LP covers are an art form all their own — and some of the coolest record covers feature fantasy and science fiction icons. But what about science itself? Some of the greatest album covers feature images lifted directly from science. Here's a gallery of the best album cover art inspired by real science.
In no particular order:
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
The quintessential science-y album cover, featuring a Newtonian light prism. Along similar lines, check out Philip Glass's Glassworks.
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
This iconic cover features a data visualization of the signal emanating from the first pulsar to be observed by scientists. Here's the story behind the cover:
Joy Division: "Transmission" Single Cover
More Joy Division, this one featuring a nebula.
This cover translates the album title, X&Y, into a binary code where each block of color represents a 1 and a gap 0.
Brian Eno: Atmospheres & Soundtracks
This list would be incomplete with an Eno cover, this one a shot of the lunar surface.
Muse: The 2nd Law
Dawn of Midi: Dysnomia
Strokes: Is This It (American edition)
A photograph of subatomic particle tracks in a bubble chamber.
Talking Heads: Remain In Light
Not so much as a cover inspired by science, but one certain driven by it. This is one of the first digitally manipulated album covers.
New Order: "Blue Monday" Single Cover
A floppy disk motif, designed by Peter Saville (who also did work for Joy Division).
Velvet Underground: VU
This is an image of a VU meter, or standard volume indicator — a device that displays the signal level in audio equipment. As they used to tell me in audio recording school: "Redness is badness."
Kraftwerk: Radio Activity
Actually, I could probably put almost every Kraftwerk album cover here:
John Martyn: Solid Air
This cover features a Schlieren photograph, a visual process that is used to photograph the flow of fluids of varying density.
Nirvana: In Utero
Featuring human anatomy.
More human anatomy, but a shown in a more old-school, macabre sort of way.
Metallica: Death Magnetic
Featuring magnetic ripples.
Led Zeppelin: Latter Days
A NASA-themed cover.
Tomita: Space Walk
More NASA goodness.
Ministry: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste
Featuring a brain X-ray.
Breaking Benjamin: Dear Agony
Featuring a brain scan.
Pink Floyd: Meddle
The photograph, taken by Bob Dowling, represents an ear that's underwater and collecting waves of sound which is represented by ripples in the water.
Voyager Golden Record
We couldn't do a list of science-themed albums without that one!
Please add any I missed below!