NATURAL SCIENCE

EyePoppers: The Best Science Photos of the Week

Science labs across the world churn out the most startling images -- maps of the brain, molecules interacting, DNA works of art. We round up the latest science, as told through pictures. 

Mapping The Web

A visualization of Internet connections in the United States. The lines represent connections between routers in major urban areas throughout the country. From its humble beginnings in the academic research community, the Internet's infrastructure grew in a relatively short period of time. This growth will continue into the foreseeable future as the nature of the network evolves and more devices such as cellular phones, PDAs and even common appliances, are brought online.

Zina Deretsky, NSF / Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon

How to Map the Brain

Deep inside the brain, a neuron prepares to transmit a signal to its target. To capture that expectant, fleeting moment with painstaking detail, science illustrator Graham Johnson based his elegant, highly accurate drawing on ultra-thin micrographs of sequential brain slices. The brain contains billions of neurons, whose network of chemical messages form the basis of all thought, movement and behavior. Johnson's illustration tells the story of one such signal, a synaptic millisecond that is both eye-catching and accurate in scale and shape.

Graham Johnson, Graham Johnson Medical Media

An Inverted Crater on Mars

An inverted crater in the Arabia Terra region of Mars is among the images taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in early 2010. Scientists are impressed with the flood of data beamed back by NASA's most advanced Mars orbiter. The space agency said Wednesday March 3, 2010, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has sent back 100 terabits of information since 2006. That's equal to about 3 million songs in MP3 format.

AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Is the Hobbit a Real Species?

A researcher holds the skull of a Homo floresiensis in Indonesia. On the remote island of Flores, an international team is trying to shed light on the fossilized 18,000-year-old skeleton of a dwarf cavewoman whose discovery in 2003 was an international sensation.

AP Photo/Puslitbang Arkenas

Ants Smell in Stereo

Its two antennae enable the desert ant to smell in stereo, scientists learned this week. The ant is not only able to use a single odor source for navigation, it can also memorize several odor sources in the vicinity of its nest. The picture shows four separate sources of odor molecules that the insect is able to recognize with its antennae.

MPI for Chemical Ecology, Markus Knaden

Building a Better Pea

Scientists, pea breeders and the food industry are collaborating to discover how taste and tenderness can be determined by biochemistry and genetics. They will work together to hone the make-up of a perfect pea. In a 2.25 million dollar, 3.5-year project coordinated from the John Innes Centre, the project partners will find new ways to develop improved pea varieties for the high profit margin food market. They will also study the likely impact of greater uptake of legume farming on nitrogen fertilizer use.

John Innes Centre

Triggers for Alzheimer's

What's the role of an astrocyte in the human brain? New research at the University of California in San Diego suggests that the mysterious cells -- which link neurons in the human brain -- may be more important in understanding diseases such as Alzheimer's than once believed. In one study using a rat cortex, researchers observed how astrocytes were triggered and saw how calcium signals would rise and fall. The research could help scientists develop new drug treatments.

UCSD

Rat Hair Glands -- Yes, Rat

This is a close-up of a rat gland, specifically the sebaceous gland located at the base of each hair shaft. The remarkable images shows how a new experimental drug -- which may be used for treating skin disease -- is actually doing its handiwork, as shown in the black regions, and can aid researchers in seeing a drug's effectiveness. Eric Solon, a director at QPS, says the company used a process called Micro-autoradiographic scanning to capture the image.

Eric Solon/QPS

Unrelated Neurons

Neurons have a mind of their own, it seems. New research at the Baylor College of Medicine suggests that neurons are not as interconnected as once thought, acting more autonomously: Neurons can process without being in a cluster, it seems. 

"The round blobs at the bottom are the bodies of the cells and the structures originating from them ascending upwards are the dendrites of these cells," says Andreas Tolias, Ph.D, an assistant professor in the department of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine. "Neurons communicate with each other by forming synapses. In this case the cells shown in this image receive inputs from other neurons on special structures called spines found on these dendrites."

