The National Science Foundation and Science magazine sponsor an annual “Visualization Challenge,” and you can see this year’s first place winner in the photography category above. What I find interesting about the choice is that this image is not a photograph at all: it’s actually a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional reconstruction, pieced together from some 60,000 200-micron-thin scans of the mummified remains. For purposes of the competition, the photography category includes “film or digital photographs and photomicrographs, as well as images obtained from electron microscopes, STMs, AFMs, telescopes and similar instruments,“ which is even more simply defined as “images created by sensors.” A rather expansive definition…
Other winning images and multimedia pieces can be seen in a slide show from Science magazine or on a web page at the NSF site. Interestingly, no astronomy visuals appear in the winning entries.
I worked on a piece that garnered attention in the very first Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, and with our most recent show in the can, perhaps we will enter again next year. Until then, the 2006 winners offer some pretty delightful imagery—I particularly like the visualization of air traffic over the United States.