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Art of Science considers GIRI photo and AOS video works of art


The 2014 Art of Science is currently exhibiting two works by GEO/AOS members. Both are considered by the program to be engaging works of art, as well as holding scientific significance.  One is a photograph submitted by GEO grad student Akshay Mehra titled “Giant Ooids” and the other is a video short by AOS assoc. research scholar Martin Jucker titled “Fly Me.”  Both works were created during the course of scientific research at Guyot Hall.  The Art of Science normally calls for entries beginning in the fall, with an early spring cut-off.  The program concludes with an open reception and award announcements at the Friends Center Atrium in the late spring. During the reception, works are announced in an adjacent hallway.  Here are two stills from the two GEO winning submissions:

Giant Ooids

Giant Ooids
Adam Maloof (faculty)
Akshay Mehra (graduate student)
Alex Spatzier (lab scientist)
Geosciences (Princeton Grinder Lab)

Akshay MehraAkshay Mehra’s image was created in the Princeton Grinder Lab (GIRI) while collaborating with GEO Prof. Adam Maloof and lab-scientist Alex Spatzier.  The new grinder lab houses a one-of-a-kind, high-precision, computer-controlled grinder (co-developed by the Maloof Lab at Princeton and Situ Studio, Brooklyn) that slices away rock slabs a few microns at a time, while snapping a photo after each grind with an 80-megapixel camera.  The image above is one of the many in a series from a 650 million year old sedimentary rock.  The larger spherical grains called “ooids” are composed of concentric layers.  Ooids form much like snowballs, as waves roll shell fragments and other debris around in water that constantly precipitates new calcite on these nuclei.  The “giant” ooids pictured are nearly one centimeter in diameter, telling scientists that these grains must have been agitated by very large waves.  In between these giant ooids are smaller, more typical 1 mm scale ooids, similar to those that are found on modern shoals in the Bahamas.  Each image in the series is segmented based on color and texture, and then digitally reconstructed into a 3-D model.  With the 3-D model, Mehra can compute porosity and permeability, which are the two metrics most important for determining whether this sediment is suitable as a reservoir rock for carbon sequestration.  The 3-D model also allows for a quantitative study of the size distribution of ooids, which may help solve the “paradox of giant oolites". The Grinder instrument can image virtually any material, from fossil bearing limestones/shales to meteorites to petroleum reservoir rocks to fuel cells to concrete to building materials and even metals. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Princeton University have funded the lab at Guyot Hall.

Fly Me

Fly Me
Martin Jucker (assoc. research scholar)
Program in Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences

Martin Jucker

Martin Jucker’s video contains a flight over Earth’s solid surface, without oceans and atmosphere.  His movie short illustrates the sophistication of today’s climate models with the example of Earth’s topography.  The topography has a 1/6 degree resolution (-11 miles at the equator).  This is a typical grid size for high-resolution climate models.  For best results, viewers are asked to wear 3-D glasses while watching the video.  During the reception, entertainment reach a high point as viewers were seen amazed, cooing with ooohs and aaahs, by taking a virtual, orbital ride over the globe.

Jucker’s research involves collaboration with AOS/GEO Prof. Stephan Fueglistaler and his group in understanding the theoretical approaches to atmospheric water vapor and cloud distributions, and more generally on the interplay between dynamics and radiatively active trace constituents of the atmosphere.  The group also works on Kelvin waves in the tropical atmosphere, cloud microphysical problems, and the dynamics of the stratosphere and its influence on surface climate.  Jucker specifically works on the structure and dynamics of the stratosphere using GFDL's dynamical core.  Perturbations excited by atmospheric flow over surface topography are of special importance, even for dynamical events happening in the stratosphere, seemingly far away from their region of excitation.  You can see more of Jucker’s video, along with others, on his Princeton research website (

Art of Science competitions are open to the entire Princeton University community, including faculty, students, staff, and alumni.  The exhibition will remain available for showing at the Friends Center until the next competition in spring of 2015.  More works of art and a steady stream of events can be followed on the Art of Science Facebook page (

Related links:

The daily grind: Princeton lab uncovers the planetary past hidden in rocks

Thinking out of the flat box: Software renders Earth's atmosphere in 3-D splendor