Baylor College of Medicine

Ancient Stem Cells

Researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria traced this scan of an abnormal tissue growth in an ancient cellular structure from 600 million years. It's a cancer gene called myc that shows the structure of a stem cell. The blue region shows the cancer activity. The research is important because it shows a pattern of how cancer spreads and terminates.

University of Innsbruck

Teenage Assassin Bug, Stalking

This assassin bug, or stenolemus bituberus, is just old enough to know its lot in life: to climb tree bark and stalk spiders who are spinning webs. The juvenile bug imitates what a trapped insect looks like by tapping the web and flailing in an awkward movement, which can lure a spider away from the web just long enough to pounce.

Macquarie University

Telomeres and Aging

Chromosomes in the human body like these are what make up our genetic information (or DNA) and determine how we age. At Newcastle University, research has shown that the bright regions, called telomeres, show why some people suffer from dementia and other aspects of mental decline as they age. In a decade-long study, the research found that those with longer telomeres suffered less mental decline that those with short or medium-length telomeres.

Dr Gabriele Saretzki, Newcastle University

Brain of the Fruit Fly

Yes, a fruit fly has brain activity -- we know this from research conducted at the California Institute of Technology. By generating a puff of air, researchers encouraged the flies to flap their wings, then recorded brain activity using electrodes that measure neurons and compare the results with a digital image. It turns out cells in the brain are measuring the position of the body during flight and change body position, flap position, and steering muscles.

Gaby Maimon and Michael Dickinson/Caltech

Welding in Miniature

Welders use heat to conjoin metal parts, but the same process works in nanoscale. This image shows a gold wire that is between three-billionths and 10-billionths of a meter wide. The research, conducted at Rice University, shows that even sub-atomic particles can be welded together without losing their electrical or mechanical properties.

Jun Lou/Rice University

Deadly Bacteria, on the Move

This highly magnified image shows a salmonella bacteria that causes high fever and can be fatal after prolonged illness. The image was captured using a process called colored transmission electron micrography at the Health Protection Agency in the U.K. Look closely and you'll see strands that the bacteria use for movement. 

Salmonella infections occur with digested food or water that has been contaminated. Even though an outbreak can be treated easily with antibiotics, it's dangerous because treatments are sometimes hard to find and infections are hard to recognize, especially in war-torn areas.

Henrik Chart, Centre for Infections / Health Protection Agency / Science Photo Library

Spider Fossils

Scientists have discovered the astoundingly preserved fossilized remains of spiders in China that date back to the middle Jurassic period -- 165 millions years ago. The creepy crawlies were unearthed by Paul Seldon, a paleontologist from Kansas, who discovered them in China's Daohugou region. This area is rich with fossils because, during the Jurassic era, the fossil bed was part of a lake in a volcanic region.

Paul Selden / University of Kansas

Dragonfly Poses for a Still

This remarkable photo was taken near a pond at the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec after Paul Parent waited all morning for the perfect insect to saunter by his resting place. The is just one of hundreds of images he took by setting his Nikon D300 camera to burst mode, which snaps about 7 photos per second using a 105mm macro lens. This image won an honorable mention for the National Wildlife Federation annual photo contest, which is looking for submissions for the 2010 contest.

New Solar Materials

Solar materials are often created using hard to find resources -- somewhat negating the value of capturing energy from the sun instead of through other means. IBM Research has developed a new solar material that uses tin, copper, and other abundant resources, and is 40% more efficient at converting the energy to power that other solar materials. This is one reason we don't all have solar panels on our houses and cars -- the cost of manufacturing the panels is too high.

IBM

Emerging From the Yolk

This chicken embryo, part of the SciencePhoto.com gallery, shows a chicken emerging from a yellowish yolk -- which provides nutrients as the chicken forms. The black eyes have formed, and the thin membrane layer called the amnion provides extra protection from the elements.

