“The winners made scientific data beautiful and brought their new ideas to life, while at the same time immersing the viewer in science,” said Monica M. Bradford, executive editor of the journal Science. “The award recognizes this remarkable talent for creating thought-provoking videos and visuals.” Click through to see the year's best.
The first-place photograph, Invisible Coral Flows, reveals the hidden natural beauty of the reef-building coral habitat. The image of a Pocillopora damicornis (cauliflower coral), taken by Vicente Fernandez from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, draws the viewer to a fluid vortex generated by cilia covering the coral's surface, creating a whirlpool structure in the surrounding seawater.
By using an old technique, called polarized light microscopy, the photo, titled "Stellate leaf hairs on Deutzia scabra," also known as Fuzzy Deutzia, reveals the fine structure of a plant and its functions and highlights the value of microstructure in the taxonomy of plants. The photographer, Stephen Francis Lowry, explains that, in Japan, woodworkers utilize the abrasive qualities of the leaves for fine polishing.
To create "Polymer Micro-Structure Self-Assembly," Anna Pyayt and Howard Kaplan, researchers from the University of South Florida, used a camera mounted on top of a microscope to demonstrate the formation of micro-structures in polymers that self-assemble into different shapes.
"Cortex in Metallic Pastels" is a first-place illustration by Greg Dunn that communicates the layered structure of the cerebral cortex, resembling a forest. The stylized painting, derived from Asian principles, uses gold leaf, aluminum, acrylic dye and other materials to uncover the beauty of microscopic cells in the brain. The artist explains that "the neurons are painted by a technique wherein pigments are blown across the canvas using jets of air, a technique that closely emulates the spontaneous, random branching patterns of actual neurons."
"Security Blanket" is a digitally printed image on a cotton-fabric quilt with layers of color-coded passwords. The artist, Lorrie Faith Cranor from Carnegie Mellon University, formed a research group to find ways of improving password policies by analyzing stolen passwords. The artwork illustrates how many people choose identical passwords.
One of the People's Choice awards was given to a researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine, Lydia-Marie Joubert, for an illustration, titled Human Hand controlling Bacterial Biofilms, which uses a novel biofilm imaging technique to show the growth of bacteria, at 400 times normal resolution, in the dark-grey fingers and palm of a hand sculpture. The visual conveys how microbes persevere, even after repeated antimicrobial treatment.
"Effects of Cold-stunning on Sea Turtles," a digitally painted illustration by a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University and the National Aquarium, describes the four-stage cycle of a rescued sea turtle, which is cold-stunned, or exposed to cold water temperatures for a rapidly and unexpectedly prolonged period of time. Used as an educational tool for the public, the material is presented in a stylized way with colors, numbers and arrows to guide the reader through the cycle's effects.
EyeWire: A Game to Map the Brain, is a citizen neuroscience game that allows players to pan, zoom, explore brain cells and map the 3D structure of neurons in the brain. Based in the Seung Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the EyeWire team reconstructs neurons, revealing how they connect and network to process information, and develops advances in artificial intelligence.
An interactive science tool, EarthViewer, produced by a team of researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and EarthBuzz Software, Ltd. allows the user to scroll through time and see the Earth in 3D transform from a molten mass to the planet we know today. Graphic overlays show changes in atmospheric composition, global temperature, solar luminosity, continental growth and shifts, fossils and mark key geological events in Earths history.
Designed by Eve Syrkin Wurtele from Iowa State University, this game application supplements in-class instruction which won the People's Choice award in the Games & Apps category. Meta!Blast: The Leaf provides an interactive environment to engage STEM students to solve problems in science, particularly in biology, recycling and the environment.
An animated video shows our sun's powerful magnetic energy and Earth's strong magnetic fields that drive the winds and ocean currents that form our planets climate. The narrated movie, Dynamic Earth, took complex, state-of-the-art computational models from research institutions across the United States to create a high-resolution visualization of our universe for the big screen, which is now playing at planetariums around the world.
A series of animated videos, titled StemCellShorts use simple, colorful, and playful shapes to represent the complexity of stem cell research and to make the information more accessible. Each of the three videos, developed by Ben Paylor at the University of British Columbia and Mike Long at the University of Toronto and their team, answers a simple question about stem cells. Award-winning animator David Murawsky from the Stem Cell Network participated in the project.
The 3D animation by Arkitek Studios, Immunology of the Gut Mucosa, explores how the human body's immune system responds to bacteria in the gastrointestinal system how it protects against food-borne pathogens and how it responds to bacterial invasion from the macro scale down to the subcellular level and looks at how the inner workings of the body achieves its balance.
The video, Visualizing Leaf Cells from Within, depicts a novel model view of the epidermal cells of the Arabidopsis thaliana leaf and describes breakthroughs in 3D imaging and analysis for a general audience. Geoffrey Harlow at the University of California, Riverside and his team try to seek ways to prevent food shortages by first understanding the underlying genetic causes associated with the shape, strength and structure of a plant cell.
The People's Choice video, Spherical Nucleic Acids, is another animation produced by The Seagull Company and Northwestern University that gives the viewer a first-hand look at the properties that mark SNAs as a potential treatment for diseases with a genetic basis. Derived from the research conducted by Dr. Mirkin, a leader in the field who was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in chemistry, and his group at Northwestern University, the content is an overview of how the properties make them favorable for therapeutic treatments in the field of biomedicine.
Water swirls in a vortex above pink and purple coral in "Invisible Coral Flows," which won first place in the photography category of the 2013 Science/NSF International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge -- and earned a spot on the cover of the magazine's Feb. 7 issue.
A dramatic video that shows the effect solar blasts on Earth’s climate, close up views of the neurons in your brain, and a soap bubbles as seen by a supercomputer are among the winners of the annual International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored jointly by the journal Science and the National Science Foundation.