The Royal Photographic Society's International Images for Science 2017 competition received more than 3,500 entries. The judges were looking for visually appealing pictures that tell a science story, and submissions were received from students, amateur photographers, professional and medical photographers from around the world. Five wining images and 95 shortlisted ones will be shown at an exhibition that will tour the UK, starting in London at The Crystal from 26 September to 25 October 2017.
IBTimes UK presents a selection of the shortlisted images and then the five winners.
Stephen Gschmeissner: Mosquito Foot. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the mosquito tarsus. Shown here is the mosquito leg tarsus, that includes a claw, pulvillar pad with tenent setae (adhesive hairs), and surrounding scales. Scales cover various parts of the body of most mosquitoes, they are especially dense on the mosquito leg. They are thought to provide protection and water-supporting force. The original monochrome image has been digitally coloured.
Richard Germain: Surface Tension. A safety pin sitting on the surface of water. The surface tension caused by the intermolecular forces of the water keeps the pin from sinking but the surface is bent by the weight of the pin. At the same time, a light table with an array of small black squares painted on its surface was used to illuminate the pin and the water. The deformed surface acts as a convex mirror around the pin and creates a reduced size virtual image of the light table grid.
Richard Beech: Soap Bubble Planet. Close-up view of a soap bubble. The film of a soap bubble is made from a layer of water sandwiched between two layers of soap. A light ray hitting the film will reflect from the top and bottom soap layers. As the two reflected rays combine, they interfere. The colours that constructively interfere are dependent on the thickness of the water layer and the angle of viewing.
Daniela Rapavá, Observatory Rimavaská Sobota: Frozen Soap Bubble. The wall of the bubble is composed of three layers - a layer of water sandwiched between two layers of soap. As the water layer freezes it produces these large dendritic crystals. Eventually cracks form in the ice layer and the frozen bubble collapses.
Arghya Adhikary: The Silent Assassin. A green vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta) attacking a common tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius). Mildy venomous, this snake more commonly hunts frogs and lizards and is found across India and Southeast Asia. It is an ambush predator, using its green colour and slender shape to camouflage itself. The common tailorbird is also found across Asia, more often heard than seen due to their loud call.
James Woodend: Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon. The Northern Lights, or Aurora borealis, seen above Jökulsárlón, a large glacial lake on the south leading edge of the vast Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland. The aurora is caused by charged particles from the Sun being captured by Earth's magnetic field. As they enter the upper atmosphere these particles collide with oxygen atoms, making them energised. The atoms release energy at a specific wavelength of greenish light.
Houda Chaloun: The Ice Gateway. An iceberg floating in the sea off the coast of Antarctica. A combination of wind and temperature has exploited a weakness in the structure of the ice to erode this bridge-like shape.
Kathleen Sheffer: Healing - 35 Weeks Later. Self-portrait of a photographer at home eight months after a heart-lung transplant. Combined transplants of the heart and lungs together are rarely performed. Here the linear scar on the chest is seen where the sternum is separated during surgery, as well as several smaller scars from incisions through which a heart-lung machine was connected.
Angela Jones: Searching. A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) hunts for food under the winter snow. The fox can locate small mammals up to a metre beneath the snow by listening for them. When ready, the fox throws itself upward into a curving path then dives head-first into the snow to grab the prey.
Zoltan Toth: Snowflake. Close-up view of a single snowflake. This clearly shows the six-fold symmetry of the snowflake, caused by the molecular structure of water ice.
Richard Sharrocks: Balancing Act. Collision of three water droplets in a bowl of water. First a droplet lands in the bowl of water to create the spike. The second droplet hits top of the spike creating a crown whilst the third and final droplet has just landed on top of the spike. This image was captured in a studio using high speed electronic flash.
Luis Davilla: Faraday Cage. A Faraday cage being used to isolate a television antenna during a test. A conductive mesh in the walls of the room form the Faraday cage to prevent interference from outside signals. Anechoic blocks on the wall also prevent any interior signal reflections. A Faraday cage operates because an external electrical field causes the electric charges within the cage’s conducting material to be distributed such that they cancel the field’s effect in the cage’s interior.
