The strange stories behind the year’s best scientific images #science #photography


io9 has posted the winners of this year’s Wellcome Image awards and the results are pretty cool. Above is one of the winning entries- a close up of a kidney stone.

Researchers Kevin Mackenzie, Sergio Bertazzo and Zeynep Saygin all had winning entries in the 2014 Wellcome Image Awards, an annual competition dedicated to showcasing the year’s most fascinating scientific images. Here, in their own words, is how they captured their subjects, and what their images reveal.

Widening our view of the world can mean taking a much closer look at the familiar. Technology from MRI to Scanning Electron Microscopes, which use focused beams to interact with a sample’s surface to produce nano-sized resolution, is allowing scientists and medical researchers to delve into our strange and beautiful world (sometimes aided with a little Photoshop).


Seen above is a Scanning Electron Micrograph of a single head louse egg attached to a human hair.


This one depicts adult brain nerve fibres. Zeynep Saygin explains:

My image depicts the nerve fibres, or wiring, of the healthy human brain. Brain cells communicate with each other through these fibres and we can visualise them in every individual using a specialised MRI scan. The colours represent the direction of the fibres: blue for those that travel up and down; green for front to back; and red for left to right.


This is a density-dependent colour scanning electron micrograph of the surface of human heart (aortic valve) tissue. The spherical particles show calcification. The orange colour identifies denser material (calcified material composed of calcium phosphate), while structures that appear in green are less dense (corresponding to the organic component of the tissue).

The discovery of calcified particles shows that calcification in the cardiovascular system is more complex than being just a regular process of bone formation.

See the best runners up over at the io9 site.

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