Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Issue #6 - Net Growth

What is the estimated total amount of memory use for the entire Internet? And by how much is it growing each year?
Asked by: David Gardener

First off we must define what the Internet is, as it has become commonplace for the word ‘Internet’ to be used as a general term that encompasses both the Internet and the web. They are not the same thing. The Internet can easily be explained as a ‘network of networks’ (Investintech.com), with a hardware and software infrastructure, where data is sent in the form of packets using ‘the TCP/IP set of network protocols to reach billions of users’ (Investintech.com). ‘The Web, on the other hand, is a massive hypermedia database, a myriad collection of documents and other resources interconnected by hyperlinks’ (Investintech.com). It is a platform to explore the Internet (travelling through the networks to find the data you want on a computer or server) via a web browser. The web uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocols) to link files together, using HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to shape the experience, creating the websites that we have all become accustomed to. The definition between the Internet and the web is explained very well on the BBC series ‘Virtual Revolution’ in episode 1, Chapter 6 which can be viewed on their 3D documentary explorer or alternatively you could listen to US Senator Ted Stevens speech on Net Neutrality Bill, or its remix.

Read More

Friday, 27 August 2010

Car Bonnet

I have just finished working on my friends bonnet. He asked me to draw loads of different characters and anything that I wanted to.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

New Site/New Blog

I have a new website! and a new blog where you will currently find all issues of ‘Out of the Question’ so far. I will be maintaining 'Adam is Above Average', but it will be taking on a new purpose as a showcase of my more experimental pieces. Hope to see you over at my new place.

Out of the Question #6

This issue's question comes from product designer David Gardener.

Q: What is the estimated total amount of memory use for the entire internet? and by how much is it growing each year?

The answer article will be up on September 6th.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Issue #5 - Ageing Animals

How and why are animal years calculated?
Asked by: Jenny Brewer

Having numerous animal-lovers in my family, I have often heard about and accepted the concept of animal years, but never properly understood why or how it is calculated - so I was keen to investigate how the system works. Animal years, or ‘animal ages,’ are a system used by vets and pet owners to assign an age to an animal in comparison to a human’s life span. The well-known metric used for cats and dogs equates each year lived by an animal to seven years of human life, so for example when your dog or cat has lived for three years, it is said to be 21 years of age in human years.

Many find this system inaccurate, as noted by final year veterinary student at Glasgow University, Anna Beber.

‘Animal ages (e.g. for every year a dog is alive it is the equivalent of 7 human years) … [is] a kind of nice way to show that animals age much faster than humans, but it’s not accurate at all because when dogs and cats (and most other animals) develop, they mature really quickly in their first year.’

The speed at which dogs and cats mature in the first few years of their life is much quicker than that of a human. Most cats and dogs are considered adults by the age of 2, so with the 7-year system this would mean the animal was the equivalent of 14 human years, which is misleading. New systems have been created to solve this problem such as the Cat years scale at Purina.co.uk and the Dog scale at www.calculatorcat.com. However different breeds have different life expectancies, making it impossible to create an accurate scale.

Can an animal’s level of maturity ever be related to that of a human’s? I would say no, as a human develops in different ways to other animals. A one year old child my not be able to feed itself or chase a ball around the room, but its cognitive skills far out-weighs that of a young dog or cat. Comparatively, a seven-year-old child possesses abilities that animals can only have in fantasy films such as ‘Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore’.

The concept of ‘animal years’ is a loose comparatives system, as there ‘is no reliable scientific method for calculating exactly how old [a] cat [or dog] is in human years.’ (Purina.co.uk). Overall the system can be seen as a folk science and in fact should not be used for literal comparison. Human years are calculated by the passing of an earth rotation around the sun, and maturity accrues in humans at different times, based on environment and genetics. We have markers or milestones that create a system of maturity, from childhood to teens to adulthood, but these are essentially loose concepts, so relating them to another animal is even more tenuous. Vets use the animal year system to gain a better idea of where an animal is in its life cycle, using this to help understand what health problems could arise. Though the system is largely inaccurate, it helps to have this direct comparison so we, as humans, can relate to our furry friends.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Caris Project

A few weeks ago I got the oppuntinity to volunteer at the CARIS summer play scheme. I was invited along by the amazing Gary Powell and spent the day leading a workshop with Roderick Mills and Camille Rousseu. The children were asked to create a creature by cutting up photocoped animals, people and objects that Roderick and Camille had provided. Then they took there creations on a journey to find their bed. It was an action packed day, including some concentrating, felt tip wielding toddlers.

