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Visions of Science 2010

Check out the winners of the 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored jointly by the journal Science and the National Science Foundation.

 / Updated 14 PHOTOS

Visualization goes viral

The winners of the 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored jointly by the journal Science and the National Science Foundation, share spectacular photographs, graphics, illustrations and videos that engage viewers by conveying the complex substance of science through different art forms. This detailed 3-D model of the human immunodeficiency virus won first place in the illustration category. It was produced by Ivan Konstantinov, Yury Stefanov, Aleksander Kovalevsky and Yegor Voronin of the Visual Science Co.

Visual Science Company
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A plant's genetic network

This image was one of three selected for honorable mention in the illustration category. It shows a portion of AraNet, a gene association network of the plant called Arabidopsis. AraNet was built from more than 50 million experimental observations from Arabidopsis and other model organisms. Each line represents a functional link between two genes, and the color indicates the strength of the link using a red-blue heat map scheme. The illustration was produced by Insuk Lee, Michael Ahn, Edward Marcotte and Seung Yon Rhee of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

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Bacterium under attack

An enterobacteria phage T4 virus attacks a bacterium in this 3-D image, which won honorable mention in the illustration category. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria such as E. coli and hijack their normal biological functions to use them as replication factories, leading to bacterial death and the release of more viruses. They do this in B-movie horror style, with alien spindly legs and sucker-shaped mouths to relentlessly pursue their prey. The image was entered in the visualization competition by Jonathan Heras of Equinox Graphics.

Equinox Graphics
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Inside a yeast cell

Green microtubules pull on yellow DNA, held by red cohesion and purple condensing proteins in a computer-generated 3-D image that shows the proposed structure for the yeast mitotic spindle during metaphase. This view of cellular machinery was developed during a two-year period of intense collaboration between cell biologists, computer scientists, physicists and artists. The image was produced by the Mitotic Spindle Group at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and won an honorable mention in the illustration category.

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All about fungi

Fungi provide some of our favorite foods and beverages, attack animal and plant species with devastating toxins, and create the soils and nutrients for the film of life on Earth. This poster, which won first place in the visualization contest's informational graphics category, shows the diversity of fungi and briefly notes their impact on our lives and our world. The entry was submitted by Kandis Elliot and Mo Fayyaz of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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Life and death

"Everyone Ever in the World" is a visual representation of the number of people who have lived, compared with all those who have been killed in wars, massacres and genocide during the recorded history of humankind. The visualization uses existing paper area and paper loss to represent the concepts of life and death. The graphic presentation by Peter Crnokrak of The Luxury of Protest won honorable mention in the informational graphics category.

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Rough waters

This blue nanoscale landscape is created by two types of molecules on a gold surface that form a self-assembled monolayer, thereby enabling control of the surface properties. At this extreme limit of turnability it becomes possible to adjust the character of surfaces, opening up possibilities in self-cleaning materials and beyond. The image won first place in photography, and was created by Seth B. Darling of Argonne National Laboratory and Steven J. Sibener of the University of Chicago.

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Hairs on a tomato seed

Robert Rock Belliveau's photograph shows the hairs, or trichomes, on the surface of the seed of the common tomato. The hairs secrete a filmy substance that can be seen as a clear membrane at the edge of the seed. The mucinous film contains insecticide chemicals. It also keeps the seed from drying out and anchors it to the soil. Belliveau's image won honorable mention in the visualization contest.

Robert Rock Belliveau M.d.
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Centipede millirobot

Centipede-inspired robots may offer performance benefits over more common rigid body types when it comes to walking. The design and modeling of a multisegment millirobot provides insights into biological myriapod locomotion - including how to use body undulations to enhance locomotion, and whether there is an optimal number of legs for efficiency and stability. This image, which won honorable mention, is provided courtesy of Katie L. Hoffman and Robert L. Wood of Harvard University.

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Trash talk

Imagine we could use smart tags to follow where our garbage goes. We could discover the final destinations of our everyday objects and increase awareness of sustainable practices. The SENSEable City Lab invited 500 people in Seattle to tag their trash and followed a total of 3,000 garbage items through the disposal system. This image, courtesy of MIT's SENSEable City Lab, is part of a presentation that won first place in the non-interactive media category..

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GPS and relativity

The Global Positioning System is a satellite-based navigational tool used by millions of people every day. Surprisingly, it relies on Einstein's theory of relativity to achieve its phenomenal accuracy. The link between GPS and relativity is explained in a presentation by Damian Pope, Greg Dick, Sean Bradley and Steve Kelley of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The educational package won honorable mention in the non-interactive media category.

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"GlyphSea" is a novel method to visualize vector data, where the magnitude is shown by color and size of the glyph (ellipsoid) and the direction is indicated by the dipole dots (the white and black spots on the poles of ellipsoids represent the head and tail of the vector respectively). The presentation won honorable mention in the non-interactive media category for Amit Chourasia, Emmett Mcquinn, Bernard Minster and Jurgen Schulze of the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California at San Diego.

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Inside a binary quasar

Scientists are still trying to figure out what turns on quasars, the rapidly accreting black holes that are housed at the center of active galaxies. A video from Thomas J.Cox of the Carnegie Institution for Science tells the story of one particular scenario, an observed binary quasar, and demonstrates a computer model of the galaxy merger that likely triggered such a dramatic event. This is a single frame from the video, which won honorable mention in the non-interactive media category.

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Exploring the brain

Researchers created a video visualization showing what it will be like to explore the Whole Brain Catalog, an open-source, open-access database of mouse brain imagery being developed by Mark Ellisman and his colleagues at the University of California at San Diego. The video won honorable mention in the non-interactive media category for Ellisman as well as Drew Berry and Francois Tetaz of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

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