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Life Under the Microscope

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In its ninth year now, the Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition has once more brought together some of the most extraordinary microscope images of life science subjects from around the world. Seeing these tiny, nearly hidden objects magnified so greatly, so vividly, can bring home the reality of the invisible microscopic worlds all around us. The winning entries will be on display at the New York Hall of Science through August 31st. The competition sponsors have been gracious enough to share some of the top images here, displaying a compelling mix of art and science. [24 photos]

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Honorable mention: Detail of a pod of the flowering legume Scorpius muricatus (common name "Prickly Caterpillar"), by Viktor Sýkora, from Hyskov, Czech Republic. (Olympus BioScapes)
Honorable mention: Detail of a pod of the flowering legume Scorpius muricatus (common name "Prickly Caterpillar"), by Viktor Sýkora, from Hyskov, Czech Republic. (Olympus BioScapes)
Sixth prize winner: A cluster of stink bug eggs, by Haris Antonopoulos from Athens, Greece. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Dried thorax scales of the Weevil Eupholus, by Dr. Douglas Clark, from San Francisco, California. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honrable mention: Wheat stigma infected with Claviceps fungus, by Dr. Fernán Federici, University of Cambridge, Plant Sciences Department, Cambridge, UK, and Dr. Anna Gordon, NIAB, Cambridge, UK. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Protozoan Elphidium crispum found growing on the Dorset coast of England, by Michael Gibson of Northampton, UK. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Purslane (Portulaca) seed, by Yanping Wang from the Beijing Planetarium in Beijing, China. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Young sporangia of slime mold Arcyria stipata, by Dr. Dalibor Matýsek, of the Mining University - Technical University of Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Pretarsus of the third leg of a female drone fly (Eristalis tenax), ventral view, by Dr. Jan Michels, Institute of Zoology, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Plant seed from freshwater pond near Moscow, by Daniel Stoupin of Moscow, Russia. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Serum arrested mouse L-1210 cells engaged in spontaneous apoptosis (programmed cell death) after nutrient depletion and acid hydrolysis, by Dr. Frank Abernathy of Jamestown, Ohio. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Seventh prize: Fruit fly ovaries and uterus. The muscular and neural structure of the Drosophila melanogaster reproductive system is shown using fluorescence microscopy. The background staining of the eggs in red is a specific function of the mutant fly strain that is pictured here. Gunnar Newquist, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Connective tissue cells co-transduced with five fluorescent proteins, by Dr. Daniela Malide, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. (Olympus BioScapes) #
First prize winner: Rotifer Floscularia ringens feeding. Its rapidly beating cilia (hair-like structures) bring water that contains food to the rotifer. The "wheel animacules" were first described by Leeuwenhoek (ca.1702); when their cilia beat, they look like they have two wheels spinning on top. They live in reddish-brown tubes made of spherical "bricks." Charles Krebs, Issaquah, Washington. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Adult mouse hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in learning and memory. Reactive astroglia (pale yellow) have proliferated and enlarged in response to neuronal activity over time. Dr. Sandra Dieni, Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg, Germany. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Juvenile live bay scallop Argopecten irradians. The blue spheres are eyes -- scallops have up to 100 simple eyes strung around the edges of their mantles. Through research, scientists are trying to help restore scallop populations in Rhode Island. Kathryn Markey, Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Mast cell in human eye with conjunctivitis. This image shows a single mast cell invading conjunctival tissue in response to an inflammatory agent or pathogen. The mast cell contains vesicles of histamine (red dots). Mast cells are among the first cells of the immune system to react to the presence of an invading pathogen and they facilitate the movement of leukocytes (white blood cells) and other immune cells toward the site of infection. Donald Pottle, The Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: The eye of a damselfly. The image reveals the regular, crystal-like hexagonal lattice of the eye's elements. Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Munich, Germany. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Underwater image of live coral Montastraea annularis. Note polyp tissue (green) around the mouth and base of the tentacles and zooxanthellae (red fluorescence from chlorophyll) in the tissue between polyps. James Nicholson, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Fort Johnson Marine Lab, Charleston, South Carolina. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Skeleton of a radiolarian, a single-cell protozoan with an intricate mineral skeleton, by Christopher B. Jackson of Berne, Switzerland. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Tenth prize: Spherical colonies of Nostoc commune, a bluegreen alga, by Gerd Guenther, Duesseldorf, Germany. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Neuronal culture, fluorescence, six images stitched at 40x magnification, by Jan Schmoranzer, Freie University Berlin, Institute for Chemistry and Biochemistry, Berlin, Germany. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Two damsel bugs (Nabis sp.) seemingly feeding on an aphid by Geir Drange of Asker, Norway. The backdrop is a dried Norway maple leaf. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honorable mention: Forewing of the green tiger beetle Cicindela campestris by Dr. Jerzy Gubernator of Wroclaw, Poland. (Olympus BioScapes) #
Honrable mention: Sporangium of the slime mold Craterium minutum, by Dr. Dalibor Matýsek, Mining University - Technical University of Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic. (Olympus BioScapes) #

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