AI: Picture Science

A reader forwarded us a lovely collection of iconic sciency images.  Some of them are stunning and some informative.  The gallery got me thinking about how those that don’t care about science or skepticism view the images and what ones have universal impact.

If you had to choose a single image to use to sell science and skepticism to the masses, what would it be?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.


Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

Related Articles


  1. The “Pale Blue Dot” image is perhaps the most humbling, exalting image we have, in my opinion at least. It needs Sagan’s classic caption, however:

    “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.”Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.”It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

  2. My great and Maybelle had two very old pictures of infants amongst her family photos. Those were her sisters that died before they were a year old. If they were born today, they’d live.

  3. @rjblaskiewicz, I initially considered the Pale Blue Dot for the same reasons. But when I examine it without the substantial context needed for it, it is just a grainy photo of nothing.

    I feel that as an image alone, it doesn’t have very much power. The Pale Blue Dot seems more like the punctuation at the end of the sentence rather than the meat of the argument itself.

    I wonder if it’s potent enough, visually, to capture anyone that is not already invested.

  4. I’m thinking it’d be cool to show the path of the Recurrent laryngeal nerve and analogues in various creatures. If possible have a flip book animation showing how a direct path in our fish like ancestors turns into an insane detour in a giraffe.

  5. I would have to vote for the picture of Earth viewed from the surface of the moon. That photo helped spark the environmental movement, lead to Earth day and has been used to show previously uncontacted tribes what humanity has been up to. It illustrates our oneness, our fragility and our ever growing need to understand ourselves and our universe.
    I’m getting misty just thinking about it.

Leave a Reply

Check Also
Back to top button