Picture This

Have you ever fancied yourself as the David Bailey of the science world? Sponsored by Novartis and the Daily Telegraph, Visions of Science is a new competition that aims to stimulate widespread interest and fascination in science through the use of photographs. With entry categories for science/healthcare workers and the under 25s as well as professional and amateur photographers, the competition is an opportunity to stimulate an interest in any area of science, from planetary movements to cellular signalling or more general topics such as physics or the environment, as well as demonstrating artistic flair. The only requirement is that pictures should show how science affects our everyday lives.

David Derbyshire, science editor of the Daily Telegraph says, "There is a real opportunity for aspiring photographers to show their skills and bring science alive, and we are looking forward to seeing some original work." The prizes on offer include a Kodak digital DC290 camera and six runners-up prizes of Advantix T550 cameras, and the winning photographs will be exhibited at the Royal Society in London.

An amateur interest in photography could be combined with a career in science to provide a novel step toward work in the field of the public understanding of science or scientific photography. Scientific images and photographs are needed to spark the imagination and inspire wonder in the general public. Dawn Hillier, commercial sales executive of Science Photo Library, says that they obtain many of their photographs from professional photographers or scientific institutions such as NASA. The photographs have a wide variety of uses from billboards to annual newsletters and advertisements. Images are also used for editorial purposes in newspapers and magazines to illustrate features and articles.

According to Victoria Lush, of the communications department at Novartis, the use of scientific images can "show science from a different point of view and can increase our understanding of it through the crossover of science and art."

The Wellcome Trust already has in place schemes to combine the two "exclusive" domains of science and art. The sciart initiative funds projects which sees scientists collaborating with artists to produce a unique perspective on the natural world. "Art makes the public think for themselves and can therefore make them question science with confidence," maintains Dr. Cristina De Matteis, lecturer in pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Nottingham. She produced the Sense-ational! exhibition with financial support from the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. This exhibition of photographs focused on the molecules that we detect through our senses, for example, capsaicin, the molecule which make chilies taste hot.

The closing date for the competition is 31 July. More details and an entry form can be obtained from the competition Web site or by calling 020 7613 5577.

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