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Caffeine Crystals Under An Electron Microscope Look Right Out Of Willy Wonka's World (PHOTO)

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Most of us know caffeine as the stuff that puts the kick in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy beverages. Red Bull, anyone?

Of course, scientists see caffeine a bit differently--especially when they observe it with high magnification. And the incredible image below shows what caffeine crystals look like under a scanning electron microscope.


The false-color photo shows a group of crystals about 40 microns in length, or about 0.0016 inch. Tiny, yes, but the beautiful crystals certainly caught the eye of the judges in the 2012 Wellcome Image Awards--they deemed it worthy of inclusion in their gallery of winning photos.

One of the judges--James Cutmore, picture editor at BBC Focus Magazine--explained why he liked the photo so much:

What interests me in my professional role is showing our readers images of everyday things from a different, at first unrecognizable, perspective. For that reason, this image really grabbed my attention. It's a bright, intricate image of something that most of us experience every day.

There's no disputing his last point. The FDA says 90 percent of people in the world consume caffeine in some form. In the U.S., four out of five adults consume caffeine every day.

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