Friday, September 10, 2010

Distilled Expressions

Using a polarised light, an optical microscope and an attached camera, BevShots sheds light on your favourite brew like never before.

Cocktails, Beers and other concoctions come to life with a unique set of colours and patterns with the uniquely developed method of microscopy available only at BevShots.

To date, BevShots remains unique in both science and art.

PiƱa Colada Copyright Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University Research Foundation, Inc
The brain child of Lester Hutt, BevShots was conceived to provide high quality fine art at affordable prices whilst supporting the unique microscopy projects and patents being developed at the the University of Florida. It was here whilst working as a business analyst that Lester stumbled upon the work of Michael Davidson and his work at the Optical Microscopy Division of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, a joint venture between the University of Florida and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

It was from Michael's technique of cocktail microscopy, first developed to aid the production of a cocktail necktie range that Lester saw the potential for a business to sell original high quality prints at an affordable price to the public. As a result, BevShots now produce a range of metallic prints, fine art wall pieces and ... wait for it ... *drum roll* ... coasters. All available for order online.

Iced Tea Copyright Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University Research Foundation, Inc
Spanning 25 years in the field of microscopy, Michael has written or been the subject of no less than 75 articles on the matter of Art in Science. His micro photographs have been included in over 600 science, industrial and popular periodicals and books. The Molecular Expressions website has also been featured on other websites such as, Slashdot, Newsweek, USAToday, Focus, Washington Post, New York Times, and the San Jose Mercury News.

Cosmopolitan Martini Copyright Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University Research Foundation, Inc
In developing the unique technique behind BevShots, Michael and his team initially trailed and dismissed three different methods, but each proved either too hard, too expensive or didn't produce the variety of images needed for the BeerShots gallery and the necktie range. So borrowing from synthetic organic chemistry, Michael introduced the process of Seed crystallisation with the hope that seeding the solution could initiate suitable crystal formation for photography.

In solutions where crystalisation can take undesirable lengths of time, a seed crystal is used to initiate re-crystallisation by providing a ready made crystal structure that other molecules can easily latch on to. Without a seed, crystallisation is markedly slower, relying solely on the random bumping of molecules until a correct "bump" produces a crystallisation event from which other molecules can easily latch on to and crystallise.

Belgian Dark Ale Copyright Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University Research Foundation, Inc
However initial attempts at seed crystallisation failed to produce crystals desirable for photography. So using a little scientific license, Michael and his team slightly tweeked their approach by sandwiching the crystals between the microscope slide and cover-slip. Then injecting a small sample of solution under the cover-slip and allowing it to evaporate, the team where able to produce a small amount of crystal structure.

By repeatedly applying layers of solution on top of previously crystallised layers and leaving it to evaporate Michael was able to greatly increase the variety and size of the crystal structures, far out doing competing methods and leading to the famous necktie selection, BevShots and a range of other products.

In fact, prior to experimenting with the seed crystallisation technique, the three prior approaches assessed by the team could have only produced 7-10 unique micro photographs combined. In comparison, the newly developed seed crystallisation technique could produce enough microphotos for the gallery and commercial purposes, at least 160 microphotos.

English Oatmeal Stout Copyright Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University Research Foundation, Inc
To produce the final images, a standard optical microscope and camera are used, equipped with two polaroid filters. Polarising the light before it passes through the crystallised chemicals allows the true crystalline structure to become evident as only the light that is bent sufficiently by the crystal will pass through the second polaroid to be imaged by the camera. Like that passes through without bending is totally filtered out.

As a result, Michael and his team have produced an almost endless list of microphotographs detailing the crystalline structures of beers and coctails from around the world. Yes, they have a section dedicated to Aussie beers. Also available from the respective galleries are wall papers and screen savers, but before you download anything, make sure to check the disclaimer

Applying similar techniques in the field of microscopy, Michael and the molecular expressions team have produces images from an exhaustive list of other objects and substances:Silicon, Pharmaceuticals, Computer chips, DNA, Microscapes, Vitamins, Amino acids, Birthstones, religious items and pesticides.

If you'd like to know anymore of the detail involved in the microscopy field, then take a trip to the Interactive Java Tutorials

English Pure Brewed Lager Copyright Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University Research Foundation, Inc
After years of many scientific papers on Michaels work and the establishment of BevShots, no credible competition yet exists. BevShots represents a unique niche in science and fine modern art, which is testament to the expertise and skill needed to pull off the science behind BevShots. Despite the expense and difficulties BevShots have remained inexpensive for the average person to purchase compared to original contemporary art pieces.

Keeping up with the latest developments in BevShots is now very easy with the establishment of the facebook and twitter pages. Also available is an iPhone application.

I would like to thank BevShots for allowing me to include these images on my blog. All images Copyright 1995. Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University Research Foundation, Inc.

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