Londons – Blood running through the veins, cancer cells forming a heart, a mouse embryo and even the transformation that takes place in the head of a matchstick when it is struck are among the photos awarded in the Nikon Small Word microphotography competition, which announced the winners of its 2023 edition.
The winning photo from this year’s edition shows the nerve head of a rodent’s eye. The colors represent the different nerve structures. The retinal vasculature appears greenish yellow.
Beauty and complexity of life in the images of the microphotography competition
The contest is considered the most important global microphotography competition. Its objective is to show the beauty and complexity of life through images captured with a microscope, many taken by scientists in their laboratories.
For a few moments, they leave science aside to observe and record what naked eyes cannot see, revealing surprising scenes where least expected – even on a matchstick.
See this year’s best.
The photo of the match came in second place, capturing the sparks that come out as the red head of the match leaves a trail as it is dragged along the friction strip of the matchbox. The microscope allowed us to see the transformations caused in the head of the toothpick by chemical reactions.
3rd place in the microphotography competition went to the surprising image of a heart among the cells of a malignant breast tumor.
The microphotograph that took third place shows the skin of a small tarantula. But its enlarged poisonous claws look giant.
In fifth place, another photo was chosen that looks like an abstract painting. It shows the auto-fluorescent defensive hairs that cover the surface of the leaves of Eleagnus angustifolia, known as the paradise tree, when exposed to ultraviolet light.
The following image preferred by the photo jury shows two specimens of a type of slime mold (comatricha nigra), which grows on decayed wood on the forest floor. They have a long, slender stem, culminating in a sporangium (spherical mass of spores).
The sporangium undergoes color transformations as it matures, starting with white, passing through pink, brown, dark brown and finally black. All this in a matter of hours, depending on environmental conditions.
Seventh place went to a close-up of a mouse embryo.
In the macroscopic world, it would look like a flower. But it is the microscopic photo of caffeine crystals, which came in eighth place in the competition.
Next came the image of the cytoskeleton of a myoblast in the process of division. The cytoskeleton is the external structure that maintains the shape of cells. Myoblasts are the precursor cells of muscle fibers. The result looks more like a work of art.
Another work of art are the details of motor neurons cultured in a microfluidic environment to separate the cell bodies (in the upper part) from the axons (long filaments of nerve cells), which appear in the lower part. Microphotography won 10th place.
They look like sheets of colored paper folded on top of each other. But it is a microphotograph of crystallized sugar syrup, 11th in the jury’s preference.
12th place is a close-up of a wasp having a meal perched on one of its favorite flowers.
In 13th place was the microphotograph showing the blood passing through the veins, along with the outline of the lymphatic vasculatures captured on the skin of a mouse’s ear.
What looks like a rocket is the tip of an acupuncture needle, an image that came in 14th place. The green structures are sunflower pollen particles.
15th in the competition was a fluorescent microphotograph of a coral (Acropora sp) showing individual polyps with symbiotic zooxanthellae. The latter are unicellular algae that live inside the coral tissue. It is the photosynthesis carried out by them that provides much of the oxygen that keeps the coral alive. In return, they receive the carbon dioxide they need from the coral.
The image that came in 16th place looks like a contemporary sculpture. But they are carbon nanotubes. Each nanotube has a hollow, cylindrical structure formed by a single layer of carbon atoms, with a thickness of 1 nanometer, measured 1 million times smaller than 1 millimeter.
In 17th place comes another photo that looks like a painting, made up of scales from the wings of the Chinese moon moth. Found only in China, they live most of their lives as larvae. Her life as an adult is limited to just five days, the period she has to reproduce.
The image shows a micrometeorite on the mesh of a number 80 test sieve, which has an opening of 0.125 millimeters. He placed 18th in the competition.
Another photo that looks more like a painting, showing details of stomata in the epidermis of the peace lily leaf (Spathiphyllum sp).
20th place went to the detail of the transgenic zebrafish head, showing blood vessels (blue), lymphatic vessels (yellow) and skin and scales (magenta)