updated 5/20/2013 9:49:55 AM ET 2013-05-20T13:49:55

A tiny goby fish peering out from a coral labyrinth, a beautiful sphere representing Earth's winds, and a Medusa-like tangle of worms are among the amazing entrants to this year's Art of Science competition at Princeton University.

The gallery, which opened with a reception on May 10, includes 44 images chosen for their beauty and unpredictability from 170 submissions from 24 departments at Princeton. The images were created during scientific research.

"Like art, science and engineering are deeply creative activities," Pablo Debenedetti, Dean for Research at Princeton, said in a statement. "Also like art, science and engineering at their very best are highly unpredictable in their outcomes. The Art of Science exhibit celebrates the beauty of unpredictability and the unpredictability of beauty." [ Images of the Art of Science Winners & Entries ]

Chosen by a jury of photographers and scientists, first place went to Martin Jucker, of the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, for his pastel depiction of the constant winds around Earth, averaged over time. Michael Kosk, of the Woodrow Wilson School, took home second place for his spooky photo of crushed birch wood, while third place went to the "web of art and science," by Paul Csogi and Chris Cane, of the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. That image shows two embroiderylike figures visually representing the similarities and differences of a website devoted to science and one devoted the arts.

Prizes for the top-three entrants are calculated by the golden ratio, whose proportions are thought to represent ideal beauty. The university based its prize money off that mathematical figure: $250 for first prize, $154.51 for second prize and $95.49 for third prize.

In addition, attendees of the opening reception cast 139 ballots to choose the People's Choice winners, which included an artistic look at the nurse cells in a fruit fly ovary, a zebra print caused by light interference and a tangle of C. elegans worms entitled "Medusa."

The entries that made it into the gallery but didn't snag top awards were just as imaginative. For instance, the cute face of a goby fish peers from the center of a coral, its home, in an image by Chhaya Werner of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

In another, Meredith Wright snapped an image with her cellpone of C. elegans worms under a microscope. "She cleverly titled her work 'C. instagram' to drive home the way such an image shared through social media can instantly connect new audiences with science," Katherine Bussard, a curator of photography at the Princeton Art Museum, said in a statement.

The exhibit, which is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., now through April 2014, is located in the Friend Center on the Princeton University campus in Princeton, N.J.

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