A new project is creating digital reproductions of the instruments used in key chemistry experiments, in hopes of fostering appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in a new generation of science acolytes.
The photograph above is part of the Beautiful Chemistry outreach project, a collaboration between the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) and Tsinghua University Press. It is inspired in part by the 19th century German biologist Ernst Haeckel, whose most famous book, Art Forms in Nature, featured stunning illustrations of marine and microscopic life forms.
When the site first launched in 2014, it showcased a series of eye-popping animated videos of chemical reactions, minus such distracting elements as beakers and test tubes. Now it’s back with a new design and a photographic gallery — plus short video teaser, with more to come — of 15 CG reproductions of the apparatus used in some of the most important chemistry breakthroughs from 1660 to 1860.
“In these 200 years, chemistry transformed from practical art and mysterious alchemy to a physical science with great precision,” project leader Yan Liang told Gizmodo via email. “We hope people could look at this period of history from a new angle: the evolution of chemical instruments.” He partnered with CG artists from IHDT.tv to create the reproductions. “We worked very hard to make sure that the instruments we recreated are scientifically accurate,” he said, while still giving the artists sufficient creative freedom…