Simple Science: Minimalist examples of scientific concepts

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Linda Dong, a friend of mine in the design department at CMU, has been working on this series of photos and videos demonstrating basic scientific concepts. What sets them apart from the rest is the attention to detail in her work: it's clean, simple, and usually on a plain white background. She even got some time on the school's scanning electron microscope to get images of a bug's eye and some pollen. I like the photos like this one representing potential energy:

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Although they may not perfectly convey the concepts to people who aren't familiar with them already, these could probably be shown in a classroom setting and get the point across with a little explanation. These are more conversation starters than full descriptions, but they certainly made me look!

Simple Science by Linda Dong


  1. Uh, the wires on the lightbulb aren’t in the right place. One needs to be on the side, the other on the bottom. The way it is is a short circuit.

  2. Yah, and the incandescent bulbs are in no way going to be powered by dirt or potato, or even a dirty potato, even if wired properly. I think the photographer is trying to be like Berenice Abbott with her physics photos, but is failing.

  3. Some of these could make great science textbook photos (The ones kids get these days are confusing and of generally poor quality).

    But like the other posters mentioned, some of these won’t even wort.

  4. Linda here! Yes, the only concepts that I post-produced were the two lightbulb photographs (combining 2 photos of the bulb off and on). However, the point of the photographs were to create a visual metaphor for electricity and it’s origins, rather than a “this is how you make a potato clock” diagram. In that way they’re made to emphasize the scientific concept rather than the experiment, which I believe is much more powerful as the actual voltage only manages to power a dinky flashlight bulb. I tried to illicit this idea of fantasy by suspending the bulbs in an impossible gravity-defying position, but point well taken!

    All the other photographs are 100% genuine with no smoke and mirrors.

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