Science in the Objective: scientific photography contest

Enter the exhibit (physically held at the Student Project house (ETH Honggerberg) from February 20th 2018) with the selected photographs!

These photographs have a common theme: science and scientific phenomena. They range from stunning laboratory pictures to photos from everyday life which are centered around a physical phenomenon.

The aim of the exhibit is to bring science outside of the lab, show that science is indeed extremely beautiful, but also capture glimpse of beauty of the science of everyday life.

Several submissions were received, and a team of judges casted their vote for the best 13. Here are a few lines about our judges, and links to their personal webpages:

  • Mia Marinkovic ( I am a Serbian photographer currently located in Marseille, France. Since 2008 I’ve been travelling and living in different countries such as Argentina, Spain, Morocco, and Cuba. Photography has become my way of discovering the world; it is my way of talking to people and taking a step back from the world when I need to.
  • Klara Theophilo Quantum physicist, writer, illustrator. (
  • Michał Kotowski (, Mathematician. Since 2015 I’ve been more seriously interested in photography. I shoot both digital and film (B/W and color), although recently (as of 2016) I’ve been mostly using film. I also make my own black and white prints in a darkroom. Here you can take a look at some of my photos.
  • Roland Matt. Physicist with a keen interest in photography.


The following photographs were selected for the exhibit, they are in a random order:


Beatrice Decaroli, IT. “Reflexes”


James Kroll, NL. “Sundial: Optically isolated, computer controlled, low noise DC transport equipment. Designed and manufactured in TU Delft. Also functions as a sun dial.”


Chiara Decaroli, CH. “A cleanroom surprise: gold evaporated electrodes react with water and acetone creating a colorful canvas”


Ceren B. Dag, USA. “Multiverses: a product of my fast shitter speed and continous shooting photography experimentations. My aim is to form interesting structures on the water surface with water drop splashed on the surface”.

Why is that not working

Simon Ragg, CH. “Why is that not working!”


Christoph Fisher, CH. “”What do you associate with the word Physics?. In this submission I focused on the hands that we need to carry out this work. We use them for tweaking up mirrors that redirect laser beams. But our hands are more than just tools for precisely adjusting tiny screws somewhere on our setup. We also rely on them to convey our ideas and illustrate our thoughts, to others as well as to ourselves.”

KTL_4240 copy

Kutlu Kutluer, ES. “SPDC is a non linear process which splits a pump photon sporadically into two correlated photons, called signal and idler photons. Here a pump laser at 426 nm creates photon pairs at 606nm and 1436 nm wavelength.”


Ali Yasin Sonay, CH. “Order from chaos: an optical phenomena called Second Harmonic Generation (SHG). In the picture, you see diphenylalanine peptide that does not dissolve in water and it tends to come together to form peptide nanotubes. When these nanotubes are interacting with a Near Infrared pulsed laser at 800 nm wavelength, each diphenylalanine within the nanotube combines two 800 nm photon into a single photon with 400 nm wavelength. Normally, any material can do this, but if their unit cells are placed completely symmetrical to each other, the individual signals cancel each other and overall SHG signal is zero. In the case of peptide nanotubes, their crystal structure is said to be noncentrosymmetric, which implies the signals generated by each unit cell combine to generate overall SHG signal.”


Fabian Eisenstein, CH. “Just an other night in the lab..”

IMG_0267 (1)

Maciej Malinowski, CH.  “In search of truth. The scientist approaches the problem cautiously, trying to stay on track despite the blinding complexity of the issue.”


Simon Ragg, CH. “Desire”

IMG_20170828_193521 (1)

Michael Jackson, UK.

This is a photograph of a chest radiograph from the radiology teaching archive of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.  The exact age of the film is not known but estimated to be from the 1930s or 40s.  During the intervening years the layers of the film have partially decomposed, corrupting  the original image with a web-like pattern of branching folds and ridges. The process of decomposition is a predominantly chemical process, and the pattern of ridges determined by physical properties of the film.  The distribution of the folds has similarities to cracks in the earth of a dried out river bed, following mathematical patterns suggested by the likes of Mandelbrot and Darcy Thompson. Yet the linear elevations also appear to take on a life of their own particularly in the central area over the heart and mediastinal structures.  The lines have a more anatomical appearance in this region, resembling blood vessels or perhaps a neural network. The transposition of genuine anatomical structures and pseudo anatomical linearity has a particular resonance in this context.  From the very first radiograph of a human subject, the skeletal imagery of Xrays has served as a memento mori.  Bertha Roentgen is said to have exclaimed “I have seen my death” on seeing the bones of her hand, and the conceptual link of radiographic images and mortality has stuck ever since, permeating popular culture in visual motifs such as the cartoon electric shock. The subject of this particular radiograph is now almost certainly deceased and the entropy driven process of decomposition seen in the film layers further reinforces the effects of the relentless passage of time.  Nevertheless, in the beauty of the anatomy and the biological appearance of the film decomposition we can infer a more optimistic interpretation.  The physical forces which require entropy, decomposition and death are also those which enable life to be created and endure.


Chiara Decaroli, CH. “Crystals in the sky: iced snow on our mountain hut window merges with the cloudy sky, as if the sky was really made of ice. The shape of flakes of snow is determined by mathematical and physical processes.”


And below some of the other wonderful submissions. Thank you to all the submitting artists and scientists for joining us in our mission to spread the love for science!



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