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It's a Bug's Life, as Flawless Photo of Wasp Wins Worldwide Olympus BioScapes Competition : Winning Sure Doesn't Sting - Olympus BioScapes 2008 Competition

A luminous golden ‘fairy fly' that seems to defy gravity as it hovers with feathered wings against a dark background took top prize in the 2008 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition, the world's foremost forum for showcasing microscope photos and videos of life science subjects. Mr. M. I. “Spike” Walker of Staffordshire, England, took top honors for the shimmering image of what is called a fairy fly, actually a tiny wasp that may be the world's smallest insect at only 0.21mm long, or 1/25 the length of the average red ant. The eerily glowing wasp, captured in exquisite detail, reveals the extraordinary delicacy, balance, beauty, and numerous colors in the diminutive creature. Mr. Walker's image triumphed over more than 1500 other images and movies - a competition record - to earn First Prize, $5000 worth of Olympus equipment. Now in its fifth year, the Olympus BioScapes competition is the world's premier platform for honoring images and videos of human, plant and animal subjects as captured through light microscopes. Any life science subject is eligible, and entries are judged based on the science they depict, their aesthetics (beauty and impact of the image), and their technical merit. This year, in addition to Prizes 1-10, 70 other images and movies were recognized with Honorable Mentions. All images and the names of all honorees may be viewed online at

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. (Business Wire EON) November 14, 2008 -- This year's winning images reflect a fascination with the awe-inspiring influence of science in everyday life, with surprising views of white wine, human teeth, ticks, wings and feathers, fruit flies, honeybees, mosquitoes, moss, pollen, lobster eggs, tongues, snails and petrified wood among the honorees. Across the spectrum are other images that reflect the latest advances in neuroscience and cell biology, including the Fourth Prize image of zebrafish neurons captured by Albert Pan of Harvard University, using the "Brainbow" imaging technique, one of the most advanced fluorescence imaging methodologies available today. (Last year's top prize winner was a Brainbow image captured by another researcher in the same Harvard University laboratory.)

"The winning images reflect the awesome grace and mystery of our natural world," said Osamu Joji, Group Vice President and General Manager, Life Science, for Olympus America. "Each year, we review over a thousand images that provide us with a visual record of science in our time, images that shed light on the intricacy of our living universe. These images not only give us a new understanding of familiar objects, they reflect the extraordinary work being done in laboratories today where dedicated researchers study neurological disorders, cancer, plant science, developmental biology and much more."

Other images recognized in this year's competition include one of a cell expressing the protein of the Ebola virus; numerous striking photos of cells and the brain; vibrant botanical images; E. Coli; a fossil diatom, and much more.

Twenty of the 2008 winning and Honorable Mention images will be displayed in San Francisco at an event on December 14, and then will begin a national tour that will take them to such destinations as Philadelphia; suburban Washington DC; the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; and Allentown, PA. Other displays of winning BioScapes images will simultaneously be touring in cities across the US, Canada and Latin America throughout 2009.

Olympus selects outstanding authorities in microscope imaging as judges for the competition, which is open to users of any brand of light microscope and camera equipment.

This year's BioScapes judges included Claire M. Brown, Ph.D., Director of the Life Sciences Complex Imaging Facility at McGill University in Montreal, Canada; Douglas Murphy, Ph.D., Director of the Light Microscopy Facility at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farms Research Center in Ashburn, Virginia; John M. Murray, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in Philadelphia; and award-winning photomicrographer Wim van Egmond of the Netherlands.

In addition to Spike Walker (1st) and Albert Pan (4th), other Top 10 winners include: Thomas Shearer of Duluth, MN, for his image of agatized petrified wood; Stephen Nagy of Helena, MT, for his photo of an extinct fossil diatom; Shirley Owens, formerly of Michigan State University, for her photo of the Cup Plant Silphium perfoliatum; David Walker of West Yorkshire, U.K., for his depiction of a snail radula; Neal Melvin of the University of Texas in Dallas for his image of an adult mouse hippocampus; Gerd Guenther of Duesseldorf, Germany, for his Trichodina pediculus; Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Washington, for his image of a jewel beetle, and Petr Znachor of the Institute of Hydrobiology in the Czech Republic, for his depiction of a colonial diatom.

About Olympus

Olympus is a precision technology leader, creating innovative opto-digital solutions in healthcare, life science and consumer electronics products. Olympus works collaboratively with its customers and affiliates worldwide to leverage R&D investment in precision technology and manufacturing processes across diverse business lines. For more information, visit

Release Summary:

More than 1500 life science images and movies from 47 countries entered Olympus BioScapes competition in 2008. A luminous golden fairy fly that seems to defy gravity took 1st prize.

Keyword Tags:

bioscapes, cell biology, competition, microscopes, neuroscience, olympus, photomicrography, wasp, worldwide

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