The most striking images from the year in science

From March 14th to 19th, the finalists in this year’s Wellcome Image Awards will once again be revealed at Science Gallery Dublin. From photography and illustration to super-resolution microscopy and medical scans, these artworks use a variety of methods to capture the imagination and bring complex concepts to life. Here's a preview of five of the selected finalists — you can view the rest of the winners on the Wellcome Image Awards site, or come see them for yourself next week in our Deloitte Gallery. 

#breastcancer Twitter connections

Eric Clarke, Richard Arnett and Jane Burns, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

This is a graphical visualisation 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.

Cat skin and blood supply

David Linstead

A polarised 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 visualise 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 mm in width. 

Developing spinal cord

Gabriel Galea, University College London

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. 

Rita Levi Montalcini

Daria Kirpach, Salzman International

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909–2012) was an Italian neurobiologist and the joint recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF). Rita graduated in medicine in 1936, but due to Mussolini’s 1938 Manifesto of Race, which barred non-Aryan citizens from having academic careers, was forced to build a small laboratory in the family home and work in secret. 

Rita was the recipient of many awards, became a Foreign Member of the Royal Society and a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, and was made an Italian senator for life. She also established the Rita Levi-Montalcini Foundation to support the education of girls and women in Africa.

Blood vessels of the African grey parrot

Scott Birch and Scott Echols

This image shows a 3D reconstruction of an African grey parrot, post euthanasia. The 3D model details the highly intricate system of blood vessels in the head and neck of the bird and was made possible through the use of a new research contrast agent called BriteVu (invented by image co-creator Scott Echols).