Video is truly a story telling medium, as this year’s winners demonstrate. They combine elements captured by non-traditional cameras to tell the story of the heart, reveal the dynamics of seemingly static corals, catalogue the journey of sperm to egg, and highlight the tiniest of motions to generate a new view of the world. Here are the winning Video entries:
First Place and People’s Choice
Alya Red: a computational heart
This image is an artistic rendering of Alya Red, a new computer model of the heart that marries modern medical imaging techniques with high-powered computing. Based on MRI data, each coloured strand represents linked cardiac muscle cells that transmit electrical current and trigger a model human heartbeat. Despite centuries of study, scientists are still largely baffled by the heart’s complex electrical choreography, says physicist Fernando Cucchietti, who helped produce the video. The most challenging part was to get the heart fibres in the image to move in a realistic way, Cucchietti says.
Credit: Guillermo Marin, Fernando M. Cucchietti, Mariano Vázquez, Carlos Tripiana, Guillaume Houzeaux, Ruth Arís, Pierre Lafortune, and Jazmin Aguado-Sierra, Barcelona Supercomputing Centre
The video “Fertilisation” starts with 300 million sperm, following their perilous journey up the cervix and into the fallopian tube with unprecedented detail and continuity, say Thomas Brown, chief creative officer of Nucleus Medical Media. By the time the last few dozen surviving sperm reach the egg, he says, “you’re famished, troubled, and hopeful.” In a new twist based on recent science, he says, the first sperm to reach the egg is rewarded with an embrace, as the egg’s inner membrane encloses and absorbs it.
Credit: Thomas Brown, Stephen Boyd, Ron Collins, Mary Beth Clough, Kelvin Li, Erin Frederikson, Eric Small, Walid Aziz, Hoc Kho, Daniel Brown and Nobles Green Nucleus Medical Media
Observing the coral symbiome using laser scanning confocal microscopy
No dyes or digital software produced the brilliant colour of these corals – the glory is all their own. Fluorescent molecules, innate to the corals and to the red algae that live inside and nourish them, shine under different wavelengths of light emitted by a confocal microscope. In the video, which compiles the images into three-dimensional, time-lapse animations, corals extend and retract their glowing tentacles. Tiny creatures crawl over the corals, all part of a complex and threatened ecosystem. In the future, coral biologist Ruth Gates says, it might be possible to use confocal microscopy to classify different coral species or diagnose coral disease by their fluorescent patterns.
Credit: Christine E Farrar, Zac H Forsman, Ruth D Gates, Jo-Ann C Leong, and Robert J Toonen, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, Manoa
Revealing invisible changes in the world
In this video, a team of computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge demonstrates a new method of magnifying subtle changes normally invisible to the eye. Using video as input, the team analyses each pixel for slight variations in colour over time – for example, rhythmic reddening in a man’s face as blood pulses through his veins. Then they apply an algorithm that magnifies the variation, and extract the information they need. By amplifying the man’s slight blush, for example, they were able to obtain his heartbeat. Among other applications, they say, the technique could help doctors take their patients’ vital signs remotely.
Credit: Michael Rubinstein, Neal Wadhwa, Frédo Durand, William T Freeman, Hao-Yu Wu, John Guttag, MIT; and Eugene Shih, Quanta Research Cambridge