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TO MAY 25

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The scientific photographs of Felice Frankel—a research scientist in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—might be encapsulated by a simple, unifying theorem: If you get microscopically close to something, it begins to look like something entirely different. Silicon etched by a laser looks like a roof with skylights. A bacterial-growth pattern takes on the wavy, radiating form of desert sand dunes, whereas yeast cells quite unexpectedly assemble themselves into the shape of a flower. From a distance, a DNA separation becomes a floor-to-ceiling wall of leather-bound books, which—come to think of it—isn’t a bad metaphor for DNA itself. To make her images (Ferrofluid is pictured), Frankel collaborates with a variety of scientists and utilizes their microscopes to capture infinitesimally small structures. Even her humdrum subjects, such as the adhesive properties of tape, bristle with intensity. Better yet, the study of adhesion, she says, may help scientists explain why cancer cells stick to organs. Frankel’s color-saturated photographs will be familiar to subscribers of Science magazine, which has run her images on its cover, eloquently unburdened by distracting type. For the acquainted and uninitiated alike, her work will be on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, to Friday, May 25, at the National Academy of Sciences, 2100 Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 334-2436. (Louis Jacobson)