When David Linstead was about 9 or 10, he pestered his parents for a microscope.

It sparked a lifetime of scientific curiosity. David is now a retired research scientist with over 20 years of experience. In 2016, he captured an incredible slice of life in a microscopy photo that borders on fine art. The blue hues and fluorescent oranges and pinks burst through in a kaleidoscope of colors. To the uninformed eye, this image could be seen as evidence of alien life. But it's actually a photo of cat skin with hair and whiskers.

A polarized light micrograph of a section of cat skin, showing hairs, whiskers, and their blood supply. This sample is from a Victorian microscope slide. Blood vessels were injected with a red dye called carmine dye (here appearing black) in order to visualize the capillaries in the tissue, a newly developed technique at the time. This image is a composite made up of 44 individual images stitched together to produce a final image 12 millimeters wide. Image via David Linstead/Wellcome Image Awards.


The Wellcome Image Awards have been highlighting amazing images like this one for 20 years. This year's 22 finalists were chosen from photographs, illustrations, and other visual renderings from the sciences that showcase the beauty in their fields.

Here are 12 more images from this year's finalists that show the beauty behind science.

1. Hawaiian bobtail squid.

Image via Mark R Smith, Macroscopic Solutions/Wellcome Image Awards.

Native to the Pacific Ocean, Hawaiian bobtail squid are nocturnal predators that remain buried under the sand during the day and come out to hunt for shrimp near coral reefs at night. The squid have a light organ on their underside that houses a colony of glowing bacteria called Vibrio fischeri. The squid provide food and shelter for these bacteria in return for their bioluminescence.

2. Language pathways of the brain.

Image via Stephanie J Forkel and Ahmad Beyh, Natbrainlab, King’s College London; Alfonso de Lara Rubio, King’s College London/Wellcome Image Awards.

The brain is composed of two types of matter. Gray matter contains cells and is responsible for processing information. White matter connects these areas of grey matter, allowing information to be transferred between distant areas of the brain. Areas responsible for speech and language have been mapped to two different brain regions. This image shows a 3D-printed reconstruction of the white matter pathway connecting these two areas (here shown from the left), which is called the arcuate fasciculus.

3. Surface of a mouse retina.

Image via Gabriel Luna, Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara/Wellcome Image Awards.

The retina, located at the back of the eye, contains light-sensitive cells responsible for converting light into electrical nerve signals that the brain can process. As a result of aging or injury, the retina can lose this function, causing vision loss. This image was created by digitally stitching together over 400 images to form one large image, so as to show the entire surface of a mouse retina.

4. Vessels of a healthy mini-pig eye.

Image via Peter M Maloca, OCTlab at the University of Basel and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London; Christian Schwaller; Ruslan Hlushchuk, University of Bern; Sébastien Barré/Wellcome Image Awards.

A 3D model of a healthy mini-pig eye. The dent on the right side of the image is the pupil, the opening that allows light into the eye. The blood vessels shown are bringing energy and food to the muscles surrounding the iris, which controls the amount of light entering the eye. The smallest vessels seen here are 20–30 micrometers (0.02–0.03 millimeters) in diameter. The other large vessels are feeder vessels for the retina, the light-sensing region at the back of the eye.

5. The placenta rainbow.

Image via Suchita Nadkarni, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London/Wellcome Image Awards.

The placenta rainbow highlights differences in mouse placental development that can result from manipulation of the mother’s immune system. These placentas were investigated at day 12 of the 20-day gestation period — the point at which a mouse’s placenta has gained its characteristic shape but is still developing.

6. Developing spinal cord.

Image via Gabriel Galea, University College London/Wellcome Image Awards.

Our spines allow us to stand and move, and they protect the spinal cord, which connects all the nerves in our body with our brain. The spinal cord is formed from a structure called the neural tube, which develops during the first month of pregnancy.

