Wednesday, 04 June 2014 07:03

ASCB and NIGMS Land “Life: Magnified,” Eye-Popping Microscope Images at DC’s Dulles Airport

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Mouth parts of a lone star tick.
“Life: Magnified”—Mouth parts of a lone star tick

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

Arriving today, an exotic world, both foreign and as close as their own skin, will greet travelers moving through Washington Dulles International Airport, as “Life: Magnified,” an exhibit of 46 eye-popping color images of life on the cellular level, opens in the airport’s Gateway Gallery in Concourse C. “Life: Magnified” is a collaborative project of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (Airports Authority) with support from ZEISS.

“Life: Magnified” will take visitors through the high-powered looking glass of advanced microscope technology into a wonderland of dynamic cells, colorful molecules, and intricate tissues. The cell world, inside and outside our bodies, is the basis of human health. Many of these breathtaking images of microorganisms, and animal and human cells were taken by NIH-supported scientists in the course of their search for insights into human health and disease. As ASCB President Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz noted, “‘Life: Magnified’ should surprise many at the beauty and daunting complexity of cellular life.”

“Life: Magnified” will open June 4 and run through November at Washington Dulles International Airport. The Gateway Gallery is inside the TSA secure zone accessible only to screened passengers, but a gallery of images and detailed captions of “Life: Magnified” is online through the NIGMS site. http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Life-Magnified.aspx

“From the beginning of my scientific career, I’ve wanted to drag strangers and children to the microscope to show them the amazing world of cell life,” says Stefano Bertuzzi, ASCB Executive Director. “It’s all in there—human health, disease, our food supply, our environment. This incredibly beautiful exhibit is a one-time chance to take thousands of strangers on a dazzling trip through the cellular world. As the leading cell research society, ASCB was proud to help organize this but we could not have done it without the collaboration of our partners. I guess there are a lot of us in cell science who want to show off our tiny world to world travelers.”

Bertuzzi also thanked ZEISS for its support and the Airports Authority for its Arts Program, which utilizes the arts to enhance travel experiences at Dulles International and Reagan National airports.

“The Gateway Gallery has traditionally welcomed passengers to Dulles International through its unique and engaging art displays,” said Christopher U. Browne, Washington Dulles International Airport Manager. “This exhibit will add to the enjoyment of the airport experience while offering travelers an intriguing up close view of life on a microscopic level.”


First, the mouthparts of a Lone Star tick (an awesome beast):

Mouth parts of a lone star tick. Igor Siwanowicz, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Va.

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

Neurons in the cerebellum, a region of the brain:

Thomas Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, University of California, San Diego

Thomas Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, University of California, San Diego

HIV (yellow) attacks an immune cell (blue):

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

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

New yeast emerge after two yeast cells have sex:

Juergen Berger, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, and Maria Langegger, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society, Germany

Juergen Berger, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, and Maria Langegger, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society, Germany

Hairs on a gecko lizard’s toes, allowing them to stick to walls:

Dennis Kunkel, Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.

Dennis Kunkel, Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.

An ovary from an anglerfish:

James E. Hayden, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pa.

James E. Hayden, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pa.

John Fleischman

John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.

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