This photograph of a "fairy-fly wasp" was taken by M.I. "Spike" Walker and awarded first prize in this year's Olympus "BioScapes" competition, a photography contest that "recognizes extraordinary microscope photos of plants, animals, and other life-forms." The photographs are stunningly beautiful; it's amazing to consider that such lovely things are all around us, even though we can't see them. National Geographic has a tremendous gallery of the finalists up on their site, along with complete descriptions of how the photographs were taken; a few of our favorites, after the jump.
Pollen by Shirley Owens.
A magnification of an extinct algae by Stephen Nagy.
A 5-day old zebrafish's brain. Taken by Albert Pan of Harvard University.
Best Pictures of Microscopic Life, 2008 [National Geographic]