This series of three images shows the open end of a mouse’s neural tube, with each image highlighting (in blue) one of the three main embryonic tissue types. On the left is the neural tube itself, which develops into the brain, spine, and nerves. On the right is the surface ectoderm — the word "ectoderm" comes from the Greek ektos meaning "outside" and derma meaning skin — which will eventually form the skin, teeth, and hair. The middle image shows the mesoderm (also from Greek, meaning "middle skin"), which will form the organs.

7. Zebrafish eye and neuromasts.

Image via Ingrid Lekk and Steve Wilson, University College London/Wellcome Image Awards.

This four-day-old zebrafish embryo has been modified using two mechanisms — borrowed from the fascinating worlds of bacteria and yeast — that are widely applied in genetics research. A DNA-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 was used to insert a gene called Gal4 next to the gene that the researchers wished to study. These Gal4 fish were then bred with special reporter fish to create fish where the gene of interest displays red whenever it is activated.

8. Intraocular lens "iris clip."

Image via Mark Bartley, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust/Wellcome Image Awards.

This image shows how an "iris clip," also known as an artificial intraocular lens, is fitted onto the eye. An iris clip is a small, thin lens made from silicone or acrylic material with plastic side supports to hold it in place. An iris clip is fixed to the iris through a three-millimeter surgical incision and is used to treat conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) and cataracts (cloudiness of the lens). This particular patient, a 70-year-old man, regained almost full vision following his surgery.

9. #BreastCancer Twitter connections.

Image via Eric Clarke, Richard Arnett and Jane Burns, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland/Wellcome Image Awards.

This is a graphical visualization of data extracted from tweets containing the hashtag #BreastCancer. Twitter users are represented by dots, called nodes, and lines connecting the nodes represent the relationships between the Twitter users. Nodes are sized differently according to the number and importance of other nodes they are connected with, and the thickness of each connecting line is determined by the number of times that a particular relationship is expressed within the data.

The "double yolk" structure at the top of the image indicates common mentions of two accounts. This area of the graph provides a graphical expression of trending data in Twitter, as it represents one tweet that was retweeted thousands of times.

10. Brain-on-a-chip.

Image via Collin Edington and Iris Lee, © Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Wellcome Image Awards.

Neural stem cells have the ability to form all the different cell types found in the nervous system. Here, researchers are investigating how neural stem cells grow on a synthetic gel called PEG. After just two weeks, the stem cells (magenta) produced nerve fibers (green). These fibers grew away from the cell due to chemical gradients in the gel, teaching researchers about how their environment affects their structural organization.

11. MicroRNA scaffold cancer therapy.

Image via João Conde, Nuria Oliva and Natalie Artzi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Wellcome Image Awards.

Researchers are investigating short genetic sequences called microRNAs, which control the proper function and growth of cells, as a possible cancer therapy. However, their potential use is limited by the lack of an efficient system to deliver these microRNAs specifically to cancerous cells. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed such a system, combining two microRNAs with a synthetic polymer to form a stable woven structure that is a bit like a net. This synthetic net can coat a tumor and deliver the two microRNAs locally to cancer cells.

12. Unravelled DNA in a human lung cell.

Image via Ezequiel Miron, University of Oxford/Wellcome Image Awards.

In order for plants and animals to grow and remain healthy, cells need to have the ability to replicate. During cell division, also known as mitosis, the entire DNA content of the cell is copied, with half going to each new cell. DNA is found in the nucleus, which acts a bit like the brain.

This picture shows the nucleus of one of two new daughter cells. The DNA in this cell has somehow become caught and is being pulled between the two cells. This has caused the DNA to unfold inside the nucleus, and DNA fibers can be seen running through it. As the new cells have moved apart, the tension distributed by the rope-like DNA has deformed the nucleus’ usually circular envelope.

There they are, in all their majesty.

Looking at the sheer brilliance of these images, it's easy to see why funding for science is fundamentally important to society. They show the value of science to better understand our world by revealing the quiet beauty behind the universe's veil. That's the power of scientific exploration.

To learn more about the Wellcome Image Awards and see all of this year's and previous years' winners, visit their website. All caption info via Wellcome Image Awards.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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