A Picture is Worth... A Nano Close-Up of the Animal Kingdom

polar bear close-up photo
bear guard hairs image

I have to admit I'm a sucker when it comes to scanning electron microscope (SEM) images. Many of the objects and patterns we see in nature that we may think of being bland or uninteresting take on new resonance when seen through the prism of an electron microscope. The microscope allows for an unprecedented level of detail (with magnifications of 1,000 or more) about the object's surface topography, composition and, in some cases, electrical conductivity.

This collection of extreme close-ups, culled from Richard Jones' recently published "Nano Nature," offers a rare glimpse into the nano-level world of animal structures, such as a polar bear's hair (seen above) or a gecko's foot (see below the fold).

gecko foot photo
gecko foot close-up image

Jones, who is a Fellow the Royal Entomological Society and a past president of the British Entomological Society (and a prolific author, to boot), knows his science, and it shows through his selection of images, which were all produced in monochrome and hand tinted, and accompanying narrative. He explains how a nano-level understanding of the animals' structures and patterns helps us better understand their functions and evolutionary development.

I don't know about you, but I think it would make a great coffee table book.

More pictures
A Picture is Worth... The 2008 Visualization Challenge Winners
A Picture is Worth... Girls Swimming with Tigers
A Picture is Worth... Water & Air, All of It

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