The Best Science Visualizations of the Year

Browse through the winning images that turn scientific exploration into art

To go backward in time, start at the far right side of this Cosmic Web poster, which represents the universe as it is today, scattered with galaxies. As you move to the left, you see earlier stages of the universe in which dark matter—a mysterious substance astronomers can detect only indirectly—was structured as webs and filaments. Before that, closer to the Big Bang, dark matter was dominated by tides and voids. (Image courtesy of Miguel Angel Aragon Calvo, Julieta Aguilera, Mark Subbarao)

Metabolomic Eye

The Metabolomic Eye
(Image courtesy of Bryan William Jones, PhD)

“Retinas are like little parallel super computers,” says Bryan Jones, a neuroscientist at the Moran Eye center in Salt Lake City. As part of his research into the eye’s circuitry, he created this image of a mouse eye, titled Metabolomic Eye, the first prize winner in the photography category. The mammalian eye has about 70 different types of cells—goldfish and turtles have even more complex retinas with about 200 kinds of cells—and “every cell has its own place in the world,” he says. Jones sliced a mouse eye with a diamond knife, stained the various cells according to their metabolic activity, then digitally reconstructed the back of the eye. “It's kind of like a gobstopper. If you take a gobstopper and lick, lick, lick, lick, lick one spot on it, you can sort of get through and see all the layers. That's sort of what I did, a few nanometers at a time.” -- additional reporting by Sarah Zielinski


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