ant holding microchip

 The wood or heathland ant holding a microchip in its toothed (serrated) mandibles.

Quite what this industrious little wood ant is planning to do with this microchip is not known, but how appropriate it is that he appears to have a scientific interest. (Pics)


Because the insect features in a stunning new book featuring the art of the coloured scanning electron micrograph – in the case of this chap magnified 22 times.

Microcosmos takes readers into a secret world of extreme close-ups. Some subjects have been magnified by as much as 22million times.

Detailed descriptions of the subjets are contained within. The wood ant, for example, is a social creature, and acts as a slave for the blood-red ant Formica sanguinea.

Inseminated females of the blood-red ant invade wood ant nests, steal the pupae, and the ants that hatch are made to work for the strange queen.

Compiled by London-based science author Brandon Broll, Microcosmos takes a piercing look at the everyday in six sections including Zoology, The Human Body and Botanics.

Another fantastic picture is the piece of small household dust below.


Magnified 22million times, this microscopic photo is of household dust containing long hairs such as cat fur, twisted synthetic and woollen fibres, a pollen grain, plant, serrated insect scales and insect remains.

It has been magnified 115 times, but it contains long hairs such as cat fur, twisted synthetic and woollen fibres, a pollen grain, plant and insects.

Taken by over 30 ‘microscopists’ using a variety of powerful microscopes, the book charters a voyage through a miniature world showing the unlikeliest parts of our lives in minuscule detail.

Readers can view extreme close-ups of items including ladies’ tights, the surface of the human tongue and the beautiful scales on butterfly wings.

Also included in this weird and wonderful selection of images are a rusty nail and cut human hair on a razor blade.

rusty nail

A corroded surface of a rusty metal nail.

The spectacular visuals were captured using a variety of traditional light-based microscopes, powerful scanning electron microscopes which bombard the subject with electrons and build the image using a computer and transmission electro microscopes.

blue crystals

Cigarette paper – the blue crystals are additives that keep the lit cigarette burning by producing oxygen.

South African Broll, who specialises in science and health writing, said: ‘The book will show readers the beauty of what is too small to see with the naked eye.

‘The majority of the 203 images are from scanning electron microscopes, and this is the reason the book is so visually stunning.

butterfly egss

A clutch of butterfly eggs sits on a raspberry plant.

‘Light microscopes and transmission electron microscopes require that materials be sliced thinly, or trapped under glass before being examined.

‘In contrast, the scanning electron microscope reveals a world familiar to the way we naturally see things, a world with outer surfaces and in three dimensions.’


Head of cauliflower

The other three sections, ‘minerals’, ‘technology’, and ‘micro-organisms’ delve deeper into the tiny world existing under our noses.

Microcosmos is published by Firefly Books later this month.


Eyelash hairs growing from the surface of human skin…. magnified 50 times.


Fimbriae, a fringe of tissue, of a Fallopian tube


A human head louse clings to a strand of hair.


Surface of a silicon microchip


Mosquito’s head magnified 160 times


Nylon hooks and loops interweave to form the material more commonly known as Velcro.


Microscopic shot is of human sperm

Via Daily Mail