Beautiful, ominous, and surprising, these are the winners of the 2012 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. For 10 years, the competition — sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science — has celebrated the creators of visually striking, informative, and original art. The 2012 winners were just announced. From glowing corals to spiky seeds to neural networks on a chip, these images speak more clearly — and louder — than any report ever could.

See the rest of the winners over @ Wired Science.

(Source: Wired)

In the digital age, memorization is a lost art. Remember a phone number? Pfff. Go back to 1980. A password? There’s an app for that. Friends’ birthdays? Facebook has you covered.

But at the World Memory Championships, the brute force power of the brain to store data is all that matters. This year the champion, Johannes Mallow of Germany, memorized a number with 2,245 digits in an hour and a number with 500 digits in five minutes (a new world record).

And those are just some of the feats he achieved. Along with some 75 other participants from two-dozen countries, Mallow was tasked with eight other memory exercises including: the hour cards category where competitors have 60 minutes to memorize as many full decks of cards as they can (Mallow memorized 1144 cards), the words category where participants have 15 minutes to memorize as many random words as possible (Simon Reinhard won that with 269 words), and the binary challenge where participants have 30 minutes to memorize a sequence of binary digits (Mallow strung together 3954 digits).

There to document this year’s “action” was photographer David Vintiner. Also based in London, Vintiner is an advertising and editorial photographer by day but says he’s often drawn to nerd culture when he’s pursuing personal work. And by nerd, he means those communities that are focused so intently on their interests that they don’t care what the outside world thinks.

“I think I admire their passion the most,” he says. “And I admire that they aren’t doing what they do for any other reason [than their passion].”

Read more, and see more images over @ Raw File!

(Source: Wired)

Do you like weird sporting events?

Do you enjoy a well-groomed mustache?

Do you like pictures of crazy things you never thought people ACTUALLY did?

Then check out our newest guest-blogger, Sol Neelman! In his inaugural post he brings you deep into the belly of…. competitive beard growing? YES!

It’s really too good to be true.

(Photo above copyright Sol Neelman)