The Small World is a Smash Hit

Winning photomicrographs take their bows at Hudson Theatre

What do a Titanic casualty, The Tonight Show and a common housefly all have in common? They have all at one time or another taken center stage at the Hudson Theatre in New York City's Times Square. The theater was built by Henry B. Harris over 100 years ago, before Harris' tragic death aboard the Titanic in 1912. Over the years, it changed hands several times, became the home of the original "Tonight Show" with Steve Allen in the 1950s, and after facing demolition more than once or twice, was landmarked in 1987. Presently, it hosts a variety of concerts, meetings and even weddings. [1]

Now, I'm sure that the theater has seen its share of flies buzzing around audience members' heads and circling near the lobby's breathtaking Tiffany triple-domed ceiling. But the housefly to which I make reference helped Charles Krebs, a photographer from Issaquah, WA, to take first prize on October 6 at an evening cocktail reception held in the historic Hudson Theatre, culminating Nikon's 31st International Small World Competition. Amazingly, though flies are typically regarded as nothing more than a pesky nuisance, this image of a muscoid fly conveys an element of wonder, and beat out over 1,700 photomicrographs that beautifully captured everything from crystallized potassium chlorate to seaweed to Velcro.

The marriage of science and beauty to create works of art is what defines Nikon's Small World Competition. Its mission, originally outlined in 1974, still holds true over 30 years later: to recognize excellence in photography through the microscope. "We celebrate the world's best photomicrographs — and the scientists, microscopes, imaging technologies and artists who make them possible," says Nikon's president and CEO Fumitaka Akeda. "In a sense the microscope is a living thing. It has evolved from a simple optical device to a modern tool of information technology, sharing digital images over global public and private networks, helping us to understand and appreciate our natural world."

Sifting through these 1,700 images to choose the greatest is no easy task, as many of these photomicrographs could easily have placed. But the Small World's 2005 distinguished panel of judges did just that to identify the top 20 prize winners in addition to 10 honorable mentions, evaluating each submission on originality, informational content, technical proficiency and photographic excellence. The panel comprised microscopy and photography experts from Harvard, National Geographic, Scientific American magazine and the Wadsworth Center. Acting as judges' consultant was Michael Davidson, director of the Optical and Magneto-Optical imaging center at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University. His passion for microscopy spans 25 years of scientific research, and his photomicrographs have been published in over 1,000 national and international scientific journals, popular magazines and newspapers. His images even appear on a line of neckties dubbed "Molecular Expressions."

To place in the top 20, or even to receive Honorable Mention, is a huge achievement for the researchers and hobbyists who have submitted their work with such high hopes. Harvard grad student Conor Evans, working with the Xie Research Group at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, received Honorable Mention with his Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS) interferometry image of dodecane droplets in water. Thrilled with his accomplishment, he privately and politely inquired to the event's Master of Ceremonies, "So just how many images did I have to beat?" to which the MC replied to the audience at the start of the ceremony, "Well, you've beat out exactly 1,660 other images," to which the audience responded with laughter and applause.

To the competition's seventh prize winner, placing in the top 10 is truly an honor. Said Shirley Owens of the Center for Advanced Microscopy at Michigan State University, and last year's second prize winner, "I have hung the Nikon calendar on my wall for years and couldn't imagine that I would ever have one of my images included. The images in the contest are so fantastic, done by some of the world's best microscopists."

The photomicrograph Owens submitted to the contest was a demonstration image she used for her forensics department students (see cover). "I collected small loose fibers from samples at Home Depot, mounted them in immersion oil and took a z-stack that combined two different fluorescence images and a polarized light image. The z-stack of images was then combined to make an extended focus image." Her students fell in love with it, and thus she added the brilliant blue and green color and sent it on to the competition. "This has been my lucky year as I also won eighth prize and two Honorable Mentions in the Olympus Bioscapes contest this year."

I'd like to extend my congratulations to all the winners and Honorable Mentions of this year's competition. This being my first year attending the gala event, I was quite impressed with the world of scientific discovery merging so brilliantly with the realm of fine art, and in such a befitting location as the Hudson Theatre. Please be sure to visit a showing of all the images you see on these pages at one of the museums or galleries listed… this performance is indeed well worth a look.

1st Place
Charles B. Krebs
Charles Krebs Photography
Issaquah, Washington, USA
Muscoid fly (house fly) (6.25x)
Reflected light

2nd Place
Thomas J. Deerinck
National Center for Microscopy & Imaging Research
University of California - San Diego
La Jolla, California, USA
Quantum dot fluorescence image of mouse kidney section (240x)
Fluorescence (2-photon)

3rd Place
Stefan Eberhard
Complex Carbohydrate Research Center
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia, USA
Crystallized vitamin A (40x)
Polarized light

4th Place
Edy Kieser
Ennenda, Switzerland
Crystallized succinic acid and urea (50x)
Polarized light

5th Place
Neil J. Egan
PPG Industries
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Bacteria growth in petri dish (30x)

6th Place
Margaret N. Oechsli
Jewish Hospital, Heart & Lung Institute
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Phenyl threonine (20x)

7th Place
Dr. Shirley A. Owens
Center for Advanced Microscopy
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Carpet fibers (20x)
Fluorescence and polarized light

8th Place
Thomas J. Deerinck
National Center for Microscopy & Imaging Research
University of California - San Diego
La Jolla, California, USA
Quantum dot fluorescence image of mouse small intestine (120x)
Fluorescence (2-photon)

9th Place
Dr. John M. Huisman
Murdoch University
Murdoch, Western Australia
Chaetomorpha antennina (seaweed) (20x)

