Scientific journals are using more high quality designs on their front covers than ever before. For example, for some months now, the front cover of the New Phytologist boasts a series of colourful images. The latest is by CE Stanley and shows the two-way flow of dissolved nutrients along vascular cells of roots.
The covers become art forms in their own image, pleasant to the eye even without knowledge of their scientific significance.
Other recent examples show photo-micrographs of sections of red and yellow table beets, a picture of sunflowers in a field:
a drawing of evolutionary artefacts (a tree of life with a DNA molecule), and an out-of-scale mushroom, enlarged to look like a table in the forest.
Nature magazine has for-long developed its standard of design,
while in the US, Science usually has even more artistic license:
Fernan Federici’s microscopic images of plants, bacteria, and crystals are a fine example of finding art in unexpected places.
-fluorescent proteins from a bacterial smear
Federici has recently completed his work at Cambridge where he studied self-organization, the process by which things organize themselves spontaneously and without direction like a flock of birds flying together:
– urea crystals in polarised light
The website wired.com says that ‘More specifically, he was using microscopes and a process called fluorescence microscopy to see if he could identify these kinds of patterns on a cellular level. In fluorescence microscopy, scientists shine a particular kind of light at whatever they’re trying to illuminate and then that substance identifies itself by shining a different color or light back. Sometimes researchers will also attach proteins that they know emit a particular kind of light to substances as a kind of identifier. In the non-microscopic world, it’s like using a black light on a stoner poster.’
– more urea crystals
‘A recent post at wired.com says that ‘Federici grew up with photography as a hobby, so looking through the microscope at all the different colors and patterns he realized that the process was highly visual. He hadn’t seen many images like what he was seeing published for the general public, so he asked for permission from his adviser Jim Haseloff to post the photos on his Flickr site. Today that site is filled with pages and pages of microscopic images, some of which are from his work, while others are just for fun.’
A show that runs until February is at Mexico City’s Palace of Fine Arts. “Mexican Red, the Cochineal in Art,” traces use of this pigment from the highlands of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica to Europe.
There, it became increasingly associated with the projection of power in the 17th and 18th centuries. Cochineal fell into decline in the 19th century, as synthetic dyes were introduced, but was sought out later by the Impressionists.
The cochineal is a Mexican insect that is the source of the dye. This specimen is on display at the exhibition. (Credit Marco Ugarte/Associated Press)
The cochineal insect feeds on the prickly pear cactus and was cultivated domestically in Mexico and Peru in pre-Hispanic times. The female can be dried and crushed to extract the red carminic acid. Additives of different acidity produce shades that range from light pink to a deep purple. (New York Times, November 28th)
Lubaina Himid has become the first black woman to win the Turner Prize. She was born in Zanzibar and now lives in Preston. Her work challenges racial politics and the legacy of slavery.
The judges for the prize praised her “uncompromising tackling of issues including colonial history and how racism persists today”.
Her work uses many satires about the upper class, with the legacy of the colonies and how her own generation experiences racism. She is often compared to Hogarth, especially for her picture ‘a fashionable marriage’.
Anthropologists also continue to speculate about the taxonomy:
Next year will be the 400th anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Raleigh (1654 – 29 October 1618). He was an English chemist, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy and explorer.
As well as popularising the use of tobacco in England Raleigh was interested in chemistry.
statue in N Carolina
Raleigh was betrayed by Sir Lewis Stukley with evidence that he cheated the Spanish in war. For this, Raleigh was eventually executed. During a long imprisonment in the Tower of London he was allowed to study inorganic chemistry. This interest was stimulated by his experience as a miner in Cornwall and Devon where he owned large estates. Raleigh was also a popular poet. His friend, Thomas Tyndale, had a draft of verse composed to mark Raleigh’s grave in the Palace of Westminster:
On Sir Walter Raleigh /Here lieth, hidden in this pitt, / The wonder of the world for witt. / To small purpose did it serve; / His witt could not his life preserve. / His living was belov’d of none, / Yet in his death all did him moane. / Heaven hath his soul, the world his fame, /The grave his corpse, Stukley his shame.