Friday, February 25, 2011

'Science' celebrates the art of visualization

On February 18, Science announced the results of the annual International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, 2010 edition. The competition, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, recognizes the best of the best in creating visualizations that demonstrate scientific principles across a wide range of research fields. The winners spanned medical, environmental science, physics, and astrophysics in categories including illustration, photography, non-interactive multimedia, and informational graphics. Be sure to check out the slide show, especially slide 15, "Non-interactive media: Visualization of the Whole Brain Catalog" for an interesting illustrated journey into the workings of a mouse brain.

In pediatric surgery, crystal clear visualizations will be key to allowing surgeons and radiologists to see their surgical fields with greater precision, no matter how small the child or where in the body the surgeon is operating. Today, the engineers and clinicians in the Bioengineering Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute develop ways for existing medical imaging technology to become more precise. This work includes image fusion, which involves overlaying one imaging modality over another for greater depth of vision. Long term, the team plans to investigate effective ways to apply sophisticated simulation tools in training and surgical preparation as well.

The images selected by the "Challenge" demonstrate the promise of the latest visualization technologies, which are now capable of recreating in amazing detail the smallest particles and largest scientific quandaries. It's not just the technology, though, but the artistry and creativity in how the technology is applied that makes these images remarkable and innovative.

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