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Photos Of Beautifully Arranged Microscopic Algae Put Science In Perspective

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Thanks to the California Academy of Science's Flickr account, we've been introduced to just how beautiful a microscopic diatom can be.

Photograph of fossil diatoms collected in Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California, and arranged on a microscope slide in 1968 by A.L. Brigger.


Diatoms, for the uninitiated, are a group of algae found in oceans, freshwater, soil and other moist environments. Dating back to as early as the Jurassic period, these tiny, unicellular beings are amongst some of the planet's smallest organisms, and come in 10,000 different species.

But aside from their biological wonder, diatoms make for spectacular works of art. "Hobbyists" at the CAS organized photographs of diatoms into kaleidoscopic, mandala-like arrangements, showcasing the microscopic algae's near-symmetrical beauty. The ultimate "wow" factor? The individual diatoms tend to measure in at about 100 to 200 micrometers wide. Essentially, the miniature designs could fit comfortably on the head of a nail.

Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.


Check out the wonder that is the California Academy of Sciences Diatom Collection here. Let us know your thoughts on the mini masterpieces in the comments.

Photograph of Arachnoidiscus diatoms collected in the Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County, California and arranged on a microscope slide by R.F. Behan.


Photograph of diatoms arranged in November 1974 on a microscope slide by R.I. Firth. The slide label reads "To Mrs. G Dallas Hanna with compliments."


Photograph of Arachnoidiscus diatoms collected in the Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County, California and arranged on a microscope slide by R.F. Behan.


Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide. The slide label reads "Prize Medal Paris 1867 Diatomaceae."


Photograph of 42 diatom species from Oamaru, New Zealand, arranged on a microscope slide in September 1947 by R.I. Firth.


Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.


Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.


Photograph of diatoms arranged in October 1974 on a microscope slide by R.I. Firth. The slide label reads "Selected species from Californian fossil marine localities. To Mrs. G Dallas Hanna with compliments."


Photograph of diatoms collected in Russia and arranged on a microscope slide in 1952 by A.L. Brigger.


h/t Colossal

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