Friday, 11 May 2012

Disambiguation: Science Explained through Art

I am always having a debate about science vs. art and exploring boundaries with both.  In both they want to be cutting edge.  Both can be viewed by anyone but it is in the eye of the beholder how much one might capture.  For example you might look at an art piece and realize the technique but not understand the overall story that the artist wants to portray.  Or similarly you might see a drop of water on a red background and think surface tension or possibly not.

In the last four months Wikipedia for Surface Tension has changed 80 times.  Why?  Well it was part of an experiment by two photographers who tried to explain years of scientific study in a single photograph.  As a scientist (and a scientist that does not like to remember too much stuff) I applaud their effort.

This explains a little bit more eloquently written in Fast Company 'Disambiguation explains complex scientific principles with single photographs, using Wikipedia as a source. The Brooklyn-by-way-of-Austin artists selected 14 Wikipedia entries on scientific principles, ranging from miscibility to contact angle, and composed a single photograph to demonstrate each concept. They uploaded the final photographs into the original Wiki pages, replacing images they had used for source material. After that, it was up to the community to decide whether the photographs were appropriate.'

Surface tension of a drop on a pink background

See more of Disambiguation here. 

The artists used Wikipedia in the the way it was supposed to be used although I think they upset a couple of hardcore Wikipedia gatekeepers.