A Closer Look At Some Of The Year's Best Scientific Photos

What goes in to making an incredible scientific image?

zebrafish embryo

zebrafish embryo

False-coloured scanning electron micrograph of a zebrafish embryo. Photograph: Annie Cavanagh & David McCarthy

Every year the Wellcome Library holds the Wellcome Image Awards, honoring the best scientific imagery of the year. The images come from scanners, photographs, x-rays, and all other manner of imaging device, to create one of the most diverse awards we've ever seen.

Unfortunately, the Wellcome Image Awards homepage is currently down, but you can see this year's winning images at a number of other locations. But if you want to know a bit more about them, io9 has talked to a number of the researchers behind the photos. For instance, below is an image of kidney stone, taken by Kevin Mackenzie of the University of Aberdeen.

Here's how Mackenzie describes the image:

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting specimens to image and when I had kidney stones a few years ago I managed to collect one. I decided to image in the light microscope, Micro CT and also under the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The resulting image was taken using a Zeiss MA10 SEM and false coloured using Adobe Photoshop. The size of the stone is 2mm across (which is quite small for a kidney stone).

Kidney stones form when salts, minerals and chemicals in the urine (for example calcium oxalate and uric acid) clump together and solidify. Small kidney stones are often passed naturally, but larger stones sometimes get stuck in the kidney or in the tubes that carry urine out of the body.

I was very happy to have another two images selected for the awards, one was a Scanning Electron Micrograph of a single head louse egg attached to a human hair, and the other was a Micro CT scan of a medieval (so over 1000 years old) jawbone.

For more of these behind the scenes glimpses, check out the original article.