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science / 17 Mind-Bending Pictures Of Life Through A Microscope

17 Mind-Bending Pictures Of Life Through A Microscope

The world is much bigger than you might think.

Posted on October 17, 2016, at 5:37 p.m. ET

For over 70 years, photographer and zoology graduate Spike Walker has been fascinated with the worlds too small to see with the naked eye.

As a 12-year-old in 1945, Spike pursued his love of both science and photography by purchasing his first microscope. Sixteen years later, in 1961, he was awarded the Royal Society Award for Scientific Research for his extensive work on work of living freshwater protozoa and algae. This year, the Royal Photographic Society has presented Walker with the Scientific Imaging Award, an accolade given to an "individual for a body of scientific imaging which promotes public knowledge and understanding."

Here are a few of Spike Walker’s most captivating images:

1. The origins of every person on Earth, caught in a single picture.

A living human egg with several sperm trying to fertilize it.
RPS via Rex Images

A living human egg with several sperm trying to fertilize it.

2. The psychedelic crystalized forms of vitamin C.

Vitamin C crystals in a water solution.
RPS via Rex Images

Vitamin C crystals in a water solution.

3. These beautifully terrifying mouth parts of a water spider.

Mandibles of water spider, cleared and mounted in Canada balsam.
RPS via Rex Images

Mandibles of water spider, cleared and mounted in Canada balsam.

4. Sugar crystals appearing like a surreal scene under a night sky.

Sugar crystals grow in a solution of gelatin, which is used to slow the process down.
RPS via Rex Images

Sugar crystals grow in a solution of gelatin, which is used to slow the process down.

5. The intricate mosaic found on the legs of a great diving beetle.

Dytiscus marginalis is a large and powerful freshwater diving beetle. The males have developed plate-like joints on their front legs, covered in suckers, to hold onto the female during mating. The photo shows a portion of such a joint with part of one of the two large suckers and five rows of small ones.
RPS via Rex Images

Dytiscus marginalis is a large and powerful freshwater diving beetle. The males have developed plate-like joints on their front legs, covered in suckers, to hold onto the female during mating. The photo shows a portion of such a joint with part of one of the two large suckers and five rows of small ones.

6. The mammoth features of a magnified wingless fly parasite.

A wingless fly that’s parasitic on honeybees. It lives on the body of the bee and sips nectar from the host's mouth parts.
RPS via Rex Images

A wingless fly that’s parasitic on honeybees. It lives on the body of the bee and sips nectar from the host's mouth parts.

7. The infinite complexity of human neurons found in the medulla oblongata.

Neurons in the medulla oblongata, part of the brain stem that controls our respiration and reflexes.
RPS via Rex Images

Neurons in the medulla oblongata, part of the brain stem that controls our respiration and reflexes.

8. This incredibly fascinating cross-section of a mouse fetus.

RPS via Rex Images

9. A dandelion, magnified to reveal its beautiful individual florets.

RPS via Rex Images

10. The delicate arrangement of sensory nerve fibers around base of a cat's hair follicle.

RPS via Rex Images

11. Tiny marine plankton larvae magnified into monstrous creatures.

Living spionid larvae from marine plankton.
RPS via Rex Images

Living spionid larvae from marine plankton.

12. A single delicate seed from a red valerian plant.

Seed head of Centranthus ruber (red valerian).
RPS via Rex Images

Seed head of Centranthus ruber (red valerian).

13. The perfect symmetry of a one-celled freshwater algae dividing into two.

RPS via Rex Images

14. The cascading structures of a magnified amino acid.

Histidine, an amino acid, crystalized in a water solution.
RPS via Rex Images

Histidine, an amino acid, crystalized in a water solution.

15. A feeding frenzy of bacteria and ciliate protozoa — all occurring within the water of a flower vase.

Bacteria and the ciliate protozoa that feed on them in water from a flower vase.
RPS via Rex Images

Bacteria and the ciliate protozoa that feed on them in water from a flower vase.

16. The mesmerizing fractals of oxidized vitamin C.

RPS via Rex Images

17. And this remarkable cross-section of a human artery and the blood pumping through it.

A 1.5-micrometer-thick cross-section of the wall of an artery.
RPS via Rex Images

A 1.5-micrometer-thick cross-section of the wall of an artery.

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