Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Found: Elegance of Science

Just when I thought I had a good grasp of all the Science Art competitions out there, Google news turns up another absolute gem!

The Elegance of Science is an annual art contest, open to all University of Florid faculty, students and staff, that promotes the course of research through the incorporation of tools and concepts from science.

The contest terms and conditions can be found bellow, including a few of the previous years winners and some of my favourites.

Neuron-Small | 2009 Elegance of Science
These first three images are my favourite from 2009 for various reasons. They were either pretty or wondrous or a combination of the two. This first image, is clearly a neural network. I particularly like images of neurons or neural networks because I find the methods used to acquire these images simply astonishing.

This image above uses a staining method that is a little different to that I've seen in other works. Where as staining of the neuron in my experience normally involves the insertion and activation of the gfp gene, these neurons have instead been stained usingImmunostaining techniques which rely on chemical reactions that produce a colour able to be seen under microscopy or a source of radioactivity that can be visualized by autoradiography.

These techniques whilst pretty are helping shed light on the logical connections of the brain and how information is filtered and passed on through neuron to neuron, network to network.

Lacewing Eggs | 2009 Elegance of Science
This image reminded me of a fungus that literally fires its spores faster than a speeding bullet. Turns out they are in fact the eggs of alacewing. The lacewing is an insect of the order Neuroptera which includes lacewings, mantidflies, antlions, and their relatives.

Ok, so to me, not as interesting as the pretty neuron image, but I think it is pretty cool how the eggs seem to be standing quite vertical by what looks like something that would be unable to sustain their weight. The small world is pretty cool, and I learnt something new today :).

Condensation | 2009 Elegance of Science
Who ever thought that condensation would look so good. In this view we can see the full three dimensional aspect of condensation and the water tension that gives the beads their perfect symmetrical shape.

Submissions from each year are placed online where one can view the complete set of images from 2008 and 2009

The images bellow are the winners from 2009. Click on each image to see the full description of the science underlying the images.

2008 1st Place | Urania Kaleidoscope | Andrei Sourakov | 2008 Elegance of Science
2008 2nd Place | Discovering Connections in the Brain | William L. Conte and Roger L. Reep |2008 Elegance of Science
2008 3rd Place | Release | Kim A. Fitzgerald | 2008 Elegance of Science
The contest, which has been run since 2008 is now calling for 2010 submissions. Art works will be judged on the artistic and/or scientific merit, the degree to which the entry puts a new perspective on either science or art, success in translating between artistic and scientific vocabularies and the creativity of the approach.

All Entries must be received before February 28th. Winners will be announced on April 12th with prises for 1st, 2nd & 3rd with an $200 Alumni prize also up for grabs.

Stay tuned, I hope to bring you the winners right here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Art of Sustainable Phosphorous

You may have missed it during the recent NASA bacteria arsenic furore, but Phosphorus was an important character. NASAs claim that it had grown an organism by feeding it deadly arsenic struck to the very core of the phosphorous dependant DNA of every living organism.

Looking back, one could be forgiven that NASAs attempt at science was more symbolic art, hinting at the pending peak phosphorous that threatens not our way of life, but life its self.

Taking this Phosphorous art a step further the Sustainable Phosphorus Summit, which as part of communicating the importance of sustainable phosphorous use has fostered a collaboration between artists and scientists coining the Phosphorus, food and our future Science Art exhibition.

Prominent Decomposers | Gouache and ink on Paper | Molly Danielsson and Mathew Lippincott

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Changing Waters Info-Sculptures

You've heard of Infographics, now get ready for Info-Sculptures.

Nathalie Miebach creates amazingly informative sculptures fusing techniques from bascket weaving with the worlds formost sources of scientific data concerning a myriad of dynamic systems, particularly our weather.

I have just received an email from Nathalie about her most recent exhibit of a large scale installation of her work.

"Using data from NOAA and GOMOSS buoys within the Gulf of Maine, as well as weather stations along the coast, I am translating data that explores the seasonal variations of marine life."
- Nathalie Miebach

Gallery shot, various works | Changing Waters Exhibition | Nathalie Miebach