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Art of Science 2013

Click through the top images from Princeton University's Art of Science Competition, which features images of artistic merit created during the course of scientific research.

 / Updated 20 PHOTOS

The art of science

East-West, West-East Martin Jucker Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Contact: The winds around our globe are preferentially directed from West to East, or East to West, and much less so in the North-South directions. As a result, atmospheric phenomena can travel around the globe, exchanging information even from remote places of the Earth easily. We see in the picture surfaces of constant wind around Earth, averaged over time. Blue is East-to-West, red West-to-East directed wind.
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Crushed birch

Crushed birch Michael Kosk '16 Woodrow Wilson School Contact: The dense cellular structure of wood is what protects it, in part, from microbes breaking apart cellulose and causing rot. In my materials science course we broke apart the cellular structure of birch by resorting to mechanical strength, crushing it along a specific direction and buckling the cellulose pathways that would normally be responsible for the distribution of water and nutrients to the rest of the tree.
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Web of art and science

Web of art and science Paul Csogi (webmaster) and Chris Cane (webmaster) Lewis Center for the Arts and and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Contact: We have placed the home pages of our respective websites into an HTML parser and graphical interface. These two embroidery-like figures visually give us an idea of the similarities and differences of a website devoted to science and one devoted the the arts. The Princeton Plasma Physics Lab site is represented at top left. Lewis Center for the Arts site is at lower right. Each color represents the following. blue: for links (the A tag) green: for the DIV tag violet: for images (the IMG tag) yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags) orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags) black: the HTML tag, the root node gray: all other tags
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Light eddies

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The history of gliding

The history of gliding Mingzhai Sun (postdoc) and Joshua Shaevitz (faculty) Department of Physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics Contact: Much like schools of fish or groups of giggling school girls, bands of Myxococcus xanthus, a social bacterium, travel together. In order to hunt prey efficiently and protect one another these cells must coordinate the way in which they move - or "glide" - together. In this image the gliding of hundreds of thousands of these cells was tracked over four hours. Their paths transition from blue to red according to the amount of time elapsed, with blue as the start time and red as the end time.
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Exposed Ohad Fried (graduate student) Department of Computer Science Contact: This work shows a reconstruction of a face from an anonymized video. Given a video stream containing a blurred, unrecognized face, the data from the individual video frames is combined to create a good approximation of the original face. The connection between frames and mutual information is what makes the reconstruction possible. The result is an intriguing "ghost image" of the subject.
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Messenger meshwork

Messenger meshwork Shawn C. Little (postdoc), Kristina S. Sinsimer (postdoc), Elizabeth R. Gavis (faculty), and Eric F. Wieschaus (faculty) Department of Molecular Biology Contact: The fruit fly ovary consists of about 100 egg chambers. Each chamber contains 15 "nurse cells." These surround the oocyte, or egg cell, which ultimately will develop into a baby fruit fly. The nurse cells synthesize RNA molecules that are ultimately deposited into the oocyte. Here we see four nurse cells. Each red or green dot is an individual RNA molecule, which is produced from DNA (shown in blue). The RNA molecules intermingle on a threadlike network that allows them to move from one nurse cell to another and then into the developing egg (which we don't see in this image).
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Photon's eye view

Photon's eye view Emily Grace (graduate student), Christine Pappas (graduate student), Benjamin Schmitt (University of Pennsylvania), Laura Newburgh (postdoc) Department of Physics Contact: The Universe exploded into being 14 billion years ago and remnant light from this explosion is still visible today. Our group measures this light at a site 17,000 feet high in the Atacama Desert in Chile. We use special "detectors" developed in a collaboration between Princeton and other institutions. These detectors use antennas to capture the non-visible wavelengths of light focused by our 6 meter telescope. This photograph looks down into feedhorns, small corrugated structures that allow particles of light to funnel toward the antennas. The antennas are tiny dark triangles suspended upon a thin membrane on a silicon detector wafer that attaches to the base of each feedhorn. The membrane is thin enough that you can see the gold-plated reflective wafer behind the antennas. Light from the camera is reflecting off the gold-plated wafer, casting a golden gleam.
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Hoodoos Jeremy Blair '13 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Contact: Acid-etched marble reveals a myriad of surface topologies depending on the crystal orientation of the calcite grain. One of the more dramatic textures that I came across reminded me of the carved stone spires of Bryce Canyon and warranted a number of high magnitude captures on the scanning electron microscope.
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Mixing it up

Mixing it up Mark Luchtenburg (postdoc) and Clancy Rowley (faculty) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Contact: The science of "uncertainty quantification" tries to determine the likelihood of different scenarios in a given situation even if knowledge of the situation is incomplete. For instance, when analyzing an oil spill in an ocean, one wants to predict the extent of the contaminated region even when the initial distribution is not known precisely. This sequence of images shows the evolution (top to bottom) of a theoretical oil spill. The black blob in the top figure represents the oil as it likely spread during the initial spill. The oil is then transported and mixed by two large opposite rotating structures called gyres. This 'stirring' leads to fine and intricate structures as the oil and water mix (bottom figure). In contrast to the oil (black) and water (orange), which swirl in complicated patterns, the blue and yellow "tracers" are transported randomly.
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Merger and acquisition

