The Year’s Most Spectacular Microscopic Photos


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. Click through to check them out.

Photo credit: Dr. Jennifer L. Peters and Dr. Michael R. Taylor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis

Developing blood vessels in the brain!

Photo credit: Walter Piorkowski

These are baby Lynx spiders.

Photo credit: 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.

Photo credit: Dr W Ryan Williamson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

A dissected fly’s eye. Um.

Photo credit: Marek Mis

A desmid, which is a type of green algae.

Photo credit: Geir Drange

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

Photo credit: Douglas Moore, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Ancient snail shells and shrimp, fossilized in agate.

Photo credit: Somayeh Naghiloo, Department of Plant Biology, University of Tabriz

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

Photo credit: Charles Krebs

… And this is what’s swimming in your water, people.

Photo credit: Dr Arlene Wechezak

And finally, more algae — this is a species called Pilota, which you can read about on a site called AlgaeBase. (And by the way, how awesome is it that there’s a site called AlgaeBase? Ah, the Internet…)