Watch this gorgeous timelapse of the making of our ‘chicken and egg’ cover

Yeah, we used lasers. And Russian nesting dolls.

Popular Science Spring 2020 issue cover
Popular Science Spring 2020 issue coverPopSci

What came first: the chicken or the egg? When it comes to making our cover for the Spring 2020 issue about “Origins,” at least, the egg wins. Specifically, 15 wooden nesting dolls ranging in size from a tiny thimble to a Starbucks venti latte.

Robin Finlay, the prop-styling half of photography duo The Voorhes, sanded and painted the pieces again and again until they’d appear as smooth as the real deal in front of the camera. Then, using a special laser, she emblazoned a lucky four (two big and two medium) with fowl and eggs. Because the tool was designed for perfectly round cylinders and surfaces, she had to secure the eggs in a home-brewed vise fashioned from two sections of PVC pipe.

The Voorhes
Robin Finlay "hatched" the eggs, then etched the fowl design on them. The video below shows the lasering process.The Voorhes

To create the final image containing dozens of the oblongs, photographer Adam Voorhes stitched together 21 frames and digitally overlaid the designs onto all the other un-lasered eggs—even the wee ones—stretching into infinity in an endless march of chicken-versus-egg.

This story appears in the Spring 2020, Origins issue of Popular Science.