Readers’ wildlife photos (and a contest winner)

August 16, 2019 • 7:45 am

Reader Rik Gern sent some lovely pictures of dandelions as well as some of his digital science-based art, one piece of which got a nod from Scientific American. His captions are indented. First, the dandelions:

For now, here are some pictures of dandelions (Leontodon taraxacum) gone to seed.

My neighbors probably won’t appreciate the fact that I let the plants go to seed and propagate,  but once the Buckminster Fuller “bucky ball”-looking structures caught my eye, I had to leave them alone long enough to observe and photograph them. 

And I wanted to show some of Rik’s other pictures.

Meanwhile, here’s an admitted brag; Scientific American has been sponsoring an Art of Neuroscience contest that used to be open to neuroscientists only, but that has recently been opened to the general public. I submitted two pieces of digital art; one was done from scratch with the addition of a modified image of a fetus and  a flame, and the other was taken from a retinal scan that I received from my optometrist. The second image was chosen as a staff favorite, and I have now been published in the online version of Scientific American. I’m thrilled to be included along with scientists and real artists! Here are two links to the contest: link 1, link 2.

Here are the images I submitted and the descriptions they asked for:

The Fuse Is Lit

Digital art with distorted fetal image.

A representation of the growing potential for consciousness as the brain and nervous system self-assemble during gestation. Inspired by images of the “star child” from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the cover from Zap Comix No. 0, and reading Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”.


Looking Inward and Outward

Retinal scan with digital manipulation

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the retina is a window to the brain. My optometrist gave me an image from a retinal scan which I played with to create a landscape. Our senses help our minds develop tools to create images that give our senses information to help our minds understand our senses. It’s an endlessly fascinating hall of mirrors.


Rik adds, “Check out the other images in the contest; there’s a lot of great stuff!”


18 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos (and a contest winner)

  1. Fantastic imagery with excellent descriptions! I absolutely love the “hall of mirrors” elucidation.

  2. When i was a kid we thought a way to tell the time was the number of puffs it took to blow the seeds away .Also the white sap from dandelions was meant to make you pee .

      1. I’ve heard that from botanists and naturalists in Englandshire too. It’s not just a Spanish name.
        Wikipedia points out that the diuretic compound is found in the roots, and that the rest of the plant is edible. Indeed, waving a bottle of “dandilion and burdock” cordial around near my elder sister might result in you losing an arm at the opposite shoulder. Availability is getting patchy these decades.
        Ohh, dandilion rubber. Now there’s news!

  3. Wasn’t the Nikon microphotography competition done recently?

    Nikon Instruments Announces Judges for 45th Nikon Small World Competition
    Posted on June 18, 2019

    That was probably what I saw. Submissions closed for this year, but judges micro-beavering away at it.
    I’ve used images from various years as screensavers on a number of machines. Très psychedelique!

  4. Maybe it is the way that retina is photographed, much of it hazy, but if a retina looks like that, lots of apparent oedema and scarring, there is definitely something seriously wrong. To me it looks like a picture from a horror scenario.

      1. This was the original image. I have some macular degeneration. I call it Van Gough vision, because if I stare at a surface with horizontal lines without moving my eyes I see wavy lines that correspond to the md, but when I move my eyes the brain compensates and the image I perceive is more clear.

        Yeah, the idea was to give the feeling of a vaguely remembered bad dream.

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