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Wellcome Image Award celebrates the small — not for the squeamish

This composite of two pictures shows the vascular system of a developing chicken, imaged by injecting fluorescent dextran into the embryo.

Vincent Pasque, University of Cambridge

Chicken embryos, a forest of micro-needles, and a rather gory brain picture — welcome to this year’s Wellcome Image Awards.

Catherine Draycott, one of the award judges, says the 16 images that made the final cut and are now on display in London were chosen for their scientific and technical merit as much as for their aesthetic appeal. “They offer people a chance to get closer to science and research and see it in a different way, as a source of beauty as well as providing important information about ourselves and the world around us,” said Draycott, head of Wellcome Images, in a statement.

Here are the five the Nature News team liked most. Be warned: the winning image below may tick the ‘eww’ box for as many people as it ticks the ‘beautiful image’ box for.

Wellcome Image Awards 2012 is at the Wellcome Collection, London, until 31 December.

This image — the winner of this year’s awards — shows a human brain before an intracranial electrode recording procedure. Doctors monitor the brain function of people with epilepsy in this fashion before removing areas of cells to cure them of their seizures.

Robert Ludlow, UCL Institute of Neurology

Appearing as a sculpture of petals, this dreamlike image is actually a scanning electron micrograph of a moth fly.

Kevin MacKenzie, University of Aberdeen

This composite of multiple images shows the development of a HeLa cancer cell in time lapse with the cell membrane (cyan) and the DNA (red).

Kuan-Chung Su, London Research Institute, Cancer Research UK

In this shot an array of tiny needles formed from biodegradable polymers takes on the appearance of a stylized forest. Such needles could one day be used to deliver vaccines and drugs through the skin.

Peter DeMuth


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