Art of science: Russian geeks make chemistry cool by turning themselves into elements (PHOTOS)

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru
A team of enthusiastic Russian scientists came up with an idea on how to make chemistry awesome and racy by transforming themselves into the most well-known chemical substances to prove just how groovy lab work can actually be.

The , with the fitting name of ArtNauka (“art science” in Russian), came up with a project dubbed “Superhero from chemistry.” They say the  was actually a social experiment on the scientists , as they had to literally become the element they represented.

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

What if we immerse the scientist in reactions and elements, not the other way around? How can we make them really experience chemistry? Well, by making them chemistry!” the group says in describing the key idea behind the shoot.

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

The result of their work is at hand – these juicy photographs look more like makeovers from a superhero-themed article in some high-fashioned magazine than something related to science. And, as it turns out, so much the better for the aim of the project, which is to popularize science and make it more comprehensible to the broader public.

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

The group says the trickiest part of the photo-shoot was to actually find make-up artists who could bring their ideas to life, as knowing what, for instance, hydrogen is – whether it’s soft or solid, what it’s used for, and how to portray that – is rarely something your average make-up artist has a clue about. In addition, the shooting itself involved the use of real fire and liquid nitrogen, which could be too much for not only make-up specialists... But enthusiasm won out!

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

This latest photo-shoot is just one of a number of projects in the group’s portfolio, however.

The team, which consists of actual scientists, licensed physicists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, and a molecular biologist, creates live scientific shows for Russia’s main state TV channel, Channel 1, and other media platforms. They also take part in festivals, lectures, and even molecular cuisine workshops. 

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

Among other things, the group participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge – the viral “amusement” of 2014. ArtNauka’s founder, Nikolay Novoselov, did it chemistry-style, using liquid nitrogen for his instead of ice. Superhero stuff, indeed.

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

But the gang went even further and created an entire using liquid nitrogen in which they displayed what the substance can do, albeit while freezing your toes off.

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

The group notes with pity that, increasingly, marketing specialists have more influence on the public nowadays than scientists do, which leads to jaw-dropping results.

© ArtNauka / artnauka.ru Photo: Dmitry Penkov / www.dpenkov.ru

People start fearing unlikely things, from sugar, preservatives, and GMO, to artificial intelligence. Companies toy with these fears and could care less about educating the public, while scientists deal only with research and development hidden in their labs.

We therefore see a great need to popularize and channel the truth to the masses,” the scientists stress, adding that their main goal is to teach the public what science is through entertainment.

And why not? We do all like to play.