… but now the decision is up to you, our readers.
What we did. We received submissions from around 50 photographers (but who’s counting?). Many but not all submitted 3 photographs, so let us say perhaps 120 in all.
We triaged the photographs, first by making a rough pass and rejecting those that were clearly not in contention. Then we looked over the others and thinned them down to one entry per person, in order to allow as many people as possible to participate in the final round. Many of the rejected photographs went into an “Honorable Mention” file, and we will display them on Mondays as part of our regular 1000 Words feature. We tried to retain mostly photographs that were not only inherently good pictures but also had scientific interest.
We next defined 3 categories, which we called, somewhat loosely, animal, vegetable, and mineral. Mineral was intended to include geology, paleontology, cosmology, and anything that was not biology. Fossils are minerals, and so are stars. Bacteria (you should forgive us) are vegetables, partly because they are not animals and partly because they were vegetables when I was in high school. We then selected 5 to 6 photographs in each category; these are the finalists.
Three categories, happily, means 3 prizes, so we added a book. The prizes are now
Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails), by Matt Young and Paul K. Strode.
Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future, by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum.
Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, ed. by Matt Young and Taner Edis.
What you can do. We will display one of the 6 finalists in the mineral category every day at 12:00 noon, Central Daylight Time, for 6 days, beginning Monday, August 10. We will display all 6 entries together and ask you to vote for your favorite picture beginning the following Saturday. The winner will be chosen in approximately one week. Then we will repeat the process with the vegetable category and then the animal category.