J. & L. Weber, Peter Arnold Inc./ Science Photo Library

Flight of the Robobug

Strap a computer chip onto the back of a mecynorrhina torquata beetle and who knows what will happen. Here, researchers at UC Berkeley use neural stimulator implants and a radio control board attached to the thorax of a beetle to control it. In a post on his blog, Michel M. Maharbiz explains how the implants do not just control motor functions but actually tap into the nervous system and directly control movement and flight. 

"The implanted devices are designed to hijack control of motor functions, induce physiological changes, and to serve as a self-contained platform for various transducers," writes Maharbiz. "We implant several neural electrodes into the beetle's nervous and muscular systems at its pupal stage."

Hirotaka Sato and Michel M. Maharbiz/U.C. Berkeley

Surprised by Whales!

Nathan Meadows snapped this photo of a Bryde's whale -- which can reach 50 feet in length -- about 20 miles off the Pacific coast of Baja, Mexico. He was using sardines to entice marlins and photograph them when a whale suddenly appeared and snatched up the bait. Using a Canon 5D camera in a special housing, Meadows used snorkeling gear to maneuver easily. Eventually, more whales appeared, opening their massive jaws as the marlin pushed the bait up to the surface. "I thought it was a onetime event but the whale kept coming back to attack the sardines," says Meadows. "It was a very dangerous shoot with the marlin spearing sardines inches from my jugular."

Mountains from Space

Pico De Orizaba, seen here, is the highest mountain in Mexico. Somehow, Japanese Astronaut Soichi Noguchi centered his camera perfectly for this shot, taken from aboard the International Space Station. Also remarkable: he tweets these images directly to his Twitpic account along with a caption sometimes detailed, sometimes brief. 

Soichi recently captured the space shuttle approaching and a wonderful photo of his homeland

If you like his pictures, see our complete series

Soichi Moguchi/Twitpic

See-Through Plankton

You thought you had a tough job? Richard Kirby studies molecular plankton ecology at the University of Plymouth in the U.K., where he takes DNA samples to determine species, then scans the tiny critters using a microscope and a technique called darkfield illumination, which enhances the image. 

The ecological study is determining the effects of increased water temperatures on plankton, which are notoriously susceptible to climate change. "As global temperatures rise, so the sea surface is warming with ramifications for the distribution, abundance and seasonal timing of the planktonic organisms that underpin the whole marine food chain," Kirby told FoxNews.com.

Richard Kirby

Brittle Sea Star

This brittle sea star is just one of the thousands of species of "tidepool treasures"--marine plants and animals found in the small bodies of water left by the ebbing tide that fill the rock basins and depressions along California's rocky shores.

Genny Anderson, Santa Barbara City College

World's Oldest Christian Monastery

When you're claim to fame is "world oldest Christian monastery" you know you're going to get a large fan base. St. Anthony, the father of monkdom, built this base -- captured from above by the NASA ASTER satellite this month -- in 350 BC. It is still in use today and recently went through a restoration. The monastery is located in Egypt near the Red Sea at an oasis.

NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

A Tearless Eye

In 1933, Henrik Sjogren wrote a doctoral thesis about a disease that causes tear ducts to dry up, infecting exocrine glands in the eye. The disorder, now known as Sjogren's syndrome, infects about 4 million people in the U.S. 

Research that appeared in the Zeitschrift für Rheumatologie journal late last year in Germany reveals that a closer cooperation between the fields of rheumatology and ophthalmology could help patients avoid long-term complications by spotting the warning signs.

Moth Head, Up Close

Notice the coiled proboscis on this moth -- the brown section just below the eyes, used to drink nectar and infuriate farmers the world over. The image was scanned with a powerful colored scanning electron micrograph. The large red eyes on either side of the mouth can scan in multiple directions. 

