Thursday, March 22, 2012

Science - NSF vizualization challenge

I was originally going to make this a picture post, but then I found a neat video that encapsulates what this is about. So lets start with that. For best effect, full screen the video (click on the little icon that looks like a frame on the bottom right of the vid). 



So what is this about? Straight for their website:
"Some of science's most powerful statements are not made in words. From the diagrams of DaVinci to Rosalind Franklin's X-rays, visualization of research has a long and literally illustrious history. To illustrate is to enlighten.

How many people would have heard of fractal geometry or the double helix or solar flares if they had been described solely in words? In a world where science literacy is dismayingly rare, illustrations provide the most immediate and influential connection between scientists and other citizens, and the best hope for nurturing popular interest. Indeed, they are now a necessity for public understanding of research developments.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the journal Science created the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge to celebrate that grand tradition--and to encourage its continued growth. The spirit of the competition is to communicate science, engineering and technology for education and journalistic purposes."


Their homepage is here.
Archive of winning entries dating back to 2003 is here.
Well worth having a look if you don't feel like watching the video or if you want more.

Of course, the concept itself is awesome, but one of the many things I really like about these, is the way they demonstrate that aesthetic beauty can be found beyond the scope of what is commonly accepted as such. Science is undoubtedly one of the many ways an observer can achieve a different appreciation of the world around us.
Oh, and I also dig how alien some of these shots seem.

Here are some of my favorites in no particular order (clicking on the captions brings up a popup telling you more about what the picture is):
Autofluorescence of Tick Nymph on a Mammalian Host
Credit: Marna E. Ericson, University of Minnesota
The Synapse Revealed
Credit: Graham Johnson, Graham Johnson Medical Media
Back to the Future
Credit: Mario De Stefano, Antonia Auletta and Carla Langella; Second University of Naples
Zoom into the Human Bloodstream
Credit: Linda Nye and the Exploratorium Visualization Laboratory, The Exploratorium