/Nikon Small World microscopy contest: We’re all winners

Nikon Small World microscopy contest: We’re all winners


A copper oxide mineral's crystals look out of this world at high magnification.
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/ A copper oxide mineral’s crystals look out of this world at high magnification.

Covering the news means that most of what you do is new. While you may revisit a topic, it typically only happens after something about that topic has changed. Nevertheless, fall science coverage has a certain familiarity. First, there’s the utter insanity of the Ig Nobel prizes, followed shortly by the mad rush to explain why people are being given actual Nobel Prizes before the news goes stale.

Somewhere after that, however, I get to experience one of my favorite tasks of the entire year: wading through dozens of absolutely spectacular images, trying to figure out which ones are most compelling. Yes, it’s time again for the Nikon Small World microscopy contest.

As you’ll see below, there are no bad images. But the best of them are both works of art and reminders of how limited our perspective on the world around us can be. Change the scale, change the wavelengths, or alter how things are prepared, and even familiar items like amino acids or a flower can be radically different from how we normally experience them.