Celebration of scientific art

Chris Woolston in Nature:

WEB_owlImages of painted pterosaurs, ceramic diatoms and quilts depicting neurons have flooded scientists’ Twitter feeds, after the writers of Symbiartic, Scientific American’s art blog launched ‘SciArt Week’ this week. Researchers and artists have been posting a flurry of artwork highlighting the beautiful side of science, using the hashtag #sciart. Malcolm Campbell, a plant scientist at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, Canada, was one of the first researchers to announce SciArt week on Twitter. “Art captures the imagination in a way that science alone cannot,” he says. “It’s a wonderful way to make science more tangible to the public.”

The week began with a post on the Symbiartic blog calling for followers to tweet out at least three pieces of scientific art — including paintings, cartoons, medical illustrations and rough sketches — each day. Glendon Mellow, the Toronto-based artist and Symbiartic blogger who first conceived SciArt Week, says he was originally hoping for about 1,600 #sciart tweets per day, but was surprised to see nearly 5,000 on 2 March alone. One of his motivations, he says, was to expose artists to a wider audience of potential buyers. “We want people who love science to become aware of how easily they can reach out to artists.” The deluge of images has spanned just about every field of science. Adam Summers, a fish biologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, shared his striking photograph of a leopard shark embryo with blue-stained cartilage.

Picture: Words frequently found in research papers about barn owls were used to create this image.

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