Today's Friday beautiful science comes from the National Science Foundation's Visualization Challenge. This photo was one of two co-winners for the 2007 prize. (I have featured a previous prizewinner here). Though this looks like a dragon running head on towards you, it is in fact a CT scan of the underside of a woman's head, highlighting the sinuses:
Human anatomy it may be, but the airways that riddle the space behind our noses take on an alien aspect in this unearthly rendering created by Kai-hung Fung, a radiologist at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Hong Kong. A computed tomography (CT) scan from a 33-year-old Chinese woman being examined for thyroid disease provided the raw data for Fung's rendering. He stacked together 182 thin CT "slices" to create a 3D image looking upward at the sinuses from underneath the head. Normally, CT renderings meld slices together into smooth surfaces, but, in what he terms the "Rainbow Technique," Fung instead broke them apart, creating a topographical map of the airspaces described by the contour lines of individual slices, and colored according to the density of the tissues that border them.You can see all the winners here.