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The 10 best scientific views of the year

diciembre 2, 2019

Not an easy task to explain science. Describing the concepts, theories, processes and phenomena requires a great many words, perhaps too many, and for this reason, over the past three years, Popular Science and the National Science Foundation have collected the best scientific views. But how were the 10 best selected? (…)

Not an easy task to explain science. Describing the concepts, theories, processes and phenomena requires a great many words, perhaps too many, and for this reason, over the past three years, Popular Science and the National Science Foundation have collected the best scientific views.

But how were the 10 best selected? The experts selected by the National Science Foundation have judged hundreds of proposals based on their impact and their ability to make complex subjects simple not only in terms of comprehensibility, but also in terms of originality. 50 finalists included: 10 illustrations, 10 interactive projects, 10 photographs, 10 graphics and 10 videos. All the finalists were subjected to scrutiny by the public and the final result included two winners by category, one elected by the experts and one by the people.

Here are the winners:

Photography: choice of expertsA hungry starfish larva – William Gilpin, Vivek N. Prakash, Manu Prakashscientific viewsThe starving sea star is a fundamentally Californian product. William Gilpin, a graduate student in physics at Stanford University, discovered that his school offered courses in the Pacific Ocean headquarters. So he and his fellow researchers decided to go there, ready to take a break from the lab. What they discovered surprised them: the starfish move around using hundreds of elaborate feet, like tubes, and they seem to know how to control the waters around them. Once back in the lab, they discovered that not much was known in terms of research – on the way the starfish move the water around as, and why they decided to investigate better. The "Starving Sea Star" essentially a time-lapse photo (at intervals) created by combining all the vortices that a star marina creates an extremely striking image in a single image. But the vortices themselves make sense, because they serve to bring the algae to the tiny mouth of a starfish larva.

Photography: choice of the publicOctobot, a completely soft machine – Ryan Truby, Lori K. Sanders, Michael Wehner, Robert J. Wood, Jennifer A. Lewisscientific viewsThe soft robots, those made entirely of rubbery materials, are about to take off. In theory they are safer and more resistant than metallic mechanoids, but scientists have not yet figured out what can make any part of a robot really dull. Octobot in the right direction: completely soft, powered by chemical reactions that push the fluid and gases contained within its component parts. Harvard researchers have worked to design the bot, using fluorescent dyes to better visualize its intricate inner workings. "For us, these 3D printed dyes have made Octobot so beautiful, and that's why we thought we'd immortalize them in a literally awesome photograph," said Ryan Truby, a graduate student in applied physics. "We hope that our photography knows how to appeal to the imagination of both the public and the academics, but also to those who are interested in entirely soft robots like the Octobot."

Illustration: choice of expertsS reflected in White, Red and Purple light – Greg Dunn, Brian Edwards, Will Drinkerscientific views"It took data from dozens if not hundreds of scientific sources to create this intricate image of the brain," explains Greg Dunn, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania. Combining hand-made drawings, optical engineering, gilding and other artistic processes and technicians gave birth to this representation of about 500,000 neurons at work. The most incredible machine in the universe inside each of us commented on the reflection team.S was made at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, with the aim of pushing viewers to consider the brain from within the brain itself. In addition to this image of the entire brain seen from the side, Dunn's team generated a series of other works with different objectives and resolutions.

Illustration: choice of the publicZika Virus – David S. Goodsellscientific viewsEach month, the RCSB Protein Data Bank shares the Molecule of the Month. And the Zika virus you see in the image has had the honor of being the image in evidence of May 2016. The enlarged illustration reveals a sort of topographic map of the infecting agent. It shows not only the envelope that surrounds the virus, but also the RNA (in yellow) that lives inside it and that allows it to replicate. When the image was first published, although scientists had known about the virus for more than 70 years, they had limited understanding. The study of the Zika virus has acquired new importance due to the recent spread of the virus in many countries around the world and due to its connection to congenital defects and a rare neurological disease as described by Goodsell, the illustrator.

