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Book Review: Molecular Aesthetics

Molecular Aesthetics, edited by Peter Weibel & Ljiljana Fruk, published by MIT Press.

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This is an amazing volume with tons of great information on the emerging field of molecular aesthetics. As editor Peter Weibel wrote: the pioneering work in this book “illustrates the transition from the aesthetics of product-based industrial Modernism to that of postindustrial service-based Second Modernism or Postmodernism and, further, to the aesthetics of the knowledge-based Third Revolution.” Molecular aesthetics originates from our ever-increasing knowledge of and the ability to manipulate the invisible molecular world.

The book consists of 17 beautifully illustrated essays written by artists, philosophers, scholars, and scientists, most of them from a symposium held at ZKM | Center of Art and Media in Karlsruhe in 2011. However, a few essays were collected from other sources like “Molecular Beauty” by Noble laureate Roald Hoffmann. Besides these essays, there are also 33 visually-stunning displays of works by artists working at the intersection of art and science. Because of my personal background, I am happy to found works I am familiar with, such as those by Irving Geis, David Goodsell, and Drew Berry. But it is so exciting to see some amazing works I have never seen before. Very inspiring!

In the beginning of the book, there is a short section called “23 Molecules that Changed the World”, which was adapted from a 3D interactive installation at ZKM | Media Museum by Ljiljana Fruk and Bernd Lintermann. The print version uses stereoscopic images and a 3D glass is provided together with the book, so that you can really see these molecules in 3D.

I highly recommend this book. If you are new to Molecule Aesthetics, you will learn a lot! If you already have some experience of the field, I am sure you will find a lot of new information and inspiration from this book. Finally, I am happy that MIT press sets a reasonable price for this 480 pages full-color book.

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Book images from Amazon.com.

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Beautiful Chemistry Trailer 2: Structures

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Beautiful Chemistry Trailer 1: Reactions

How do you like it? Please comment.

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Chemistry is SO beautiful!

Deadline is coming and we are working very hard. Chemistry is SO beautiful. We are capturing its beauty with cameras and will share with you soon. For more information, please visit:

http://beautifulchemistry.net
http://blog.beautifulchemistry.net

beautiful chemistry reaction photo beautiful chemistry reaction photo beautiful chemistry reaction photo

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Hope you like them! For more information, please visit BeautifulChemistry.net.

P1020072 P1030002 P1030005 P1040008 P1040016 P1040029

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More Information about BeautifulChemistry.net

We released more information about Beautiful Chemistry on the project website. Also, we launched a blog that focuses on the news and information about project development. The first version of Beautiful Chemistry will be completed by 9/30/2014.

More preview images:

DNA nano-spaceship

borromean rings

supramolecular nanotube

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Announcing BeautifulChemistry.net

Beautiful_chemistry

Announcing BeautifulChemistry.net, a project collaboration between the Institute of Advanced Technology at the University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University Press. The goal of this project is to bring the beauty of chemistry to the general public through digital media and technology.

More information coming soon!

decagonal quasicrystal

metal organic framework

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Irving Geis and His Paintings of Proteins

myoglobin crystal structure

“Crystal structure of myoglobin (1961)” from the Irving Geis Collection. Rights owned and administered by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Reproduction by permission only.

The image above was a painting of myoglobin, the first protein structure solved by X-ray crystallography. The painting was created by Irving Geis for a Scientific American article “The Three Dimensional Structure of a Protein Molecule” by John Kendrew, published in December l961. John Kendrew and his colleagues solved the myoglobin structure in l958.

Geis Portrait

Irving Geis (1908-1997). Photo: Sandy Geis.

Nowadays, one can easily create an image of a protein structure with the aid of a computer and molecular visualization software. In 1961, however, everything had to be done by hand. Creating an image of a protein structure required not only outstanding artistic skills of visualizing complicated 3D structures, but also extraordinary patience. Originally trained as an architect at Georgia Institute of Technology and receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Pennsylvania, Geis had all the skills and knowledge to visualize the 3D structures of proteins.

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Joining University of Science and Technology of China

This February, I will become a contract associate professor at the Department of Science and Technology Communication and Policy (STCP) at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to starting a new journey in scientific visualization at USTC.

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This is a following post of How to make cover art for scientific journals: study existing covers and make early decisions. In this post, we will discuss the creation processes of a Science cover, a PNAS cover, and a Nature Biotechnology cover.

1. Science cover (August 24, 2012)

Research paper: A Periciliary Brush Promotes the Lung Health by Separating the Mucus Layer from Airway Epithelia

The authors studied the airway epithelial cell surfaces in human lungs. They discovered that cilia and airway surface are covered by tethered biomacromolecules that form dense, brushlike structures. The image below was the authors’ attempt on the cover design (image courtesy of Liheng Cai and Aloha Sahl).

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There were two problems with this design. 1. The main focus of the paper was the brushlike structures of the airway surface. However, the human lungs took a big portion of the image. 2. After studying the previous covers, we found that Science seldom used schematic drawings and blow-up insets for their covers. As a result, I proposed that we should make a new image that focuses on the airway surface and brushlike structures. Below is the first version.

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[click to continue…]

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