Red, Hot, and Blue

A simple enough image today—the cover of the 2007 Edmund Optics catalog. I saw a post on the Cosmic Variance blog about this image and decided that, although it’s a bit of a stretch, this does in fact touch upon “visualizing science.” Sadly, in a way that reflects poorly on the state of gender parity within certain disciplines.

What’s truly disheartening about the image is that the people who published it seem completely oblivious to what it says. I yammer on about visual language all the time, typically in the context of scientific vocabularies that can obscure or distort intended meanings. But here’s visual language of a different sort—imagery with an unintended cultural meaning that also says something about science, or at least the cultural practice of science.

If you feel inclined to write to Edmund Optics about the cover (and I encourage you to do so), take a look at the aforementioned Cosmic Variance post, which includes email addresses and such.