Monday 1 December 2008

Best Microscopic Images of 2008 Announced

First Place: Diatom Rainbows

Sinewy filaments within squirming microscopic diatoms, a type of algae, are artificially rainbow hued as a result of being photographed through polarizing light filters.

Captured by retired British microscopist Michael Stringer, the photo took top prize--and U.S. $3,000--in the 2008 Small World Photomicrography Competition, organizers announced on October 15. Sponsored by Nikon, the annual contest showcases "the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope."

--Mark Anderson
—Photograph by Michael Stringer/photo courtesy of Nikon Small World

Second Place: Nanotube Factory

Glowing-hot carbon nanotubes form an expanding orange ball in this image by Paul Marshall of Canada's Institute for Microstructural Sciences, a winner in the 2008 Small World photomicrography competition.

The nanotubes are elongated, hollow cylinders of carbon atoms. To make a carbon nanotube--just 1/50,000 the width of a human hair--a piece of carbon (graphite) must be heated, for example by lasers or electricity. And sometimes, Marshall says, the heated mass of nanotubes grows like a bulb in the spring.

—Photograph by Paul Marshall/National Research Council Canada/photo courtesy of Nikon Small World

Third Place: Flower Power

Albert Tousson of the University of Alabama was recently testing a new laser microscope in his lab and put a petal of a lily of the valley under the lens, which magnified the petal 1,300 times--resulting in his winning photo in the 2008 Small World photomicrography competition.

The enhanced color of the petal's red cell walls and green and yellow starch granules comes from the laser light, which causes molecules within these substances to fluoresce--the same phenomenon that gives objects under black lights an eerie glow.

—Photograph by Albert Tousson/High Resolution Imaging Facility/University of Alabama at Birmingham/photo courtesy of Nikon Small World

View more @ National Geographic

Bookmark and ShareBookmark and ShareBookmark and Share