Leka Huie: Osaka Umeda Sky Building. View upward along an escalator at the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka, Japan. The building consists of two 173 metre tall towers connected at the top two floors. This escalator passes from one tower, up through the open atrium space to the Floating Tower Observatory in the roof space. The building was opened in 1993.
Paolo d'Errico: The Monet Astrocytes. Laser confocal light microscope image of astrocytic cells isolated from mouse brain. Here the astrocytes have been 'tagged' with proteins that also contain fluorescent dyes - Vimentin (green), GFAP (red) and DAPI (blue). These help researchers understand the function and connectivity of the cells. Astrocytes make up about 10-20% of the cells of the brain. They are responsible for providing nutrients to nervous tissue and have a role in the repair of the brain after traumatic injury.
Henri Koskinen: Spore Capsule of a Moss. Spore capsule of the many-fruited thyme-moss (Plagiomnium affine). This thyme-moss is found in damp forest conditions across North America, Europe and Asia. The spore capsule is about 2mm in length. This image was rendered from a stack of 190 exposures ensuring the image is sharp along the whole length of the capsule.
Dr Jeremy Burgess: Water Lily Leaf. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a section through a leaf stalk of the water lily Nymphaea album. The water lily has overcome the difficulty of getting air to its submerged roots by having large diameter open tubes within the stalks. These hollow tubes are connected directly to large air spaces in the leaves, which contribute to the plant's bouyancy. The tubes are lined with epidermal cells and studded with branched hairs. The original image was monochrome with colour added later.
Dr Jeremy Burgess
Robert Lamberts, Plant & Food Research: Spinning Rainbow. A bead of polymer solution forms on a micropipette tip. Electrostatic forces draw a thin jet of liquid out of the pipette until it reaches terminal velocity and whips into a fast moving spiral, creating a rainbow of colours. The fibre eventually stretches to less than one hundred nanometres (one ten-millionth of a metre), invisible to the naked eye.
Robert Lamberts, Plant & Food Research
A. Menegon: Red Blood Cell. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a red blood cell, or erythrocyte, seen in a sinusoid of the liver. Sinusoids are small capillary vessels that receive blood from the intestines through the hepatic portal vein and from the heart through the hepatic artery. These supply the liver cells (hepatocytes) with nutrients and oxygen. The hepatocytes help to regulate fat and sugar levels in the blood. The original monochrome SEM image was letr coloured diigitally.
David Bryson: Pulex irritans (Female). Photomicrograph of a female human flea (Pulex irritans). Fleas are small wingless insects, as adults, laterally flattened, blood-sucking and capable of jumping. The mouthparts are adapted for piercing and sucking and consist of three elongated, sharp elements. The legs are rather long and stout, adapted for clinging with large coxae, and long 5-segmented tarsi. This image is a mosaic of several frames, each of which created using focus stacking to give the maximum depth of focus. A total of 132 exposures were used.
Richard Germain: Poisson's Spot. In the centre of the fame is the shadow cast by a tiny steel ball illuminated by a red laser. However, some of the light has diffracted around the ball into the shadow forming a concentric interference pattern. In the very centre is a bright spot, alled a Poisson spot or an Arago spot. thsi is a demonstration of the wave nature of light. Around the shadow, the red laser has saturated both the red and green sensors in the camera CCD, which the camera interprets as yellow light.
Miss Kseniya Shuturmanska & Dr Estelle Collin: Mimicking the Cancer Environment. Coloured scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of a pancreatic cancer cell. This cell was cultured on fibers composed of peptide amphiphiles, organic molecules with the ability to self-assemble into fibers. This work aims to mimic the cancer microenvironment in order to use as a model system for understanding cancer development and for drug testing.
Miss Kseniya Shuturmanska & Dr Estelle Collin
Gavin J Taylor: Outside and inside of a compound eye. This compound eye of a tropical orchid bee (Euglossa imperialis) is composed of thousands of individual facets. Here, microtomography reveals the lens at the surface of every facet, as well as each underlying light guide and photoreceptor. Orchid bees have evolved large eyes that allow them to use vision to navigate through dim, cluttered tropical forests.
