Some folks at the University of Leeds, with a ton of holiday cheer, (and perhaps not enough work to do) have created a video showing how they put a Merry Christmas greeting onto a snowflake. The fine folks at Wired Magazine have the details.
Recently in Interesting Samples Category
The week 5 image was tough, fly ash isn't something the average Joe (or Jane) would think of, or even know about, but it is an interesting material. This week's image looks just as tough, could be almost anything, but at least they put a scale marker on this image!
FEI, manufacturer of scanning electron microscopes, has an awesome photostream on Flickr. Browse this enormous stockpile of images for beautiful and interesting images of a wide range of samples. Only drawback: not everyone can submit images, you have to be an FEI user.
FEI also has a very active Facebook page
A quick read on a case study on the use of SEM and EDS analysis of historical paintings was recently put up by Imaging & Microscopy. The analysis of paint pigments by light microscopy is a powerful application in the field of art history and conservation. Bay adding SEM and EDS analysis it is possible to add even more information about the use of various pigments and help understand the painting styles of significant artists. Also, from a historical perspective it is useful to track the trade in certain materials across cultures and geographies. But, perhaps most importantly, it is possible to detect fraudulent or counterfeit art before it goes to auction and ends up on display as an original work.
Interesting paper just put out in Microscopy Research and Technique. I'm no entomologist, but I do know that certain species of insects look different when imaged using non-visible wavelengths of light (UV or IR). This paper shows how the silk moth species Antheraea assamensis actually does it. The moths were imaged using UV photography, then the wing scales were imaged using SEM. Based on the SEM observation of the scale morphology the authors explained the optical properties and showed how the mating behavior changed under different lighting conditions.
Food is one of those things that everyone needs, but no one really thinks about what it looks like at the microscale, well, except for the food scientists at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. They have a photo gallery with awesome SEM images of various kinds of food and food ingredients. I found it through a recent Laboratory Equipment article.
The images are all colorized SEM micrographs and show the amazing detail that is present in the structure of the things we eat. This structure can make or break how appetizing a given food is to us, so food scientists spend a lot of effort getting these textures just right.
Aspex has had a couple of rounds of this game over the past few months (see previous posts) and has a new set of images up but this time with a more significant prize for the first person to guess. In addition to bragging rights, you could have a free netbook! Oh, and since there's no scale in any of the images it'll be a piece of cake to figure out what this mystery object is!