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Photo of Water Creature Resembling a Mouse Earns First Prize

Published: Friday, November 18, 2011
Last Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011
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At last, a mouse that says ‘Cheese’. A photo of a curious underwater life form that bears a striking resemblance to a cartoon mouse has earned first prize in the 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.

Charles Krebs captured the fascinating image, which showcases the amazing movements of a rotifer, a tiny underwater creature with cilia (hair-like projections around the “ears”) that sweep at lightning speed to move food into its mouth. Krebs used a special flash to freeze the cilia’s rapid motion. The photo also shows the microscopic animal’s self-made reddish tube-shaped home, with a building block in the process of being formed inside the rotifer’s body. This stunning depiction, captured using differential interference contrast illumination, was selected from more than 2000 images and movies to earn First Prize.

Olympus BioScapes Competition is now in its 9th year of honoring images and movies of human, plant and animal subjects, as captured through light microscopes. Any life science subject is eligible, and entries are judged based on the science they depict, their aesthetics (beauty and impact of the image), and their technical expertise. Photographers can use any brand of equipment. This year, in addition to Prizes 1-10, Honorable Mentions went to 64 images and movies, and one movie earned an award for technical merit. Altogether, 13 videos earned recognition among the winners.

This year’s winning images and movies reflect the latest advances in neuroscience and cell biology, along with amazing glimpses of the unseen world captured by hobbyists. Four of the Top 10 prizewinners in this year’s competition were videos showing the wonders of life in action on a microscopic scale. Second Prize went to an amazing time-lapse movie of a cress plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) developing new roots over a 75-hour period. The movie was captured by Daniel von Wangenheim, of Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.

The honored images and movies this year came from 14 states of the U.S. and 19 other nations including Australia, Canada, China, England, Greece, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan and Wales, among others. Specimens included plant, human and animal subjects. For instance, Haris Antonopoulos, Athens, Greece, earned Sixth Prize for a brilliant image of stink bug eggs; Gunnar Newquist, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno captured an extraordinary Seventh Prize photo of the ovaries of a fruit fly, which resemble strawberries hanging from a stem.
Research is not all that is reflected through the lens of BioScapes. Many of this year’s winning and honorable mention images reflect photographers’ fascination with life’s small wonders from mold to mosquitoes, from teeth to tree stems, and from bugs to bamboo. One Honorable Mention image even depicts diatoms arranged to resemble a bicycle (captured by Stephen Lowry of County Londonderry, UK). Another is a beautiful rendition of an unbeautiful subject –a human eye suffering from conjunctivitis (image by Donald Pottle of the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, Mass).
“BioScapes images and movies remind us that our world is endlessly beautiful and fascinating,” said Hidenao Tsuchiya, Group Vice President and General Manager, Scientific Equipment Group, Olympus America Inc. “They also open a window to some of the most important and compelling research going on in laboratories around the world. The BioScapes Competition, with entries representing dozens of countries and every field of life science, allows Olympus to bring scientists’ amazing images and stories to the world.”

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