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Nature Art: Powers of Ten - Explore

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Sierra Daily

12/07/2011

Nature Art: Powers of Ten

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It's a small world after all, but the photo micrograph -- an image taken through the lens of a microscope -- shows  a spiky, angled, and colorful world even smaller than the one Walt Disney imagined. The image above, a liverwort magnified 20 times, was made by Dr. Robin Young of the University of British Columbia. Dr. Young used confocal microscopy, a technique that uses optical filters to help researchers make images of thick specimens.

Entry_19850_sands-qingdaoYanping Wang, of the Bejing Planetarium in Bejing, China, took the image (at left) of sand, magnified 4 times.

The photographer used the reflected-light technique, in which the microscope makes the image by capturing reflected light bounced off an opaque object, such as sand.

These two scientists are winners in this year's Nikon photomicrography contest.  See a slideshow of the winning entries here.

I imagine many of you also check out the astronomy blog here at Explore. From the huge world to the tiny world, there's only one book that captures them both:  "Powers of Ten,"  by Philip Morrison and the office of Charles and Ray Eames.

Page one begins in a galaxy far, far away (10 billion light years) and travels toward earth, each page showing images at one-tenth the scale of the previous page. By page 25 you are inside a cell, within a hand of a man picnicking on the western shore of Lake Michigan. By page 40, the end of the book, you're checking out quantum particles. 

Do you remember those old-fashioned flipbooks? The images from "Powers of Ten" came out as a flipbook, too, and it's still fun to create your own stop-action film by leafing through the pages.     

It makes a great gift, but I'm guessing it is only a matter of time before there is an app for this...

-- Sue Fierston paints and teaches just outside of Washington, D.C. in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As a painter, she works in acrylics and watercolor and is in the middle of a series called "100 Flowers." As a teaching artist, she works with teachers to bring art into their classrooms in grades 4-8. Her posts focus on her nature-themed art collaborations. For a look at her paintings or more about her teaching, check out her website at suzannefierston.com.

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