A microscopic feat: Stunning photos reveal the bizarrely beautiful hidden world of biology


Rainbow coloured: This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows caffeine crystals

Photographs which reveal the hidden world of biology - showing both the beauty and harsh reality of living things - have all been shortlisted for an award.
A time lapse shot of a cancer cell dividing and beautifully spiky caffeine crystal were all finalists in the Wellcome Image Award.
Some of the pictures are eerily beautiful such as a close-up of green algae, a bacteria biofilm or the crystal of the anti-diarrhoea drug Loperamide.

Cancer cells in motion: The dangerous cells are shown in a different light in this amazing image. The individual channels are 12 microns wide, approximately one-tenth the width of a single human hair

Others including the winner, a shot of the surface of a living brain, are more hard-hitting. Taken by Robert Ludlow of UCL’s Institute of Neurology during a surgical procedure to treat a patient with epilepsy, the image depicts the beauty and fragility of this enigmatic organ.
Professor Alice Roberts, who was a member of the judging panel, said: 'This is a remarkable image of a human brain.

Left: Micrasterias - A type of green alga called a desmid. Desmids usually inhabit the acidic waters associated with peat bogs. Right: Diatom frustule - Unicellular organisms and a major group of algae. Diatoms are encased within a hard cell wall made from silica

Left: Microneedle vaccine - Researchers have shown these materials can be used to deliver vaccines and therapeutics to the outer layers of the skin in a safe and painless ways. Right: Loperamide - an antimotility drug used to treat diarrhoea, works by slowing down the movement of the intestine and reducing the speed at which the contents of the gut pass through

'What makes it so different from most images of the surface of the brain is that this organ is living - this is a brain as it is encountered during neurosurgery.
'Through the skill of the photographer, we have the privilege of seeing something which is normally hidden away inside our skulls.
'The arteries are bright scarlet with oxygenated blood, the veins deep purple, and the ‘grey matter’ of the brain a flushed, delicate pink.
'It is quite extraordinary.' The award was presented at a ceremony at Wellcome Collection in London last night.

Left: This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows a moth fly, also known as a drain fly. As its name suggests, the fly's larvae commonly live and grow in domestic drains. Right: The image on the right is a false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows a lavender leaf

Sixteen Wellcome Image Awards were presented in total and this marks the first time that an overall winner has been selected.
Catherine Draycott, head of Wellcome Images and a member of the judging panel, said: 'The Wellcome Image Awards are unique in that the winners are chosen for their scientific and technical merit as much as for their aesthetic appeal.
'They offer people a chance to get closer to science and research and see it in a different way, as a source of beauty as well as providing important information about ourselves and the world around us.'

Bacteria biofilm: This confocal micrograph shows Bacillus subtilis, a rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in soil. Distinct lineages of bacteria expressing different fluorescent proteins were initially mixed randomly on a petri dish

Left: Connective tissue - This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows tissue removed from a human knee during arthroscopic surgery. Individual fibres of collagen can be distinguished and have been highlighted by the creator using a variety of colours. Right: Xenopus laevis oocytes of an African clawed frog

Medical photography is a notoriously difficult practice, with photographers having to work around clinicians to take the crucial images with no control over lighting or conditions. But the images are essential for helping doctors to make diagnoses, to track and record treatments and for education purposes. Other Wellcome Image Award winners include cancer cells in motion, a lavender leaf and a hair-raising close-up of a moth fly.
The awards will be on display at the Wellcome Collection in London until December 2012.

source: dailymail