There are some of the results of the day. I have snuck one of mine in there, but which one is it?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Out of the Question #5

This weeks question comes from Design Journelist Jenny Brewer.

Q: How and why are animal years calculated?

The answer article will be up on August 23rd.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Issue #4 - Survival of the Thesis

How is a species defined?
Asked by: Adam Ellison

Being able to tell the difference between a poisonous plant and an edible fruit is an ability that humans have developed over centuries of evolution. Over time this natural observation and experimentation developed into the concept of what a species is. Building on this, biologists have documented and studied many life forms in the hope that they can gain a stronger understanding of each and every organism, how and why it exists, and its place within nature. The increase in detailed research has resulted in questions being asked about the exact definition of ‘species’, fuelled especially by Darwin and Wallace’s theories of evolution, which puts animal and plant life forms in a continuous state of evolutionary change.

Modern biological classification has its roots in the work of Carl Linnaeus, who studied animal and plant life closely, grouping species according to shared physical characteristics. The development of the hierarchy of biological classification, in which species is the smallest unit, has allowed biologists to categorize species in more precise detail. This system consists of: Life, Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. Classification has been refined over the years, shaped by Darwin and Wallace’s theories, and the increasing study and understanding of genes and DNA. However the more precisely scientist tried to define what a species is, the more questions and debates arise.

Ernst Mayr tried to solve this problem by creating and promoting the Biological Species Concept (BSC). The BSC system defines species as “groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups". Despite the popularity of the BSC system, it does not go far enough to define all life forms. Some organisms do not fit within the BSC, such as asexual organisms who do not interbreed, hybrid offspring of two distant relatives such as captive tigers and lions, and types of bacteria that are known to evolve horizontally across phylum. These flaws, as well as the system’s inability to define the point where a species splits and becomes a new independent species, has cast doubt over the BSC and its ability to solve the species problem.

Multiple theories continue to exist with the debate raging on, over what the universal definition is and whether it can exist. A clear and consistent definition of species may never be agreed upon, with the concept remaining loose and open for scientists to choose a theory that best fits their research area.

This might be an unsatisfactory answer for many and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you have an all-encompassing concept that will save the day? Do you disagree with any of this article? Please leave a comment below.

Other Species Theories
typological species, morphological species, biological/isolation species, biological/reproductive species, recognition species, mate-recognition species, evolutionary/Darwinian species, phylogentic, ecological species, genetic species, phenetic species, microspecies, cohension species and evolutionarily significant unit.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Out of the Question #4

Q: How is a species defined?

The answer shall be posted on 9th of August.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Issue #3 - End of the Line

How does the last tube driver get home?
Asked by: Tom Fewings

Now this is one of the small mysteries we have all found ourselves pondering while on a trip down procrastination avenue or distraction drive. This often leads to some wild flights of imagination, or at least that’s what happens in my case, as of course the answer will always be the most complicated and unrealistic - that’s how I live my life anyway. So here are a few of my ideas for how the driver of the last tube gets home…

• Each driver is equipped with his or her own foldable vehicle that fits inside a bag. When unfolded it is placed on to the tube tracks, on which it travels at high speed until it reaches their stop, where they get off, fold up their vehicle and walk the rest of the distance home.
• Giant Pogo Stick.
• After completing the final tube-driving exam, the driver is asked if they are a night owl. If they say yes they are provided with some wings and a beak and told that they will drive the last tube and that they must fly home.
• The drivers of the last train are forced to sleep on the tube train until the following morning, where, on waking, they must continue driving for the rest of their lives (it’s a form of slavery).
• Invisible Sky Zip-lines.
• All the stray pigeons that have wandered down into the tube system are herded through out the day. At the end of the day the drivers must train and encourage a new flock to do his/her bidding.
• Lizards.

