At the most basic level, everything is made of tiny atoms.
As a way to recognise that fundamental fact, it seems appropriate that a stunning image depicting one single positively-charged strontium atom just won a prestigious photography award.
The image, which shows the atom trapped by electric fields, was the overall winner of this year’s science photography competition put on by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of the UK.
The photo, taken by David Nadlinger from the University of Oxford, actually shows the light particles re-emitted by the trapped atom, as you can see in the photo below. (That light is hundreds of times larger than the atom itself and can be captured in a visible shot using a digital camera, though you can’t see anything the size of an atom without a powerful microscope.)
It’s not the only stunning shot from the competition, which also includes photos of the fascinating fluid patterns on a bubble of soap, the structures that cover a butterfly’s wing, and a robot learning to take a selfie.
Here’s a selection of the winning images.
The single atom in the winning photo is being held by equipment used to explore quantum physics.
This engineered, biologically accurate model of tissue could help replace animal models that are used to study neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Biodegradable microparticles like this one could help drugs penetrate further into cancerous tumours.
These exceptionally strong aluminium structures were created with a technique called selective laser melting.
Researchers are screening how cells attach to surfaces here to find a way to better grow stem cells.
Fluid instability on top of a bubble of soap shows the road toward the bubble’s eventual rupture.
Soil could replace concrete, thanks to techniques that turn dirt into forms of clay that can resist water and maintain structure.
The larger fruits held by this farmer were irrigated by a smart, automated system designed to meet the okra’s specific needs.
This microbubble can carry a drug to a carefully selected target site.
This machine creates crystal wafers used in electronics for the fabrication of circuits, which were traditionally made of silicon.
The surface of a butterfly wing helps trap light from the sun, giving it the brilliant colours the creature is known for.
Each placenta is different yet able to help support a growing life — these photos came from research into the tree structures inside each one.
This newly designed robot has special tactile skills that let it hold up a selfie stick to snap a self-portrait.
Look at it go!
Scientists are testing this underwater drone, which is designed to identify fuel debris near Fukushima.
This volunteer is having his brain activity recorded using an EEG headset as he walks to see how it changes in different areas of the city.
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