BiologyPhotographyScience & Nature

My Favorite Winners of the 2013 Photomicrography Competition

Nikon Small World is a website that celebrates the teeny tiny images scientists capture with light microscopes. Just as satellite images of Earth can be as visually stunning as pieces of art, microscopic images of neurons, bacteria, and insect embryos can make a person stop in their tracks and see the world from a different angle. The annual Photomicrography Competition awards up to $3,000 to the creators of the best of these images. You can easily see this year’s top winners on the competition page, but I decided to share my favorites here on the Lab.

Barbilophozia sp. - Magdalena Turzańska
Barbilophozia sp. – Magdalena Turzańska

This one, by a polish biologist, depicts a leafy liverwort, a small plant that grows mostly in the Antarctic. I particularly love the lacy detail of the leaves, like it’s some couture gown that’s about to be worn by a fancy insect.

Hippocampal neuron receiving excitatory contacts (63x) - Dr. Kieran Boyle
Hippocampal neuron receiving excitatory contacts (63x) – Dr. Kieran Boyle

This is a neuron. A picture of a motherfrakking neuron, people. In action, even. This particular one comes from the hippocampus, an area of the brain that deals with memory and spatial reasoning and one of the first damaged during Alzheimer’s disease. This one looks like a Christmas tree. That is all.

Insect Wrapped in Spider Web (85x) - Mark A. Sanders
Insect Wrapped in Spider Web (85x) – Mark A. Sanders

This one is called “Insect Wrapped in a Spider Web,” and that’s pretty much all you need to know about it. It’s gorgeous at this level of magnification.

Macrobrachium shrimp eye (140x) - Vitoria Tobias Santos
Macrobrachium shrimp eye (140x) – Vitoria Tobias Santos

This one’s my favorite. It’s the eye of a ghost shrimp magnified 140 times. Could you tell? I couldn’t. I love the mosaic look of the eyeball and the little starbursts of blood vessels as the eye connects to the rest of the body. So freakin’ cool.

Go check out the other winners!

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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