Credit: Linda Nye and the Exploratorium Visualization Laboratory, The Exploratorium
A discussion of the human circulatory system typically begins and ends with the heart. But in this illustration, the team manipulates perspective to show the relationship between the tiniest oxygen atom and the comparatively giant organ. Jennifer Frazier, who directed the project by San Francisco's Exploratorium, says her team used a common technique in landscape paintings to fit multiple scales into a single image. "Something very large can appear small because it's on the horizon, and something very small can appear large because it's in the foreground."
In the image, illustrated by artist Linda Nye, a human heart is in the background and a viewer's eye follows the artery downward to an interior view of the bloodstream in the foreground. The magnification at each level of the image increases 10-fold to show red blood cells and even the oxygen atom within a heme group with colorful clarity.
The goal is to show the interactions between the macro and micro. Frazier says "The system requires multiple scales to make things happen." The image is meant for display within museums, and its appropriateness for that audience impressed judges. Says panel of finalist judges member Alisa Machalek, "It really accomplished the goals of using art to explain science." Fellow judge Michael Keegan adds, "It's just a good way of presenting that macro-micro situation where tiny parts of the circulatory system contribute to the life of the whole body."