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Science is in fashion!

Sandra and Rolf model their REpost fashion at EGU 2017. Credit: Kai Boggild/EGU

Sandra and Rolf model their REpost fashion at EGU 2017. Credit: Kai Boggild/EGU

Back in August last year EGU’s Laura Roberts-Artal chatted with Sandra de Vries to discuss her new company REpost, which recycles old fabric conference posters into new products, such as bags or even clothes!

Today at the European Geoscience Union General Assembly, we caught up with Sandra and one of her satisfied customers, Dr Rolf Hut from TU Delft to find out what REpost has been up to in the last year.

Hi Sandra! First of all, can you give us a reminder of what REpost is all about?

So I started REpost three years ago when I was a masters student in hydrology water management at TU Delft and I was a poster assistant, here at EGU and I had to throw away the conference posters at the end of the day, which people apparently didn’t want to have any more. And I thought it was a sad thing because I could do so much more fun things with them. So actually I didn’t throw them away, I kept them and I made them into a beach bag and a dress, for fun, and they actually looked pretty awesome! I even made a hydrological pencil skirt and I did my thesis presentation wearing it!

Since Laura spoke to you last year, what has been happening with REpost poster?

At the end of my Masters I realised that I still want to do work on research, I want to do hydrology, I want to stay in the water sector, but I had to balance that with running REpost. So, what I did was I started contacting these ‘social working places’, which are places where you work together with disabled people or with people coming back into working society and these working places found a very good way of making, for example this bag, which is a sample version. Now I’m kind of facilitating for anyone who wants to REpost or upcycle their poster into something else and I do it together with those working places.

Then of course after the EGU said ‘wow, this is a good idea and if you want you can promote the idea at the EGU’, then I knew that I had a pilot location and I knew that I could actually see if people were interested in this. And I started kind of figuring out if indeed it was possible: can I do this with social working places, can I do it logistically, can I make my own website, you know? Whilst still doing my other jobs.

From your experience, what kinds of posters work best for REposting?

It is like with normal posters actually, the more visuals you have, the more it is eye catching. So for example indeed you said, you have the fish, that’s something that people look at. Or for example if you have the back side this is also something that people say ‘Hey what’s that?’ It’s like a graph, and there’s a map, what’s on the map, you know? And then people start asking you about your research because that’s actually what I found out is the most fun about it because you have the recycling part, which is nice, but I really think that you could show your scientific message on such a nice and more cool way and you can reach more people than just conference people, you can reach your neighbour and tell them about research and your research and make it more reachable for anybody in the world! That’s what I really like about it.

Doctor Engineer Dr. Ir. Rolf Hut is a MacGyver geoscientist specialising in hydrological data and sensor design. Today he is wearing one of REpost’s upcycled outfits to present his poster on programmable off-the-shelf GPS loggers that can be used and recovered in large river experiments.

So, Rolf, why did you want a data suit made by Sandra?

Well I really loved Sandra’s idea of being able to reuse posters, a lot of people take fabric posters with them, I’ve used them in the past and then whenever we have the opportunity. So last week in the Netherlands I was presenting something at an event where our former queen and some princesses would be, as well as a lot of press and so I thought it would be awesome to be able to show something that you made! Then Sandra just came over to me, “we should just do a suit!” So we just made a complete suit, this one [that Rolf is wearing], and then it went awesome, because they loved it. It got attention because they come to you, because it’s weird! So you explain what it is.. and then you get the opportunity to just give them a soldering iron and say ‘now you are going to make something’, right there. That was really good, I thoroughly enjoyed that.

If anyone is interested in upcycling their poster, Sandra has some useful advice:

Really look at the type of material if you want to REpost it; I recommend flag sheet, it might be a little see-through, but it is very flexible and very cheap and then we can do anything you want with it!

 

Contact REpost via email here, visit the website, on Twitter [@REpost_poster] or you can leave your poster at a facility desk, where you can fill in a form with your request for upcycling.

Interview by Hazel Gibson and video by Kai Boggild, Press Assistants at EGU 2017 General Assembly

 

At the General Assembly 2017: Thursday highlights

At the General Assembly 2017: Thursday highlights

Welcome to the fourth day of General Assembly excitement! Once again the day is packed with great events for you to attend and here are just some of the sessions on offer. You can find out more about what’s on in EGU Today, the daily newsletter of the General Assembly – grab a copy on your way in or download it here.

The Union-wide session of the day focuses on making facts greats again: how can scientists stand up for science (US3)? The session aims to identify strategies to counter recent attacks on science and brainstorm ways in which scientists can stand-up for science. With a selection of high profile panellists: Christiana Figueres, Sir David King, Heike Langenberg, Christine McEntee and the EGU’s President, Jonathan Bamber as chair person, the session promises to be one of the conference highlights. Join the discussion from 10:30 to 12:00 in room E2.

Thursday also sees two interesting Great Debates taking place: Arctic environmental change: global opportunities and threats (GDB1, from 08:30–10:00 in E2, jointly organised with American Geophysical Union – AGU). While many scientist support open access publishing, is support for open access to the underlying research data as easy to achieve? Join the discussion in GDB4, from 15:30 to 17:00 in room E1. At the same time, in room D1, conference participants can take part in the third Great Debate of the day. The two-way, complex interactions between urban and geophysical systems has been recently recognised as the key question for the fate our planet and the issue of the Anthropocene. How can we transition to next generation cities and planet Earth future?  Tune into to the sessions on Twitter using the #EGU17GDB hashtag or online at http://www.egu2017.eu/webstreaming.html.

