South West Branch Photo Competition

28 March 2012

The winner and runner up of the Branch’s photo competition were announced at the Festival of Physics in Bristol on 3 March.

The winner of the competition was Pery Burge, currently an artist in residence in the Thermofluids Lab at the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at Exeter University, a position funded by the Leverhulme Trust. 

Her photo, entitled ‘Sci-fi Garden Growing’, showing vortices in a soap film earned her the first prize of a Kindle. Find out more about her job and photography work

The runner-up was Peter Vukusic with his photo ‘Brilliant whiteness in ultra-thin beetle scales’. He won £25 of Jessops vouchers.

Congratulations to both Pery and Peter! 


Winner: Sci-fi Garden Growing’

Sci-fi garden

These two sequential images are of vertically arranged soap film, separated by less than one second. The source of flow comes from a mixture of detergent and glycerol draining from bubbles, not seen, at the bottom of the blue vortex ‘stems’ - the images have been inverted for aesthetic purposes.

Vortices push through oncoming speckled red flow; their shapes modified by this flow, becoming rounded and mushroom-shaped. In the face of the flow, the vortices may also bifurcate - the tall blue form stretching upward on the extreme left divides to accommodate oncoming flow. The relative velocities of upward and downward flow help define the shapes and patterns as they appear.


Runner-up: Brilliant whiteness in ultra-thin beetle scales

Brilliant whiteness in ultra-thin beetle scales

Physicists at the University of Exeter have discovered that the Cyphochilus beetle, a native of SE Asia, has evolved an astonishingly efficient nanostructural system with which it creates ultra-bright whiteness from a very thin layer of scales that cover its body.

The interiors of the scales comprise an interconnected set of cuticle filaments that are arranged in an entirely random geometry. The researchers discovered that it is the spacing of these filaments that is near-perfectly optimised to generate maximum light reflection to produce the appearance of bright whiteness. The Exeter physicists have been working with scientists at Imerys Plc in Cornwall, to try to apply the biological efficient whiteness and brightness principles to the production of white and bright synthetic surfaces such as those found in paper, ceramics and paint.