Interactivity: choice of expertsOverflight in the countryside – Amy Myrbo, Sijia Ai, Reed McEwan, Alex Morrison, Shane Loefflerscientific viewsShane Loeffler started working on his application, Flyover Country, when he realized that his graduate studies in geographical sciences at the University of Minnesota had provided him with a unique and fun way to fly. I was flying San Rafael Swell says when looking down I realized I had hit some rocks on hammers at some precise points, while at that moment I found myself above them. The application uses GPS signals to show the people the topography of the ground below them, as well as special features, such as places where dinosaur fossils are embedded in the ground. Loeffler, who is working with a small team to further develop the application, says the system could also be used to improve hiking and camping, road trips and other more land-related activities.

Interactivity: choice of the publicASL-LEX: a visualization of the American sign language – Naomi Caselli, Zed Sevcikova Sehyr, Ariel Cohen-Goldberg, Ben Tanen, Karen Emmoreyscientific viewsThe American sign language (ASL) is a language like any other, but it cannot be easily organized as a traditional English dictionary. This and other barriers make it difficult for parents of deaf children to help them with language acquisition, as expressed by Naomi Caselli, professor of Deaf Studies at the Boston University School of Education. La Caselli and her team decided to collect all ASL data available to them and to organize them in a new way. The ASL-LEX system organizes 1,000 signs in groups based on the shape of the hand or the movement to be performed. But what's more, these small knots are sized according to their common use, so that words like books are easier to find than a word like castle.

Poster and Graphics: choice of expertsHere will be the Robots – Eleanor Lutzscientific viewsEleanor Lutz is not an astronomer, she is pursuing a doctorate in biology at the University of Washington, although she likes to sift through the data that NASA makes public. so that he had the idea of ​​mapping Mars with a Victorian touch. "Unlike other planetary maps, this map uses a Victorian style, inspired by medieval cartographers," explains Lutz. "Victorian style maps belong to a time that remained a mystery to most of the world, and travelers of the time knew only of neighboring lands. Now that people have mapped the entire globe, I think Mars has taken on the role of the next mystery to explore for our collective imagination. And I wanted the geography of Mars to become more tangible for the general public. The most difficult part? The fact-checking of the name of each function. Lutz continues: "Since everything that appears on the map a proper name, I had to manually check to make sure that every name of every single reference point and the origin of the name itself were spelled correctly."

Poster and graphics: choice of the publicThe micro-pumping mechanism of humming languages ​​- Chun Chun Ngscientific viewsWhen Esther Ng tried to visualize a hummingbird's tongue, she had no idea where her work would flow. At that time, no one was really sure what a humming language might look like, even if the new discoveries on the little bird's micro-pumping abilities were fashionable. With little respect, says Esther, a student at the University of Illinois, who is specializing on scientific and medical illustrations Even with a video this movement is very difficult to capture. To solve this problem, he went to the Field Museum in Chicago where they let me borrow a little light so that I could look at it under a microscope, drawing out the language and drawing it as it was.

Video: choice of expertsEarth NetworkNetwork Earth of PopSci"The very tragic situation," says the climate change data viewer Mauro Martino. so sad that it makes many researchers feel pain in studying it ”. And this reaction makes sense precisely because they have devoted decades of their lives and careers to the search for disasters and imminent deaths. But Martino, the creator and director of IBM's cognitive visualization laboratory, strives to turn data into more optimistic visual stories, so as to induce people not only to look at them, but to share them with their friends. "Martino and his team have created a film that shows the interconnections between all life on Earth. Created to accompany a research paper on the resilience of the Earth, published in Nature, the video aims to show that "mathematics can be poetically expressed visually" and be made real and tangible for viewers around the world.

Video: choice of the public The hunt for Planet nineThe hunt for Planet Nine of PopSciWhen astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin had the best proof – absolutely of the existence of a ninth planet, a huge world that orbits at the farthest point of our solar system, it caused the hunt to begin on the mysterious celestial body that captured the public's imagination. This video, made for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, uses this fascinating research to show visitors how such scientific explorations take place. "Our goal with this show was not to let people know about Planet Nine and it wasn't even to convince them of the fact that the Planet Nine exists ”says Patrick McPike, a visual engineer at the planetarium. "The show shows the true emotion of the scientific discovery process. We hope that the show gets as a result of involving more and more people towards science, following the news that deals with science more closely or even by studying alone.

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