Striking science images from the Nikon Small World Photo 2023 contest

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The venomous fangs of a tarantula, crystallized sugar syrup and the auto-fluorescing hairs on a leaf are among the top 20 images chosen for their science and artistry in Nikon’s Small World Photo Microscopy Competition this year.

The contest, in its 49th year, gave its top prize to researcher Hassanain Qambari, assisted by Jayden Dickson, for their image of a rodent’s optic nerve head in a web of vivid yellow, red and green, while studying diabetic retinopathy – an eye condition that can cause vision loss in people with diabetes.

Qambari, who has been involved in researching diabetic retinopathy’s early detection and reversal since 2021, said the competition allowed people to showcase “the beauty and artistic side of science which may otherwise get overlooked.”

“Such a competition not only celebrates the participant’s hard work and passion but may also draw and inspire young scientists to pursue a career in STEM. It certainly inspired me,” he said in a press release Tuesday.

Eric Flem, senior manager, CRM and communications at Nikon Instruments, added that he is “consistently awed” by how advancements in scientific imaging technology make it “possible to create art out of science for the public to enjoy.”

This year’s competition received nearly 1,900 entries from 72 countries, organizers said.

Coming in second place was Ole Bielfeldt for his depiction of a matchstick igniting by friction when struck against the surface of a box. In third place was Malgorzata Lisowska for her pink-hued picture of breast cancer cells.

A selection of some of the top images selected by organizers can be viewed in the gallery above.

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