A couple of beautiful things – Science and images

by Stephanie Chasteen on September 10, 2009

I’m in a scientific visualization seminar now, so I’ll probably be sharing some beautiful things with some regularity.

There is something very satisfying about complex geometrical objects.  I think my brain feels this sigh of relief at such orderly intricacies.  So, I love these images created by computer algorithm, basically tweaking parameters to get surprising forms generated from simple polygons.  The details of how they do it was lost on me — lots of mathematical and computer jargon — but the output is beautiful.  From what I understand, they take a platonic solid and then use some process to systematically modify certain parameters, like curvature and branching.  Below is an example of the output.

Earlier this year NPR ran a narrated slideshow of the most spectacular images from the Hubble, with commentary from astronomers on why that particular image made them sit up and say wow.  Now, Hubble is back in action and just yesterday NASA released some new images.  They’re pretty, but astronomy has never been my forte, so I don’t have anything intelligent to say about them!

And on the social science side — here’s a site — Sociological Images — that’s not so much about how pretty things are, but how images affect us socially and psychologically, or what they mean about our culture.  Very interestingly written. A cool guest post today talks about the Don’t Mess with Texas littering campaign, and why it was successful where others failed.

For those who get off on graphs and data (I know you’re out there) — check out Chart Porn. Here’s one beautiful one that they reposted from Information is Beautiful which plots caffeine vs. calories of many of the things we toss into our bodies.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: