Posted in biology, chemistry, electronic imaging and displays, medical imaging, Optics

Celebrating all thing small

Deadly tentacle of a Portuguese man-of-war stands out as a delicate pink ribbon containing toxin-filled beads. Alvaro Migotto

I thought I’d posted on this already, but there are SO MANY small photo competitions these days…sheesh! Small is big, or something:

10 Scientific American Magazine Bioscapes Photo Contest Winners Revealed: A gallery of images captured by light microscopy reveals the high art of the natural world

We are approaching the millennial anniversary of the first meaningful written description of how lenses and light could be used to magnify objects. It was in 1011 that Arab scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) began writing the Book of Optics, which described the properties of a magnifying glass, principles that later led to the invention of the microscope. The entrants in the 2009 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition provide fitting tribute to nearly 1,000 years of making the invisible visible.

Optical microscopy, energized by generation after generation of technological advance, continues to furnish dazzling proof that beyond the resolution of the human eye resides a sweepingly large world of small things, both around and within us. The artistic beauty of the microcosm can be witnessed in these photographs of the beadlike band of toxin-carrying compartments on the tentacle of the Portuguese man-of-war, the gemlike quality of row on row of single-celled algae and the red-and-yellow patterning of a Triceratops bone, reminiscent of a loud necktie. A selection of winning and honorable mention images that particularly appealed to us at Scientific American follows.

View Top Ten Winners Slideshow



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.