AI: Science Imagery, or Brightly Colored Liquid in Beakers

Beakers and test tubes, microscopes, the double helix and molecular diagrams. This is the imagery of SCIENCE!

If you do a Google image search for the word ‘Science’ you’ll get something that looks like the image below.

These are the first 40 or so image results that Google returns. Here’s a brief tally of what the images depict:

  • Chemistry: 11 images
  • Molecules: 6 images
  • Microscope/Telescope: 6 images
  • Super Nerdy Kid: Yep
  • Mad Scientist: Check
  • Binary Time Vortex: Of course
  • xkcd References: 2

Another thing that caught my eye is that with one exception (close up of the microscope) these are all illustrations. In fact if you do the search for yourself and scroll down the page, it would appear that the majority of images are illustrations of one sort or another. I don’t exactly know what that means, but I think it’s interesting.

My point is, we can be fairly certain that when picturing ‘science’, these are the images that are most likely to occur to people. Scientists in labs, chemicals, microscopes, weird math symbols, etc. These are not things that the general public have much interaction with on a day to day basis. Science is perceived as something that scientists do, in that same way that art is what artists do. But this got me thinking. Though not all of us are scientists, We do science every day. Everything from timing your morning subway commute to gardening requires a form of critical evaluation and/or experimentation. It may not be ground-breaking stuff, but it’s small stuff that we do every day.

What are some other examples of everyday science? What imagery would you use to represent them? If the visual vocabulary of science included things that people do every day, do you think it could help get more people interested in science or make it seem more accessible?

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.


Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In his spare time he makes videos of Spirograph drawings and complains about doing laundry. Website: Twitter: @brianggeorge Insta: @brianggeorge If you're into what I'm doing, feel free to throw down a bit in my tipjar here: @brianggeorge

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