Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science, looks at diseases in such close up that they appear to be art. This is cirrhosis of the liver.


Hepatitis B.


Smokers lung




Barrett’s esophagus.

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These Deadly Diseases Turn Into Art When You Zoom In

Hepatitis B gets a little less awful sounding when you see how it looks under a microscope, as part of a new book called Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science.

It’s strange how something deadly can also be beautiful. These images are all of major diseases—hepatitis B, osteoporosis, cirrhosis of the liver, and so on—yet they capture something mysterious and wonderful about human life, as well. They’re from a new book called Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science, by Norman Barker and Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Barker, who specializes in "art as applied to medicine," says the images were captured using a variety of techniques, including spectral karyotyping, MRI, and scanning electron microscopy. In all, there are 113 illustrations, covering everything from Alzheimer’s to testicular cancer. You see a few more here.

"Everyone has either experienced one of these diseases personally, or certainly has known a friend or family member that has had a battle with one," Barker says. "In no way are we trying to glorify disease, but it is part of the human condition that we all must face, just like birth or death."

Barker hopes viewing the images will encourage people to get to know about disease and how it affects the body. "In many ways, we are trying to let a lay audience know what the disease is and what is being done in modern medical research to combat the specific disease and find a cure."

"When we are confronted with an image we don’t understand, we want to know more. What is it? Most people don’t realize that when they look at the front cover of the book, the beautiful image is of gallstones."

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