• 07.22.13

Photos Showcase The Hidden Beauty Of Dread Diseases

In Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science, a team of medical scientists provide a striking new look at human disease and our inner workings.

Under the microscope, fatal diseases can look as beautiful and startling as Jackson Pollack paintings. Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science, from Johns Hopkins professors Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue and Norman Barker, is a collection of nearly 100 photographs by more than 60 medical scientists at Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine.


The images were captured, according to the book’s site, with imagining technology ranging from spectral karyotyping to scanning electron microscopy. The photos include normal anatomy, like the structure of a cerebellum, but also showcase the disturbing beauty in things like HIV, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and Alzheimer’s, among others. Hepatits B resembles a field of bright yellow flowers. Gallstones look like fossilized beach pebbles. Cirrhosis of the liver resembles violet stepping stones. It’s strange to see so much beauty in these frightening diagnoses and to think that disease can look so brilliant inside of us.

The book wasn’t designed to glorify the diseases, Barker told the website,Hyperallergic, but to provide some new understanding of and a new window onto our invisible inner selves.

About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.