This is a pyramidal neuron from the hippocampus, a part of the brain where some kinds of memories are formed. This neuron has been labeled with fluorescent antibodies so that we can visualize microtubules (shown in green), which form a structural network inside the neuron, and insulin receptors (shown in red), which are cell surface proteins that instruct neurons to make connections with other neurons. These connections, called synapses, become stronger or weaker as memories are constructed.
This is one of the photos from The Art of Science contest at Princeton University. The contest includes some of the the most beautiful and coolest of the images produced at the university in the course of scientific research.
An annual event, the organisers chose this year the theme of “intelligent design.” Intentionally, to be provocative. The organisers are hoping to push scientists to reclaim the term from those who attack evolutionary science. To remind one another of its other possible connotations: the intelligently designed product of a thoughtful engineer, or the clever new simulation from a creative computer scientist.
The image above attracted me – but it was not one of the prize winners. There is a gallery of over 50 great images entered into the contest at the Art of Science website.