Beauty of nanotechnology world revealed in Italy

Those of us who’ve visited the museums and churches of Italy know that folks there have a special knack for making art. So it’s no surprise to see beautiful artistic images of nanotechnology coming from that country. Nanowerk tells the story and shows some of the images:

This exhibition brings to the public images that are usually accessible to few, because they remain confined in the research laboratories, on the scientists’ desks. The images are stills that, over time, have been put together from different framings, and that we can look at thanks to the mediation of machines. Some of them represent exceptional events, outstanding results that ended on the cover of scientific journals. Others were born from everyday research. All of them show a landscape that is being unraveled by scientists, scenery that is very different from the one we can see on the media, largely obtained through computer graphics and “artistic” interpretations, when not directly borrowed from science fiction.

Five images are available in high res on the Italian website. To see all the images, you’ll need to go to the exhibition or buy the book (26 euros).

At a 2004 conference on Imaging and Imagining Nanoscience and Engineering funded by NSF, there were complaints from non-scientists when they found out that the nanoimages shown by scientists were generally enhanced and manipulated. Horreurs! They did not seem to understand that, since the objects in question are being imaged without the use of visible light, it’s pretty arbitrary how to display the data. Should the atoms be shown as red or green or black or white? Nature gives no guidance, so we humans must simply do the best we can to communicate our understanding of the data, without misleading the viewer. The more knowledgeable the viewer, the easier it is to avoid misleading—and vice versa. —Chrisitine

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