The photographs, illustrations, video, and interactive graphics submitted by the contest's participants are meant to help us understand both the beauty and the science behind life's many secrets. This gallery shows just a few of the winners, which were announced Friday.
During their experiments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Briana Whitaker and Briana Carstens captured this flower-like image of polymers just 10 micrometers tall. While researching the state of cells that bind together skin wounds, the polymers, which are usually stacked in a pillar, fell over, creating this colorful pattern. The resulting image won honorable mention in the photography category.
This image, called "Save our earth. Let's go green," was this year's winning entry, created by Sung Hoon Kang, Joanna Aizenberg, and Boaz Pokroy from Harvard University. The photo was taken through an electron microscope and shows self-assembling polymers designed by the team. They hope to use the hair-like fibers to create more energy-efficient materials.