A collaboration of scientists, artists, students, and anyone else interested in science, this project produces small zines and web comics on a variety of topics . Read online, download zines, and share your ideas here!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Small Science at the National Academy of Sciences!

In the first week of November Small Science had a nice opportunity to spread some zine-ness around at the 25th annual Kavli Frontiers of Science meeting.

A gathering of current science up-and-ciming stars, we had the opportunity to attend as part of the "Art-Science Interface" session - a first of its kind in the history of the symposium.

Some 100 or more zines on the physics of spirals, the nitrogen cycle, water bears, ocean acidification, diamonds, furuit flies, black holes, evolution and more were scooped up and spread among researchers around the country.

Always a nice thing....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Small Science Getting "Root Down"

Small Science was happy to be a part of the exhibition Rooting: Regional Networks, Global Concerns at the Sullivan Galleries at the School of Art Institute of Chicago August through October.  WE had over 50 zines for people to puruse on a variety of topics.  We even got a tiny shout-out in the Chicago TRibune review of the show (shucks).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Biosphere 2

A couple weekends back I had the pleasure & good fortune to attend the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) UnConference on science communication. Yes, the very same COPUS that co-sponsored the 2009 Zine-a-thon and of which I am a member ever since.

And where - you might ask  - would you host a meeting of 65 people across the country (and one Canadian) to explore the new/great/difficult/fascinating in the world of grassroots efforts to educate the public about science?  Yes, you are correct - Biosphere 2!

It turns out "Biosphere 1" is the Earth itself #2 was supposed to manage as a closed system (except for the sunlight pouring in and some supplemental electricity) with the idea that if people could live in it, then heck, maybe they could live on one on the moon (or some equally extra-terrestrial place). It was an experiment of many controversies, but then all the more better a place to consider the current concerns in science in the public sphere.

the "south lung" is the air overflow area...

...with a huge rubber gasket to allow for changes to air volume in the structure!

Anyway, it seemed like a perfect place to spread some zines around about the Nitrogen Cycle, pigeons, stem cells, bot flies, gut bacteria, and the like!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Small Science at Chicago ZineFest 2012

Behold the lovely ZineFest image by Lilli Carre

We distributed about 130 zines at this year's amazingly huge 2012 Chicago ZineFest! Small Science didn't get their act together to sign up to get a table in time (note to self:don't be such a slacker!). Bbut why sit a table when you can carry your table with you? So that's what we did~  It is aboot 10.5 times more fun anyway to get to browse around all the other tables and pick up, trade, and ogle all the other fine printed matter out there. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fruit Flies - the workhorses of science

And what have we here?   The most noble of small insects, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster

Sure, there are over 4, 500 species of "fruit fly," but this one in particular has arguably contributed to our understanding of genetics more than any other critter yet.  How you may ask?  Well, well, this new zine called simply Fruit Flies & Science by Emily Fundis is the best short introduction I've ever come across. you could even say it is creating a "buzz."  If give an overview of the What and Why of this common and tiny fly and its role in over 100 years of science.
Because Evolution by Common Descent unifies all of life (thanks for pointing this out, Charles Darwin), studying the genetics of an insect of even a plant or yeast can in fact reveal much about the biology of creatures like ourselves. You have to respect these model organisms of biological research.  

 Now, you may say the after watching the movie "The Fly" you understand the whole matter, but I urge you to look a little deeper past such science-fiction. Plus that is NOT a fruit fly, but rather the common house fly Musca domestica. Isabella Rossellini gives some fascinating insight into those flies here.

For an additional general overview of fruit flies in biology, check out  this nice visual explanation, or explore some of the more famous mutants flies that are used in genetics.  For the  real detailed nitty-gritty that professionals get into, check out Flybase.

To read the zine online in comic format, click the image here:

And click here is the downloadable, printable, and foldable PDF version...

Remember what they say:   "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana!"


Sunday, February 13, 2011

from dry desert to coral reef...

Today we'd like to show highlights from a truckload of excellent zine submissions we received from Dara Nix-Stevenson's biology class at the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

The assignment?

Pick 1 land biome and 1 aquatic biome and create a zine to communicate the key characteristics of their selected biome.

Given all the zines and all the great content, we decided to simply highlight some of the  panels from zines covering a wide range of the environments their explored...

 Deserts as discussed by Matthew Richman ~

Conifer Forests by Benjamin Rapp ~


 Tundra as discussed by Aviva Zucker ~


Coral Reefs by Inga Mamut ~


Hannah Ripps ~

And this is just a small selection, and we are only sorry not being able to include more here.... These zines were informationally rich and visually a pleasure -  an amazing set of zines, and The Small Science Collective wants to thank you all for sharing them with us.

Let's have a flying squirrel (from Rachel Senehenkova's zine) lead us out...!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eating Insects?

In a world whose burgeoning population and ravenous appetite for meat only continues to grow, sustainability is finding itself stretched to new limits.  The environmental, food safety, and ethical issues of raising cows, pigs, and fowl on such an extensive scale are myriad.  Take the example of beef and consider that pound-for-pound:

It takes ~200 times the amount of water to produce than potatoesIi takes about 5 pounds of grain for every pound of beef a cow produces
Feeding livestock consumes about 40% of the world's grain *

in overview....

Given this, what other options might there be for animal protein?  Perhaps one of the most common ones there is? That's right - insects!    Here are some very impressive nutritional statistics and recipes from National Geographic.   In fact Time magazine has a a data-rich article on topic, while David Gracer, from Small Stock, also males a nice case for bug brunching here on the Colbert Report a little while back.  The recent Insects Are Food website is also a good resource.

