Science to the rescue: Eye-popping images waiting to dazzle weary travellers

Science to the rescue: Eye-popping images waiting to dazzle weary travellers

StressMarq Biosciences Inc.

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Everyone nowadays goes a bit crazy for immunofluorescence images, and rightly so as they are extraordinarily beautiful. This trend has spilled over into the Dulles Airport which is displaying a series of brightly coloured high-magnification images of tissues from various model organisms. These 46 images, also made up of some 3D reconstructions and pseudo-coloured electron micrographs, are displayed in the Gateway Gallery in Concourse C along with captions to help relate these wondrous images into everyday life.

For those of us not travelling through Dulles Airport between now and November 2014, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences has posted an online version of the exhibit featuring high-resolution versions of the images as well as expanded captions.

I highly recommend scanning through the whole exhibit, but for those of you who are short on time here are my top 5 favorite images from the exhibit:

5. HIV, the AIDS virus (yellow), infecting a human T-cell (blue)

Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Science to the rescue: Eye-popping images waiting to dazzle weary travellers

This human T cell (blue) is under attack by HIV (yellow), the virus that causes AIDS. The virus specifically targets T cells, which play a critical role in the body’s immune response against invaders like bacteria and viruses.

4. Human blood with red blood cells, T cells (orange) and platelets (green)

Dennis Kunkel, Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc

Science to the rescue: Eye-popping images waiting to dazzle weary travellers

This microscopic look at human blood reveals that nearly half of our blood is composed of red blood cells. These lozenge-shaped cells have the all-important role of delivering oxygen to our tissues. T cells (orange) are an essential part of the immune system. Platelets (green), the smallest blood cells, clump together into clots to stanch bleeding after an injury.

3. Pollen grains: male germ cells in plants and a cause of seasonal allergies

Edna, Gil and Amit Cukierman, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

Science to the rescue: Eye-popping images waiting to dazzle weary travellers

Those of us who get sneezy and itchy-eyed every spring or fall may have pollen grains, like those shown here, to blame. Pollen grains are the male germ cells of plants, released to fertilize the corresponding female plant parts. When they are instead inhaled into human nasal passages, they can trigger allergies.

2. Zebrafish embryo

Philipp Keller, Bill Lemon, Yinan Wan and Kristin Branson, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Va. 

Science to the rescue: Eye-popping images waiting to dazzle weary travellers

Just 22 hours after fertilization, this zebrafish embryo is already taking shape. By 36 hours, all of the major organs will have started to form. The zebrafish’s rapid growth and see-through embryo make it ideal for scientists studying how organs develop.

1. Mouth parts of a lone star tick

Igor Siwanowicz, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Va.

Science to the rescue: Eye-popping images waiting to dazzle weary travellers

The mouth parts of a lone star tick are revealed in vivid detail. The center of the mouth (yellow) is covered with many tiny barbs. These barbs keep the tick securely lodged inside the host while feeding. Lone star ticks are common in wooded areas throughout the central and eastern United States, including around Washington Dulles International Airport. They can carry disease-causing organisms, but these typically do not include the Lyme disease bacterium.

To view the full online exhibit visit: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/life-magnified/Pages/default.aspx

Which image do you find the most eye-catching?

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