Nikon Small World in Motion 2016

The sixth annual Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition has concluded, and the winners have been announced. The contest is the video arm of the Nikon Small World Microphotography competition. Since 2011, Nikon has recognized video taken at the microscopic scale in addition to still microphotography. The competition encompasses both video and time-lapse photography. Continue reading to see the winners' videos and many wonderful honorable mentions.

(YouTube link)

First Place
William Gilpin, Vivek N. Prakash, and Manu Prakash
Stanford University
Stanford, California, USA
An eight-week-old starfish larva creates vortices in order to capture its main food source, swimming algae
Dark Field
4x

William Gilpin is the 2016 Small World in Motion first place winner for his video capturing the complex and beautiful currents that a starfish larva creates around itself to capture food. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in physics research at Stanford University. Gilpin and his colleagues studied the starfish larva as a model system for how physics shapes evolution and were surprised and intrigued that a common organism like a starfish could create such an unexpected pattern in the water.  

To create the video, Gilpin and his team used dark field microscopy to film the paths of small plastic beads that were directed by the flow currents around the starfish, similar to how photographers capture time-lapse videos of star trails in the night sky. They then stacked images in contiguous groups to make a time-resolved long-exposure video to showcase the movement.

These complex currents are not only aesthetically pleasing-- they depict an occurrence that was
previously unknown to scientists and could have larger implications. "While starfish are the among the first animals that have evolved to control the environment around them in this manner, science proves that adaptations are likely mimicked by other more-complex animals later," said Gilpin. "Biology aside, this process can also be the foundation for industrial purposes for something like advancements in water filters for precise manipulation of water."

Gilpin and his team hope their video will inspire others to explore and discover the hidden world. "It gives us a chance to share and explain scientific discoveries that we hope will appeal to many other scientists, as well as the public at large, says Gilpin. "For us, it's incredible and exciting that something as widely-known as a starfish can exhibit an unexpected and beautiful behavior, and we hope to share our excitement with others."

(YouTube link)

Second Place
Charles Krebs
Charles Krebs Photography          
Issaquah, Washington, USA
The predatory ciliate (Lacrymaria olor)
Differential Interference Contrast
200x/400x

Charles Krebs, the 12-year veteran of photomicrography, is no stranger to the world of photography. He likes to focus on natural subjects that people recognize, but reveal a deeper beauty and detail when seen through the microscope.  

The subject matter for Krebs’ submission is a Lacrymaria olor, or "swans tear". This predatory ciliate is a group of protozoans characterized by their hair-like organelles called cilia. The neck of this agile organism can extend up to 7x its body length for the purpose of feeding on smaller ciliates, flagellas and amoeba. Innovation in digital technology and years of practice helped Krebs capture this rapidly moving organism. This video was captured with differential interference contrast method.   

Krebs, who finds this particular mesmerizing ciliate the most interesting of all to observe, feels his submission is especially significant because "it illustrates the amazing diversity of life forms in the microscopic world."

(YouTube link)

Third Place
Wim van Egmond
Micropolitan Museum    
Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands
The fungus Aspergillus niger growing fruiting bodies
Stacking/Time Lapse
10x

As a freelance photographer with an interest in natural history, it’s no surprise Wim van Egmond found a home in microscopy 24 years ago. He has experience in producing still images and micrographic videos and began making his first time lapses three years ago. He spends the majority of his time capturing portraits of microorganisms.

In his third place submission, van Egmond captured the flowering of Aspergillus niger, a mold that
typically grows on different types of fruit. Unlike still images, this video showcases how alive and active microorganisms can be. By incorporating the use of time-lapse with his newly-found subject matter of fungi, van Egmond captured a truly dynamic and colorful micro-landscape.   

A veteran winner of the Nikon Small World competitions, van Egmond urges everyone to consider
investing in microscopes: "The result of the selection of footage from many contributors is a kaleidoscopic overview of what microscopy is all about. And you don't have to be a professional to enjoy micro life," he says.  

Honorable Mentions

(YouTube link)

Dr. Scott Chimileski
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Hundreds of harmless cheese mites (Tyrophagus casei) bustle across a rind of cheddar cheese
Stereomicroscopy            
5x

(YouTube link)

Frank Fox
Konz, Germnay
Rotifer (Collotheca spec.) with tentacles
Dark Field80x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Liang Gao
Stony Brook University, Department of Chemistry
Stony Brook, New York, USA
The developmental process of an early stage C. elegans embryo with individual cells rendered in different colors
Tiling Light Sheet Selective Plane Illumination
45x

(YouTube link)

Ralph Grimm
Queensland, Australia
Blood circulation in the tail of a cane toad tadpole (Bufo Marinus)
Differential Interference Contrast             
100x/200x

(YouTube link)

Ralph Grimm
Queensland, Australia
Aquatic (freshwater) tubeworm
Differential Interference Contrast             
100x

(YouTube link)

Gerd Günther
Düsseldorf, Germany
Living alga cells of Haematococcus found in a bird bath
Dark Field Illumination/Differential Interference Contrast              
100x-400x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Elliott Hagedorn and Brian Li  
Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
A fluorescent dextran dye is injected into circulation, which subsequently illuminates the common blood flow between the parabiotic zebrafish embryos.   
Stereoscope, Epifluorescence

(YouTube link)

Peter Juzak
Sony Fotoclub Hannover
Wennigsen, Lower Saxony, Germany
Paracetamol crystal growth
Polarized Light  
120x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Philipp Keller and Raghav K. Chhetri   
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute          
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Spatially isotropic whole-animal functional imaging of a behaving Drosophila larva labeled with a calcium indicator
Custom-built IsoView light-sheet microscope
16x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Philipp Keller, Kristin Branson, and Fernando Amat  
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute          
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Automated cell tracking in an entire developing zebrafish embryo
Custom-built IsoView light-sheet microscope
16x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Robert Markus
University of Nottingham
Beeston, United Kingdom
Birth and first steps of a faucet snail
Polarization/Color Dark Field       
50x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Renaud Renault         
Institut Curie, Weizmann Institute
Paris, France       
Neurons seeded in two different micro-compartments extend their neurites through micro-tunnels to establish connections with each other               
Epi fluorescence/Time-lapse (30 hours each shot)              
20x

(YouTube link)

Jan Rosenboom
Rostock , Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
A German wasp (vespula germanica) awakening
Light Microscopy
30x

(YouTube Link)

Tsutomu Tomita
TIMELAPSE VISION INC.
In vitro visualization of natural killer cells attacking a cancer cell
Time-lapse/ Phase Contrast  
100x  

(YouTube link)

Wim van Egmond
Micropolitan Museum    
Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands
Micrasterias rotate cell division
Dark Field/Time Lapse     
160x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Anthony Vecchiarelli & Dr. Kiyoshi Mizuuchi
National Institutes of Health
North Potomac, Maryland, USA
Self-organization of purified proteins important in bacterial cell division
Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence     
10x/40x

(YouTube link)

Dr. Michael Weber
Harvard Medical School
Somerville, Massachusetts, USA  
HaCaT cells expressing a fluorescent microtubule marker
Spinning Disk Confocal
60x


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