I spent my postdoc years in a bio-imaging lab, and each month we’d have a competition to see who could come up with the most gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing piece of imaging data. That was fifteen years ago, a time when the two-photon microscope was just starting to see widespread use and was beginning to revolutionize cell and developmental biology. A recent lab reunion was a joy, particularly getting to see how far the technologies had come in the short time since I left the bench.
Imaging has become a staple of so many approaches to biology, and every year, microscope companies run their own contests, casting a wide net to find the most compelling images worldwide. This year’s Nikon Small World competition found some fascinating winners.
First prize went to Wim van Egmond’s video of a ciliate predator devouring its prey:
Second prize was an astonishing look at what goes on in the guts of a termite, as symbiotic organisms help break down wood:
And third prize seems to be a remake of the movie Alien, as a parasitoid wasp breaks out of its host: