Images captured by Harvard researchers often blur the boundary between art and science. From high-powered microscopes to technology that can render biological tissue transparent, new tools are revealing the world in unexpected and compelling ways, expanding our understanding while showcasing unique beauty.
You can see the world in a biofilm, or the universe in a neural network. Jellyfish, seahorses, and turtles fluoresce in the ocean depths, while deadly diseases shimmer virulently under a microscope.
When viewed under the right conditions, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
An assortment of gelatinous biofluorescent and bioluminescent organisms, known as ctenophores and jellyfish, shot on a low-light camera. Biofluorescent organisms absorb light, transform it, and re-emit it as a different color, while bioluminescent organisms create their own light through chemical reactions. Both organism types use their abilities to attract prey or, in some cases, defend themselves from predators. Image by David Gruber, Radcliffe Fellow
Footage of a biofluorescent “glowing” hawksbill sea turtle, captured on camera for the first time. The turtle absorbs light, transforming and re-emitting it as a different color back to the ocean. Scientists are still studying why the turtles, which are critically endangered, emit these lights. Image by David Gruber, Radcliffe Fellow
Excitatory neurons (red) and the inhibitory neurons (green) of a transgenic zebrafish larva. Labeling subpopulations of neurons in color allows scientists to monitor their activity and understand their role in neural circuits. Image by Abhinav Grama, Cox Laboratory, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology