Picture this


We’ve all come across people who insist that science is dry and colourless. Now there’s plenty on the Web to persuade them to change their minds. High magnification provides some surprising views of the familiar, as well as providing images that could easily grace the walls of art galleries. Last year, Harvard chemist George Whitesides teamed up with artist Felice Frankel to produce a gorgeous book, On the Surface of Things. Truly up close and personal, Frankel’s highly magnified images include colourful colonies of bacteria and plastic films. Her photos capture splendour that even most chemists are unaware of. View some of the images from a travelling exhibition of her artwork at http://web.mit.edu/museum/exhibits/frankel1.html. It isn’t only artists who produce startlingly beautiful images. For some stunning views of the micro-world of the chemistry lab, http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/micro/ gallery.html is a good jumping-off point. You’ll find a large selection of startlingly colourful photographs taken under a microscope by Michael Davidson of Florida State University. Especially enlightening are photos of margaritas and Black Russians along with a selection of beers. The accompanying text provides some gems too. Wonder what “alcohol” means? Check it out. And for the lure of the lattice, look up http://un2sg4.unige.ch/athena/mineral/images/minpic_frame0.html, where you’ll find unmagnified photographs of a range of large crystals in all their incredible variety. Finally, scanning electron micrographs of materials such as magnetic tape and diamond, alongside massive magnifications of insects and blood cells, can be found at http://www.uq.oz.au/nanoworld/images_1.html. These black-and-white images display the remarkable symmetry and regularity, and unexpected roughness of many artificial and natural materials at the nanoscale. More on these topics:
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