When Norwegian neuroscientist May-Britt Moser received the Nobel Prize for Medicine last month, she attended the awards ceremony in Stockholm wearing a very special dress! London designer Matthew Hubble, who designs science-inspired clothing for women, created a dress with a pattern inspired by the neurons that Moser researched to win the prize. The result is a wonderful testament to the beauty of science — and a unique way to honor the accomplishments of this amazing scientist!
Moser won the Nobel Prize for her work on the spatial reasoning capacity of the human brain. She, along with her husband Edvard Moser and colleague John O’Keefe, with whom she share the prize, identified the grid cells that make up the brain’s positioning system, which they liken to an “inner GPS” that allows humans to orient themselves in space, and therefore to navigate their way through the world. Hubble decided to try to duplicate the appearance of these grid cell neurons in the pattern he would use on Moser’s dress.
Hubble began designing the dress without any idea whether Moser would wear it. He used a navy silk for the background of the grid, and sequins and beads for the dendrites and cell bodies of the neurons. When the dress was complete, Hubble took photos of it on a mannequin, e-mailed them to Moser and her husband, and held his breath. To his delight, Moser wrote back within hours: “I would be thrilled to wear it at the Nobel Prize award ceremony!”
Hubble’s focus on STEM and design was inspired by the idolization of film celebrities at the Oscars: “We celebrate films which have made us laugh, cry, and inspired us and somehow enriched our lives, whether it small or large impact. Then… I thought about the people who are themselves at the edge of all human knowledge and are continually pushing at the boundaries of understanding so that we can live more enriched, healthier and happier lives. Our scientists and engineers; our inventors… Here is our chance to celebrate them, the Nobel Prize awards ceremony!”
Moser was delighted when she received the dress, and it was the perfect complement to the honors she received at the Nobel Prize ceremony. As she told Scientific American, “A good designer has a lot in common with a good researcher. Both hunt for excellence and perfection. And you have to really focus on the details, and you don’t really know what the final result will be before you have it.”
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