Moths are a vastly misunderstood insect, different from butterflies, and almost impossible to classify since there are at least 150,000 different species, many of which are nocturnal.

Thierry Berrod, Mona Lisa Production / Science Photo Library

A Cyclops Copepod

This one-eyed crustacean, called a cyclops copepod, is about 0.5 millimeters long and has a black eye (but some have a red eye and grow as big as 5 millimeters long). This image was taken with a light micrograph. Part of the general classification of "sea plankton" and one of the most common components, copepod are found floating on the surface of freshwater ponds.

Roland Birke/Peter Arnold Inc / Science Photo Library

Your Brain Is the New Computer

As you're reading this sentence, your brain is reprogramming itself. Neurons are connected in a complex weave, as shown in this image. Unlike computers today, which follow a pre-determined set of routines and must follow these programs in sequential order (one reason even the most advanced robots could never start thinking on their own), the brain is a collection of more than a million neurons that can adapt on the fly and re-program "routines" at will. 

New research at the Graz University of Technology in Austria, part of a new project called Brain-i-Nets, suggests that future computers could adapt in a similar fashion. The three-year project is well-funded and well-intentioned: They want to invent a new kind of PC.

TU Graz/IGI

How Cancer Spreads

The term missegregation is an important one in the study of cancer cells. In a recent study at Dartmouth Medical School, researchers Sarah Thompson and Duane Compton found that the normal cells shown in these scans do not proliferate their chromosomes like abnormal cells do, such as those infected by a tumor. 

Thompson and Compton marked cells with a single fluorescent trace and were able to induce missegregation (a kind of activation for chromosone replication) and track the markings. The research is important because it could lead to a method for suppressing cancer cell growth.

Sarah L. Thompson, Duane A. Compton, Dartmouth Medical School / Journal of Cell Biology

How Cancer Spreads

The term missegregation is an important one in the study of cancer cells. In a recent study at Dartmouth Medical School, researchers Sarah Thompson and Duane Compton found that the normal cells shown in these scans do not proliferate their chromosomes like abnormal cells do, such as those infected by a tumor. 

Thompson and Compton marked cells with a single fluorescent trace and were able to induce missegregation (a kind of activation for chromosone replication) and track the markings. The research is important because it could lead to a method for suppressing cancer cell growth.

Sarah L. Thompson, Duane A. Compton, Dartmouth Medical School / Journal of Cell Biology

Electrons on a Bumpy Ride

The research leading to the Transport series of pictures (of which this image is a part) was inspired by the experiments of Mark Topinka, Brian Leroy, and professor Robert Westervelt at Harvard; their work actually measured the paths taken by the electrons. 

Here we see flow patterns for electrons riding over a bumpy landscape, which is what they experience in a two-dimensional electron gas -- picture a sea of electrons confined to a sheet. The bumps they encounter are due to charged atoms lying above the sheet. The electrons have more than enough energy to ride over any bump, and the concentrations of electron flow into the branches seen here are recently discovered indirect effects of that bumpy ride.

Eric J. Heller, Harvard University

Hylid Frog

In the 1980's, reports accumulated about the decline of frogs and toads in pristine environments such as nature reserves and parks. This greatly concerned ecologists who look at amphibians as an indicator species, a warning of environmental stress. 

The life cycle of amphibians -- often egg to tadpole (or other water-living larva) to land-based adult -- relies upon both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Therefore, because they lack such exterior protection as scales, feathers and hair, they are very sensitive to changes that may occur in their external environment.

Joseph Kiesecker, Pennsylvania State University

Take Antibiotics, Get Sick?

This low-res scan, which shows an invading pathogen called neutrophil mounting an assault against a bacterial agent (in red), might help answer an age-old question. For years, doctors have warned that taking antibiotics over a long period might actually weaken the immune system and make us more susceptible to illness, a worrisome contradiction. 

