The National Science Foundation recently announced the winners of its yearly image competition, where entries display a mix of art and science. Here are some of the highlights from the 2013 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge -- along with comments from the entrants.
"Invisible Coral Flows" (above) reveal the hidden flow generated by small hairs (cilia) covering the surface of the coral, between two coral polyps that are 3 millimeters apart.
Two shots taken 1.5 hours apart are combined into a single image, showing how the coral is able to create a long-lasting whirlpool structure that alters the local environment and enhances the coral's ability to "breathe."
"Cortex in Metallic Pastels" represents a stylized section of the cerebral cortex, in which axons, dendrites and other features create a scene reminiscent of a copse of silver birch at twilight.
An accurate depiction of a slice of cerebral cortex would be a confusing mess, says illustrator Greg Dunn, so he thins out the forest of cells, revealing the delicate branching structure of each neuron. Dunn combined his background in neuroscience and his love of Asian art, to create the sparse, striking illustrations of the brain.
“Security Blanket” displays a word cloud of the 1,000 most common passwords in the social gaming website, RockYou.
The passwords were sized according to their frequency and colored according to their theme. The most common -- "123456" -- was chosen by three times as many people as the next most popular password.
In our war against bacteria, the microbes are winning. That somber message is writ large in this image of a human hand covered with Pseudomonas bacteria.
Those colored green are resistant to antimicrobial treatment -- only a rare few are red, indicating that they have been vanquished.
This image shows the microstructure of a 2-millimeter-long fragment of self-assembled polymers, which University of South Florida materials scientist Anna Pyayt is using to build miniature "lab-on-a-chip" devices for biomedical diagnostic applications.
EyeWire is one of the fastest growing citizen science projects ever created. This game presents players with micrographs that show the neurons in a mouse's retina.
The goal of EyeWire is to distinguish the twists and turns of a particular neuron in 3-D, in order to build up a complete map of the complex connections involved in vision.
These exuberant starbursts shoot from the leaves of Deutzia scabra, a deciduous shrub sometimes known as "Pride of Rochester." Its leaves are covered with tiny hairs tipped by stars a quarter-millimeter across, giving it a fuzzy texture that Japanese woodworkers sometimes use for fine polishing.