Light Eddies, by Mitchell A. Nahmias and Paul R. Prucnal, Department of Electrical Engineering. This is a computer model of a laser that is designed to act like a neuron. Photo: via the Princeton University Art of Science Competition.
Leonardo Da Vinci once said that to develop a "complete mind," people should "study the science of art and the art of science".
Well, these prize-winning images from the Art of Science Exhibition represent the incredible place where the two fields intersect.
The Exhibition is hosted by Princeton University, and the 2013 installment drew 170 submissions from 24 different academic departments.
Each submission was produced during the course of doing scientific research and entries were selected for both aesthetic excellence and scientific interest.
Check out a few of the entries below, along with explanations of what each image represents. And visit the Princeton Art of Science site to see them all.
East-West, West-East (Jury First Place) by Martin Jucker, Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
The winds around our globe are preferentially directed from West to East or East to West, and much less so in the North-South directions. As a result, atmospheric phenomena can travel around the globe, exchanging information even from remote places of the Earth easily. We see in the picture surfaces of constant wind around Earth, averaged over time. Blue is East-to-West, red West-to-East directed wind.
The History Of Gliding by Mingzhai Sun (postdoc) and Joshua Shaevitz (faculty), Department of Physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics
Much like schools of fish - or groups of giggling school girls - bands of Myxococcus xanthus, a social bacterium, travel together. In order to hunt prey efficiently and protect one another these cells must coordinate the way in which they move - or "glide" - together. In this image the gliding of hundreds of thousands of these cells was tracked over four hours. Their paths transition from blue to red according to the amount of time elapsed, with blue as the start time and red as the end time.
Bridging the Gap (People's Second Place), by Jason Wexler (graduate student) and Howard A. Stone (faculty), Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
When drops of liquid are trapped in a thin gap between two solids, a strong negative pressure develops inside the drops. If the solids are flexible, this pressure deforms the solids to close the gap. In our experiment the solids are transparent, which allows us to image the drops from above. Alternating dark and light lines represent lines of constant gap height, much like the lines on a topological map. These lines are caused by light interference, which is the phenomenon responsible for the beautiful rainbow pattern in an oil slick. The blue areas denote the extent of the drops. Since the drops pull the gap closed, the areas of minimum gap height (i.e. maximum deformation) are inside the drops, at the center of the concentric rings.
Crushed Birch (Jury Second Place), by Michael Kosk '16, Woodrow Wilson School
The dense cellular structure of wood is what protects it, in part, from microbes breaking apart cellulose and causing rot. In my materials science course we broke apart the cellular structure of birch by resorting to mechanical strength, crushing it along a specific direction and buckling the cellulose pathways that would normally be responsible for the distribution of water and nutrients to the rest of the tree.