The world we see with our eyes is just one view of reality, but microscopes can bring a smaller, practically invisible universe within reach.
Photographs taken through the lenses of a high-power ‘scope can reveal lifeforms and objects no person has ever seen.
They also highlight beautiful, artistic, and often shocking details in common objects, like soap bubbles, dried coffee, flowers, and butterfly tongues:
The Nikon Small World contest celebrates the most amazing microscope photos from around the world, and 2016’s competition was as amazing as any of the years before it: more than 2,000 entries from 70 countries. (I was a judge for the 40th year of the contest.)
Nikon will release the winners on Wednesday, October 19, via its Instagram account, @NikonInstruments.
Until then, soak in the finalists below — and cast a vote for your favorite.
Red speckled jewel beetle
Eyes of a jumping spider
Glycerin-based soapy solution
Tiger beetle and a scale of the forester moth
Head of a skinbow zebrafish larvae
Human brain cells differentiated from embryonic stem cells
Fungus growing on cow dung
Scales of a butterfly wing
Mouse hand showing veins
Fossil diatom composed of 20 individual photos
Green bottle fly
Flow currents generated by an eight-week-old starfish larva