You just failed geology!

So this was posted on the I Fucking Love Science Facebook page yesterday…

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Now look at it. Without me telling you what it is. What do you think it’s a photo of?

I looked at this photo without reading the original figure caption, and my immediate thought was “oh, kind of funky alteration pattern along a canyon!”

Not so much. It’s actually a micro crack in a piece of steel, viewed through an electron microscope. A few thousand times smaller than a canyon.

And this folks, is why we put something in for scale on all scientific photos! Whether we add in a scalebar, or we include a person/car/tree in the photo so that we have an idea of the relative size of whatever we’re photographing, it’s critical to know what scale we’re working at.

If someone had submitted a photo like this in an assignment, or as part of a journal manuscript, they’d fail.

It’s a pretty photo, no question. But it’s bad science.

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