Today’s interdisciplinary highlights include sessions on…

Take the opportunity to expand your skills in one of today’s short courses and splinter meetings. Be sure to share what you learn on social media using the hashtag #EGU17SC:

There’s also a number of Medal Lectures on throughout the day – here’s a sample of what’s on offer:

What have you thought of the Assembly so far? Let us know at www.egu2017.eu/feedback, and share your views on what future EGU meetings should be like!

If you need a change of pace, stop by the Imaggeo Photo Exhibition beside the EGU Booth (Hall X2, basement, Brown Level). You can vote for your favourite finalists there and – while you’re in the area – take the opportunity to meet your Division’s representatives in today’s Meet EGU appointments. While on the subject of competitions, make sure to ‘like’ your favourite  Communicate Your Science Video Competition film on the EGU YouTube channel.

Have a lovely day!

Extraordinary iridescent clouds inspire Munch’s ‘The Scream’

Screaming clouds

Edvard Munch’s series of paintings and sketches ‘The Scream’ are some of the most famous works by a Norwegian artist, instantly recognisable and reproduced the world over. But what was the inspiration behind this striking piece of art?

The lurid colours and tremulous lines have long been thought to represent Munch’s unstable state of mind; a moment of terror caught in shocking technicolour. At the same time, scientists have recently identified the connection between the great works of artists such as William Turner and the red and orange sunsets which can be a result of the global impact of volcanic aerosols. However, research presented this week at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna by atmospheric scientists in Oslo Norway, suggests that the painting might show us evidence of something much stranger, and rarer – nacreous clouds.

Nacreous or mother-of-pearl clouds, are an extremely rare form of cloud created 20-30km above sea level – in the polar stratosphere when the air is extremely cold (between -80 and -85 degrees centigrade) and exceptionally humid,. So far observed mostly in the Scandinavian countries, these clouds are formed of microscopic and uniform particles of ice, orientated into thin clouds. When the sun is below the horizon (before sunrise or after sunset), these clouds are illuminated in a surprisingly vibrant way blazing across the sky in swathes of red, green, blue and silver. They have a distinctive wavy structure as the clouds are formed in the lee-waves behind mountains.

In 2014, these clouds were seen again over the skies of Oslo and given their extreme colouration and unexpected appearance, a photographer, Svein Fikke, immediately thought of Munch’s work. This perceived similarity between the mother of pearl clouds and the striking clouds and sense of tension in the painting is only reinforced when reading Munch’s writings about his experiences on the day that inspired the painting.

“I went along the road with two friends – the sun set

I felt like a breath of sadness –

– The sky suddenly became bloodish red

I stopped, leant against the fence, tired to death – watched over the

Flaming clouds as blood and sword

The city – the blue-black fjord and the city

– My friends went away – I stood there shivering from dread – and

I felt this big, infinite scream through nature”

                            Edvard Munch’s Diary Notes 1890-1892 (Tøjner and Gundersen, 2013)

Scientists have, in the past, used artworks to infer environmental conditions; from paintings of the ‘frost fairs’ held on the River Thames that show the gradual environmental change in Europe, to the discovery that several artists depict the influence of volcanic aerosols on global atmosphere in their paintings.

In a study conducted in 2007 (and 2014), scientists found that the visible impact that volcanic aerosols have on the atmosphere has in fact been recorded in the works of many of the great masters – particularly William Turner (Zerefos et al, 2007)). Several of Turner’s paintings depict sunsets with a distinct red/orange hue, distinct from his usual work of other years. This was correlated with significant volcanic eruptions in the same time period and the researchers found that these reddish paintings were all created in the years of, or immediately following, a major eruption (shown in the graph below).

Graph to show the relationship between colour and volcanic aerosols (a)The mean annual value of R/G measured on 327 paintings. (b)The percentage increase from minimum R/G value shown in (a). (c)The corresponding Dust Veil Index (DVI). The numbered picks correspond to different eruptions as follows: 1. 1642 (Awu, Indonesia-1641), 2. 1661 (Katla, Iceland-1660), 3. 1680 (Tongkoko and Krakatau, Indonesia-1680), 4. 1784 (Laki, Iceland-1783), 5. 1816 (Tambora, Indonesia-1815), 6. 1831 (Babuyan, Philippines-1831), 7. 1835 (Coseguina, Nicaragua-1835). 8. 1883 (Krakatau, Indonesia-1883). From Zerefos et al (2007).

For many years ‘The Scream’ was thought to also show the influence of a volcanic eruption, most likely the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 (described here by Volcanologist David Pyle), but whereas volcanic skies tend to tint the whole sky a red/orange, the skies in the scream have a distinct pattern, only seen in these extremely rare nacreous clouds.

How rare are they? Well, researcher Dr Helene Muri, a researcher based at the University of Oslo, who presented the research at the press conference, said that in her lifetime living mostly in Norway as an atmospheric researcher she has only seen them once. And what about Munch’s feeling of dread and ‘breath of sadness’?

Well, having a glowing swathe of iridescent petrol coloured clouds flare into bright relief after sunset, only for them to disappear 30 minutes later would be pretty shocking for any of us, even in our modern days of fluorescent streetlamps and light polluted skies.

By Hazel Gibson, EGU Press Assistant at the EGU 2017 General Assembly

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