Seeking Art in Science

The Art of Science
Marian Florescu, Paul J. Steinhardt and Salvatore Torquato / Princeton University Art of Science Competition

Experiments in Beauty
Each spring, the "Art of Science" competition at Princeton University rewards three university scientists for their contributions — not to science, but to art. The dozens of submissions, created during the course of scientific research, can sometimes be surprisingly revealing, and the images represent fields as varied as astrophysics, fluid dynamics, genomics and zoology. (The image above is a close-up of a new "photonic solid" invented by Princeton physicists; think of it as a semiconductor of light, rather than electricity.)

The winners receive nominal cash prizes, whose value is determined according to the golden ratio — the mathematical proportion considered to underlie the most aesthetically pleasing objects, natural or man-made. We won't expound the formula here, but see if you can figure it out for yourself: First prize is $250; second place takes $154.51; and the third prize is $95.49.

Following are 10 of TIME's favorite images from the 2010 Art of Science contest. The full exhibit will be on display at Princeton until May 5, 2011.

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