Science as Art: Closeups of a Viral Missing Link

Sometimes the lines between art, nature photography, and science blur. And sometimes the definitions that scientists give things get blurry, too. The results, in both cases, can be amazing. Take, for instance, the photos you see here. They show a virus that was originally found infecting amoebas in a Parisian water tank in 1992. This virus, however, was much, much bigger than viruses usually are--indeed, it was almost the size of a bacteria.

Sometimes the lines between art, nature photography, and science blur. And sometimes the definitions that scientists give things get blurry, too. The results, in both cases, can be amazing.
     Take, for instance, the photos you see here. They show a virus that was originally found infecting amoebas in a Parisian water tank in 1992. This virus, however, was much, much bigger than viruses usually are--indeed, it was almost the size of a bacteria. After 11 years of study, researchers concluded that it was a "missing link" between viruses and living cells--between the living and the dead.
     The researchers recently made pictures of the virus using an election microscope. Thousands of separate images were combined to create these 3-D views, which were recently published in Public Library of Science Biology. (You can also read more here.)What is amazing is that they look just the way I imagined a big virus would look, with a kind of reptilian skin and strange, vaguely scaring markings.I love it when imagery comes together. --David Schonauer