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Science you can see

J.D. Schiffman, C.L. Schauer / Drexel Univ.
Click for slide show: See a snapshot of squid
suckers and other images from the International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.


They say a picture is worth 1,000 words - but when it comes to science, one good picture might be worth 104 or 105 words, judging by this year's winners of the International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Check out our slide show to see a beautiful graphic analysis of the Bible's interconnectedness, a "Microscopic Wonderland" starring Alice and the Mad Hatter, and a group portrait of the cutest little squid suckers you ever did see.

Fourteen examples of science you can see were selected for recognition by the contest's sponsors, the National Science Foundation and the journal Science. The winners were chosen from 181 entries that were sent in from 21 countries for the sixth annual challenge.

"Science and NSF instituted this international competition to reward scientists for using visualization techniques to demonstrate the beauty and the wonder of science," Monica Bradford, Science's executive editor, said in today's news release. "We appreciate their results and encourage others to participate."

Science, which is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has established a Web portal linking to all sorts of information about the images and their creators. You have to be a Science subscriber to see all the details, but anyone can click through an awesome video-enhanced slide show as well as a podcast about the challenge. The National Science Foundation has a portal page and a slide show as well.

Here's the list of this year's honorees, even though the mere words don't do justice to the images themselves:

  • Photography: First place goes to Mario De Stefano, The Second University of Naples, for "The Glass Forest." Honorable mentions: Andrew Davidhazy, Rochester Institute of Technology, for "String Vibrations." Jessica D. Schiffman and Caroline L. Schauer, Drexel University, for "Squid Suckers: The Little Monsters That Feed the Beast." Ye Jin Eun and Douglas B. Weibel, University of Wisconsin-Madison, for "Polymazing."
  • Illustration: First place goes to Linda Nye and the Exploratorium Visualization Laboratory, The Exploratorium, for "Zoom Into the Human Bloodstream." (Check out this big-screen version.) Honorable mentions: Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon University, and Christoph Römhild, North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, for "Visualizing the Bible." Donald Bliss and Sriram Subramaniam, National Library of Medicine, NIH, for "3-D Imaging of Mammalian Cells with Ion-Abrasion Scanning Electron Microscopy."
  • Informational graphics: First place goes to Colleen Champ and Dennis Kunkel, Concise Image Studios, for "Mad Hatter's Tea" from "Alice's Adventures in a Microscopic Wonderland." (Check out the big-screen version.) Honorable mention: Andrew Dopheide and Gillian Lewis, University of Auckland, for "Stream Micro-Ecology: Life in a Biofilm." (Big-screen version here.)
  • Interactive media: First place goes to Jeremy Friedberg and Tommy Sors, Spongelab Interactive, for "Genomics Digital Lab: Plant Cells." Honorable mention: Janet Iwasa, Massachusetts General Hospital, for "Exploring Life's Origins."
  • Non-interactive media: Honorable mentions go to three entries: Travis Vermilye and Kenneth Eward for "A Window Into Life." Mirjam Kaplow and Katharina Strohmeier, Fraunhofer FIRST, for "Smarter Than the Worm." Etsuko Uno and Drew Berry, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, for "Fighting Infection by Clonal Selection."

To get at least 14,000 words' worth, don't miss the slide show. You can also review winning images from 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.