Merger and acquisition Daniel Quinn (graduate student), Brian Rosenberg (graduate student), Amanda DeGiorgi (graduate student), and Alexander Smits (faculty) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Contact: The intermingling of two fluids can be remarkably intricate. Here we highlight the complexity of such flows by imaging a drop of fluorescent dye plunging into quiescent water. At the droplet's forefront is a stunning horseshoe-like structure that commonly appears when one fluid slides past another. While the droplet's core is bulbous and coherent, turbulence stretches its wake into gossamer strands. Eventually the tendrils are so thin that dye and water coalesce via molecular diffusion.
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Crystals on carbon

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Bridging the gap

Bridging the gap Jason Wexler (graduate student) and Howard A. Stone (faculty) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Contact: When drops of liquid are trapped in a thin gap between two solids, a strong negative pressure develops inside the drops. If the solids are flexible, this pressure deforms the solids to close the gap. In our experiment the solids are transparent, which allows us to image the drops from above. Alternating dark and light lines represent lines of constant gap height, much like the lines on a topological map. These lines are caused by light interference, which is the phenomenon responsible for the beautiful rainbow pattern in an oil slick. The blue areas denote the extent of the drops. Since the drops pull the gap closed, the areas of minimum gap height (i.e. maximum deformation) are inside the drops, at the center of the concentric rings.
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Three faces of a flame

Three faces C.K. Law (faculty), Swetaprovo Chaudhuri (research scholar), Fujia Wu (graduate student) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Contact: These three images are snapshots of a spark-ignited expanding flame in different environments of the same hydrogen-air mixture. The top flame shows the ideal, reference case of a stable, smooth flame surface in a quiescent environment at atmospheric pressure. The middle flame is taken under elevated pressure simulating that within an internal combustion engine. The bottom flame is taken in a highly turbulent environment simulating another aspect of the engine interior. All images were taken at 8000 frames per second, using schlieren photography. The radius of the top flame is 11.4 millimeters.
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Blossoming flame

Blossoming flame Bo Jiang (visiting student) and Bret Windom (postdoc) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Contact: This series of eleven flames demonstrates the transition that occurs in a turbulent flame as a result of low temperature oxidation of the reactants prior to introduction into the high temperature flame. Scanning left to right, the degree of pre-flame reactant oxidation is increased by increasing the reactant temperature and/or heated residence time. This transition, evident by the increasing redness of the flames, is due to changes in the flame chemistry resulting in new emission profiles and has a dramatic effect on the flame properties, including burning rates, emissions, and turbulent/combustion interactions and flame regimes. Turbulent combustion provides a connection between complex fluid dynamics, combustion physics, and combustion chemistry and links fundamental combustion research to practical engineering applications.
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C. instagram

C. instagram Meredith Wright '13 Department of Molecular Biology (Murphy Lab) Contact: Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) worms are stored on agar plates covered with a lawn of E. coli bacteria as their food source. Sometimes when the C. elegans have consumed all of the bacteria, they begin to clump together as seen in this image. I found the pattern on this plate particularly lovely, and was able to capture it with my cell phone by holding the lens of my phone's camera up to the microscope eyepiece. I've since shared the photo on social networking sites and have had friends who've never been interested in biology ask me more about my work because of this photo. To me, this image represents the simple pleasure of finding something beautiful when you don't expect to, and it shows how easy it is to connect science with new audiences by simply clicking 'share.'
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Tropical sunset

Tropical sunset Anna Hiszpanski (graduate student) and Yueh-Lin Loo (faculty) Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Contact: When attempting to synthesize a desired chemical, some starting materials may not react as anticipated or may produce undesired byproducts. Hence, chemists must typically perform separations to isolate the desired product from other chemicals in the reaction mixture. If the desired products and the undesirable byproducts have similar solubilities, it may be necessary to perform a chromatographic separation. In such a case, the reaction solution is passed through a packed column of small silica beads. Each component of the solution will move at a different speed through the column, isolating the desired product. If the components in the mixture absorb at different wavelengths in the visible light spectrum, chromatographic separation can produce colorful gradients, as seen in the image. Here we were synthesizing a semiconducting molecule called hexabenzocoronene for use in organic electronic applications.
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Mouse baby

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Maze dweller

Maze dweller Chhaya Werner '14 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Contact: That sweet little face peering out of a coral labyrinth is that of a a goby fish. A goby fish is dependent on coral for its home, and in turn will often clean algae that would otherwise smother the coral. I took this photo in the course of field research for the Coral Reefs lab course in Panama (EEB 346) for a project on the ecology of coral reefs, focusing on interactions between corals, algae, and sea urchins.
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The mystery of mad itch

The mystery of mad itch Anthony Ambrosini (graduate student) Department of Molecular Biology Contact: Pseudorabies is a viral disease that is endemic to swine in most parts of the world and also infects many other domestic and wild animals (in cattle it is known as "mad itch"). For the virus to infect a cell, a series of proteins must interact to fuse the virus's envelope to the membrane of the cell so that the viral payload can be delivered to the cell's interior. In this image, one of these proteins (glycoprotein B, which appears in red) coats the surface of infected pig kidney cells.
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