15 Beautiful Microscopic Images from Inside the Human Body

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Image: David Gregory & Debbie Marshall, Wellcome Images

Get up close and personal with your innards with these 15 amazing 3D-body shots. Almost all of the following images were captured using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), a type of electron microscope that uses a beam of high-energy electrons to scan surfaces of images. The electron beam of the SEM interacts with atoms near or at the surface of the sample to be viewed, resulting in a very high-resolution, 3D-image. Magnification levels range from x 25 (about the same as a hand lens) to about x 250,000. Incredible details of 1 to 5 nm in size can be detected.

Max Knoll was the first person to create an SEM image of silicone steel in 1935; over the next 30 years, a number of scientists worked to further develop the instrument, and in 1965 the first SEM was delivered to DuPont by the Cambridge Instrument Company as the “Stereoscan.”

Here you’ll experience the power of SEM in a journey of self-discovery that starts in your head, travels down through the chest and ends in the bowels of the abdomen. Along the way, you’ll see what’s normal, what happens when cells are twisted by cancer and what it looks like when an egg meets sperm for the first time. You’ll never see yourself the same way again.


Image: Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images

They look like little cinnamon candies here, but they’re actually the most common type of blood cell in the human body – red blood cells (RBCs). These biconcave-shaped cells have the tall task of carrying oxygen to our entire body; in women there are about 4 to 5 million RBCs per microliter (cubic millimeter) of blood and about 5 to 6 million in men. People who live at higher altitudes have even more RBCs because of the low oxygen levels in their environment.

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Image: Liz Hirst, Wellcome Images

Regular trimmings to your hair and good conditioner should help to prevent this unsightly picture of a split end of a human hair.

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