Sunday, February 07, 2010

Snowflakes--"Gem Bestrewn Realm"

In all the years I worked in science, microscopy was my very favorite thing, so I was excited to find this timely video on a collection of early photomicrographs: Winter Forecast: Art to Blanket Region.

When it comes to photography, a Wilson Bentley image can be described much like his favorite subject, the snowflake: Each is one of a kind. After all, the Vermont farmer was the first to ever photograph one....At the age of 19, "Snowflake" Bentley jury-rigged a microscope to a bulky bellows camera and took the first-ever photograph of a snowflake....Bentley saw his microphotographs as more than scientific contribution. In a 1910 article published in the journal Technical World, he wrote, "Here is a gem bestrewn realm of nature possessing the charm of mystery, of the unknown, sure richly to reward the investigator."

I don't know what the kids are calling them these days, but when I was a member of the American Microscopical Society, we called them "photomicrographs," not "microphotographs." I found this wonderful article via /.


Sherry said...

"photomicrographs" is the term the medical journals use -- at least the ones I submit to (not my own articles, I'm a mere editor). Rat-brain slices aren't as lovely as these snowflakes, however.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Ahh...rat brain thin sections! I love microscopy, even at less aesthetically appealing levels. Unfortunately, my field scrapped morphology for DNA sequences, which is all a matter of eppendorf tubes and clear or milky liquids. Nothing to see there.