Flounder x-ray & other beautiful things

by Stephanie Chasteen on April 3, 2009

Wow, I just stumbled upon this and it was so beautiful I had to share:

Thanks to Tibchris on Flickr for posting this (and making it available with Creative Commons).

If you’re looking for freely available images for presentations or in-class use, there are two great places to look:

  1. Wikimedia Commons images are all licensed under Creative Commons, and some (typically those taken under the auspices of the federal government) are public domain.  Lots of search capabilities.
  2. Flickr also has a lot of images, but not all are Creative Commons.  Go to the Advanced Search screen and select “Creative Commons” at the bottom.

Lots of beautiful shots on both these sites — I use them all the time for this blog and professional presentations.

Here are some more because they’re so pretty.  Click on the link to see the license and original.

The Lena River Delta (Public Domain image by NASA)

And an image of snow crystals, also in the public domain (from the US Agricultural Service)

And a red-headed rock Agama (GNU license by Chris Huh).


loxosceles April 4, 2009 at 4:45 am

Not an x-ray, but a cleared specimen, right?

What beautiful images!

sciencegeekgirl April 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Not an x-ray, but a cleared specimen, right?

A biologist I am not… what does “cleared specimen” mean? I just know that the photographer labeled it as an xray (http://www.flickr.com/photos/arcticpuppy/2901287190/) and it looks like a colorized xray to my naive eye…?

HaileyHacks April 13, 2009 at 5:33 pm

I love the snow crystals but I don’t know why they aren’t white. How did this picture get made? I would like to see more pictures of snow!

sciencegeekgirl April 14, 2009 at 5:06 pm

I love the snow crystals but I don’t know why they aren’t white

Snow crystals themselves aren’t white. Snow as a whole is white, but each individual crystal isn’t white. It’s like how a glass of water is clear, but the ocean looks blue. The color of the individual thing might be a little different from the color of a whole bunch of it.

In the case of snow, individual crystals are just crystalized water, so they’re clear. (They look blue in the picture, but the colors in that picture are “false” since the picture wasn’t taken using visible light.) But all together, snow crystals “scatter” light. Snow crystals are like a bunch of tiny mirrors reflecting light in every direction. The result of that “scattering” is that the snow looks white. Even though the individual snow crystal is sort of clear, it reflects the light from the surroundings back at your eye, and so the snow looks like it’s white.

As for how the images were made, a powerful optical microscope will take a good picture of a large snow crystal, but that particular picture looks like it was taken with some kind of scanning microscope (TEM or SEM).

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