that creature effects are usually digital (which makes me a little sad, actually), we are not limited to prosthetics that must fit onto a human actor's body, and the xenomorphs need not so resemble us.

You don't even have to create completely novel forms: there is plenty of inspiration to be found in the animal kingdom outside of our phylum (which is chordata, if you're talking notes (and it's still chordata if you're not taking notes, as it turns out)).

Here are some basic animal body plans that have been rather overlooked as alien schematics:

Porifera: sponges!

Radiata: animals with radial symmetry, like jellies

Molluscs are animals with soft bodies and hard shells, such as clams, snails, and octopuses. I think tentacles are pretty standard alien protrusions, so I'll go with a shell-fish-style alien.

Echinodermata is a weird phylum that includes sea stars, sea cucumbers, and urchins. There is plenty of alien inspiration here.

And don't feel limited to animals. There are plenty of bizarre living things in other kingdoms. Look to ye plants and ye fungus, perhaps even ye bacteria.

And now, I will attempt to draw a totally novel alien, taking no inspiration from earthly vertebrate species.

How'd I do?

June 05, 2012

The Horrifying Transformation of a Strawberry Flower

I went to a farm over the weekend and picked strawberries. There is something refreshing about having a connection to my food. 

Strawberries I picked with happy faces

And of course, I took the opportunity to meditate on how crazy fruit is. These strawberries, like all fruits, started out as mere flowers. The flowers have ovaries with egg cells inside, and when pollen is introduced (perhaps by a bee), the pollen fertilizes each ovary's egg cell with a tiny pollen-y sperm cell. You know, plant sex. The fertilized ovaries form seeds and fruit.

These "working flowers" lure in the bees to pollinate the strawberry flowers.

Various stage of strawberry growth.
Various stages of flower to strawberry-ness.

Picture of young and ripe strawberries.
A strawberry just starting out and a veteran strawberry underneath.

I wonder what it's like for the flower to go through such a dramatic transformation to become a tasty, tasty strawberry.

I'd imagine life as a strawberry flower must be pretty carefree and wonderful. 

Ah, a visit from a bee. How divine.

The flower senses a change. 

She has been pollinated.

 The hundreds of flower ovaries begin to swell and grow.

The fruit is taking shape.

The once luscious petals begin to wilt away, exposing the green sepals below.

The changes can be unsettling.

 But life as a strawberry isn't so bad once you get used to it.

It's downright splendid!

Well, mostly.

Oh, the strawberry carnage.

The tasty, tasty cobbler carnage.