clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How a biology student turned images of deadly viruses into art

Eleanor Lutz/TabletopWhale

We usually only pay attention to viruses when they're making us sick or ravaging large swaths of humanity. We don't often wonder at their intricate structures or admire their symmetrical beauty.

That's what makes Eleanor Lutz's homage to viruses so striking. A PhD student in biology at the University of Washington by day and graphic artist by night, Lutz was inspired to pay tribute to viruses when she realized how "surprisingly symmetrical" they are. "I love them because they remind me of a biological version of snowflakes," she writes.

Eleanor Lutz/TabletopWhale

With these 3D animations, she focuses on bugs that afflict humans: dengue, chlorella, the human papillomavirus, and adenovirus.

Eleanor Lutz/TabletopWhale

Each graphic features the structure of the unique viral capsid, which is the protein shell that encloses a virus's genetic material.

Eleanor Lutz/TabletopWhale

Watching them spin, it's easy to forget these aren't Christmas tree ornaments — or, as Lutz calls them, "snowflakes" — but instead human killers.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.