This month, we celebrate the value and beauty of images of biological processes captured by microscopes.
In this November issue of Nature Methods, we continue our yearly tradition of featuring the Nikon ‘Small World’ Photomicrography Competition winner on our cover. This year’s winning image of trichomes and stomata on a southern live oak leaf, captured by Jason Kirk of Baylor College of Medicine, certainly does not disappoint! It’s one of our all-time favorites.
Microscopes represent one of the few biological tools that are well known to non-scientists. As described in this month’s Technology Feature, the growing trend of ‘do-it-yourself’ microscopy is helping bring imaging capabilities to a broader swath of people with inexpensive, simple devices made from materials such as paper. Researchers are also benefitting from this DIY trend: sophisticated instruments can be built from modular components, which, when coupled with open-source software, facilitate cutting-edge imaging analyses.
Striking images, whether captured by a microscope or created (such as that of the SARS-CoV-2 virus particle), serve as a powerful tool for communication, one that scientists should more often take advantage of for explaining concepts and knowledge to the broader public. Our cover image, along with the other top 20, honorable mentions and ‘images of distinction’ featured on this page, are perfect examples of how the beauty of tiny creatures and close-up views of biological processes can capture the rapt attention of scientists and non-scientists alike.
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The art of microscopy. Nat Methods 18, 1267 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41592-021-01324-y