Friday, April 15, 2005

A Scientist’s View of Cameras and Photography

Cameras and photography combine to facilitate the presentation and distribution of scientific information. With the aid of a camera, a scientist can use photography to document a discovery or to confirm the importance of a history-making find. Thanks to the internet, these photos can be rapidly transmitted to every person who has access to a computer. Any computer user whose interests cause him or her to click onto the Website where the new photos are displayed will be rewarded with a glimpse of the latest scientific find.”

A photograph can also help the scientist to illustrate the nature of the question that his or her research has answered. In Mid-March of 2005 scientific researchers applauded the discovery of why the Barringer Crater, located between Flagstaff and Winslow in Arizona, did not hold evidence that the surrounding white rock had been appreciably melted by the meteor’s impact.

With the aid of cameras, the scientists had taken photos of the Crater and had distributed these photos to the media. These photos documented the reason for the scientists’ doubts about an earlier estimation. That estimation had placed the meteor’s speed of impact at between 34,000 and 44,000 mph. Yet photographs of the Crater showed that the Crater was not particularly deep. Photos underscored why a new, computer-generated impact time held such importance.

Cameras and photography have become an indispensable part of much biomedical research. Pictures of cells and the microbes that infect those cells help scientists to explain the nature of the biological phenomenon that is under study. The first microbiologists, the first men to “see” a bacterium, had trouble convincing society that this microscopic creature could be a real danger to the public health.

Now in the 21st Century, one enterprising Californian has found a way to profit from the proliferation of scientific photographs. His business uses photos of bacteria, viruses and other life forms, photos that were obtained with the aid of a microscope and a camera. He takes the photos of these unusual creatures and uses the photos to fashion designs for scarves, ties and even men’s under shorts. He has named his product “Infectious Wearables.”

Although society remains concerned about new and unfamiliar viruses, and even though scientists continue to worry about resistance to antibiotics, the threat of the microbiological world has subsided. Cameras and photography expedited the waning of that threat.

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