October 10, 2008

It’s a Small World After All

By Jerome Taylor

Photomicrography reveals a strangely alien world of wonders, but can you tell what they are? Answers below

OBJECTS IN in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear - but under a microscope they look out of this world.

A chicken foetus bathed in a clinical and eerie blue light looks more like an extraterrestrial being than the beginnings of a bird, while the oily slick of thinning soap molecules take you to a fluorescent forest of otherworldly trees. These are just some of the thousands of entries submitted by scientists, photographers and enthusiasts alike for the catchily-titled Annual Small World Photomicrography Competition.

Now in its 34th year, the 2008 competition garnered more than 2,000 micrographs from all over the world. Winning images, and two popular choices, will be unveiled at New York City's Astor Centre next week.

Members of the public have been invited to vote for their favourites from the 115 shortlisted images. Current high-rated pictures include pictures of the multicoloured wing scales of a sunset moth.

ANSWERS A: Sergestes larva (Deep water crustacean) 30x B: Nematode worm 400x C: Micro-flow pattern in thinning soap film 8x D: Snowflake 35x; E: Lily of the Valley 1300x F: Cluster of neurons differentiated from embryonic stem cells 40x G: Human epididymis duct 650x H: Chick embryo 6x I: Wing scales of sunset moth 100x

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