However the answer to this question is not as exciting as you or I may imagine, as expressed by Marion from the London Underground Customer Services phone line, ‘Unfortunately there isn’t any magic bus to take them home’. Pity. Instead the drivers will either get the night bus home, if they are local, park at the tube depot and drive home at the end of their shift or London Underground provides a taxi for them. So now you know.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Skills on Reels

Short video of Micah Lidberg at work. Amazing.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Out of the Question #3

This weeks question come from illustrator Tom Fewings. If you have a question, it can be about anything, please send it to adotellison@googlemail.com.

Q: How does the last tube driver get home?

The answer will be up on Monday 26th July.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Poolga Iphone Wallpapers

Two Iphone wallpapers I was asked to produce by the company Poolga, are now available to download here and here.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Exberliner - Drown in the Summer Fun

My illustration for Berlin based magazine, Exberliner's water issue has recently been published. The image accompanied an black humored article on watery deaths/suicides, with my illustration lightening the tone.

Monday, 28 June 2010


I am off on my holiday until the 8th. Woop! The next question will be on the 12th of July, when I return, with the answer on the 19th.

See you soon.

Issue #2 - Eye Wonder

Where does light go after entering the eye?
Asked by: Adam Ellison

After going for an eye test, in which a photo of my retina was taken, I got thinking about where light goes after entering the eye. Does it bounce off the retina and back out again? Or does it bounce around the eye? Which would surely result in a confusing display of multiple images. The answer to both of these questions is a simple no. Now my question may have been a silly one, as the blackness of the pupil highlights the fact that no light is escaping, but this only makes me ask, why? What stops the light from leaving the eye?

The main reason light does not leave the eye is due to the layer that sits both behind the retina and the front of the eye. This layer is made up of the choroid, a vascular connective tissue, which supplies oxygen and nourishment to the outer layers of the retina, ciliary body and the iris. The choroid forms the uveal tract, which contains melanin, a reddish-blue, almost black pigment, that improves the contrast of images on the retina by absorbing excess light and blocking light that may get through the sclera (the exterior layer of the eye or ‘white of the eye’). However in Albino humans melanin is absent, resulting in poor vision as light reflects around the eye, creating a blurred image. In many animals the low levels of melanin (and tapatum layer) contributes to their ability to see well in the dark.

There is one exception to the rule, where the eye is unable to control excess light. It is known as the red-eye effect, which can ruin many a good photo. A quick flash of light, when used in a low light condition, will enter a wide-open pupil and, because the eye is too slow to react, it reflects off the retina. This is how the Optometrist was able to take a photo of my retina. After administering tropicamide eye drops, my pupil dilated, allowing the flash to bounce of my retina and into the eye of the camera.

Who's In Charge

Spot the Tiger is holding an exhibition with a collection of the lastest pieces created for the project. My illustration for the question 'Should employment strikes be banned?' will be featured in the exhibition taking place at the Dreamspace Gallery from July 5th - 16th. You can also purchase a print of my piece at the Spot the Tiger's online shop along with many of the other talented fellow illustrators.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Out of the Question #2

Q: Where does light go after entering the eye?

Check back on Monday the 28th for the next issue of Out of the Question.

Issue #1 - Will Renewable Energy Save the Day?

Is it possible to provide enough energy for the entire population of Earth using only renewable sources, without the further development of Fusion technology, before fossil fuels run out?
Asked by: Jake Blanchard

When exactly will fossil fuels run out? This is one of the most debated questions on this subject, and peak oil theory is gaining more ground within politics and the scientific community. Peak oil is when the maximum rate of global oil extraction is reached; afterwards the amount of oil produced enters an inevitable decline. In 1956 M. King Hubbert predicted that the United States oil production would reach peak in 1969, but today politicians and oil companies insist that oil has yet to peak and that we can expect it around 2020,-2030. ZERO CARBON BRITIAN 2030, the latest significant energy strategy report for the UK, states,

‘Non-renewable fossil fuels are clearly finite and so cannot last forever... The point at which global production of conventional oil reaches its maximum is generally called “peak oil”. As it depends on many factors, it is extremely hard to determine precisely when it will occur, or how steep the ensuing descent will be.’

This also applies to coal and natural gases, with predictions for coal to run out in around 250 years and natural gases between 40-70 years. The companies in charge of mining and drilling add extra years to their calculations, in the hope that new technology will bring greater supply. Unfortunately at the moment the answer to this question is we don’t know exactly when they will run out, it could be somewhere between 4-250 years, with oil being the first to go. Meanwhile, the world is becoming more and more fossil fuel hungry.

