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Cambridge’s Annual Photo Contest Showcases The Beauty Of Engineering

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No one can doubt there”s a beauty in science. The way things come together in life is miraculous. It”s as though this universe serendipitously creates solutions that can push the world forward. It”s also literally, visually breathtaking, even if the naked eye can”t always see it. Luckily for us, there”s a way to share that beauty with the world.

Cambridge University holds an annual engineering photography contest, where facets of engineering can be viewed in a more artistic light. Allan McRobie, a lecturer in engineering at Cambridge describes the contest as “a chance to wander outside its merely utilitarian aspects into dimensions such as beauty, humor and even humanity to find unexpected connections and poetic resonance.”

1st Prize: Adrianus Indrat Aria: Asteroidea Electrica

1st Prize: Adrianus Indrat Aria: Asteroidea Electrica

This electron micrograph, which has been color-enhanced, shows graphene foam. The foam is a conductive, lightweight and porous material currently being studied for applications in energy storage, chemical sensing and as a lightweight building material.

2nd Prize: Yarin Gal: Extrapolated Art

2nd Prize: Yarin Gal: Extrapolated Art

Using the PatchMatch algorithm, Van Gogh”s seminal The Starry Night can get expanded to show more of the scenery. The program uses existing information to make a projection of further information.

3rd Prize: Anthony Rubinstein-Baylis: Francis the Engineer

3rd Prize: Anthony Rubinstein-Baylis: Francis the Engineer

Although he has no official training, Francis the Engineer, shown here inside a well with a broken pump, has fixed well pumps for villages in rural Malawi, where fresh water is scarce. He”s developed his own type of pump through hard work and ingenuity, and helped people obtain clean drinking water.

McRobie serves as one of the judges in the competition, and as such, he gets to look at some of the incredible beauty that comes with the engineering field. He is privy to the integration of science and art, research and creativity that allows us to solve problems of all kinds and make the world a better place. The competition is sponsored by ZEISS, a company that produces optics and optoelectronics, and this year had five categories, including one for images captured with an electron microscope. The project is open to anyone in the university”s Engineering Department, and the only rule is that the image must correspond to an ongoing project or research in the Department.

Tanvir Qureshi: Concrete Crack Bridge for Self-Healing

Tanvir Qureshi: Concrete Crack Bridge for Self-Healing

This image, the winner of the ZEISS electron microscope photo contest, shows the process of a crack in concrete “healing” itself. Self-healing building material is being researched and developed in an attempt to curb expensive, resource-diminishing repeated repairs.

James Griffith: Fractured Rainbows: Mode II Cracks in Glass I

James Griffith: Fractured Rainbows: Mode II Cracks in Glass I

This phenomenon is known as a Mode II crack, which is a rare occurrence in glass, and happens by the shearing within a layer of glass. The result is this feathery pattern of fractures.

Calum Williams, Yunnen Montelongo & Jaime Tenorio-Pearl: Lens Array

Calum Williams, Yunnen Montelongo & Jaime Tenorio-Pearl: Lens Array

Each lens in this array is composed of metallic nanostructures that each diffract light at different wavelengths, forming the patterns seen here and the bright central points.

Rose Spear: 10 Fibrin

Rose Spear: 10 Fibrin

Taken with a confocal laser scanning microscope, this image shows human mesenchymal stem cells attached to fibrin, used in implant coatings.

Michael De Volder: Carbon Nanotube Clover Field

Michael De Volder: Carbon Nanotube Clover Field

These nanostructures are only about a thousandth of a millimeter across, but thanks to electron microscopes, we can be privy to their beauty.

Dhiren Mistry: Stretch and Swirl I

Dhiren Mistry: Stretch and Swirl I

It looks like flame, but this is actually an image of fluorescent dye being released from a nozzle.

You can see the rest of the entries on the Engineering Department”s Flickr page.

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