It's a Small and Wonderful World: Stunning Images of Science Under the Microscope

By Sarah Zhang | February 8, 2012 11:43 am

Looking down a microscope always reminds us how much we can’t see with the naked eye. The winners of the 2011 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge provide a tantalizing glimpse into the micro- and nanoscopic world.

This image of a thin slice of a mouse’s eye, above, was dyed so that different tissues show up as different colors. Muscles are pale yellow, for example, and the sclera is green.


No, this isn’t a cliff—it’s far too tiny. Each layer of titanium carbide—an exceptionally hard material used in energy storage devices, solar cells, and the like—in the stack pictured here is only 5 atoms thin.

These honeycombed stalks are carbon nanotubules illustrated by graphic artist Joel Brehm. Carbon nanotubules have unique thermal and electric properties that give them potential roles in everything from detecting cancer to powering hydrogen cars.


You might know these better as the little white hairs on young cucumbers. But under 800x magnification, these tiny outgrowths, called trichomes, look almost creature-like. In fact, these trichomes are there to protect the cucumber: the tips are sharp and bulbs are filled with a bitter toxin.

Read more about these images and see the rest of the winners over at Science.

Images courtesy of AAAS/Science

  • twri

    The titanium carbide “cliffs” look the most natural.

    Is the color shown the original one?

  • Kea

    Fantastic images!

  • LEE

    Is the image of the carbon nanotubes a picture or just an illustration?


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