Beautiful video inside a zebrafish embryo brain

Researchers borrowed optical techniques from astronomy and ophthalmology to dramatically improve imaging of biological samples. This video, created by scientists at the HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus, shows neurons in the brain of a living zebrafish embryo. You can see the difference in quality when their new technique of "adaptive optics" is switched on and off.

According to physicist/engineer Eric Betzig who led the research, “The results are pretty eye-popping."

Yes. Yes they are.

(HHMI News, via National Geographic)

Microscopic psychedelia


Photo: Courtesy of Pat Kysar

Fast Company collects 15 beautiful photos of bizarrely-colored microscopic worlds.

The beginning of life

Sea urchin egg undergoing mitosis with fluorescent-tagged/stained DNA (blue), microtubules (green).

Cells divide. One single piece of life tugs itself apart and splits in two.

Read the rest

Copepod up close

This image of a tiny crustacean called a copepod is one of the winners of this year's Nikon Small World photography competition. At Deep Sea News, blogger ParaSight explains how the photographer, scientist Jan Michels, got the shot:

That right there is one gorgeous copepod, one of the bigger and more important groups of planktonic crustaceans. It looks huge but is actually tiny; probably 1-2mm. You can see how much richer and more detailed the image is (although the colour is stained flouresence, not natural). That particular image uses a technique called confocal microscopy, which uses lasers and clever optics to achieve great depth of field (where everything is in focus).