In the image, the "good" bacterium can't ward off new attacks, like a goalie in soccer who plays poorly over time as his defensive team improves. This same dynamic occurs in the immune system, a give and take between bacteria that is supposed to be in your body and an antiobiotic that takes over for a while when you're sick.

Jeffrey Weiser, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Supernova Ignites!

When does a supernova not act like a supernova? In this image, taken with the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array and then turned into an artistic rendering, astronomers show how a star can explodes without the usual gamma rays, a distinct form of electromechanical radiation that causes a massive celestial event. 

Interestingly, according to researchers at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, only about one out of hundred supernovas actually release gamma rays. This image, while fantastic, shows a burst of materials blasting in a sphere, moving only at about 3 percent of the speed of light.

Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Slow-Releasing Nanoburrs

Next time you drink herbal tea, think about this image – it's a computer reproduction that originated as a tiny piece of burdock, the herbal substance. The image, a nanoburr, shows how protein fragments can be used for slow-releasing drug therapies. For patients with heart disease or in cases where a stent must be used to inject medicine, a nanoburr could be used as an alternative because the drug would attach to artery walls and do their handiwork over time. The particles could also be used to seek out and destroy tumors. The image shown represents a nanoburr that is just 60 nanometers in diameter.

MIT

Total Eclipse, Totally Cool

This stunning solar eclipse is a composite of nine images (taken with a Canon 200mm lens) and 38 eclipse images layered over one another. The eclipse occurred in July. 

Miloslav Druckmüller and colleagues took the photos at the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands as part of an international expedition organized by the Institute for Astronomy at University of Hawaii.

The image shows how magnetic waves emanate from the sun in brilliant nano-flares. Look closely at the image and you can see the impact craters on the moon. The eclipse lasted just over 5 minutes.

See the full image showing all nearby stars. 

Miloslav Druckmüller, Peter Aniol, Vojtech Rušin, Ľubomír Klocok, Karel Martišek, Martin Dietzel

Nanowire

As components of electronic devices get ever smaller, wires connecting those components must also shrink in proportion. At the micron to nanometer scale, where devices are now being built, the wave nature of matter is becoming critical. This may be an advantage or it may be a problem. Making and understanding nanowires is certainly a challenge. Real nanowires have imperfections.

Eric J. Heller, Harvard University

The Eye of a Honeybee

Each of a honeybee's two compound eyes comprise a complex network of 6,000 hexagonal units for capturing light. The eyes are attuned to rapid movement-useful for keeping up with a speedy queen during her mating flight-and geometrical patterns. Bees tend to prefer radial, symmetrical arrangements typical of many flowers. Honeybees can also respond to a wide range of colors. They cannot perceive the color red, but they can see ultraviolet light. UV patterns on flower petals, while invisible to humans, attract bees and may help them distinguish between plant species.

Manfred Kage/Peter Arnold

Everything We Know About Yeast

You’re looking at the genetic composition of baker’s yeast, shown in full glory. It’s essentially a road map that shows how the cells are connected through nodes, similar to the image from last week that showed node connections on the Internet. “Genes typically do not function in isolation such that mutation in one gene will influence the activity of many other genes in a cell or organism,” says Michael Costanzo, PhD, a researcher at Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto, speaking to FoxNews.com. “This is important to our understanding of disease since most genetic disorders are not caused by mutation of a single gene but rather by rare combinations of mutations in different genes. Thus, determining how genes interact with each other will help us understand the basis of genetic disease.”

Anastasia Baryshnikova/University of Toronto

Bat Sensors Revealed!

Don’t say the phrase “laryngeal echolocation” on a full stomach. The term is related to biosensors in bats and is the bone section that helps them fly at night. New research at the University of Western Ontario reveals that echolocation varies between bat species, as shown in the accompanying 3D scan. The blue section shows how the stylohyal bone (in blue) connects to the larynx (in yellow) near the eardum. “In this non-echolocating species, the stylohyal passes interior to the bone surrounding the eardrum without contacting it,” says Jeff Renaud, a researcher on the project.

