An In-Depth Look At Why Colonizing Mars Will be So Difficult, with Beautiful Illustrations by Josh Cochran

All Dressed Up For Mars and Nowhere to Go

A well-known effect on astronauts out on long missions is the dip at the halfway point, when the excitement has worn off and the return home seems unbearably distant. There is no way to know how a human mind will encounter passing the threshold of no return, when the Earth recedes from sight, and the pitch black enormity of deep space and the impossibility of ever turning back sinks in.

That’s an excerpt from an exceptional long read piece by Elmo Keep titled All Dressed Up For Mars and Nowhere to Go, which explores the company Mars One, a “start-up of sorts that intends to send people on a one way trip to Mars. He writes about the company, it’s co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp (who’s a bit of a weirdo) and highlights many of the numerous challenges that colonizing Mars would present.

Mars Illustration by Josh Cohcran

What really sells the article for me are the incredible illustrations by Josh Cochran, a long time friend of TFIB. He masterfully communicates a number of complex concepts in the simplest ways, things like eating insects, the effects of cosmic rays, what the lack of vitamin D can do to you. Funny enough Josh did a space/astronaut themed wallpaper for the site back in 2008 which you can still download. It’s cool to see how his style has changed, he’s become more confident I feel, and he’s really hitting new highs with his work.

January 8, 2015 / By

Landing On The Surface of a Comet

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

It’s pretty astonishing that, as of a few hours ago, the European Space Agency was able to land a robot on the surface of a comet. A mission 10 years in the making, the team’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully placed the Philae lander on to the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is moving at 34,400 miles per hour (that’s 45x the speed of sound). The New York Times has an incredible gallery of images (like the one above) which shows the approach of the satellite to 67P which have been blowing my mind.

I also think it’s pretty funny that the comet is shaped like a duck, sorta.

November 12, 2014 / By

How Might We Grow Plants In Space?

Plant for NASA

I’ve never stopped to think about how we might grow plants in space. I’ve only really thought about those enormous geodesic domes that you see in sci-fi films like Silent Running, but I’ve never stopped to consider what a practical real-life equivalent of those might be. Obviously being in space brings about all kinds of issues and I can just imagine the problems you might face if you tried to water some soil while floating around in zero-gravity.

Fortunately the guys at NASA have been thinking about exactly these issues. Back in 2011 the experts and astronauts there collaborated with designers Piotr Szpryngwald and Mirko Ihrig in developing a means for astronauts to grow food on long duration space flights in a clean, easy and safe way.

Plant for NASA

Their solution is brilliantly simple. The concept consist of a small pillow which contains the seed and hydroponic media. They also created a special watering device which can both puncture and activate the pillow. The final element is a growing chamber which informs astronauts about the harvesting cycles of their plants. I think the idea is great and I love the look of it.

Plant for NASA

Plant for NASA

Plant for NASA

You can view more images from the project here.

October 15, 2014 / By

The Alchemists Dressing Table Requires Time and Effort To Create Your Own Beauty Products

The Alchemists Dressing Table by Lauren Davies

Do you know where your cosmetics come from, or how they’re made? Like a lot of things in our life there’s an unknowing of how the things we use day-to-day are manufactured. Lauren Davies, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, addresses this issue with her project The Alchemist’s Dressing Table.

Together, the tools form a statement piece; reigniting a dialogue about our relationship with nature and the materials we use. I believe this could be the future of cosmetics for the modern woman who has a desire to be more in control of what she uses on her skin and the impact they have on our environment. The tools I’ve designed will enable women to forge a stronger connection to their personal beauty rituals and a more magical relationship with nature’s intricate mysteries.

She’s taken the arcane and archaic idea of alchemy and presented it in a contemporary fashion. The tools she’s created allow the owner to make a wide variety of beautifying products like creams, balms, perfumes, and essential oils. One of the products I find most inventive is the eyeliner that utilizes burnt almond oil for it’s creation.

The kohl plate is for the preparation of black kohl eyeliner. Carbon collects on the underside of the copper plate from the almond oil burning in the oil burner below for a period of time. This black carbon deposit can then be mixed with almond oil for a smudged finish or aloe vera and witch hazel to allow a brush drawn line and used as eyeliner.

