The Invisible Beauty of the Microscopic World

Up close and personal with blood vessels, cells, and microorganisms

If you associate camera manufacturer Nikon with those silly ads that feature Ashton Kutcher, you may somewhat relieved to know that they also do some good in the world. As well as making some pretty swanky SLRs, the company manufactures scientific microscopes, and it runs an annual competition for photography at a microscopic scale. This year's results are in, and the company has published a selection of the winners on its site -- and they're as spectacular as ever. The photos -- which we spotted at Ars Technica -- are all kinds of amazing, encompassing everything from algae and fossils to a fly's eye and the curiously perverse beauty of a cancer cell.

01_Place_Peters-640x450.jpg
Dr. Jennifer L. Peters and Dr. Michael R. Taylor, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis

Developing blood vessels in the brain.


02_Place_Piorkowski-640x426.jpg
Walter Piorkowski

These are baby Lynx spiders.


03_Place_Burnette-640x593.jpg
Dr. Dylan Burnette, National Institutes of Health

This is a cancer cell, believe it or not -- specifically, it's a cell of a bone tumor called an osteosarcoma.


04_Place_21756_1_Williamson-640x640.jpg
Dr. W Ryan Williamson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

A dissected fly's eye.


06_Place_20773_1_Mis-640x428.jpg
Marek Mis

A desmid, which is a type of green algae.


09_Place_22047_3_Drange-640x567.jpg
Geir Drange

This is an ant carrying one of its larvae. Ants are amazing.


16_Place_Moore-640x469.jpg
Douglas Moore, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Poin

Ancient snail shells and shrimp, fossilized in agate.


19_Place_Naghiloo-640x512.jpg
Somayeh Naghiloo, Department of Plant Biology, University of Tabriz

This curious-looking unit is the primordium of a garlic flower.


HM_Krebs_22063_3-640x431.jpg
Charles Krebs

... and this is what's swimming in your water.


HM_Wechezak_21507_1-640x404.jpg
Dr Arlene Wechezak

Finally, more algae -- this is a species called Pilota, which you can read about on a site called AlgaeBase.


A version of this post appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Tom Hawking is an editor at Flavorpill.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Health

Just In