The University of Western Ontario

Human Hair, Really, Really Close

This photo of a 4-millimeter human scalp hair follicle came from a 44-year-old Caucasian male. It was sliced vertically into tiny, 200-micron thick sections. The sample was multi-stained with antibodies to visualize the nerves (in red), the sensory neuropeptide CGRP (in green), and vasculature (blue).

Marna E. Ericson and Maria K. Hordinsky, Department of Dermatology, University of Minnesota

Brain, Heal Thyself

In this brain scan image, the dendritic cells (in green) are fighting off an infection, surrounding the stroke-damaged tissue like an army protecting a base and stimulating T cells (in red) to prevent further damage. Researchers at Rockefeller University have shown how dendritic cells are not just present (as they suggested in 2008) but active. The research is important because it shows how the human body fights off infection in multiple locations – arms, legs, and in the brain.

The Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Rockefeller University

Lazy Earwigs Up Close

Note the small, slightly curved pincers on the back of this female adult earwig, photographed up close with a scanning electron micrograph. Male earwigs have larger pincers that are more curved, and slightly more dangerous to plants. This will help identify them (if you have a microscope that can capture at 4x magnification) at night, when they come out to feed on flowers. Finely folded wings and leather-like outer-coating protect this microscopic creature, which tends to sit idle in tree bark all day.

Power and Syred/SciencePhoto.com

Up Close With Your Tongue

A high energy beam scanner, called a scanning electron micrograph, was used to capture this image, which shows the surface of a human tongue. The protruding objects, called filiform papillae, can sense pressure. The flaky appearance of the papillae results from the fact that they are constantly shedding their skin to increase sensitivity.

Science Photo/Photo Researchers

Film Emulsion in Miniature

This image, which is only about 2mm in size, shows a film negative aged over about four years. The scientific process -- which uses emulsion and film degradation -- reveals a unique rendering. Chris Rochelle uses a dry platetechnique for creating the works of art. The emulsion and aging produce strange yellow and blue colors. 

"You can see traces of the landscape image on the right and left of the image," says Rochelle. "This one is about 4mm wide by 2mm high. Dry plates (glass plates with gelatin silver coating) were the first durable photographic film medium (before that 'wet plate' negatives were used) which meant that the plate had to be coated and developed within a very short period of time, forcing photographers to bring the darkroom with them on a shoot to process the image."

Chris Rochelle

Mouse Muscles Restored

Why do men suffer more heart attacks than women? For years, one theory held that estrogen regenerates blood vessels and makes a heart attack less likely. Now, research conducted by Daniel Sieveking at The Heart Research Institute in Australia suggests that male hormones, known as androgens, use a process called angiogenesis to form new blood vessels, which could lead to new regeneration therapies. 

The image shows the hindlimb muscle of a castrated male mouse. Researchers damaged blood vessels in the mice, then introduced androgens that caused new blood vessels to form. Sieveking measures capillary density using these photomicrograph images.

Daniel Sieveking/J Exp Med

How the Internet Works

This fantastic image shows how the Internet works. The strands emanate from each end-point (or node) on the Internet -- essentially a router at a company, government agency, or other organization. The largest "nuclei" are those with hundreds of thousands of connections (some from companies such as Google and Microsoft), and the smaller nodes could be a small company or school. Lumeta Networks produces these images on a regular basis to help the world understand how the Internet works, and the nodes tend to shift and grow over time like a real organism. 

Lumeta

Magnetic Guitar String?

Atomic beams look like a magnetic guitar string, plucked by scattering the energy beams from a powerful magnet at absolute zero temperatures and forming into a logical wave. The phase transitions cause a distinct symmetry between the lines. 

The research, being conducted at Oxford University, is important because it shows one of the first visual cues to how quantum physics might function, suggesting that -- at even an atomic scale -- there is an order and symmetry to how energy works.