10th Place
Susan Johnson
CSIRO Plant Industry, Horticulture Unit
Glen Osmond, South Australia
Vitis vinifera (grape) (10x)

11th Place
Ron J. Oldfield
Department of Biological Sciences
Macquarie University
Lepidozia sp. (a liverwort) spores and elaters (100x)

12th Place
Edy Kieser
Ennenda, Switzerland
Crystallized potassium chlorate (40x)
Polarized light

13th Place
Chiedozie Ukachukwu
Biomedical Photographic Communications Student
Student at the Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York, USA
Bryozoan Statoblast (diminutive aquatic animal of the phylum Bryozoa) (10x)

14th Place
Dr. Paul D. Andrews
Division of Gene Regulation and Expression, School of Life Sciences
University of Dundee
Dundee, UK
Xenopus (frog) XLK2 cell (100x)
Fluorescence and deconvolution

15th Place
Dr. Shumel Silberman
Ramat Gan, Israel
Geranium flower (20x)
Fiber optic illumination

16th Place
Dr. Donald W. Pottle
The Schepens Eye Research Institute
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Crystalline formations from evaporated contact lens solution (400x)
Differential interference contrast

17th Place
Jan Schmoranzer
Columbia University
New York, New York, USA
NIH 3T3 fibroblasts (mouse cells) (600x)

18th Place
Dr. Christian Bohley
Department of Experimental Physics
Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg
Magdeburg, Germany
Cholesteric phase of 55% CB15 in E48 (substance used in manufacture of Liquid Crystal Displays) (100x)
Polarized light

19th Place
Ian C. Walker
Huddersfield, UK
Feather of a Dominican Cardinal Bird (25x)
Crossed-polars Rheinberg illumination

20th Place
Dr. Oliver Skibbe
AlgaTerra Information System
Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, Berlin-Dahlem
Berlin, Germany
Living diatoms - Pinnularia sp. (Bacillariophyceae) (250x)
Differential interference contrast

Tracy E. Anderson
Imaging Center
College of Biological Sciences
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Velcro® being pulled apart (94x)
Stereomicroscopy with epi-ring illuminatione

Dr. Marie-Hélène Bré
Laboratory of Cellular Biology
University of Paris, South
Orsay, France
Tetrahymena thermophila (protozoa) cells (1500x)

Dr. Alistair M. Dove
Marine Sciences Research Center
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, New York, USA
Homarus americanus (American lobster) larvae (40x)
Stereomicroscopy (episcopic)

Conor L. Evans and Eric O. Potma
Xie Research Group
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
CARS interferometry of dodecane droplets in water (40x)
Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS)

Dr. Patrick C. Hickey
LUX Biotechnology Ltd.
Edinburgh, UK
Hyphal tips of Neurospora crassa (a filamentous fungus) (20x)

Dr. Dennis D. Kunkel
Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
Kailua, Hawaii, USA
Crystallized ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and sucrose (40x)
Polarized light

Dr. Stephen S. Nagy
Montana Diatoms
Clancy, Montana, USA
Fossil marine diatom, Actinoptychus heliopelta (900x)
Jamin-Lebedeff interference contrast

Dr. Nasser M. Rusan
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
LLCPK1 (pig epithelial) cells (1000x)
Confocal, epi-fluorescence, and deconvolution

Catherine Russell and Amanda Leach
Department of Polymer Science and Engineering
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
Electric field placed across layers of polydimethyl siloxane and polystyrene on a polished silicon wafer (60x)
Reflected light

Spike Walker
Microworld Services
Penkridge, UK
Film of supersaturated solution scratched with a needle (4x)
Rheinberg illumination and polarized light
Nikon Small World Museum Tour Schedule
Although this year's competition has come to a close, you still have the chance to view these images in person at a museum or gallery near you, as the tour will make 24 stops around the U.S. and Canada. Please also be sure to visit the Small World Web site to view present and past years' winning photos. [2]

• Northeast
Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA; Through December 18, 2005
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ; Through January 29, 2006
New York Hall of Science, Corona, NY; December 30, 2005-March 5, 2006
UMASS Herter Art Gallery, Amherst, MA; February 1-March 1, 2006
Museum of Science & Technology, Syracuse, NY; March 5-May 7, 2006
Science Center of Connecticut, West Hartford, CT; March 17-May 21, 2006
Marine Bio Lab, Woods Hole, MA; July 28-September 3, 2006

• East
Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC; Through November 16, 2005
Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, MD; Through February 26, 2006

• Southeast
Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta, GA; May 12-July 9, 2006
American Museum of Science,Oak Ridge, TN; June 9-August 13 2006
Adventure Science Center, Nashville, TN; July 21-December 17, 2006
Museum of Science & Industry, Tampa, FL; November 3, 2006-January 14, 2007

• South
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Athens, TX; August 25-October 29, 2006
Science Place, Dallas, TX; November 17, 2006-January 10, 2007

• Southwest
Arizona Science Center, Phoenix, AZ; March 31-April 30, 2006
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque, NM; June 2-August 20, 2006

• West
American Society for Cell Biology, San Francisco, CA; December 11-December 14, 2005
Utah State Center for Integrated BioSystems, Logan, UT; May 19-July 9, 2006
Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, CA; September 1-October 22, 2006

• Northwest
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, OR; December 30, 2005-February 1, 2006
The Science Factory, Eugene, OR; February 17-March 19, 2006
Pacific Science Center, Seattle, WA; March 17-May 28, 2006

• Canada
Science World, Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 15-November 5, 2006

1. "Manhattan User's Guide." (2005). (Accessed 21 October, 2005).