The International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge by the National Science Foundation isn’t for the fainthearted. Every year, they find the most visually striking scientific art and design contenders of the following categories:
• Posters and Graphics
• Games & Apps
First place and the people’s choice award goes to Biomineral Single Crystals. If I didn’t read the description, I would never have guessed that this is an extreme close-up of a sea urchin’s tooth! With the use of a scanning electron micrograph (SEM), you can clearly see the different shades of green, aqua, purple and blue which highlight the individual crystals of calcite, as well as the abundant carbonate mineral found in shells, marble and limestone.
Self Defense was awarded the Honorable Mention for this photo of a clam and a whelk. Radiologist Kai-hung Fung created this dramatic example of two different evolutionary tactics for self-defense. He used a CT scanner and then later rendered their contours in various colors to emphasize the complex structures of these creatures. Creating such images involves balancing “two sides of a coin,” he says. “One side is factual information, while the other side is artistic.”
The X-ray micro-radiography and microscopy of seeds is awarded the Honorable Mention for this image that captures the seeds’ fine details. Using traditional microscopy and high-contrast, high-resolution x-rays, they were able to showcase these fringed, furred and barbed seeds that are no larger than 3mm across.
First place in the Illustration category goes to Connectivity of a Cognitive Computer Based on the Macaque Brain which features a wiring diagram of a computer that may soon be able to think. Imagine a computer that can plan responses, learn from its mistakes and detect patterns. IBM’s cognitive computing group has been hard at work on this project for the past 2 years.
Posters & Graphics
The Adaptations of the Owl’s Cervical & Cephalic Arteries in Relation to Extreme Neck Rotation helps us understand the mechanism that allows owls to swivel their heads 270 degrees. After obtaining 12 dead birds, the team examined three-dimensional images of the owls’ bones and blood vessels using a CT scanner. Researches found a link between swelling in the owls’ arteries that could be acting as a “backup” artery or an oxygen source when the head is turned.
For a complete list of all the winners for each category, visit the National Science Foundation’s website.