I vividly remember being offended throughout my high-school education because 'atoms' where consistently presented as these perfect slick round little spheres. At one time I even called the teacher a fabricator of lies and shouted: "Atoms aren't balls!!".

Of course the poor man couldn't help it, as it was just decided to teach us high-school kids a outdated, simplified 19th century version of the atom model, rather than confusing us with subatomic particles like protons, neutron, up-quarks, down-quarks, gluons and what do you have nowadays.

In retrospect I was just a kid trying to be witty after having flipped through some of the science magazines of my dad, who was a physicist. Nonetheless, I always remained keen on the underestimated role of simulations in modern science.

Are you still reading? Then this call for proposals might be for you. The STRP Festival, Institute of Complex Molecular Systems, and Animation Studio invite artists, designers and scientists to develop a new visual language for molecular structures.

"Recently, a new problem has emerged for molecular scientists. For many decennia they have used a world-wide accepted way of representing molecules, even though these molecules have never really been seen. Unfortunately, this language is not suitable to represent the increasing complexity of the molecular systems and dynamic processes that are subject of modern research. ... We think that a breakthrough in this area is only possible with ideas of people with different specialisms."

Download the full Call for Proposals (pdf).


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  • ... or use 16 golden retrievers:

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  • People build schemes, maquettes and models all the time to simulate real life in order to test and understand it. You may find that your teacher has been lying to you, yet you found the inspiration to make an art-piece about it. I'd say: Stick with the balls!

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  • Actually, from a design point of view, those balls helped a lot of people at least understand a bit of chemistry. Sometimes you just have to simplify concepts to get to the point of them, filtering unwanted data. It is the same with molecular diagrams (just lines and characters). Nice call for proposals. I wonder what will come out. Will it be that different than anything we already are familiar to? Complexity will have to be simpified for readability which in this case is going to be a hard task. Eventually we still would have to read on a two-dimensional plane, paper. This will be difficult for complex three-dimensional molecules.

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