However, all that said, if you want a really nice and compact reference, I can suggest nothing better than than this new zine in the collective simply called "Entomophagy" by Moinca Ramirez. If gives a nice overview on these issues in a very handy format. Click on the image here to read it in comic form:

And of course feel free to download the printable and foldable version HERE to make your own hardcopy.

By the way, if you are interested in specific insects to dine on, consider cicadas!  Here is a zine about them in particular (recipe included) as well as an article.

And some more of this topic from our sister site, the Insect World as well as your editor here at Small Science partaking of some giant water bug found in the local grocery store...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Theory of Sexual Selection


Why the differences between males and females of so many species - be they large horns, flashy feathers, strange songs, or bizarrely long "stalks" in the case of the stalk-eyed flies pictured above?   This question puzzled Charles Darwin even after he came up with his explanation for the diversity of life forms generally - evolution by natural selection.

Many consider Chuck D's solution to this conundrum of male and female traits as equally elegant: sexual selection theory.

(Feeling rusty on the concept? This video from the PBS Evolution series gives a summary of the basics.)

Denny Liu  has designed an attractive zine The Theory of Sexual Selection that gives us a clever and contemporary overview of the many ways evolution has crafted traits, from the notion of "good genes" to nuptial gifts.

To read this zine it as a web comic, click the image below and get a little knowledge ~

(unfortunately, as a 11'' x 17" inch zine it won't work for many home printers but be in touch if you want the PDF.) 

Another zine featured here at SSC also looks at sexual selection theory, check it out  here!

More to come on this topic, so keep an eye out ~


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Free Water vs. Bottle Water

Water is so apparently abundant, and yet increasingly precious - for drinking, agriculture, and industry.  Even Hollywood has become sensitized to the issue of fresh water access, be it the latest James Bond film or Matt Damon's new water advocacy organization.    

The bottled water phenomenon in North America is a puzzling one indeed. Some say it is healthier, others more convenient, and yet all of this is ironic given that we put millions of dollars into creating a public water system that is one of the best in the world. Lucky to be some of the people in the world that actually has access cheap and plentiful tap water, we in the US have opted in the last few years for the apparent chic of water plastique, bottled up and sold to us. 
Many have pointed out the virtues of tap water, and indeed that many bottled waters are in fact sourced from municipal taps to begin with!   Videos like The Story of Bottled Water gives us some insight into the marketing and social psychology behind it, as well as the environmental consequences of all that plastic...

But if you want to get the word out on the street, nothing better of course than a zine. Michelle Doh's zine, Fresh Water vs. Bottled Water gives a wonderful overview of the issue, including drinking tips!

Click on the image below to read the zine in comic form:


 And/or click HERE to download the PDF as a foldable zine (standard letter size).

Just how precious is fresh water? Sometimes you only realize it till its gone, as the Aral Sea story illustrates...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

* that crazy-brilliant Tycho Brahe

Many are fond of Copernicus (and his"revolution"), of Kepler and his astronomical ways - even Ptolemy gets a lot of credit for being simply wrong about the relationship of movement between the earth and the sun. But what about Tycho Brahe?

Tycho did remarkably detailed observations, tried his best to resolve issues between Ptolemic and Copernican views of the universe, and above all else made a lovely discovery: a supernova in 1572 that fundamentally changed the way people thought about the physics of the heavens and its changeablity.

Artist Sara Drake has done a wonderful job in the name of scientific biography in her about Brahe. Her zine brings us through the large life of a man devoted to making sense of the puzzling heavens (as well as partying and dueling to the point fo having his nose slashed off - oops, spoiler alert!). But there are plenty more bizarre details to ponder in the zine, so enjoy!

To read the zine, click the image below:

Click HERE to download the printable/foldable PDF version.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Acid Advice

This last year's Zine-a-Thon generated a startling array of zines of various topics, and one that all of the judges loved was simply called "Acids" by Rishabh Tripathi, a high school student in
Nagpur, India.

Far less exotic perhaps than lattice QCD or dodos, Rishabh's zine conveys just how strange, common (we ourselves are composed on many different kinds of acids), and even dangerous certain acids can be. As the zines summarizes by way introduction:

"Horrible Details: Acids taste horrible and sometimes stink. You wouldn't want to go near some of them. They are strong enough to dissolve the human body!"

This only attests to the diversity of acids and the roles they can play, from flavoring your salad dressing to causing acid rain in the clouds.

To read Rishabh's zine, click the image below:


And to download a PDF format of the zine in foldable form click HERE.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

! The Indomitable Water Bear !

Chicago artist Alex Chitty has made a lovely, funny, and narratively nice contribution to our understanding of biodiversity through her zine Simplify Your Life (aka The Indomitable Water Bear).

Before you even ask what exactly the definition of "indomitable" is, you might also be pondering the following simple question:

Water Bear ??

Well, the water bear is like a lot other mysterious (and perhaps somewhat confusing ) common nomenclature mash-ups for organisms. Take for example: sea lions, monkey flowers, dolphin fish, or potato bugs - likewise, the water bear falls in the category of not exactly what it might sound like. It is not a bear, but a creature maybe vaguely shaped like one that happen to - when lucky - live in the water. Although to be fair the scientific name for these tiny invertebrates - Tardigrades - is no less cryptic. (They are quite cute was they dance through liquid space)

Alex presents us with the opportunity of what it might be like to be a wholly different kind of creature and what (from our ever busy, fragile, and pre-occupied human perspective) living the life of something like tardigrade might feel like.

These are bizarre and tough critters - read all about them:

Click the image below to read it in comic form....

And click HERE to download the PDF as a foldable zine (standard letter size).

oh, and:

Some more wonderful drawing of water bears.