Albert Einstein believed that mystery was the most beautiful experience humans could have. “It is the source of all true art and science,” he said.
But while scientists routinely probe nature’s mysteries, only rarely do they breach the divide into the world of art.
The Mass General Research Institute — home to more than 8,500 research scientists — is working to open a doorway between the two, hosting an annual contest to highlight outstanding scientific images. The Mass General Research Institute Image Awards were launched in 2018 to call attention to the research that underlies stunning images created through laboratory work and medical imaging. The 2023 winners were announced at a gala event last month. They include “Lightning of the Mouse Brain,” “The Arms Wide Open,” “A Living Puzzle,” “Fueling the Fight,” “Imaging the Brain,” and “It Takes Two.”
“This is a great way to increase interest in science,” said Susan Slaugenhaupt, the institute’s scientific director and a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Though people don’t always know what they are, they’re beautiful images.”
Submissions for 2023 featured a swirl of colors and images. The gold, white, and turquoise of “Biological Fairy Lights” resemble the entangled chains of tiny outdoor lights but in fact are cells associated with cancer growth. More straightforward are the portraits of doctors, nurses, technicians, and reseachers that make up “Humans of MGRI.”
Slaugenhaupt noted that many of the pictures on first glance look like abstract art, drawing in viewers who then learn the stories behind the images.
“That story sometimes is as important as the image itself: Why did that submitter think this was a beautiful image? What story is this particular image trying to tell?”
Amanda Woodward is a news writer at Telekinetic Press. She's been writing for the company since 2018, and she loves it—she loves the challenge of writing about any topic, especially those that are in the news.
When she isn't working on her next story, Amanda enjoys reading books and sports magazines, going to concerts with her friends and family, and spending time outdoors whenever possible!