Science isn't all about examining graphs and charts. In this weekly column, staff writer Andrea Alfano puts together the most striking science images from the past week's news for your viewing pleasure. Scroll down to find phenomenal images and fascinating facts about the science behind them.
This week's science images come from the ultramodern world of 3D-printed art and the ancient world of dinosaurs and strange skeletonized comb jellies. Artists and scientists alike contributed to this week's roundup of science images, as did thousands upon thousands of glowing cave worms.
This striking work of science-inspired art comes to us from Nervous System, a "generative design studio" headed by two MIT grads. Jessica Rosenkrantz is one of them and this week she shared photos of the pieces she created during a workshop at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. Each designer who participated used Google Hangouts and created a piece of art based on a 3D scan of a person's head that was taken at the museum while workshop participants watched and asked questions. At Nervous System, Rosenkrantz and her colleagues have been experimenting with designs inspired by the reticulated patterns seen in the veins of leaves, the root-like hyphae of fungi, and other organisms.
In honor of the Fourth of July, here's "nature's fireworks" captured in acrylic. Known as a Lichtenburg figure, this piece of science art shows the lightning-like discharge of electricity from a particle accelerator. The zap leaves permanent branching structures behind in the acrylic to form a "fossil" of the electrical discharge.
The world got introduced to a new dinosaur this week. About 20 feet long and estimated to have weighed a literal ton, the first known specimen of Wendiceratops pinhornensis was found in a bone bed in southern Alberta, Canada. This latest addition to the family of horned dinosaurs, which includes the famed Triceratops, is helping scientists understand the evolution of skull ornamentation in the group.
This amazing shot is by photographer Dylan O'Donnell, who waited for about a year for his chance to capture the International Space Station (visible on the upper righthand side of the photo) as it passed by the moon. He was rewarded not only by this gorgeous shot, but by the immense attention it garnered on social media.
Photographer Joe Michael captured these magnificent shots of glow-worms in a cave in New Zealand. The species, Arachnocampa luminosa, is found only in New Zealand and is able to glow because of a chemical reaction that it carries out in an organ akin to a kidney. Beautiful as it is, the glow serves a dark purpose. The worms use it to lure insects that fly toward the light so they become ensnared in the hanging silk threads that the worms set out.
The bizarre and beautiful sea creatures known as comb jellies once had unusual geometric skeletons, according to a paper published this week. Fossils found in China showed that comb jelly ancestors that lived 520 million years ago had radially symmetrical skeletons made up of eight plates and spoke-like structures that radiated outward.
The last image for this week may not look like much, but it is Pluto! This high-resolution view of the beloved non-planet was sent by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft and shows four mysterious dark spots along Pluto's equatorial region. New Horizons, which began its journey in 2006, makes its closest pass to Pluto on July 14 when it comes within 6,200 miles of the dwarf planet.