Science Should Be Totally Beautiful

Susie Neilson in Nautilus:

ArtFelice Frankel lives between the lines. Along with being a part-time science photographer, she’s a researcher at the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “As a photographer,” Frankel says, “I look for edges.” Her previous career, as a photographer of architecture, taught her how to capture the most striking elements of a design. “But here’s the thing,” she says. “Edges don’t really exist. If you really, really get down to things, what looks like a smooth transition from one place to another, when you investigate it microscopically or macroscopically, is not as perfect as it appears.”

Take the photographs above. If you zoom out from the defined grey channels, Frankel says, you’d see a microfluidic device, a tool that exploits the small-scale properties of fluids, like surface tension; and if you zoom into the hedged image of the atrium, she says, “We’d start seeing the roots of the plants, and the rough edges of the stone. The more detail we have, the more we question, ‘Are there real demarcations between one [thing] and another?” Frankel’s work has been featured on the covers of National Geographic, Nature, Science, and other magazines. She has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and was an Artist-in-Residence at MIT’s Edgerton Center, “where mind and hand come together.” As Nautilus learned in a recent interview with Frankel, you can say her photographs feel like art—just don’t call her an artist.

More here.