Light bends as it passes through liquids, and the amount it bends depends on the molecular properties of the medium. I wanted to demonstrate this effect in a single image by contrasting the refractive qualities of oil and water at the same time using a vial half-filled with each.
I set up a mini-studio as below, capturing the image above on an iPhone 4S.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Alex Wild is Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books and media outlets.