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A daily newsletter charting the future: From technology to the scientific breakthroughs changing our lives.


Nikon Small World Contest Reveals Unseen Microscopic World All Around Us

Get close with a tapeworm, investigate tomato mold and see more of the world under the microscope.


First Place

This close-up view of a human skin cell won first place in the annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. Dr. Bram van den Broek of the Netherlands Cancer Institute came across this peculiar cell while studying keratin, an important structural protein in skin cells. This cell is expressing an excessive amount of keratin. 

"The expression patterns of keratin are often abnormal in skin tumor cells, and it is thus widely used as a tumor marker in cancer diagnostics," said Dr. van den Broek.

Science and art meet under the microscope in the Small World contest and entries are evaluated on technical proficiency, informational content, and visual impact. 

Scroll through to see the top 20 winners in this year's contest. 

Dr. Bram van den Broek
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Second Place

Dr. Havi Sarfaty of Yahud-Monoson, Israel, submitted this photo because it represents the unseen complexity of a supposedly simple garden flower.

Dr. Havi Sarfaty
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Third Place

Jean-Marc Babalian of France captured this living volvox algae releasing its daughter colonies. 


Jean-Marc Babalian
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Taenia solium (pork tapeworm)

Teresa Zgoda/Rochester Institute of Technology
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Mold on a tomato

Dean Lerman of Netanya, Israel
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Lily pollen

Univesrity of Southampton
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Nerve cells in an embryonic chick

Dr. Ryo Egawa/Nagoya University
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The inner ear of a newborn rat

Dr. Michael Perny/University of Bern
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Cartilage-like tissue is grown in the lab using bone stem cells. 

Catarina Moura, Dr. Sumeet Mahajan, Dr. Richard Oreffo & Dr. Rahul Tare/University of Southampto
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Dr. Csaba Pinter/University of Pannonia
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Plastic fracturing on a credit card hologram

Steven Simon of Grand Prairie, Texas
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The eye of a daddy longlegs

Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Washington
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This Orchid cuckoo bee is from the collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Levon Biss Photography in Ramsbury, U.K.
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Mestra butterfly eggs on a leaf

David Millard of Austin, Texas,
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Third trimester fetus of a fruit bat

Dr. Rick Adams/University of Northern Colorado
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Down feather of a titmouse

Marek Miś Photography, Suwalki, Poland
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Dyed human hair

Harald K. Andersen of Steinberg, Norway
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Sea cucumber skin

Christian Gautier Biosphoto of Le Mans, France
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Embryonic body wall from a developing mouse

Dr. Dylan Burnette/Vanderbilt University
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Fungus and a yeast colony from soil

Tracy Scott of Ithaca, New York
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