"The Nikon Small World In Motion Competition" provides an intimate insight into our unseen microscopic world. While all the entries lend a fresh appreciation of a world beyond our usual senses, the contest's judges recently announced the winners of this year's fifth annual competition.
A couple of months ago, Nikon announced the winners of their micro-photography competition, which selected some of the best images captured via microscopes. This contest is very similar except all the entries are videos, adding a whole new dimension to this seldom seen world.
The winning video comes from Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum in The Netherlands. The short video shows a ciliate Trachelius hunting a animalcule Campanella, both single-celled protozoas, magnified 250 times. The video shows the predatory behavior between these organisms in real-time.
This predator versus prey scenario, found in a backyard pond of van Egmond’s friend, neatly displays the competition’s ethos that anybody can pick up a microscope and catch some incredible sights.
“Wildlife is so close to us, yet most of us never look close enough to see it,” van Egmond said in a press release. “A pool in your garden is actually a miniature underwater jungle teeming with life. If you want to see the world, your backyard is a great place to start.”
Second place was awarded to science communicator Danielle Parsons from Wonder Science TV, who filmed the inside of a termite’s gut. Impressively, you can see the microorganisms within the gut that help break down the wood, which the termites feed on.
Gonzalo Avila, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Auckland, won third prize for a video that shows nature is equally as terrifying on a microscopic level. His clip shows a parasitoid wasp larva bursting out of a Gum-Leaf Skeletoniser moth, like a minuscule version of the "Alien" films. This process can take several hours, so the video was sped up 64 times.
Interestingly, this grisly display is critical in controlling the population of the moths, which cause huge amounts of damage to eucalyptus trees in Australia and New Zealand.
Another particularly cool video was captured by Dr. Luigia Santella and a team of scientists from the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn institute in Naples, Italy. This clip shows the process of a starfish’s egg being fertilized by a sperm cell.
You can check out all the entries on the NikonMicroscope YouTube channel.