I also like that Lauren’s project tangentially addresses the issue of instant gratification. The idea that you’d need to sit down and prepare your beautification products is interesting to me. We take for granted being able to walk into a store and purchase cosmetics and perfumes immediately.

You can read more about the project by clicking here.

The Alchemists Dressing Table by Lauren Davies

The Alchemists Dressing Table by Lauren Davies

August 18, 2014 / By

Intelligent People Tend To Stay Up Later

Intelligent People Tend To Stay Up Later

Lauren Martin has a fantastic piece on something you may not believe: the more intelligent you are the more likely you are to stay up late. Compiling several studies she found that people who are extremely intelligent tend to sleep during the following hours:

Weekday: 12:29 am -7:52 am
Weekend: 1:44 am -11:07 am

Now, just because you may sleep at these times doesn’t mean you’re a genius, but Lauren has made a pretty great list which might explain why this trend might be happening.

Photo by Sebastian Lomas

July 31, 2014 / By

Life in Space as Azuma Makoto Captures Flowers in the Cosmos


Japanese artist Azuma Makoto is taking his work to new heights, literally. His art project, titled Exobiotanica, pits plants high above their home, bursting in color and beauty against the backdrop of a glistening planet Earth and the infinities of space that surrounds it. The project is simple in concept, visually beautiful in execution, and says volumes about the planet we’ve come to inherit.


Working out of Black Rock Desert, Nevada and alongside JP Aerospace, Makoto sent organic life to the borders of space, suspended by balloon. Bonsai trees, orchids, lilies, and other fauna or flora were subject to altitudes exceeding 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees celsius. To the artist, exposing organic land-locked material beyond the confines of their earthly home transformed them into “exobiotanica,” or rather, extraterrestrial plant life.



While Makoto’s intent is neat and its results hold true, I believe that there’s more being said here than simply sending life where there isn’t any. Jonathan Jones wrote on the Guardian, “these images dramatize the startling nature of planet Earth itself.” Makoto’s photographs beautifully put forth the mystery of life on Earth—something to be treasured, once realized.



The fact of the matter is that our home, planet Earth, is the only known place in the entire universe to harbor life. We don’t know of any other planet that is alive as ours is. The richness of Earth’s organic matter is gorgeously apparent in Makoto’s arrangements, the brightly-colored flowers serve in stark contrast against the darkness of space that surrounds them.


In talking about the importance of Makoto’s project, Jones references William Anders’ iconic photograph, Earthrise. Shot aboard Apollo 8 in 1968, the photograph was the first color image to look back upon ourselves from the outside. It has been declared “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken,” and helped spark the environmental movement. To me, this reference couldn’t be any more apt, as Makoto’s project entertains the same sentiment in aiding our appreciation for existing in a lifeless universe.



While Makoto’s work might not be as historic as Earthrise, it’s certainly no less thought evoking. Projects such as these remind us that life on our planet is intertwined—Earth acting no more than a spaceship, nurturing its lively passengers. This concept has inherently been apart of our understanding for years, as demonstrated in the great landscapes of art’s past, such as Hokusai’s 35 views of Mount Fuji, which portrays the interlinking of sky and Earth.


If you’re having a bad day or just want to feel enlightened, then look to pieces like Makoto’s Exobiotanica, Earthrise, or even Hokusai. You’ll quickly cherish the importance of this very special planet we’ve come to inhabit—it’s the only one orbiting amongst a vast sea of stars that’s bearing life and all its beautiful intricacies. Revel in the fact that you live here and are a part of it.


July 29, 2014 / By

‘NASA Images of a Spacetime Odyssey’ Serves Up a Liberating Dose of Reality


Last weekend the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey aired, Carl Sagan’s masterpiece reimagined. In celebration, NASA unveiled a gallery of images, aptly titled “NASA Images of a Spacetime Odyssey.” It’s a gorgeous collection of some new, and some familiar images, from NASA’s repertoire of galactic exploration. More than that, this gallery is one of those beautiful moments when art converges with science, serving a dose of liberating reality, to aid in easing the troubles of our daily lives.

Continue reading this post…

March 13, 2014 / By