Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
Marie Curie 1

Is it possible that beauty could lead us further towards this understanding?

Today on Ever Widening Circles, we’re sharing something especially precious: the beauty of what cannot be seen with the naked eye. Sights like this following formation dressed in pink:

Image: Ammonium Chloride crystalization in a red pigment underneath a microscope!

Courtesy of Beauty of Science

One education brand, Beauty of Science (BOS), has put together programs that not only aid in sparking an interest for the sciences on the classroom level but provide substantial online content that we could all find ourselves easily absorbed into, regardless of our age. To start us off, here’s a little history on why they began down this path:

More than 100 years ago, German biologist Ernst Haeckel published his famous work Art Forms in Nature, which was very popular in his time. His exquisite, Art Nouveau style illustrations brought exotic marine and microscopic life forms to the eyes of the public. We hope to follow the footsteps of Haeckel, using digital media and technology to bring the beauty and wonder of chemistry to a wide audience. In addition, we want to achieve a unique aesthetic of chemistry, making chemistry approachable and lovable. 2

Austrian writer, Ernst Fischer said it concisely:

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art”

Now, if you look at both the arts and the sciences, you could easily draw the conclusion that they’re very different fields. But what’s more life than science? And what’s more eye-catching than art? So…what if we combined them? What new understandings could we pull from their union? How many minds could find inspiration?

Here’s a quick video to nudge us along (and to find out what’s happening in the photo above)!

Led by Yan Liang, Ph.D., Beauty of Science is showcasing just how fascinating science is by capturing what can unfold when you look a bit closer and let your curiosity take over. The featured photo and video above are an example from their Mini Series, which they describe as:

“…an art project which explor[es] the microscopic world. The microscope can be used not only for scientific observation, but also for artistic creation. We mixed pigments with other chemicals in a small petri dish, recorded their movements and shapes through the microscope, and found that within each tiny spot lies another hidden world of complexity.” 4

Explore their Mini Series a little more if you really want to experience something breathtaking!

The beauty that they showcase has the ability to spark the interest in minds that may have never considered this as a career option, or even something they had an inkling of desire to learn about. So, in addition to creating these stunning works of art, BOS is also providing content that can be utilized within schools to assist teachers with engaging their students and forming their interest in the subject.

Here’s a piece from Liang’s project with Wenting ZhuEnvisioning Chemistry, that explores the amazing worlds that can be found even in the simplest chemical reactions (no need to blow anything up!) 5

If you saw this in your classroom wouldn’t you want to know more? Of course. The experience is taken a bit further by doing the following…

“For each film, we created a useful worksheet for teachers. The films will get students excited, and the worksheets will help them master some key chemical knowledge. In addition, to solve the challenge of how to effectively demonstrate chemical reactions in classrooms, we created a resource covering most of the chemical reactions in the high school chemistry curriculum. These chemical reactions were captured in great details so that every student in the classroom can make his/her own discoveries.” 7

They’re working to make it a more involved classroom experience. Have you ever stood around a table with your classmates and fought for a view of an experiment? Or worked hard to set one up only to have it fail?

The following is another example from their teacher resource that shows the reaction between copper and concentrated nitric acid. The brown gas that is emitted is rather poisonous to inhale, so the experiment could be unfit to do in some high school environments. The solution? Something that allows everyone in the classroom to see the successful experiment and replay however many times they’d like…

Pretty cool, right? These videos make me wonder how many of us current non-scientists would have nurtured a life in this field if we were exposed to something so visually captivating and detailed in our own chemistry classes.

Now, if the substances in these videos feel rather distanced from you, here’s one that a lot of us can firmly grasp: Melting M&M’s, anyone?

See? Even in the simplest reactions, there is so much beauty.

How could we progress if more minds were exposed to this?

A few days before stumbling across BOS, I had actually remarked, “Well, I’m not much of a science person, actually.” It’s safe to say that my interest has been piqued.

Beauty of Science is opening a window and giving people a view into a future that they may have never considered for themselves. They’re not only giving teachers the tools to inspire inside of the classroom, they’re showing the growing generations (and us grown ones) that science isn’t just for those who like structured methods and rules, it’s for those who acknowledge and appreciate the wonder in the world and want to discover why and how it’s all happening. It’s inclusive, it’s exciting, and above all, it’s beautiful.

Do yourself a favor and explore both their Envisioning Chemistry project and the entire Beauty of Science collection! (I promise, these are nothing like the science classes you may have fallen asleep in.)

Want to see another great combination of the arts and sciences that brings an important subject more attention? Take a look at this gorgeous river clean up…

9 minutes

Saving Rivers by Turning Toxins Into Art!

How can painting with toxic sludge save rivers? Two professors at Ohio University are teaming up to combine art and science to conserve and protect polluted waterways!

Read More

Find the beauty in what surrounds you, and remember, it’s still an amazing world out there!

-Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein 

Bonus!

They took a ton of their videos and combined them in this seasonal wrap up for 2016.
Take a look! It’s mesmerizing!

Now, since we’ve discovered how they could work together…

Take a moment to browse through these two categories and see what similarities you can find!

Science on EWC                Art on EWC

If you’d like to head in another direction, the easiest way to do so is by clicking the “Surprise Me!” button in the sidebar! (Or, just click that link).

Notes:

  1. Nace, Trevor. “20 Inspirational Quotes From Famous Scientists.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 18 June 2017. Web. 01 Nov. 2017. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2016/03/06/20-inspirational-quotes-famous-scientists/#f3d69d86f0e7>.
  2. “About/Contact.” Beautiful Chemistry. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2017. <http://www.beautifulchemistry.net/about/>.
  3. “MINIGLOBELET 2.” Vimeo. Beauty of Science, 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 11 Oct. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/191768999>.
  4. “MiniSeries.” Beauty of Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2017. <http://www.beautyofscience.com/miniseries/>.
  5. Krämer, Katrina. “Beautiful Screen Chemistry.” Chemistry World. Chemistry World, 02 Oct. 2017. Web. 01 Nov. 2017. <https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/beautiful-screen-chemistry-/3008075.article>.
  6. “Envisioning Chemistry: Black (Lead) and White (Silver).” Vimeo. The Beauty of Science, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 31 Oct. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/189611593>.
  7. “About.” Envisioning Chemistry. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2017. <https://www.envisioningchemistry.com/about/>.
  8. “Reaction between Copper and Concentrated Nitric Acid.” Vimeo. Beauty of Science, 30 Sept. 2017. Web. 07 Nov. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/236202756>.
  9. “M&m’s Dissolving in Water – 4K.” Vimeo. Beauty of Science, 14 Dec. 2016. Web. 11 Oct. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/195613867>.
  10. “SEASONS – in a Small World.” Vimeo. Beauty of Science, 30 Dec. 2016. Web. 11 Oct. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/197494557>.

Samantha Burns

Executive Assistant, Staff Writer

Samantha is a listener, creator, collector of knick knacks and lover of most, if not all, types of cheese.