The human eye is a limited organ. The portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can see is about 0.0035 percent of the total light in the universe. Without any aid, a normal human eye with 20/20 vision can clearly view up to only about five kilometers (about three miles) in the distance and can distinguish an object as small as about 0.1 millimeter. Just as spyglasses and telescopes extended our range of sight across Earth and into the cosmos, light microscopes allow us to peer at scales hundreds of times smaller than we would otherwise be able to detect. Such technology has bred innumerable discoveries in medicine, biology, geology and plant science.
For 46 years, camera company Nikon has run its Small World contest, which prizes excellence in photography at the tiniest scales—achieved with the aid of the light microscope. Scientists make up a substantial proportion of contest entrants