As it currently stands the world uses around 12.5 Terawatts of energy (12 X 1012) and this is set to rise to around 16.9 TW by 2030. Based on the statistical reviews from BP and REN21 in 2006, renewable sources produce 8.24% of this needed energy, with fossil fuels being the greatest contributor at 85% (Oil 37%, Coal 25% and Gas 23%). The use and popularity of renewable energy has increased since 2006, but still has a long way to go before it can give fossil fuel a run for its money.

So is it really possible for the wind, the tide and the sun to power the Earth?

According to scientist Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi this is not such a far-fetched idea.

"A large-scale wind, water and solar energy system can reliably supply the world’s needs, significantly benefiting climate, air quality, water quality, ecology and energy security”
November 2009 Scientific American Magazine ‘A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables’

Jacobson and Delucchi’s push for a greater increase in renewable energy sources using currently existing technology would transform the world’s energy system in which the 16.9 TW prediction for 2030 would be reduced to 11.5 TW due to electrical energy being more efficient than combustion. Here are their plans explained:

The Break Down

Solar 41% This would include two forms of solar energy generation. An increase in Solar Photovoltaic Panels -the cellular panels we are increasingly familiar with - that could be situated on roof tops both domestic and commercial, and a massive investment into the newer Concentrated Solar Plants - a field of mirrors which focus the light to a single point to generate heat, which is transferred into energy. Jacobson and Delucchi predict around 89,000 Photovoltaic and Concentrated Solar Plants, producing 300 megawatts apiece, will be needed to meet this target.

Wind 50% To generate the required amount of energy, there would need to be 3.8 million large wind turbines, all producing at a rate of 5 megawatts, with the worldwide footprint of the wind turbines being 50 square kilometers (smaller then Manhattan).

Water Energy 9% 900 hydroelectric stations worldwide are needed to produce the sufficient amount of energy, but with 70 percent of these plants already in place we are well on our way to meeting this target.

(Scientific American Magazine ‘Powering a Green Planet: Sustainable Energy, Made Interactive’)

A Rosy Outlook?

The debate rages on whether renewable energy can really be scale up to the magnitude needed, efficiently. Conservation biologist Jesse Ausubel argues that the increase of renewable energy would lead to the ‘rape of nature’ (New Scientist 2006) and that ‘the best energy solution is increased efficiency, natural gas with carbon capture, and nuclear power.’ Some have criticized Ausubel comments as being exaggerated and inflammatory, but his opinionated paper ‘Renewable and nuclear heresies’ does raise some important issues around the effectiveness of renewable sources. Issues that also concern Stewart Brand, in his argument as part of the debate ‘Does the world need nuclear energy?’ at TED, Brand commented on the efficiency of renewable energy.

‘Wind is wonderful... But one of the things we're discovering is that wind, like solar, is an actually relatively dilute source of energy. And so it takes a very large footprint on the land’


‘…to get 13 clean terawatts of energy from wind, solar and biofuels, [the] area would be roughly the size the United States, an area he refers to as "Renewistan."’

Governments are trying to increase the production of renewable energy and decrease CO2 to meet the Kyoto agreement. If ZERO CARBON BRITAIN 2030’s case is successful we will see Britain meeting Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi plan and hopefully putting the renewable energy critics to bed. The road to a world powered by renewable energy will be bumpy, and we may never get there completely if Fusion or Nuclear can have anything to do with it. I believe, for what it is worth, that we will never truly run out of fossil fuel, because as supply declines, prices will increase and so will alternative energy sources, leading to people becoming less and less reliant on fossil fuel and use of energy becoming more and more efficient. Let’s hope!

If you have anything to add, disagree on or rant about please leave a comment below.

The future of renewable energy?

news.bbc.co.uk - Science and Environment article
www.ted.com - Ted Talk/Saul Griffith/On Kites As the Future of Renewable Energy


Scientific American -Powering a Green Planet
New Scientist - Renewable Energy Could Rape Nature
Scientific American.com - A path to Sustainable Energy by 2030
www.stanford.edu - Mark Jacobson
www.ted.com Debate Does The World Need Nuclear Energy

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Monday, 14 June 2010

If you can think of it, there is a Dubstep remix of it!

