Nikon Small World Prize: Breathtaking focus on the microscopic heart of life – Science et Avenir

Why don’t we get tired of it? Because these intriguing images captivate the eye and turn our perception on its head: great players, we let ourselves go, we succumb to the invitation of “what is this?”, to the strange beauty of reality that cannot be captured by the naked eye.

The hand of a giant gecko embryo from Madagascar in incredible detail

Finely embroidered mouse gut blood vessels, red algae growth tips vibrating like flames, the fluorescent gyri of a coral polyp throbbing with complexity, the ghostly appearance of a chubby alien that hides nothing menacing… zebrafish! Microphotography extols these marvels. Armed with optical microscopes and endowed with a creative sensibility that transcends their respective disciplines, scientists or passionate researchers from around the world create images that are selected by the Nikon Small World competition for their technical and aesthetic qualities.

Every year since 1975, a jury has rewarded the best by publishing a list of winners, from which we offer a selection from the 2022 edition from the Department of Genetics and Evolution at the University of Geneva, Grigory Timin and Michel Milinkovic, and presenting with incredible fine detail the hand of a giant Madagascar embryo gecko (Phelsuma grandis).

The hidden face of the living reveals its beauty

The network of nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones, skin, and blood vessels is highlighted using pre-fluorescent staining and hundreds of images assembled. “This embryonic arm is about 3 mm long, which is a huge specimen for high-resolution microscopy,” says Grigory Timin. And to emphasize, in addition to its intriguing appearance, the scientific significance of this photograph, because a random increase in individual details provides information about the organization of structures at the cellular level … The hidden face of the living reveals its beauty.

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