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May 10, 2013

"Save Our Earth. Let's Go Green"

"Save Our Earth. Let's Go Green," by Joanna Aizenberg, Harvard University.

Hair-like fibers stretch to latch onto a green sphere. Alone each fiber is powerless, but together they grip and support the orb, embodying cooperation at a microscopic scale. This electron microscope photograph catches self-assembling polymers in action, but it could also represent people's cooperative efforts to save the Earth, says Aizenberg, a materials scientist. "Each hair represents a person or an organization," she says. "It shows our collaborative effort to hold up the planet and keep it running."

Aizenberg and her colleagues design self-assembling polymers in hopes of creating energy-efficient materials. They have snapped many similar photos of micrometer-scale cooperation. This image shows hair-like fibers of epoxy resin assembling around a polystyrene sphere, which is about 2 micrometers in diameter. [Research supported in part by the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) under grant DMR 02-13805), a National Science Foundation MRSEC, and the Center for Nanoscale Systems at Harvard, supported in the past by NSF grant ECS 03-35765.]

This image won Honorable Mention in the Photography category of the 2009 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge (SciVis) competition, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science. The competition is held each year to celebrate the grand tradition of science visualization and to encourage its continued growth. The spirit of the competition is to communicate science, engineering and technology for education and journalistic purposes. To learn more about the competition and view all the winning entries, see the NSF SciVis Special Report. (Date of Image: 2008)

Credit: Sung Hoon Kang, Joanna Aizenberg and Boaz Pokroy; Harvard University

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