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Science as an Art object

 While working on your dissertation, you can get an art object  03/23/2012, 07:01

Yva Avrorina
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Science as an Art object
Photos by Maria Gerasimova

In t 60-s of the 20th century, people were divided into physicists and artists. They were believed to be completely different types. Then the children of 60-s appeared, grew up and proved that physics may well look at the world through the eyes of an artist.

Masha Gerasimova studied at the Physics Department of Novosibirsk State University. Now she lives in New York and works at the University of Bridgeport. She started making these photos when she was working on her Doctoral Dissertation.

These are photos of crystals for semiconductors, taken through a microscope. Crystal growth is a complicated process. The method of epistaxis is used. It means that crystal grows in the layers, one thin layer after another.

It is really difficult to grow a layer as smooth as a mirror, without any defects. During growth process some cracks may occur, dot-alike defects on the layer. Foreign particles or strange phenomena at the edges of the layer are not rare as well. And then an amazing landscape appears in the eyepiece of the microscope.

The photos were made using a special technique, a so-called Nomarski’s method. Besides increasing, this technology makes it possible to see the image in a color: a ray of light passes through a prism and special polarizable filters.

This allows you to enhance the contrast and change the color of the image, depending on how the prism is situated: the same picture can be seen in different colors. The pictures are made on a scale of 1 × 50 and 1 × 1000.

— Why do these photos sometimes look like space photos or like photos made from the plane, or even like petro glyphic drawing? Why do they look like something we know, but only in a different context? Maybe my prejudices and archetypes are manifested here, as I’m the one who chooses picture’s arrangement and the way to show them — Masha says.

— Overall, for me, these images have rather the aesthetic value then scientific: its ephemeral beauty, which will disappear when, after the process of research and numerous attempts, these samples will find a technological excellence. Then, perhaps, their beauty will appear somewhere else, but not under the microscope.

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