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Anopheles gambiae (mosquito) heart (100x)

As a convergence of art and science in the natural world, few things can summon a sense of wonderment like Nikon's Small World photomicrography competition.

In one way, these images are technical documents--visual accounts of research from the hard sciences.

Take another look, though, and it's not hard to see these images standing alone as works of art. Though backed by scientific concepts, the beautiful colors and shapes are written in the world around us.

These are the plants and animals, rocks and minerals that make up our world.

All it takes is a (very) close look to appreciate the significance of science.

In this slide show, we take a look at the top 25 images from Nikon's 2010 International Small World Competition.

Jonas King, from the Vanderbilt University Department of Biological Sciences, submitted this image of an Anopheles gambiae (mosquito) heart magnified 100 times.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Jonas King
of 25

Zebrafish head

Hideo Otsuna, a student at the University of Utah Medical Center, photographed this 5-day-old zebrafish head, magnified 20 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Hideo Otsuna
of 25

Zebrafish olfactory bulbs

Magnified 250 times, these tiny olfactory bulbs of a zebrafish were photographed by Oliver Braubach, at the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Oliver Braubach
of 25

Wasp nest

Riccardo Taiariol's photograph of a wasp nest magnified 10 times shows the tiny interwoven fibers that make up the structure.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Riccardo Taiariol
of 25

Bird of paradise

Capturing the birth of the beautiful bird of paradise flower, Viktor Sykora's image of a Strelitzia reginae seed was taken at the Institute of Pathophysiology at Charles University in Prague.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Viktor Sykora,
of 25

Martensia sp. (red seaweed)

A living specimen of red seaweed, Martensia sp., was shot by John Huisman at a magnification of 40x.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:John Huisman
of 25

Endothelial cell attached to synthetic microfibers

At the The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Yongli Shan photographed an endothelial cell attached to synthetic microfibers, magnified 2,500 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Yongli Shan
of 25

Cacoxenite (mineral)

A sample of the mineral Cacoxenite is enlarged 18 times in this image from Honorio Cocera-La Parra at the Geology Museum at the University of Valencia, Spain.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Honorio Cocera-La Parra
of 25

Ctenocephalides canis (flea)

A tiny flea, Ctenocephalides canis, is magnified 20 times in Duane Harland's image from AgResearch in Lincoln, New Zealand.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Duane Harland
of 25

Crystallized soy sauce

Affiliated with the Beijing Planetarium, Yanping Wang took this stunning photograph of crystallized soy sauce, magnified 16 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Yanping Wang
of 25

Telophase HeLa (cancer) cells expressing Aurora B-EGFP

Though they look more like images of deep space nebulas, Paul D. Andrews' photograph actually shows Telophase HeLa (cancer) cells expressing Aurora B-EGFP (green), magnified more than 100 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Paul D. Andrews
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Scripps Institution of Oceanography

From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., Gregory Rouse submitted this image of a juvenile bivalve mollusc, Lima sp., magnified 10 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Gregory Rouse
of 25

Mushroom coral

A live mushroom coral (Orange Fungia), magnified 166 times, is the subject of this image by James Nicholson from the NOAA NOS NCCOS Coral Culture and Collaborative Research Facility in Charleston, S.C.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Nicholson
of 25

Spiral vessels from banana plant stem

The stem of a banana plant shows magnificent spiral vessel undulations in this image from Stephen Lowry at the University of Ulster in Londonderry, U.K. Enlarged 32 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Stephen Lowry
of 25

Divaricatic acid from Evernia divaricata

Lichen, divaricatic acid from Evernia divaricata was recrystallized from acetone and enlarged 10 times; then photographed by Ralf Wagner in Düsseldorf, Germany, creating these vibrant, colorful squares.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Ralf Wagner
of 25

Mirabilis jalapa

Robert Markus shot this stigma of the Mirabilis jalapa, known as the four o'clock flower, covered with pollen. The image, magnified 100 times, was taken at the Institute of Genetics Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Szeged, Hungary.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Robert Markus
of 25

Ichneumon wasp compound eye and antenna base

An Ichneumon wasp compound eye and antenna base, seen at a magnification of more than 40 times, was shot by photographer Charles Krebs.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Charles Krebs
of 25

Colorful image from soap film

Gerd Guenther, from Düsseldorf, Germany, created this colorful image from soap film magnified more than 150 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Gerd Guenther
of 25

Wistar retina outlining the retinal vessel network

Cameron Johnson's image of a rat's wistar retina outlining the retinal vessel network and associated communication channels is magnified 100 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Cameron Johnson
of 25

Crystallized melt of sulfur and acetanilide

Crystallized melt of sulfur and acetanilide, magnified at 10 times, came from John Hart and Hart3D Films and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:John Hart
of 25

Mosquito eye

Marie Andersson's image of a magnified Anopheles (mosquito) eye was taken at the UCMR/Department of Molecular Biology at Umea Universitet in Umea, Sweden.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Marie Andersson
of 25

Trout alevin (larva)

Tint Trout alevin (larva) magnified 10 times and photographed by Robert Berdan in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Robert Berdan
of 25

Bent core liquid crystal

Rajdeep Deb photographed this image of the checkerboard domain of a bent core liquid crystal, magnified 40 times, in Assam, India.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Rajdeep Deb
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Recrystallized sulfur

Recrystallized sulfur magnified 63 times is the subject of Edward Leighman Gafford's photograph.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Edward Leighman Gafford
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Paramecium fed with red-stained yeast

Gerd Guenther's living specimen of paramecium caudatum fed with Congo red-stained yeast is enlarged 600 times.
Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Gerd Guenther
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