Oxford University

When Worlds Collide

When you use a machine called the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, you know the results will be fantastic. This computer reconstruction, created by the STAR detector at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, shows what might have happened millions of years ago when two gold nuclei collided, traveling at the speed of light in and out of the picture. 

Hans Georg Ritter, a researcher on the project, says the actual collision would have been even more uniform. Ritter says thousands of elementary particles would be created in such a collision, and the simulation helps the lab determine, based on the trajectories and properties of the particles, how the collision might have formed and in what state.

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Polar Ice Caps

Summer has arrived in the polar ice caps, as seen in this dramatic image taken recently by the NASA MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) system on the Aqua and Terra satellites that shows an ice bridge collapsing in Antarctica. 

The Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf in West Antarctica routinely breaks apart and reforms. This "sea ice" is thinly layered over the ocean and forms into a long bridge. The break-up occurred over just a 24-hour period, captured in a series of images on January 12 and 13. The photos show an area of detail that is 250 meters per pixel.

NASA

Shipworms on the Rampage

This shipworm is wreaking havoc in the Baltic Sea, attacking sunken artifacts in the area. The worms are capable of completely destroying ship and other artifacts, and it's becoming more common along the coasts of Danish and German coasts. 

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have determined that the likely cause of the new infestation has to do with climate change and the waters along the Baltic, which are now saltier than in the past. Normally, the shipworms avoid areas of low salinity, but the higher temperatures have made them adapt easier. "This is the front part of the shipworm," says Christin Appelqvist from the University of Gothenburg. "At the end, you can see the foot and the two shells that they use when boring into wood."

Christin Appelqvist/University of Gothenburg

Up Close with a Blood Clot

This electron micrograph of a blood clot shows an exceptional level of detail, part of the Wellcome Images collection. For this image, the photograph was enhanced to show detail and color, but in the center of the image, there is a clearly identifiable white blood cell surrounded by a blood clot.

David Gregory & Debbie Marshall/Wellcome Images

Animal? Vegetable? Both?

This green sea slug – found on the East coast of the US and Canada -- has an interesting ability: It can synthesize the green pigment chemical chlorophyll like a plant. Researcher Sidney K. Pierce, working at the University of South Florida, used a radioactive tracing technique to make sure the slug it actually producing the chemical and not nearby algae. Photosynthesis is a process of converting carbon dioxide into another compound using sunlight.

Mary S. Tyler/PNAS

The Color of Mars

The planet Mars gets more fascinating by the minute. New images reveal a varied surface, with bright layered deposits – here, shown near a plateau in the Juventae chasma. Brown, purple, sandy regions appear across the entire 3/4 mile region, illuminated from the left of the image. 

The deposits are consistent with low-temperature regions. Along the walls, researchers have found that bright deposits are consistent with a persistent rainfall and run-off, but have not determined when this could have occurred or from what source. "The stripes are layers of sediments that were probably laid down by water a long time ago," HiRISE Team Member Ken Herkenhoff, told FoxNews.com. "More recently, they were eroded by windblown sand (the dark dunes seen in this image) to show the layers."

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Amazing Pics of Pond Scum

At the Queen Marys' School of Biological and Chemical Sciences in the UK, researchers are discovering some amazing creatures in the pond scum. In this photo, the single-celled Plagiopyla looks like a smiling face or Easter Island statues. 

Discovered in the Freshwater Biological Association's River Laboratory, the study has found at least 30 other invertebrates, most about a half-millimeter in size. The pond is in a state of slow decline, so the aquatic organisms – part of the school’s research into what they call "cryptic biodiversity" are a rare find. Researchers have found an additional batch of about 100 ciliates (single-cell organisms) that are invisible to the naked eye.

BJ Finlay

EyePoppers: The Best Science Photos of the Week

Science labs across the world churn out the most startling images -- maps of the brain, molecules interacting, DNA works of art. We round up the latest science, as told through pictures. 

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