Jul 22, 2005

The Art of Science

Princeton University has posted the results of the first annual Art of Science competition in an online exihibition.

The images run from the abstract, such as electron microscopy to both representational photographic images and simply graphics.

Mooney Faces
Aaron Schurger GS
Department of Psychology
In 1957 Craig Mooney, a cognitive psychologist, published “Age in the development of closure ability in children.” He used images similar to the ones above to test the ability of children to perform “perceptual closure”—that is, to form a coherent perceptual impression on the basis of very little visual detail. Images of this type, often referred to as Mooney faces, have become common in cognitive psychology experiments because they offer a means of inducing variable perception with constant visuo-spatial characteristics (the images are very often not perceived as faces if viewed upside down). I have used such images in an experiment I conducted with a “blindsight” patient, to test for signs of face perception without awareness. I used many of Mooney’s original 40 images, but also created a few hundred of my own (with the help of my wife, Corinne Foy). Along the way, I have come to appreciate many of the images as being very pleasant to look at. It is fascinating to notice how little visual information it takes to experience a face (humans have evolved very effective and efficient mechanisms for the perception of faces), and at the same time to notice the variety of other shapes and contours that emerge.

Dynamic Asset Allocation in Freight Transportation
Warren B. Powell and Belgacem Bouzaiene-Ayari
Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering
This graphic comes from a dynamic asset allocation problem in railroads. The system, which is now in production at Norfolk Southern railroad, is the first production implementation of a stochastic, dynamic programming model in freight transportation. The model is based on the Ph.D. dissertation of Huseyin Topaloglu (now a professor at Cornell University) for stochastic, integer multicommodity flow problems. The original research was modified to handle multidimensional attribute problems, with millions of asset types.

The Average Princetonian
Clay Bavor ’05 and Jesse Levinson ’05
Department of Computer Science
The Average Princetonian is composed of about two dozen so-called templates, or average representations of facial features that are used by computer algorithms to identify points on a face. We created these templates by combining photos of 150 Princeton students with a piece of software we wrote as part of our senior thesis.

Wake of a Pitching Plate
James Buchholz GS and Alexander Smits
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
These images contain top and side views of the wake produced by a rigid plate pitching about its leading edge in a uniform flow (flowing left to right). The leading edge of the plate is hinged to the trailing edge of a stationary symmetric airfoil. The wake is visualized using fluorescent dyes that are introduced through a series of holes on each side of the airfoil support. Twice in each flapping cycle, a horseshoe-shaped vortex is shed from the top, bottom, and trailing edges. The vortices become entangled to form the chain-like structure shown here. Studying such wakes is believed to be important for understanding the mechanisms of thrust production in fish-like swimming.

While the images may have been produced for entirely technical reasons, it is clear that they have a life and purpose beyond meeting the needs of technical analysis. They transcend the scientific to the artistic.

The gallery is definitely worth a look.

Comments are closed.