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Unexpected Beauty of Science (Art Competition)

posted Jun 8, 2013, 11:31 AM by Mexicanos científicos
06.08.13/6:30 AM

Science isn't just about collecting data and making charts and graphs. Experiments often produce moments of inspiring beauty: A dye dropped into water gives the impression of a green flame erupting from a murky black sea. Boring black cobalt oxide becomes brilliant blue when heated to 800 degrees Celsius. And an image of coral takes on a different character when two eyes suddenly peer out from its center.

The Art of Science competition at Princeton University challenges scientists to record the sometimes fleeting moments when science becomes art. This year's competition drew 170 entries from 24 departments throughout the university; a jury selected three winners, and three additional entries were chosen by viewers.

Here are a few of our favorites from among the entries, with captions written by the artists ... er, scientists.

Merger and Acquisition
Daniel Quinn, Brian Rosenberg, Amanda DeGiorgi, and Alexander Smits 
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The intermingling of two fluids can be remarkably intricate. Here we highlight the complexity of such flows by imaging a drop of fluorescent dye plunging into quiescent water. At the droplet's forefront is a stunning horseshoe-like structure that commonly appears when one fluid slides past another. While the droplet's core is bulbous and coherent, turbulence stretches its wake into gossamer strands. Eventually the tendrils are so thin that dye and water coalesce via molecular diffusion. Image and Caption: D. Quinn, B. Rosenberg, A. DeGiorgi, Alexander Smits, and Princeton University Art of Science Competition

Cobalt Blue
Jason Krizan
Department of Chemistry

In the Cava Lab, cooking up new materials at 1400 degrees Celsius can really get materials stuck to the containers. We try all sorts of things to clean the alumina (Al2O3) containers. In this method, we attempt to dissolve the contaminants in a molten glass, which is then poured out of the crucible at 800 degrees Celsius onto an aluminum plate where it beads up and cools. That lovely blue came from some crusty black cobalt oxide that was a little too cooked.

Jamie Barr and Cliff Brangwynne
Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Molecular Biology

This bright clump of worms resembles the wild snakes that surrounded the head of the mythological sea monster Medusa. But unlike Medusa's snakes, these worms became sticky and connected during an experiment designed to understand how molecules determine cell and organism size. C. elegans worms have a transparent nature that makes them ideal for fluorescence microscopy. This single image captures all levels of the central dogma of biology: DNA (stained in blue) and pre-processed ribosomal RNA (stained in red), while the worms are a transgenic line with fib1::gfp protein (in green).