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And the winner is… Results of the annual physics image competition

Salt crystals, a nano-sized golf stick and molten glass. The LION Image Award competition of 2023 yielded a lot of beautiful images once again. But in the end, only one can be the winner.

Black hole or liquid crystal?

‘This image is dizzying and extraordinary at the same time. The longer I look at it, the more I get the feeling that the shapes are moving. It’s very cool!,’ says one of the jury members about the winning image. It was Dimitris Krommydas who convinced the jury that his submission should win. 

‘This image is actually the result of my first simulation. I used to be a pure “pen and paper” theorist. To me, all of physics is beautiful. I have enjoyed very much working in different fields: from string theory and black holes, to exoplanetary physics, and finally to soft and living matter. This picture combines my intuition for gravity, electromagnetism and soft living matter, a trifecta of fun. I am happy that people other than me find this picture beautiful. Math might just be universal after all!’

The winning image by Dimitris Krommydas, in collaboration with Livio Nicola Carenza and Luca Giomi.

First place: Black hole backflow

In liquid crystals, disruptions in the orientation of molecules create flows called backflows, just like matter causing spacetime to curve and distort. The strongest disruptions are known as topological defects. The image shows a simulation of a backflow caused by two defects with opposite charges being pulled towards each other. When they finally meet, they cancel each other out. This generates a strong distortion, warping the streamlines into a beautifully symmetric pattern. The simulation is reminiscent of the matter swirling around a black hole’s accretion disk.

The many wonders of physics

Many impressive, beautiful and quirky images were submitted. Browse through all the submitted images:

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