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Anopheles gambiae (mosquito) heart (100x)

Zebrafish head

Zebrafish olfactory bulbs

Wasp nest

Bird of paradise

Martensia sp. (red seaweed)

Endothelial cell attached to synthetic microfibers

Cacoxenite (mineral)

Ctenocephalides canis (flea)

Crystallized soy sauce

Telophase HeLa (cancer) cells expressing Aurora B-EGFP

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Mushroom coral

Spiral vessels from banana plant stem

Divaricatic acid from Evernia divaricata

Mirabilis jalapa

Ichneumon wasp compound eye and antenna base

Colorful image from soap film

Wistar retina outlining the retinal vessel network

Crystallized melt of sulfur and acetanilide

Mosquito eye

Trout alevin (larva)

Bent core liquid crystal

Recrystallized sulfur

Paramecium fed with red-stained yeast

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.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Jonas King
Hideo Otsuna, a student at the University of Utah Medical Center, photographed this 5-day-old zebrafish head, magnified 20 times.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Hideo Otsuna
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Oliver Braubach
Riccardo Taiariol's photograph of a wasp nest magnified 10 times shows the tiny interwoven fibers that make up the structure.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Riccardo Taiariol
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Viktor Sykora,
A living specimen of red seaweed, Martensia sp., was shot by John Huisman at a magnification of 40x.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by John Huisman
At the The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Yongli Shan photographed an endothelial cell attached to synthetic microfibers, magnified 2,500 times.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Yongli Shan
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Honorio Cocera-La Parra
A tiny flea, Ctenocephalides canis, is magnified 20 times in Duane Harland's image from AgResearch in Lincoln, New Zealand.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Duane Harland
Affiliated with the Beijing Planetarium, Yanping Wang took this stunning photograph of crystallized soy sauce, magnified 16 times.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Yanping Wang
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Paul D. Andrews
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Gregory Rouse
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Nicholson
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Stephen Lowry
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Ralf Wagner
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Robert Markus
An Ichneumon wasp compound eye and antenna base, seen at a magnification of more than 40 times, was shot by photographer Charles Krebs.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Charles Krebs
Gerd Guenther, from Düsseldorf, Germany, created this colorful image from soap film magnified more than 150 times.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Gerd Guenther
Cameron Johnson's image of a rat's wistar retina outlining the retinal vessel network and associated communication channels is magnified 100 times.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Cameron Johnson
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by John Hart
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Marie Andersson
Tint Trout alevin (larva) magnified 10 times and photographed by Robert Berdan in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Robert Berdan
Rajdeep Deb photographed this image of the checkerboard domain of a bent core liquid crystal, magnified 40 times, in Assam, India.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Rajdeep Deb
Recrystallized sulfur magnified 63 times is the subject of Edward Leighman Gafford's photograph.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Edward Leighman Gafford
Gerd Guenther's living specimen of paramecium caudatum fed with Congo red-stained yeast is enlarged 600 times.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Gerd Guenther
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