RIT Professor Andrew Davidhazy Captures Beauty and Science in Award-Winning Image

Photo among winning entries of International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge

An image of a rapidly spinning string, shot by Andrew Davidhazy, department chair of imaging and photographic technology at Rochester Institute of Technology, won an honorable mention in the photography category of the sixth annual International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

The National Science Foundation along with the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), co-sponsored the challenge. Participants were asked to submit visualizations that would intrigue, explain and educate. More than 180 entries were received from illustrators, photographers, computer programmers and graphics specialists from 21 countries.

To create the visual effect in String Vibrations, Davidhazy took a cotton string and tied one end to a tiny electric motor and the other to a small weight. The camera exposure time was about two seconds.

“The vibrating string appeared to have volume in the final image even though it was just a single string whirling in space,” says Davidhazy. “This was because the string delivered uneven amounts of exposure to the camera sensor as it rotated depending on whether it was traveling toward, away or across the camera’s lens. This created variations in exposure giving rise to brightness differences in the image. In effect, the moving string had become its own shutter.”

All of the winning entries can be seen on the National Science Foundation Web site, the Science Web site and in the Sept. 26 issue of Science magazine. Awards were given out in photography, illustrations, informational graphics, non-interactive media and interactive media.

Jeff Nesbit, director of the National Science Foundation’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs praised the winners saying, “These visualizations are aids to understanding, keys to insight and tools for learning. They explain complex phenomena to the public, let researchers view their subjects from new perspectives and most importantly, spark the imaginations of students everywhere. We are indebted to these extraordinary individuals and very talented teams.”


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