I just thought I had invented a new form of Dupstep, Disney Dubstep, when I combined the words in casual conversation. Alas it has already been done! Those Dubsteppers are always one step ahead.

Out of the Question

Today marks the beginning of 'Out of the Question'

Out of the Question is a weekly/fortnightly online zine answering the pointless, poignant and perplexing questions thought up by Adam Ellison and any participating ponder.’

So get thinking and send any of your questions however sensible or silly, to me at adotellison@googlemail.com.

We hit it off with a little question put to me by illustrator Jake Blanchard.

Q: 'Is it possible to provide enough energy for the entire population of Earth using only renewable sources, without the further development of Fusion technology, before fossil fuels run out? '

A: Check back on Monday 21th of June for issue #1 of Out of the Question.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Fountain Head

A little google treat for you. (via adlibs.paloaltoonline.com)

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Computer Arts

I have been lucky enough to be featured in the latest issue of Computer Arts in their exposure section. Check it out!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Agile Films - Posters

I recently worked on a few posters for the company Agile Films. I was asked to create three poster for three different films. 'D'Oliveira' is the biographical film about a South African cricketeer who's actions inspired the end of the apartheid. 'Mountain of the Dead' (Pictured) is a horror/thriller set in the mountains of soviet Russian. And finally 'Treasure Chest' is a black comedy full of strange and sexy heist capers.

Friday, 28 May 2010

No Brow - Jack Teagle

Enjoyed a trip to the No Brow private view of Jack Teagle's work last night. The piece below kept catching my eye.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Site Update

I have updated my site with new illustrations for Spot the Tiger, Paste Magazine and Super 8 Magazine. Pop over and have a little look!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Owen Gildersleeve Portfolio Site

I had the honuor of coding the excellent illustrator and designer Owen Gildersleeve's portfolio website. Head over there and check out some of his superb paper craft images.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Creative Nuts

I have recently had the pleasure of working with the lovely people over at Creative Nuts. I have been working on storyboards for some short animations that I hope to share with you soon. For now you can enjoy their splendid show reel

Monday, 19 April 2010

Spot the Tiger

I was asked by the amazing project Spot the Tiger to illustrate the question ''Should employment strikes be banned?'. You can cast your vote now! So head over there and make sure you also check out all the past questions and there accompanying illustrations.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

New Newsletter

You can now subscribe to my newsletter, which will be sent out monthly with all updates about my work and adventures.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Site update April 2010

Just updated my site with some new projects, including the fan art for Hudson Mohawke, How the Mind works book cover ideas and my entry for the Think Act Vote eco t-shirt competition. Have a little gander and let me know what you think of the workz.

Mr A dot Ellison.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Neue Magazine - Barcelona Issue

Neue Magazine's Barcelona issue with my Antoni Gaudí inspired poster is up for all to see, check it out here.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Daft Masks

I recently got a bit obsessed with making Daft Punk mask for a friends fancy dress party, which wasn't helped by the amount of blogs and youtube videos out there that show the attempts of others. Me my girlfriend spent a frustrating Saturday battling balloons and gum tape to create these little beauties! I wanted to share their glory, anyone else out there wasted too much time on a fancy dress costume?

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Day Cycle

Here's a little diagram I created for a project that got laid to rest. The illustration shows the cycle of the sun and the moon.

Mr A dot Ellison

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Neue - Barcelona Edition

After a stressful evening caused by a power cut on my street I was able to send in my entry for the online magazine Neue. Neue are all about two things, type and cities, and this edition focused on Barcelona. I took inspiration from the works of the famous spanish architect Antoni Gaudí and most directly the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia and created the poster below. I am glad to say that my work has been chosen by Neue to feature in there new edition, I shall post up more information soon.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Hudson Mo

I have been listening to the crazied, interestingly layered, hip-hop inspired beats of Hudson Mohawke a lot recently after getting his newest release 'Butter' for christmas. I thought it would only be fitting to create some posters influenced by his tunes. Check them out and feel free to share your thoughts on them.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

How the Mind Works

I finish the very interesting book 'How the Mind Works' by Steven Pinker and wanted to try and create my own front cover image. Here are a few ideas.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Book Covers

An amazing reference and research source of book and comic covers www.coverbrowser.com.