Beyond the Naked Eye: Science Reveals Nature's Art
November 8, 2008–January 9, 2009
Art and science have always been connected—from alchemists' experiments producing artist materials to Renaissance explorations of anatomy. Contemporary art includes many modern technologies as processes, and the avant-garde has seen science as a subject for artistic exploration for over a century. This exhibition aims to reverse the traditional roles by presenting the science as the art.
Scientists use many types of imaging technologies to reveal nature’s structure at scales above and below those accessible to the unaided human eye. The pictures in this exhibition are taken at scales varying from satellite imagery at the upper end to electron micrographs of objects only a few nanometers in size. These include biological structures, geological features, and the materials produced by prehistoric and historic technologies. The images have been chosen because they are visually intriguing and often beautiful, but each one is also a piece of evidence used in pursuing a scientific question. The captions to the photographs explain all cases, what the images are, and the scientific puzzles that they help to solve.
Artists, teachers, students and anyone interested in scientific exploration are invited to experience current research at the University of Arizona through this unique exhibition!
All images were taken by students, staff and faculty of the University of Arizona and Arizona State Museum. The exhibition is mounted with financial assistance from the National Science Foundation/University of Arizona Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program in archaeological science.
Sample Images from the Exhibition
Magnified linen fibers from the Shroud of Turin, image by Rachel Freer, visiting research fellow, Arizona State Museum
The Shroud of Turin has been the source of much controversy over the last couple of decades. It had been requested that the specific sample radio carbon dated by the Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory be examined for authenticity. Polarized Light Microscopy was used to confirm that the major fiber content of the sample is linen.
Slag from 17th century New Mexico workshop; image by Noah Thomas, recent PhD recipient in anthropology
The slag sample pictured here was recovered from the 17th century Spanish Colonial metal smelting workshop at the Pueblo of Paa-ko in New Mexico. The rosette in this transmitted light image is tridymite, a form of silica formed at high temperatures, indicating that the metallurgy practiced at this site used a forced draft capable of sustaining temperatures above 1000° C.
Slag from ancient iron smelting in Madagascar; image by David Killick, UA professor of anthropology
A metallurgical slag from ancient iron smelting in Madagascar. A thin slice was glued to a glass slide and polished to a thickness of only 0.03 mm. It is photographed here at a magnification of 200x in cross polarized transmitted light. All of the brightly colored crystals are of the same mineral (an iron silicate called fayalite) but display different colors because the lattices of each crystal are at different angles to the plane of the section. The black network within the fayalite crystals is of a second mineral, an iron-aluminium spinel called hercynite, that crystallized at the same time as the fayalite, giving rise to complex intergrowths of the two minerals.
Related Links in Other Sections
©1995–2013 Arizona Board of Regents