Aug. 8, 2012 at 7:11 PM ET
Usually giant images are used to show similarly giant things — astronomical features, maps of the world, and so on. But this particular huge image focuses on the very small: the structure of a zebrafish embryo, with so much detail that you can make out individual cells.
In an effort to better present the imagery included in its articles, the Journal of Cell Biology has created a powerful tool for navigating enormous multi-gigapixel pictures. And they're inaugurating the new data viewing system with an image unprecedented in detail.
It's the embryo of a common zebrafish, about 1.5mm in length, but imaged at such a high resolution that you can zoom in to the level where you can see inside cells and organelles. Snapping pictures of super-thin slices like this has been done for years, but the ease of access and incredible detail of this image are definitely new.
Some quick stats on this amazing picture:
The ability to use the same imager and viewer to capture and examine everything from the nucleus of a cell to the overall shape of an animal is extraordinary, to say the least.
Before this there was no real way to share such huge sets of data; "Supplemental Materials sections are not sufficient for publishing these large scale image maps," says the Journal of Cell Biology. They hope that this tool will encourage researchers to publish the largest and highest-quality available images along with their papers.
More images can be found accompanying the paper, "Virtual Nanoscopy: Generation of ultra-large high resolution electron microscopy maps."
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.