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18 Mind-Blowing Images From The World Of Science

The winner of the 2014 Wellcome Image Award has just been announced: a vivid picture of a mechanical heart pump inside a patient’s chest.

The annual award celebrates the intersection of science and art, reminding us that the best visual inspiration often comes from the shocking beauty of the natural world. There were some doozies on the shortlist of 18 entries vying for this year’s prize: a bird’s-eye view of a medieval child’s mandible; a deer tick grotesquely embedded in a man’s leg; and a photographer’s own kidney stone, colorized to resemble a turquoise alien planet.

Some of these images could be mistaken for human-made artworks. In one, oxidized vitamin C crystals under a microscope resemble a tapestry in gold thread; in another, a cross-section of a lily bud looks like a painted mandala. Throughout history, some of the most ingenious designs in technology and art have stemmed from mimicking naturally selected patterns and structures–whether it’s the Wright brothers’ study of birds in flight or this new concept for a battery inspired by a pomegranate.

Photo by Eberhardt Josué Friedrich Kernahan and Enrique Rodríguez Cañas

The images will be added to Wellcome’s vast collection of more than 40,000 science images, culled from researchers, clinical photographers, and illustrators, which are available freely to the public here.

The winning submissions will be on display starting March 12 in simultaneous exhibitions at the Wellcome Trust’s headquarters in London, Glasgow Science Centre, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, Techniquest in Cardiff, and W5 in Belfast.CD