I started this blog – I can’t remember how many years ago – when I was working for a scientific society focused on the study of light. Their members, such as this gentleman, were doing amazing things that made the very thin barriers between art and science bleed right into each other. Amazing breakthroughs that are only possible when we think creatively.
Lihong Wang creates the sort of medical technology you’d expect to find on the starship Enterprise.
Wang, a professor of biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has already helped develop instruments that can detect individual cancer cells in the bloodstream and oxygen consumption deep within the body. He has also created a camera that shoots at 100 billion frames a second, fast enough to freeze an object traveling at the speed of light.
Recently, Wang began experimenting with a technique that blends the speed and precision of light with the penetrating ability of sound. It’s called photoacoustic imaging.
“We’re combining the strengths of two forms of energy, light and sound, in a single form of imaging,” Wang says.
…light goes into the brain, and sounds come out. And just a few months ago, those sounds allowed a lab team to create high-speed, highly detailed, three-dimensional images of a mouse brain at work.
The Princeton University’s “Art of Science” exhibition displays the work of Princetonians past and present that highlights the interplay between art and science. Its entries are chosen for their aesthetics as well as the scientific or technical interest they may hold.This year’s was the seventh Princeton University Art of Science competition. Let’s take a look at the top three winners in the contest, as well as the “People’s Choice” winner and some other dazzling works. We’ll also hear from the artists via comments they made about the works they created.”Watermark,” from postdoctoral researcher Sara Sadr, was this year’s first-place winner shown above. The pattern in the image was created by water moving back and forth on the Atlantic coast. “As a hydrologist, I am fascinated by the natural phenomena of our beautiful planet,” notes Sadr. “The way water in this picture found its way back to the ocean reminded me of a peacock’s tail spreading under the sun, or a woman’s hair blowing in the wind.”
Sort of creepy but interesting exploration of the overlap of science, art, and private vs. public:
Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s “Stranger Visions” project started with a question: What could she learn about a person by collecting one of their stray hairs? In an age of ever-cheaper DNA sequencing, the answer turned out to be “a lot.” Dewey-Hagborg’s portraits of strangers, made with DNA samples found in public places, called attention to the feasibility of DNA snooping. Now with her latest project, “Invisible,” she wants to put the tools to protect genetic privacy in consumers’ hands. But is total genetic privacy really possible?
Beautiful and insightful x-ray pictures of nature.
Our human eyes may be limited by visible light, but the work of physicist and artist Arie van ‘t Riet gives us a glimpse into the invisible universe around us. In exploration of nature’s hidden anatomy, Riet uses x-ray imagery on naturalistic compositions, or bioramas, created from flora and fauna. The challenging photography process requires Riet to experiment with different levels of x-ray energies to achieve the right amount of contrast in each image.
I would make some snide remark about how this is totally a vanity project, but it’s just too cool!
The X and Y-chromosomes found in humans are now wearable. Electron microscopist, Louise Hughes, has created a jewelry collection designed to mirror the look and shape of human chromosomes. Hughes designs every piece from microscopy data and produces it using 3D printing technology. Having already used the structures of organisms to create other jewelry pieces, Hughes felt she could not leave out the essential DNA and chromosomes. The 46 chromosomes found in our cells have never before been so beautifully displayed and worn.
Sometimes big concepts are best explained visually. Or taking huge piles of data and graphing them makes them digestible.
Big data, infographics, visualisations – the pop words of a modern phenomenon. But while information accumulation has become a 21st-century obsession, our generation is not the first to discover that a picture is worth a thousand words, as a new British Library exhibition will reveal.
Revelling in the power of illustrations, tables and figures, Beautiful Science charts the course of data dissemination across the centuries, from the grim ledgers of death recorded by John Graunt in the 17th-century “bills of mortality” to the digital evolutionary tree dreamt up by an Imperial College researcher, complete with a mind-boggling zoomable function. “You can use almost fractal-like patterns to explore all of life on Earth,” says Dr Johanna Kieniewicz, lead exhibition curator.
But diagrams can also be agents of change. Indeed, Florence Nightingale’s talent at wielding data to push for health reforms shows she was not only the lady with the lamp but the girl with the graphics. “She was actually a very eminent and hard-nosed statistician,” says Kieniewicz. The brutal message of her “rose” charts of mortality, constructed using data from the Crimean war, was both informative and highly influential, showing in stark, uncompromising terms that the numbers of soldiers dying from disease and squalor far outweighed those dying from battle injuries.