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The 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge released its top stunning entries today. They appear in the Feb. 18 issue of Science, which together with the National Science Foundation sponsored the event.
All too often, the beauty of scientific knowledge gets trapped in monotone graphs and jarring acronyms. The touch of talented artists, however, can set it free.
From GPS-tracked trash and nanoscale ripples to colliding quasars and hairy tomato seeds, dig into our favorite science visualizations in this gallery.
Like a miniature robot from a sci-fi thriller, tiny viruses known as bacteriophage inject their genetic goods into unsuspecting Escherichia coli bacteria. In short order, the bacteria’s innards are hijacked and begin pumping out viral clones.
This extremely detailed visualization shows one such virus, called an enterobacteria phage T4. It earned an honorable mention in illustrations.
The HIV virus, a menacing genetic script that lethally infects more than 33 million people worldwide, looks more like a splotch under the planet’s most powerful microscopes.
By scraping for details of the virus’ structure from more than 100 studies in three different scientific fields, however, four focused artists summed it up into one intricate 3-D structure.
The model is now considered the most detailed ever created for the contagion, and won the competition’s 1st-place prize in illustrations.
From the fuzz on leftover food to the base of a multi-billion-dollar beer industry, fungi is everywhere.
Putting the enormous branch of multicellular life into perspective with a highly detailed guide, artists picked up Science and the NSF’s first-place prize in informational graphics.
On each tomato seed, tiny hairs called trichomes secrete the goo that encases them. The sticky substance not only protects would-be seedlings from drying out, but also glues them to soil so they don’t blow away.
This stunning photo earned an honorable mention in the photography category.