Some of the most striking images from the world of science – from a photographer’s own kidney stone to the X-ray of a bat killed by a cat – will be going on public display following an awards ceremony on Tuesday night that will reveal the winner of the 2014 Wellcome Image Awards.
The winning entry will be chosen from a shortlist of 18 images, including a scanning electron-micrograph of a head louse egg, a 3D computed tomography image of a seal skull and a cross-section of a flower bud – all showing in minute detail the visual wonder of the natural world.
Among those shown here is a bird’s eye view of the nerve fibres in a normal, healthy adult brain (1). The communicating brain cells are visualised by diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, which is a specialised type of MRI scanner measuring the movement of water in many directions – colour coded here to indicate the direction of travel for the nerve fibres.
The Wellcome Image Awards
The Wellcome Image Awards
1/18 Nerve fibres in a healthy adult human
Bird's eye (axial) view of nerve fibres in a normal, healthy adult human brain
2/18 Astrantia major ‘Hadspen Blood’
Astrantia major L. Apiaceae. Gentleman's Melancholy, Hattie's Pincushion, Mountain Sanicle, & Black-root Sanicle. It was called Black Masterwort by Gerard (1633) and Imperatoria by Parkinson (1640), 'Hadspen Blood' is a cultivar
3/18 Lilium flower bud
Transverse section through a stained lilium bud (Liliaceae) showing the male and female reproductive organs
4/18 Zebrafish embryo
False-coloured scanning electron micrograph of a zebrafish embryo. The zebrafish, Danio rerio, is a tropical freshwater fish originating from eastern Asia and is a member of the minnow family
5/18 Breast cancer cells
Scanning electron micrograph of a multi-cellular breast tumour spheroid (cluster of cells) treated with nanomedicines carrying the anticancer drug doxorubicin
6/18 Human heart (aortic valve) tissue display
Density-dependent colour scanning electron micrograph of the surface of human heart (aortic valve) tissue displaying calcification in the form of spherical particles
7/18 Kidney stone
Scanning electron micrograph of a kidney stone (nephrolithiasis)
8/18 Oxidised Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Oxidised Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) crystals, initiated by scratching a film of supersaturate
9/18 The morphology of a crystal
SEM false-coloured to resemble the bow of a ship submerged in the sea, shows the morphology of a crystal of the polycrystalline compound called copper indium gallium diselenide or Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (commonly abbreviated to CIGSe or CIGS)
10/18 Magnification of thale cress
Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of an Arabidopsis thaliana flower, also commonly known as thale cress
11/18 Foraminifera marine life
Foraminifera are marine, bottom-living predators which secrete a calcium carbonate test (external shell or case)
12/18 The head of a seal
Computed tomography (CT) of the head of a seal (Pinnipedia)
13/18 The egg of a Head Louse
False-coloured scanning electron micrograph of a head louse egg (green) attached to a strand of human hair (brown)
14/18 X-ray projection of a brown long-eared bat
X-ray projection of a brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), captured and killed by a cat
15/18 Angiography of a human chest
Dual energy computed tomography angiography (DECT) of a human chest
16/18 Model of a medieval human mandible
Bird's eye view of a model of a medieval human mandible (lower jawbone)
17/18 An agricultural sludge sample
False-coloured SEM of an agricultural sludge sample after burning in an oxygen atmosphere
18/18 Deer tick embedded in skin
Deer tick embedded in skin of leg. A tick (Ixodes Ricinus) attached to the leg of a man
The image, taken by Dr Zeynep Saygin, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is being used to understand the patterns of connectivity in the brain to better understand the functioning of this most complex of human organs.
“I use connectivity patterns to predict brain function in healthy adults, and see whether the same patterns are present in children. This is especially interesting for mental functions that only emerge with relevant experience, such as reading,” Dr Saygin said.
In another image (5), a scanning electron microscope shows a cluster of breast cancer cells (blue) being attacked by nanometre-sized particles carrying the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin, which is already killing some of the tumour cells (purple) by a process of programmed cell death, or apoptosis.
Doxorubicin does not distinguish between normal cells and cancer cells so it is important to visualise how the nanoparticles are able to target the site of the tumour without causing collateral damage to the healthy tissues of the body.