Award-winning microscopic images of tick heads rendered in psychedelic colors can change the vision of blood-sucking parasites.
The intense magnification, combined with the protruding heads of the creature, its internal structure, and the brilliant shades that illuminate the armored exoskeleton, makes the tick look like a strange (or beautiful?) Visitor from another world.
This image shows the perspective of a small arthropod that you have probably never seen before. And that’s exactly what recently Nikon Small World Micrograph Competition, Currently in the 47th year. Checkmark photographs, and over 100 other photographs selected for the competition’s highest honor, show the science and beauty of organisms, minerals and other objects too small to be seen with the naked eye.
Related: Spectacular micro photo: 50 little wonders
But to really stand out, it’s not enough to be beautiful, says Alexa L. Mattheyses, contest judge and associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical College.
Instead, the image should also stimulate curiosity. “Is that causing something in you?” Do you want to know more? ” Mattheyses told Live Science. “The subject is very varied. We’re all drawn to different things, so it’s important to have a diverse jury there, ”says Mattheyses.
On some level, Hank Greenberg, a contest judge who is the creator, writer and science communicator of YouTube content, decides that photos should be viewed “like any other kind of art.”
“We talked about how the images made us feel, what they were made up of, the stories they told, and the technology used,” Green told Live Science in an email. “Special attention has been paid to what anyone can enjoy, but the more you understand it, the deeper the fun will be.”
In the competition, five judges evaluated approximately 1,900 entries from 88 countries and placed 7th overall for tick images. It was captured using a confocal microscope by researcher Paul Stoodley, director of the Ohio State University (CMIF) campus microscopy and imaging facility, and Tong Zhang, associate director and microscopist principal of CMIF. .. Very little light blocks out blurry parts of the image.
“People can see little details in the head of this tick, especially in its mouth. [an] Structure like an inverted arrow. The mites use this type of structure to anchor themselves to animals, ”he told Live Science via email. He said the color scheme in the picture made the mouth stand out from the rest of the head.
The competition’s first prize goes to Jason Kirk, technical director of optical imaging and vital microscope cores at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, with images of the underside of oak leaves and a delicate protective structure called trichomes. Was done. The photo shows the white leaf trichomes surrounded by pink pores. These are similar to sea anemones with tentacles.
“This image is the result of an experimental microscope system that I was building at home,” Kirk told Live Science. When Kirk’s daughter brought oak leaves to test the equipment, he was intrigued by the trichomes on the underside of the leaves. For the contest photo, Kirk collected newly sprouted oak leaves that were just starting to show trichomes.
“The biggest technical challenge was the lighting,” he said. To illuminate a small structure, a delicate balance had to be found between the colors and temperatures of the three light sources. One is on the top of the leaf, one on the bottom, and one on the side that lights up the trichome.
Kashiha said: “It was in our backyard and we interacted with him every day, but we don’t really understand what it really looks like around here,” he said. Said. “Hope that makes it a little harder to see what’s at your feet.”
“Because not only scientists but also amateur scientists can see all the beautiful images taken and submitted, we can open our hearts to the different ways images are obtained and the different types of information that can be obtained from them. – I will, said Mattheyses. “I found it really exciting and dynamic to be able to make this decision and go back to my job and see something new! “
For those of us who don’t regularly look at little wonders under a microscope, seeing these images can still be a transformational experience, Green said.
“The more time I spend in the microcosm, the more I think I am grateful for everything,” he said. “With great care, ‘Why is nothing working in this broken world?'” “It is so impressive that everything is working.”
You can see all the top 20 winners and prestigious mentions from the competition Nikon Small World website..
Originally published in Live Science.