Sketches of Science – Nobel Pictures

Three years ago I met the photographer Volker Steger for the first time. He prepared one of the ‘secret’ rooms in the Inselhalle in Lindau. Huge white sheets of paper and wax crayons lay around. You would not have guessed, that what happend there, was high art with simple means.

It was the 60ths Nobel Laureate Meeting which due to the 50th anniversary and interdisciplinarity of the meeting was attended by 59 Nobel Laureates. Volker Steger invited plenty of them to a photo shooting. Not telling them, what he was going to do. Once they were in the room he lifted his secret: They should sketch their Nobel findings. Afterwards he will make a picture of them with their works of art.

“All the laureates I met for a photo shoot were quite surprised by my exceptional request, because I did not inform them beforehand. The idea was to get something spontaneous, not a scientific “paper” intended for publication in a journal“, Volker Steger discribes in the artbook that gives more insights about the series. And he succeeded with his intuition using the moment of surprise as Sir Timothy Hunt, Nobel Laureate in physiology or medicine 2001, reports: „One of the many engagements in Lindau was a mysterious photo session, to which I gave little or no thought before-hand. After all, lots of people take photographs of Nobel Laureates – it comes with the territory. This one proved to be rather different, however, and much more professional than usual….”

You might scroll through the artbook “Sketches of Science“, which is available as pdf. But if you prefer seeing the pictures in high resolution and original you may now plan a trip to the Mainau Castle at Lake Constance, the home of the Bernadotte family in Germany, which is fairly close to Lindau. The exhibition presents 50 of the images of Nobel Laureates in chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine presenting their paintings” (read more).

(Source: Lindau Nobel Online Community)

Covalent bonds made visible!

“The chemical rearrangement of oligo-(phenylene-1,2-ethynylenes) as seen in the microscope image (top) and the stick diagram of the molecular structure. Photo: de Oteyza et al.”


Original article:
de Oteyza et al. 2013. “Direct Imaging of Covalent Bond Structure in Single-Molecule Chemical Reactions.” Science. Vol. 340 no. 6139 pp. 1434-1437 DOI: 10.1126/science.1238187

a | This is a painting by John Piper that was used as the frontispiece for Waddington’s book Organisers and Genes. In the picture, which is intended to represent the epigenetic landscape, the developmental pathways that could be taken by each cell of the embryo are metaphorically represented by the path taken by water as it flows down the valleys. The water is supposed to be flowing away from the viewer, towards the sea in the distance. But the bifurcations of the valleys look so unnatural that the flow of water actually appears to be towards the viewer. b | A later depiction of the epigenetic landscape. The ball represents a cell, and the bifurcating system of valleys represents the ‘chreodes’ or bundles of trajectories in state space. c | A rare view behind the scenes of Waddington’s landscape. Each valley in the landscape is formed by tension on guy ropes that are attached to complexes of ‘genes’, represented as pegs stuck in the ground. Panel a reproduced with permission from the frontispiece of Ref. 12 © (1940) Cambridge University Press; panels b,c reproduced with permission from Ref. 13© (1957) Geo Allen & Unwin.”

*the permissions quoted above refer to the Nature article, not this post