Irving Geis (1908–1997) is probably best known for illustrations of biological macromolecules, such as his groundbreaking watercolor painting of myoglobin—an exhaustive and beautiful portrait of the first properly sorted protein molecule. (The work appears in “The Three-dimensional Structure of a Protein Molecule,” by John Kendrew, Scientific American, December 1961.)
From 1948 through 1983 he lent his talents to the magazine to help readers visualize and more fully understand a wide variety of topics, from continental drift to space travel and, of course, microbiology. The booklet below provides a glimpse at the evolution of one of those projects, including sketches and physical models that led to a series of crisp and concise diagrams for an article on the topic of interplanetary exploration.
Irving Geis’s numerous scientific illustrations were purchased by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Md., in 2000.