A Picture is Worth... The 2008 Visualization Challenge Winners

diatom glass forest image

Images from Science

In its latest issue, Science, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, has revealed the winners and honorable mentions of its always eye-popping International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge. My favorite, and, as it so happened, the winner of the photography category, was Mario De Stefano's "The Glass Forest" (sub. required) -- a set of images of the diatom Licmophora ehrenbergii captured by a scanning electron microscope.

This particular micrograph shows diatoms hanging off Eudendrium racemosum, an invertebrate (in brown). Some of my other favorites include Jessica D. Schiffman's and Caroline L. Schauer's "Squid suckers: the little monsters that feed the beast" and Chris Harrison's and Christoph Römhild's "Visualizing the Bible." For both, along with the accompanying descriptions by Rachel Zelkowitz, go below the fold.

squid suckers image
"Crunch. the satisfying sound of a crushed cockroach comes from the destruction of its chitin-based exoskeleton. The white, fang-like circles in this electron micrograph of squid suckers are also chitin, but they are not so easily crushed. Their scant 400-micrometer diameter belies the true power of the suckers. A squid uses them to latch onto prey and force the unfortunate creature to its beak, where it is readily slurped down. "They're just tiny things, but they really keep the beast alive," says Jessica Schiffman, a doctoral student in material science engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She compiled the image while researching chitin properties in the lab of Caroline Schauer. The iconic film Little Shop of Horrors inspired the color scheme, she says."

visualizing bible image

"The first illuminated Bibles were produced in the early Middle Ages by monks who painstakingly detailed illustrations for their sacred verse. Chris Harrison, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Christoph Römhild of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hamburg, Germany, present an illustrated Bible with a modern twist. Römhild started with a list of verses in different versions of both the Old and New Testaments that referred to figures or ideas from earlier passages, then combed through both books for additional examples. Using a custom-built computer program, Harrison translated the trove of data into "Visualizing the Bible." Each bar on the graph along the bottom represents a chapter of the Bible; the bar length corresponds to the number of verses in the passage. The rainbowlike arcs represent references from a chapter in one book to a chapter in another. "It almost looks like one monolithic volume," Harrison says."

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