On the surface of things: images of the extraordinary in science

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Chronicle Books, 1997 - Photography - 160 pages
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A rare collaboration between artist and scientist, On the Surface of Things explores the hidden visual splendor of scientific phenomena, from cutting-edge nanotechnology to DNA sequencing. Photographer Felice Frankel, artist-in-residence at MIT, teamed up with George M. Whitesides, world-renowned Harvard University chemistry professor, to capture on film the chance explosions of beauty and color that occur when one surface meets another -- on both the micro- and macroscopic levels. How many electrons can dance on the head of a pin? What do DNA strands look like when chased by an electrical charge? Using innovative photographic technology, Frankel finds startling abstract beauty in the undulations of liquid crystal film, the gymnastics of plastic microstructures, the migratory trudge of bacteria, and other scientific wonders. Whitesides's accompanying text is lucid, engaging, and even poetic as he explains each photograph, describing why and how these phenomena occur. In the tradition of The Powers of Ten, On the Surface of Things will excite curious minds and intrigue anyone with an appreciation for photography or unique forms of natural beauty.

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Contents

introduction
7
the sizes of things
9
light
12
form
36
order
62
change
84
disorder
102
illusion
120
notes and readings
138
acknowledgments
158
index of entries
159
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

Felice Frankel is a photographer who aimed her camera at landscapes for 20 years. This resulted in the award-winning book, Modern Landscape Architecture: Redefining the Garden. In On the Surface of Things, co-authored with chemistry professor George Whitesides, she changes her focus, photographing such colorful scientific phenomena as DNA strands and chemical reactions. In 1991 she received a Loeb Art fellowship at Harvard, where she explored a relationship between science and art. Joining MIT in 1993 as an artist-in-residence and Guggenheim fellow, she teaches researchers and students how to add a visual element to their research. She is also writing a book on the same subject, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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