We are under the microscope

Fernan Federici     www.flickr (2) Fernan Federici     www.flickr (3) Fernan Federici     www.flickr (4) Fernan Federici     www.flickr (5) Fernan Federici     www.flickr (6) Fernan Federici     www.flickr (1)

Fernan Federicia€™s microscopic images of plants, bacteria, and crystals are a classic example of finding art in unexpected places.

A couple years ago, Federici was working on his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Cambridge University studying self-organization, the process by which things organize themselves spontaneously and without direction. Like a flock of birds flying together.

More specifically, he was using microscopes and a process called fluorescence microscopy to see if he could identify these kinds of patterns on a cellular level. In fluorescence microscopy, scientists shine a particular kind of light at whatever theya€™re trying to illuminate and then that substance identifies itself by shining a different color or light back. Sometimes researchers will also attach proteins that they know emit a particular kind of light to substances as a kind of identifier. In the non-microscopic world, it a€™s like using a black light on a stoner poster.

Federici grew up with photography as a hobby, so looking through the microscope at all the different colors and patterns he realized that the process was highly visual. He hadna€™t seen many images like what he was seeing published for the general public, so he asked for permission from his adviser Jim Haseloff to post the photos on his Flickr site. Today that site is filled with pages and pages of microscopic images, some of which are from his work, while others are just for fun.

“€œMicroscopy is always serious science,a€ says Federici, who is now a researcher at Pontificia Univerisdad Catolica de Chile. a€œFor us [in the department at Cambridge] this was something we looked at as outreach. It was a way to bring this scientific data to the general public.” (text via techhumorblog)

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