Somewhere over the rainbow, by Stefan Lines of Bristol University, Art of Science winner

Art of Science – Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Science is amazing. Science is advancement. And sometimes, science is art. Each month this year Memetic Drift will feature a winning image from the University of Bristol’s Art of Science competition 2014.


Serendipity, those unlikely but happy accidents where everything works out better than expected, has played a pretty big role in the history of science. Penicillin, Viagra and even the Big Bang owe their timely discovery to occurrences which could easily have been overlooked. Of course, it takes minds both curious and well trained to make the leap from “huh, that’s weird” to “ah, that’s what’s going on… we can use this”.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow_StefanLines Jan

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Stefan Lines and Philip Carter is an image which evokes this serendipity. They captured this chance alignment of a rainbow and a solar telescope, also showing the Bristol skyline peeping out from over the window.

Stefan and Philip work in the Planet Formation group, part of the school of Physics at UoB. Philip tests and challenges current theories of how our own planet formed, whereas Stefan looks a little further afield. He is interested in how planets orbiting binary stars (think Tattooine) might have come into being.

Hunting for exoplanets to study requires time, patience and a certain degree of luck. As planets they emit no light of their own, so one method is to watch stars over long periods of time and watch carefully for dips in their brightness, which just might indicate a planet has passed in front of them, temporarily blocking their light out a little bit . You can have a go finding some yourself at www.planethunters.org.

Next month, we have a rather ghostly looking fish…


The annual Art of Science competition at the University of Bristol bridges the perceived gap between art and science, showing imageds which visually demonstrate that the pursuit of knowledge can be as beautiful as it is fascinating. 

This year there were three prize categories; Judge’s vote, People’s vote, and Schools’ vote. Each category had a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize, and a runner-up. Somewhere Over the Rainbow was runner-up for the Schools’ vote. Photo used with permission. 

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