Embryos of the species Molossus rufus

Physicist and scientific innovator Albert Einstein said that "all religions, arts, and sciences are branches of the same tree," and the Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition brings powerful proof of the artlike beauty of science.

The competition is regarded as the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of our life as seen through the light microscope -- highlighting the colors, forms, lines, and life of the infinitely tiny world that exists all around us.

From abstract images of common fruit flies to research photographs of the development of the embryos of zebra fish, photographs taken through the eyes of microscopes show the power of such imaging to the academic community as well as its accessibility to those who simply appreciate the art of photography.

Dorit Hockman from Cambridge university's Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience captured this image of embryos of the species Molossus rufus, the black mastiff bat.

This image was awarded 20th place in the competition. Click through the slide show to take a look at the rest of the Top 20 winners.
Updated:
Photo by: Dorit Hockman / Caption by:

Garlic's floral primordia

Dr. Somayeh Naghiloo in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Tabriz in Iran, captured this colorful image of the first stages of the flowering of Garlic.

The image was awarded 19th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. Somayeh Naghiloo / Caption by:

Coral sand at 100x

Dr. David Maitland's photograph of coral sand magnified 100x took 18th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.

davidmaitland.com
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. David Maitland / Caption by:

Stinging nettle trichome

A stinging nettle trichome on a leaf vein, magnified 100x, taken by Charles Krebs from Charles Krebs Photography in Issaquah, Wash., was the 17th place winner in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Charles Krebs / Caption by:

Freshwater snails and seed shrimp

Fossilized Turitella agate, containing freshwater snails (Elimia tenera) and seed shrimp (ostracods), are magnified 7x in this image from Douglas Moore at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point.

The image was awarded 16th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Douglas Moore / Caption by:

Ladybug leg at 10x

Andrea Genre of the University of Turin Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology in Turin, Italy, captured a glorious blue and green image of a ladybug leg, magnified 10x.

The image was awarded 15th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Andrea Genre / Caption by:

Pistil of Adenium obesum

Jose R. Almodovar Rivera of the biology department at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez captured this 10x photograph of the Pistil of Adenium obesum, a species of flowering plant in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, that's native to the Sahel regions, south of the Sahara from Mauritania and Senegal to Sudan.

The image was awarded 14th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Jose R. Almodovar Rivera / Caption by:

A ciliate protozoa at 400x

Dr. Diana Lipscomb of the Department of Biological Sciences at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., captured this 400x photograph of Sonderia sp. -- a ciliate protozoa that feeds on various algae, diatoms, and cyanobacteria.

The image was awarded 13th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. Diana Lipscomb / Caption by:

3D lymphangiogenesis assay

Esra Guc, of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland took this photograph of 3D lymphangiogenesis assay cells sprouting from dextran beads embedded in fibrin gel magnified at 200x.

The image was awarded 12th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Esra Guc / Caption by:

Gut of a fruit fly larva

Jessica Von Stetina from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., took this 25x photograph through the tip of the gut of a fruit fly larva.

The image was awarded 11th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Jessica Von Stetina / Caption by:

Brittle star at 8x

Dr. Alvaro Migotto of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil captured this 8x image of the Starfish-like ophiuroids echinoderms in the class Ophiuroidea, also known as a Brittle star.

The image was awarded 10th place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. Alvaro Migotto / Caption by:

An ant carrying its larva

Geir Drange from Asker, Norway, captured this up close 5x photograph of an ant carrying its larva.

The image was awarded ninth place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Geir Drange / Caption by:

Sea gooseberry larva

Gerd A. Guenther of Dusseldorf, Germany, captured this sea gooseberry larva magnified at 500x.

The image was awarded eighth place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Gerd A. Guenther / Caption by:

Fruit fly eye

Dr. Michael John Bridge of the Cell Imaging Lab at the University of Utah's HSC Core Research Facilities in Salt Lake City captured the eye of a fruit fly larvae at 60x.

The image was awarded seventh place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. Michael John Bridge / Caption by:

Algae and a leaf at 100x

Marek Mis, of Marek Mis Photography in Suwalki, Poland, captured this up-close, 100x view of the algae Cosmarium sp. (desmid) near a Sphagnum leaf.

The image was awarded sixth place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Marek Mis / Caption by:

Cacoxenite

Honorio Cocera-La Parra in the geology department at the University of Valencia in Spain, captured this 18x image of the mineral Cacoxenite taken from the La Paloma Mine.

The image was awarded fifth place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Honorio Cocera-La Parra / Caption by:

Fruit fly's visual-system development

Dr. W. Ryan Williamson from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Vir., captured this otherworldly image of a common fruit fly's visual system halfway through pupal development, showing the retina (in gold), photoreceptor axons (in blue), and the brain (in green) at 1,500x.

The image was awarded fourth place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. W. Ryan Williamson / Caption by:

Human bone cancer

Dr. Dylan Burnette from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., shows a unique, 63x view of human bone cancer showing the actin filaments (in purple), the mitochondria (in yellow), and DNA (seen in blue).

The image was awarded third place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. Dylan Burnette / Caption by:

Newborn lynx spiderlings

Walter Piorkowski of South Beloit, Ill., captured these tiny live newborn lynx spiderlings at 6x.

The image was awarded second place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Walter Piorkowski / Caption by:

Blood-brain barrier in a live zebra-fish embryo

Dr. Jennifer L. Peters & Dr. Michael R. Taylor from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., captured the stunning detail of the blood-brain barrier in a live zebra-fish embryo at 20x.

The image was awarded First place in the 2012 Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Updated:
Photo by: Dr. Jennifer L. Peters & Dr. Michael R. Taylor / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

CNET's Holiday Gift Guide

'Tis the season for a gadget upgrade

Check out these 8 tablets you'll want to bring home for the holidays.

Hot Products