The art of science
Sometimes an image can explain complex science in ways that words cannot. -ST
By Grace Chua
These are the winners and honourable mentions from the 2009 Science and Engineering Visualisation Challenge, organised by the journal Science and the United States' National Science Foundation. They range from a graphic depiction of the perils of overfishing to a delicate picture of the thale cress plant self-pollinating.
PHOTO (1ST PRIZE): An image showing wormlike fibres of epoxy resin latching onto a polystyrene sphere just 2 micrometres in diameter. Harvard scientists design such self-assembling polymers, which can be used for drug release.
ILLUSTRATION (1ST PRIZE): This 3.5m-tall art installation made of 75,000 plastic cable ties was sculpted from a simulation of lung endothelial cells pushing and pulling on the proteins that surround them.
ILLUSTRATION (HONOURABLE MENTION): The tiny fan-shaped algae called diatoms in the foreground, whose 'fans' maximise the surface area for photosynthesis, are the inspiration for the solar panel design in the background.
PHOTO: HONOURABLE MENTION: An image of the thale cress plant fertilising itself. Pollen grains in the heads and bean-shaped ovaries in the central stigma are stained blue to catch the process in action.
ILLUSTRATION (HONOURABLE MENTION): This illustration is a warning that climate change and overfishing lead to warmer ocean temperatures and fewer large fish respectively. These conditions are ideal for jellyfish. Jellyfish burgers for lunch, anyone?
PHOTO (HONOURABLE MENTION): A snapshot of a crushed salt sample to which a drop of water was added. Microbes - the tiny black dots in the background - which evolved to survive in a salty environment, come to life as the salt crystals dissolve. The rainbow is formed by light passing through the salt crystals.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.
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