☝ preliminaries
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PLATE № 96363098647

Lichtenberg figures on skin, colloquially known as lightning flowers.

These dramatic scars occur when lightning or other high-energy electrical arcs strike the body. The electricity conducts beneath the skin, bursting subcutaneous capillaries. Complex, branching patterns are left in the wake of the arc after travel through the paths of least resistance.

When performed intentionally under controlled conditions, the same phenomena can instead form beautiful 'captured lightning.'

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PLATE № 96267705393


The circle of Willis (circulus arteriosus cerebri) is an anastomotic system of arteries that sits at the base of the brain. It encircles the stalk of the pituitary gland and provides important communications between the blood supply of the forebrain and hindbrain.

A complete circle of Willis is present in most individuals, although a well-developed communication between each of its parts is identified in less than half of the population.

The circle is structured to allow arterial redundancy; if a given vessel becomes blocked or narrowed, it is usually the case that the loss can be recovered from by other vessels. The entire structure can be seen in a magnetic resonance angiography here.

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PLATE № 96176000158

A selection of human photomicrographs captured by Arthur E Smith in 1904 using his early apparatus:

Figure 50: human lung tissue showing sectioned bronchiole

Figure 51: human blood showing erythrocytes (red blood cells)

Figure 52: a sagittal section of a molar, showing internal cavity and roots

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PLATE № 96091207253

Arthur E Smith focuses images on his early apparatus for photomicrography.

Simply obtained by photographing images upon the microscope’s eyepiece, the images produced became the focal point (pun not intended) of the 1909 book Nature through Microscope & Camera by Richard Kerr.

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PLATE № 96004912267

A bundle of neural axons within a developing mouse brain.

Each axon is given its colour by genetically added fluorescent proteins. When each is a different hue, they can be viewed together to create this striking effect which is not unlike a bundle of wires in appearance. In principle, this isn’t a strange thought; after all, both neurons and wires are in part electrically insulated structures which carry signals from place to place. 

Photograph and pioneering work by Tamily Weissman. Read more here.

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PLATE № 95917581585

A false-colour scanning electron micrograph of phagocytosis in progress.

Phagocytosis (translating rather wonderfully to ‘devouring cell process’) is the system by which this macrophage (red) is able to engulf and thereafter destroy Mycobacterium tuberculosis (yellow) as well as other threats to your body’s health. 

Macrophages, after engulfing the offending entity, drag it forcibly into a specially formed compartment within the cell. Inside, they are subjected to a formidable array of chemical attacks that render the target dead within minutes. 

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PLATE № 95829020380


microscopic bone marrow transplant — hematopoietic stem cells (the immortal source of both red and white blood cells) poised in a syringe for transplant

colored SEM composite image

credit: Steve Gschmeissner

Note the ‘cut-off’ edge of the needle which gives its point an asymmetrical tip; a sharper piercing edge than if it were purely elliptical. 

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PLATE № 95739256140

Above: normal cardiac silhouette 

Below: cardiac silhouette indicating cardiomegaly due to Chagas disease.

Having a big heart outside of the idiomatic sense is not usually a good thing. 

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PLATE № 95644653795


An old, gold-plated endoprosthesis of the knee joint. On the left, the femur cap is visible, while the right component is fitted into the tibia.

This prosthetic knee joint was ill-fitting and causing pain and discomfort for the patient, as well as being quite outdated. It was removed and replaced by a newer model composed of titanium, a tougher and sturdier material, which allowed for more stability and comfortable movement.

The prosthesis currently in place owes its lustrous appearance to the fact that it is plated with gold. This is not due to a need for surgically implanted swag, but rather for gold’s extreme resistance to corrosion, erosion and high biocompatibility which make it suitable for implants such as these.