Top images, transforming technologies
Caren B. Les
Winning images in the 2006 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge take viewers
into unfamiliar territory through innovative technological approaches. Now in its
fourth year, the contest is jointly sponsored by the National Science Foundation
in Arlington, Va., and the journal Science, which is published by the Washington-based
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Judges awarded prizes for 14 images and multimedia
presentations that create outstanding visual impact, while imparting an original
view of research results or scientific phenomena. Evaluation criteria included accuracy
and the creative use of technologies in photography, illustration, informational
graphics, and interactive and noninteractive multimedia categories. Winning entries
can be seen in the Sept. 22 issue of Science, at www.sciencemag.org and at
The nine-minute wordless animation “Body
Code” tied for first place in the noninteractive media group, showing the
active microworld within our bodies, from molecules to cells to tissues and organs.
It was made by scientific animator Drew Berry of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
in Melbourne, Australia, by time-lapse imaging professional Jeremy Pickett-Heaps
at the University of Melbourne, and by independent sound artist François
Tétaz. Time-lapse footage, along with data from x-ray crystallography and electromagnetic
tomography, was used to create the film, in which viewers can see a protein receptor
sticking out of a cell’s surface, waiting for a messenger protein to attach
itself. When that event occurs, the receptor is seen transmitting a message into
the cell, triggering it to divide.
“Cockroach Portrait” by David Yager at the University of Maryland, College Park, took second place in the photography category. Yager laid a dead 2-cm-long Cuban banana
cockroach, Panchlora nivea, on a bed of glass beads and took multiple snapshots
at various depths of field through a dissecting microscope, focusing on different
parts of the insect’s head. He lit the face from various angles with three
light tubes. Using Automontage image-processing software, he merged 12 frames to
create the final rendering.
For their work “An Egyptian Child Mummy,” radiologists
Robert Cheng, W. Paul Brown and Rebecca Fahrig at Stanford University in California,
and Christof Reinhart of Volume Graphics GmbH in Heidelberg, Germany, won first
place in the photography division. To penetrate the mystery of a 2000-year-old Egyptian
mummy, the radiologists employed a CT scanner from Siemens Medical Solutions to
generate 60,000 2-D scans of the intact mummy. Computers running graphics software
used the scans to create a 3-D model of the mummy and its interior. Data analysis
revealed the remains of a 4- or 5-year-old-girl, probably from a well-to-do family.
Because no signs of trauma or long-term illness were evident, the researchers believe
that she may have died from an infectious disease.
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