These days, it's easy to take visualizations of biological molecules for granted, what with the easy availability
of an ever-increasing supply of high-resolution X-ray
and neutron crystallography data, as well as freely available software
that render them into beautiful and useful images that help us understand how life works. The lack of computers and computer networks in the mid-1950s made creating these illustrations a painstaking collaboration, requiring an artist's craftsmanship and aesthetic sense, as well as, most importantly, the critical ability to visualize the concepts that scientists wish to communicate. One such scientific artist was Irving Geis
, who painted the first biological macromolecule obtained through X-ray data: an iconic watercolor representation of the structure of sperm whale myoglobin, as seen in the third slide of this slideshow of selected pieces
. His first effort was a revolutionary
work of informatics, including coloring and shading effects that emphasized important structural and functional features of the myoglobin protein, simultaneously moving the less-important aspects into the background, all while stressing simplicity and beauty throughout. The techniques that Geis developed in this and subsequent works
influenced the standards for basic 2D protein visualization that are used today.
Head Tracking for iPad: Glasses-Free 3D Display
- Jeremie Francone and Laurence Nigay of the Grenoble Informatics Laboratory
track the user's head using an iPad's front facing camera, using the positional data to create the impression of depth without the use of specialized glasses [more inside]
Gary Stasiuk's beautiful Digital Creatures
pulls the curtains on the kinematics of geometric objects, after which he plays with the mathematics and user interactivity of generative art
and shows how to build the appearance of AI behaviors
into Flash objects.