There is infinite beauty in the world, if only we find the means to see it. And when it comes to seeing more, science holds a marvelous tool chest of techniques. With materials that may be as fundamental as light and lens, the art of scientific observation expands the visible world far beyond the depths and distances our unaided eyes can access. While optical telescopes extend our view deep into space, to distances billions of light-years away from the eye's everyday demesne, optical microscopes turn our vision inward, taking it to deep inner space. They resolve slivers of the world as small as a wavelength of light, 1,000 times as small as anything we notice in the macroscopic world.
The pairs of images here, selected from entries to Nikon's annual Small World Competition, epitomize the art of looking closer, as captured by some modern masters of photomicrography. Each one offers a slice of life as the eye does not, ordinarily, have the opportunity to know it.
This article was originally published with the title Eye of the Beholder.