"Dynamic Earth" is the title of the film animation project, which "depicts the vast scale of the Sun's influence on the Earth, from the flowing particles of the solar wind and the fury of coronal mass ejections to the winds and currents driven by the solar heating of the atmosphere and ocean", stated Horace Mitchell from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, who designed the four-minute video segment with his collaborators. "Moving through these flows gives the viewer a sense of the grandeur in the order and chaos exhibited by these dynamic systems." Visualizers from NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio created the video excerpt for a lengthier planetarium movie, narrated by Liam Neeson. The full-length film is now playing at over 60 planetariums around the world and has an estimated viewership of 500,000.
"The winners made scientific data beautiful and brought their new ideas to life, while at the same time immersing the viewer in science", stated Monica M. Bradford, executive editor of the journalScience, which is published by AAAS, the non-profit international science society. "The award recognizes this remarkable talent for creating thought-provoking videos and visuals."
"Invisible Coral Flows", a photograph that shows the beauty of micro-scale flows produced by reef-building corals, features on the cover of the 7 February 2014 issue ofScience. "Corals create these flows by waving minute hairs, or cilia, lining their surface to remove debris and enhance their exchange of nutrients and gases with the surrounding seawater", explained Vicente Fernandez from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The annual competition, which allowed the public to share their favorite work on social media, received 1,983 public votes for the People's Choice awards. One of these award-winning entries, "Wearable Power", describes a product that has power sources built into fabric for clothing. It could be used in the medical, military and sportswear industries. "It demonstrates how this technology may eventually be used in everyday life", stated Kristy Yost from Drexel University. "We are developing yarns that can be fully knitted and integrated into energy-storing fabrics to power future generations of electronic clothing."
The international competition, currently in its eleventh year, honours recipients who use visual media to convey scientific research and ideas to the general public. Staff committee members from NSF and Science screened the 227 entries from 12 countries, which included 17 U.S. states and Canadian territories. The criteria for judging included visual impact, effective communication, freshness and originality.
Some highlights of the annual challenge, which showcases interactive videos and spectacular visuals, include:
Other winning entries include an interactive App that engages students in the STEM fields to solve problems in science; a photo, inspired by Japanese woodwork, that shows the fine structure of leaf hairs; a digitally painted illustration that describes the four-stage cycle of a cold-stunned sea turtle; a digitally printed image on a cotton-fabric quilt with layers of colour-coded passwords to illustrate how many people choose identical passwords; a 3D game that explores the depths of the world's oceans; a novel biofilm imaging technique implemented on a hand sculpture to convey the growth of bacteria - at 400 times normal resolution; a tool that allows the user to scroll through time and see the Earth transform from a molten mass to the planet we know today; and more.
A special news feature in the 7 February 2014 issue ofSciencepresents each of the winning entries and is available to the public without registration. A related slideshow is also publicly available at http://scim.ag/VisChall2013 , http://www.AAAS.org , and the NSF's website at http://www.nsf.gov/news/scivis/ .