Gavin J Taylor
Gavan Mitchell & Ryan Jeffries: Modelling Dissection. Four plaster models showing thoracic and abdominal dissection. They were created by sculptor Franz Josef Steger and embryologist Wilhelm His (Germany, c.1900), Photographed at the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology collection at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Gavan Mitchell & Ryan Jeffries
Matouš Pikous: Light Refraction. Water drops on the surface of a tablet computer. Several coloured lines had been drawn on the screen. The water droplets create a range of refraction effects.
Gabriel Kelemen PhD: Liesegang Rings Blue. Close-up view of Liesegang rings in a chemical solution. Named after the German chemist Raphael Liesegang, these rings form in many precipitation reactions provided there is no fluid convection. The chemicals form alternating bands of precipitate, then clear regions where no precipitation occurs. Here, potassium dichromate, silver nitrate and cerium sulphate have been added to a gelatin solution. The reddish brown colour is the precipitate of silver dichromate.
Gabriel Kelemen PhD
A. Menegon: Facial Paper Tissue. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the cellulose fibres in facial tissue. First marketed in 1924 under the brand name "Kleenex", the use of squares of very soft paper as a facial cleaner had been known in Japan since the 17th Century. Modern facial tissues use the lowest weight paper (14-18g per square metre), often with a softened surface and with lotions or perfumes added. The original monochrome SEM image was later coloured digitally.
Tran Hung Dao: In the Rain. Electricity workers repairing high-tension power transmission lines in the rain. Photographed in Vietnam.
Tran Hung Dao
Alexandre Lagreou: Hands-on Entomology.A young female giant prickly stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) on the hand of a researcher. Also known as the spiny leaf eater or Macleay's spectre, this stick insect is found in Australia and is an avid consumer of eucalyptus leaves. The female grows to 8-11cm in length and is covered in thorn-like spikes for camouflage and defence against predators.
Gerd-A. Günther: Greater Celandine. Light micrograph of a seed grain of the greater celandine (Chelidonium majus). The seeds have a white, juicy appendage on the lower part of the brownish seed grain, or elaiosome, which ants like to eat. The seeds are dragged along to new habitats as the ants enjoy their meal. The image covers a field approximately 1.6mm across.
Mark Levitin: Erta'ale. Lava lake in the crater or Erta Ale volcano, Danakil, Ethiopia. Erta Ale is a shield volcano some 613 metres high. It is one of just six volcanoes in the world with lava lakes. The lake was first reported in 1906. It occasionally rises to overflow the crater rim and there have been numerous eruptions from its flanks. The name Erta Ale means "smoking mountain" in the local Afar language.
Jungwook Kim: Dancing Shampoo. The Kaye effect in shampoo. This was first described by Alan Kaye in 1963 and is a property of "sheer-thinning" liquids, those which lose viscosity when a sheer force is applied. At first, the stream of liquid forms a pile where it hits a surface. However, soon a slender sheer-thinned layer develops in a dimple in the pile. The liquid stream hitting the dimple slides over it and shoots off.
Andrey Narchuk: Coral Architecture. Close-up view of corals of the order Scleractinia. Each polyp making up the coral has a ring of tentacles surrounding a tiny mouth. At its base each polyp excretes calcium carbonate to protect its body - in a large colony this material combines to form a stony reef.
Stephen Gschmeissner: Chloroplasts. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a dying euglenoid alga showing the release of its chloroplasts (green). The specimen came from a polluted lake in Vietnam. The original monochrome image has been digitally coloured.
Pratik Pradhan: Blue Mormon Butterfly. Wings of a blue mormon butterfly (Papilio polymnestor). This image was captured by the photographer using a tiny amount of electronic flash after night had fallen to accentuate the beautiful blue colour. P. polymnestor is a swallow-tail butterfly found in the forests of southern India and Sri Lanka.
