Seeking Art in Science

The Art of Science
Lorenzo Sironi and Anatoly Spitkovsky / Princeton University Art of Science Competition

It's Not What You Think It Is
The title says it all. Although this image looks like a biological scene you might have learned about in your 7th-grade sex-education class, what's actually shown is a simulation of an astrophysical process known as "magnetic reconnection": opposing magnetic fields are spliced together, releasing high amounts of energy. (Solar flares, for instance, are thought to involve magnetic reconnection.) As a result, the magnetic fields become trapped in "islands," seen here as red orbs. Sailing between them are high-energy particles, which leave yellow tracks in their wake.

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