Images by NCAR scientists
This image, created by Don Middleton (CISL) from a
high-resolution global climate model, is on display
at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, along with
two other images by NCAR researchers.
Solar plumes, nematode worms, kidney stones, nano-crystals,
pulmonary arteries, chicken organs: images that scientists
produce of the things they study may be visually striking
and demonstrate creativity, but they are not a form of art.
Or are they?
That’s one of the questions posed by an exhibit currently
on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Art
in Science | Science in Art is a juried exhibition of images
made by University of Colorado–affiliated scientists
and artists, including six NCAR researchers.
The exhibit organizers asked scientists to submit images
that they made as part of their everyday work. Artists whose
images illustrate scientific principles were also asked to
participate. The organizers hope to provoke participants
and exhibit-goers to think about the gulf between science
and art. How wide is it? Can there be any communication across
it? If a scientist makes an image that looks like art, is
that a happy accident or do some scientists intentionally
make their work more artistic than strictly necessary?
Out of hundreds of submissions, the jury selected 66 to be
placed in an online gallery.
Of these, 30 were printed in large format, framed, and hung
in a traveling show that opened on January 18 in Denver.
Among the works on display are an image by Don Middleton
(above) from a high-resolution global climate model; a depiction
of a turbulent solar plume, created by Joey Mendoza
(CISL) and Mark Rast (ESSL/HAO); and the flow of the Kuroshio
current as illustrated by Dave Brown (CISL), Frank Bryan
(ESSL/CGD), and Tim Scheitlin (CISL).
Joey, a systems administrator who also works on visualizations,
was inspired to enter the solar plume visual he and Mark
created because it was such a unique image. “At the
time [May 2003] it was one of the biggest simulations performed
here, and everyone said it was amazing,” he says, adding
that to him the image represents both art and science.
Dave, a software engineer, collaborated with Tim and Frank
on the Kuroshio
current image, using special techniques to regrid the data
for visualization. “There is definitely art in deciding
how to illustrate science properly,” he says. “There
are so many choices to make—what boundaries to show,
what perspective to use, where to put the center of
The exhibit will remain in the Denver Museum of Nature and
Science’s West Atrium until mid-May. On June 1, it
opens at the University of Colorado’s Given Institute
• Nicole Gordon
On the Web
in Science | Science in Art
In this issue...
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Change and Islands: Are Scientists Serving Society?
closures: A look behind the scenes
Profile: Justin Watt
by NCAR scientists on display
Question: Cafeterias trans-fat-free?
Just One Look
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