Igor Siwanowicz is no stranger to Tumblr; but there’s a great gallery of his confocal micrographs posted at WIRED 8 October 2013 ||
Acknowledgment is made to KQEDScience for an earlier and briefer post about this article.
Under the Microscope,
Some Things Look Too Crazy to Be Real
by Brandon Keim - WIRED
Physicists wonder if there are other universes, but biologists have already found them. Just look through a microscope and there you are, in a different world of life.
Igor Siwanowicz, a neurobiologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus, visits often. Acclaimed for his macroscopic photography of insects (like the jumping spider above) and other small animals, he uses microscopes to explore ever-smaller realms.
"I first laid hands on my microscope only three years ago, when I changed fields," said Siwanowicz. "I used to work as a biochemist, but I decided that neurobiology was more in tune with my naturalist approach. Plus they have these cool toys: confocal laser-scanning microscopes.”
Siwanowicz took Wired on a tour of some of his best work.
Continue with Some Things Look Too Crazy to Be Real
Slug moth caterpillar
Jumping spider eyes
Fascinated by microscopes and imaging technologies, Siwanowicz has deep appreciation for the eyes of jumping spiders, which he describes as “a fantastic engineering solution.”
Their many eyes — each individual has four pairs — are extremely powerful. Like telephotos on cameras, they’re capable of great magnification. Their field of view, however, is very narrow, and the lenses are part of the spiders’ exoskeletons. They can’t be moved unless the spider moves its entire body.
To compensate, the spiders’ retinas are mobile, adjusting position in relation to their lenses and scanning the incoming projection from different angles. “Under magnification, you can see when they’re looking at you,” said Siwanowicz. “They’re not moving, but their eyes are turning black. The retinas are absorbing all the light. They’re looking right at you.”