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.
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.
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.
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.
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.