In explaining complicated science, a picture can be worth far more than a thousand words. Science visualization brings to life the often under-appreciated beauty of the way the world works—from how coral breathe to the delicate structures that connect the brain—and they do it in a way that can be far more illuminating to non-scientists than a dense abstract.
Every year, the National Science Foundation and the journal Science honor the most creative works of scientific imagery. Here are some of the standouts from the 2013 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, the results of which were announced last week. Click through the slide show above for a closer look.