2015 Cool Science Image Contest Winners

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2015 Cool Science Image Contest

Winning Images

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Winning Video

The Fast Plants program works to build open education resources that support conceptual understanding through science teaching, learning, and research using Wisconsin Fast Plants as a model. This video shows seeds germinating on moistened paper towel with a small amount of soil inside a vertically oriented Petri plate. The animation was produced over three days using time-lapse photography. It begins moments after the seeds were positioned on the plate. Observe the stages of seed germination, from seed imbibing of water, to cracking of the seed coat, to emergence of the root radicle, to emergence of the seed-stem and leaves (hypocotyl and cotyledons). You can also view the phenomenon of circular, wobbling plant “movement” known as nutation. Nutation is not fully understood, but may function to secure the stability of a plant as it grows.
CREDIT: Jackson Hetue, Staff, Wisconsin Fast Plants Program, Department of Plant Pathology. Seed germination video on Flickr

See slideshows of winners in past years: 2011, 2012, 2013,2014.

Congratulations to our winners!

Scientific imagery, of course, is intended to help scientists. It is a critical form of data in many fields and can yield important and sometimes striking insights into nature and the way things work.

But the pictures and other images of science can also have remarkable aesthetic qualities that the non-scientist can appreciate. That has been the philosophy of our Cool Science Image feature, published on this site for 19 years.

Digital Publishing and Printing Services Division of Information Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison (logo)
Promega (logo)

Four years ago, as an experiment, The Why Files held its first Cool Science Image contest. Limited to Why Files headquarters, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the contest yielded 60 entries. The next year 84 Badgers entered the competition. Last year, there were 105 submissions. The 2015 contest garnered 112 submissions, a record. In addition to generous sponsorship from Madison-based Promega Corp., DoIT Digital Publishing and Printing Services and the McPherson Eye Research Institute provide additional contest support.

Choosing the winners was difficult, but our judges narrowed the field to 11 winners, included in this slide show. In addition, this year the judges acknowledged one video with a contest award.

The experiment, we think, has been a success. Our goal now is to continue this as an annual event. We hope to grow the contest and help bring the visual beauty of science to a larger audience, an aspiration that can make all of us winners.

*If you wish to repost any of these images, please acknowledge the University of Wisconsin-Madison and include a link to this site. We would also appreciate notification of repostings.