Pratik Pradhan: A Nightmare of the Small World. A colony of a giant forest scorpions (Heterometrus swammerdami titanicus) captured during midnight. The black scorpions glow with a blue bluish when illuminated using an ultraviolet torch. H. swammerdami is the largest scorion species, reaching up to 23cm length and weighing over 50g. Although they do have a mildly toxic sting, they mainly kill by crushing prey in their claws
Gerd-A. Günther: Amoeba shells. Light micrograph of empty shells of a testate amoeba (Difflugia sp.). Difflugia builds its shells with particles found in their habitat, this genus uses sand grains. The image covers a field approximately 0.9mm across.
Oleksandr Rupeta: Red Crescent Hospital in Kabul. A laboratory worker draws blood from a woman for a diagnostic blood test. Photographed in the Central Hospital of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, Kabul, Afghanistan.
Islam Shaheen: Car light trails. Light trails from road traffic at dusk. The mixture of headlamps and tail lights, blended with the orange glow of the street lighting, makes the scene resemble a lava flow. Photographed in the Hada Mountains near Taif, Saudi Arabia.
Dave Watson ARPS: Horsehead and Flame Nebulae. At the centre of the image above is the famous Horsehead Nebula (B33). The Flame Nebula (NGC2024) is at the lower left. Both are in the constellation of Orion. B33 is an opaque dust cloud and is visible against the bright red background of the emission nebula that originates from a hydrogen gas cloud. NGC2024 is energised by high levels of ultraviolet light emanating from the blue supergiant star Alnitak (shown just above it here), the east-most star in the Belt of Orion.
Dave Watson ARPS
The five winning entries include a huge tank used to detect particles of dark matter and a tiny skull-shaped tapeworm that latches onto the intestine of its host.
Gold Award (26 & Over) – £1000 and an RPS Gold Medal: Xenon1T Detector by Enrico Sacchetti (Italy). Interior of the XENON1T physics experiment at the Gran Sasso Laboratory, Italy. A 1-metre wide container (top centre) is filled with 3.5 tonnes of ultra-pure liquid xenon. This is held inside this 10-metre wide tank which will be filled with water. The gold-coloured photomultipliers on the walls are part of the detector array. This XENON1T experiment aims to detect particles of dark matter, thought to make up about 27% of the Universe, and to explore some theories such as supersymmetry.
Silver Award (26 & Over) – £750 and an RPS Silver Medal: Retinal Ishihara Artwork by Jonathan Brett (UK). Artwork created using almost 600 retinal images showing a wide variety of conditions. The images have been combined to resemble the colour vision test charts created by Dr Shinobu Ishihara.
Bronze Award (26 & Over) – £500 and an RPS Bronze Medal: Impala - Cutaneous Glands by Morgan Trimble (South Africa). Legs of Impala (Aepyceros melampus). There is a tuft of black fur on the back of the legs of impala. These are metatarsal glands used in scent marking. Although more developed in males than females, the glands do not undergo seasonal variation so are most likely used to provide cohesion to the herd.
Gold Award (18-25) – £750 and an RPS Gold Medal: Taenia solium by Teresa Zgoda (USA). Laser confocal light micrograph of the head of a pork tapeworm (Taenia solium) The eye-like objects are suckers which, together with the hook-filled rostellum, allow the tapeworm to attach to the lining of the host intestine. The adult worm can infest humans, reaching a length of 2-3 metres.
Gold Award (17 & Under) – £500 towards photography equipment and an RPS Gold Medal: Ferrofluid Glowing Multicolour by Ella Main (UK). A mixture of ferrofluid and liquid from a glow stick. Ferrofluid is a colloidal liquid containing iron nanoparticles in an organic solvent. Glow sticks typically contain diphenyl oxalate, hydrogen peroxide and a fluorescent dye. When these two fluids were placed together, they formed a complex self-organised pattern. The mathematics behind this were first described by Alan Turing as an explanation for, among other things, stripes on animal skin.
The competition is supported by Siemens as part of the Curiosity Project, a three-year programme aiming to engage young people with science and engineering.