When it comes to what makes up the world around us, we go through life only seeing the big picture.

Microscopes allow us to get up close and personal with our surroundings.  Using tools like the dino-lite digital microscope, we can get so close that we can no longer tell what we’re looking at. These ten images were captured using various electron microscopes.

Take a crack at guessing what they are…


1 oat breakfast macro shot

1.This common breakfast grain looks more like an alien landscape than something we would eat. The common oat, or Avena sativa, is rich in soluble fiber and proteins.


2 human nail macro shot

2.The human nail bed looks similar to another planet when magnified 30 times. The grey nail plate is made of keratin, a kind of protein.


3 owl butterfly egg macro

3.Beautiful stained glass pane? Not at all. This is the egg of a Caligo memnon, or owl butterfly. At the very center is an opening called the micropyle through which the egg is fertilized.


Chicken's egg outer shell detail, SEM

4.It may look spongy, but this surface is built to protect. The calcium shell of a chicken egg is porous to allow the exchange of gases between the embryo and the open air.


5 human eye macro shot

5.This slide of a human eye has been dyed to enhance details. The dark blue shadow to the right is the pupil, and the sponge-like, mauve tissue is the iris. The folds, or ciliary processes, help nourish the eye, and the thin filaments support the lens of the eye.


6 polypropene plastic macro shot

6.This polymer, called polypropene, is used in everything candy containers to plastic furniture.


7 pollen macro shot

7. Pollen, as shown in the picture, is what causes people to have allergies in the spring and summer. Each plant has its own type of pollen. It’s amazing that something that is so pretty can cause problems for so many people.


8 ball python scales macro

8.Like the human nail seen above, the scales of a ball python are also made of keratin. Snakes rely on their scales to make slithering easier.


9 squid suckers macro shot

9. It might look like something out of an old horror movie, but the suckers of the Loligo pealei squid allow it to capture its prey. The tiny “fangs” are composed of chitin, the same substance crab shells are made of.


Human tongue surface, SEM

10. This colony of spikes, called filiform papillae, sense pressure to help you chew effectively. The round nodes, called fungiform papillae, contain taste buds.