Nikon Small World In Motion: Awesome Micro Videos

BreakingModern — Every year we are chomping at the bit to check out the latest winners of Nikon’s Small World Competition, a photography and videography competition all shot beautifully at the smallest of scales. Here are my all-time video favorites. Scroll below to check them out.

Start your microscopic video experience with the 2013 Nikon Small World In Motion first place prize winner. Whoa. Gabriel G. Martins of Portugal’s University of Lisbon shot the surreal quail embryo (10-day incubation), using 3D reconstruction. The technique in use here is optical tomography with green flourescence …

Nikon Small World In Motion video: Gabriel G. Martins via NikonMicroscopes

According to the entry, what you’re seeing above is a fully 3D reconstruction of a quail embryo. It’s made up of more than 1,000 separate images. The clarity and detail are incredible. The winning difference? Nikon reps said they were blown away by the way Martins was able to present a sequence of “virtual” slices through the whole embryo with 10 days of in-egg gestation.

A beating heart

Now check out the winning microscopic video. It’s from Michael Weber of the Max Planck Institute of Molectular Cell Biology and Genetics and it won second prize in the Small World In Motion competition in 2013. Behold the beating heart of a two-day-old zebrafish embryo. Beautiful!

Nikon Small World In Motion Video: Michael Weber via NikonMicroscopes

Weber says the beating heart of a two-day old zebrafish embryo shown above — it’s just 250 micrometers or just a bit more than the diameter of a human hair — was reconstructed in 3D. He did it after he first captured it using light sheet fluorescence microscopy in the living zebrafish. You can actually see the movement of blood cells through the heart and its adjacent vessels.

Crystal molecule trippiness

And here’s a flowing liquid crystal, powered says Oleg D. Lavrentovich, by weak gradients of molecular orientation and temperature. Kent State Liquid Crystal Institute’s Lavrentovich scored an honorable mention in the 2012 Small World In Motion competition for this video, which was captured by the polarized light method.

The psychedelic changing colors reflect the ever-changing moleculular orientation of the liquid crystal. Of course, you look at liquid crystals every day in most all electronic screens. Cue up the old Pink Floyd music and smile.

Nikon Small World In Motion Video: Dr. Oleg D. Lavrentovich, Kent State University via NikonMicroscopes


The microscopic video below took first prize in the 2012 Nikon Small World In Motion competition. Shot by Dr. Olena Kamenyeva of the NIAID labortatory of immunoregulation at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. It depicts a site of laser damage in a mouse’s lymph node. What you see is the recruitment of neutrophils to the damaged site, all caught by a 2-photon laser technique.

Nikon Small World In Motion video: Dr. Olena Kamenyeva via NikonMicroscopes

Dine and dash …

The below video is one of my favorites. Shot by Wim van Egmond for the Micropolitan Museum in The Netherlands, you get to see two ciliates dining on a copepod larva. And then they take off through the front entry.

Nikon Small World In Motion video:  Wim van Egmond via NikonMicroscopes

Van Egmond’s work depicts the pair of escaping ciliates — they are better known as ophryoglena atra (ciliates) — first feasting on a copepod larva and then taking off. Egmond shot it at 160x and using the differential interference contrast.

Van Egmond says he took the very first shots while focusing on the ciliates feeding on the organic material. Then, after 30 minutes, he returned to catch them, as he describes it, “fleeing the scene.” Said van Egmond: “It’s strange and beautiful, these simple organisms have no eyes, no ears, no organs … but still, they sense one another. One escapes, and the other follows in an instant. It’s fascinating.” Agreed.


Watch this space for more updates. If you have a microscopic video to add to the set above, email me at [email protected]

For Bmod, I’m Gina Smith.

Gina Smith

Author: Gina Smith

Based everywhere, Gina Smith is the founding EIC of BreakingModern and the New York Times bestselling author of Apple founder Steve Wozniak's biography, iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It.

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