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Life: Magnified exhibit

Snapshots of Life: A Fantastic Voyage, Inside the Airport

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Poster for scientific images exhibit

Caption: Confocal microscopy is used to visualize the activity of the sox9b gene (green) in the developing zebrafish fin; collagen (red), DNA (blue).
Credit: Jessica Plavicki, University of Wisconsin, Madison

It’s not every day that you can take flight on a fantastic voyage without leaving the airport. But that’s what will happen if you visit the Life:Magnified exhibit currently on display at Washington Dulles International Airport.

If you only glimpse the exhibit as you’re running to catch a flight, you’ll probably think it’s an art display: gorgeous modern photography. Look closer. You’ll find cells and other of life’s tiniest parts—blood, brain, and cancer cells; bacteria, viruses, even gecko toe hairs—all magnified up to 50,000 times, using the latest microscopy techniques. A stunning array of colors have been added to the images, not only to enhance their visual appeal, but also (even primarily!) to help scientists conduct biomedical research. And, as you browse the images, you can take a journey through a part of the biological world that, though rarely seen, is within and all around us.