Science Magazine Cover Kudos

Science Magazine Oct Cover

Congratulations to family member and friend Andrea Ottesen for her image that graces the cover of the September 28 Science magazine. Here's what they said:

COVER The red alga Chondrus crispus (Irish moss). This image, taken with a digital point-and-shoot camera, tied for first place in the photography category of the National Science Foundation/Science 2007 Visualization Challenge. All the winning entries are displayed in a special feature beginning on page 1857 and online at
Image: Andrea Ottesen

The slide show text adds that "the 15 centimeter wide red alga seems exotic in this abstract portrait, but it's one of the most common seaweed species on the Atlantic coast." One reason it's eye-grabbing is the structure reads like a symmetrical pattern but the seven "stems" make it actually asymmetrical. Don't know how usual or unusual that is in nature, or if all the Irish moss have have seven stems. Also, the black space inside the "stems" looks like the petals of a flower, so you get a kind of double image. I'm biased in believing Andrea blew away the other contestants you can see in the slideshow, but I also enjoyed the NASA computer visualizations of stratosphere-high "hot towers" in Hurricane Bonnie.

Update: Andrea answered my Chondrus Crispus query thusly: "Actually they usually have so many 'stems' that it is impossible to get a single clump to lie flat. This one had few enough--it was a tiny mass compared to its neighbors--so I could get it pressed and separated, and its form could actually be seen."

jpegcritting: Sharon Louden

From Ed Winkelman's blog, by way of Aron Namenwirth, artist Sharon Louden is incensed because Yahoo! messed with her outdoor installation after she got paid. Artist-made stalks with mirrors at the tips mingled with native swamp grasses creating an eerie effect at night like hovering fireflies but possibly didn't look so hot during the day. Yahoo! turned its gardeners loose with weed whackers, converting the grass and stalks into what the artist calls a bad miniature golf course. Cynical thoughts based on looking at the jpegs and reading descriptions of the before and after: (1) Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas--it's a large American corporation, what did you expect--sensitivity? (2) I remember when the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston gave its tiny lawn to Meg Webster for restorative landscaping with native grasses and a rivulet--it looked horrible and was eventually changed back. (3) Based on the jpegs Yahoo's putt putt course might be an improvement over the original (neither look very good in the daylight). Call it a "Gardener Remix" or take your name off of it, but move on. Corporate commissions are bread and butter, not a lasting legacy. That's how I've treated mine anyway--I just never go back to the building after the check clears.