This is what competing sperm looks like

Close looks at an immune reaction, competing sperm, and kidney cells win prizes in Nikon's microvideography contest.

Small Sperm

Small Sperm

Video of competing sperm within the reproductive system of the female fruit fly won second prize in this year's Nikon Small World in Motion contest.Stefan Lüpold via Nikon Small World in Motion

The winners have just been announced in Nikon's Small World in Motion digital video competition, giving us the opportunity to look through the microscope from the comfort of our office chairs.

This is the second year Nikon has offered a category for video time-lapse photography. Any sort of movie taken through a light microscope qualifies for entry, and an independent panel of judges evaluated each video for originality, informational content, technical proficiency and visual impact. The top three winners in the movie category receive 500-2,000 dollars toward the purchase of Nikon equipment. (If you haven't entered yet, this year could be the year to do it -- they've upped the prize range to 1,000-3,000 dollars.)

This year's first place winner, by Dr. Olena Kamenyeva from the National Institute of Health, shows an immune reaction in the lymph node of a mouse, in response to damage from a laser.

Dr. Stefan Lüpold of Syracuse University's biology department snagged second prize using fluorescence to record competing sperm from two males racing through the reproductive tract of a female fruit fly.

A time-lapse tracing the tree-like development of kidney cells over four days snagged third place for Dr. Nils Lindström of the University of Edinburgh.

Some of the honorable mentions are worth a wide-eyed gander, like Wim van Egmond's mesmerizing look inside a rotifer and Kathryn R. Markey's up-close view of a feeding scallop. Most the videos clock in at under 30 seconds so you can't ruin too much of your workday by watching all of them.

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