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The best proof that nature is art

Jan 2007
Lynn M. Savage

Researchers who study plant or animal organisms can, at any time, be witness to amazing sights when they place their subjects under the objective of a light microscope. Whether they view muscle cells or mussel shells, scientists with an eye for the artistic can capture wondrous images that delight the senses while simultaneously satisfying the need to add to the world’s knowledge.

Thomas Deerinck, University of California, San Diego. Fluorescence image of mouse retina shows distribution of GFAP in glial cells (green), f-actin in endothelial cells (blue), neurofilament 68 kD in optic nerve axons (red), and DNA/RNA in cell nuclei and cytoplasm (orange). Images courtesy of OlympusAmerica Inc.

Each year, Olympus America Inc. highlights the best of these efforts with its BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition, honoring the microscopists who have submitted the images and videos that best display the scientific and aesthetic qualities that epitomize life sciences research.

Third prize, M.R. Dadpour, University of Tabriz, Iran. The primordium, or developing stage, of a zinnia flower.

In December, the company announced the 2006 winners and honorable mentions, some of which are pictured here. First prize was awarded to Thomas Deerinck of the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research at the University of California, San Diego, for his image of the optic fiber layer of a mouse retina.


Fourth prize, Robert Markus, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Csongrád. Confocal image of the stamen of the four o’clock plant (Mirabilis jalapa).


Seventh prize, Wim van Egmond, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Twenty stacked differential interference contrast images of golden algae (Dinobryon).


Eighth prize, Ralph Grimm, Jimboomba, Australia. The proboscis of a common housefly.

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