Monday, July 20, 2009

The Nano GigaPan in Action

In this video you can see how the Nano Gigapan is hooked to the SEM, how it moves the stage, as well as how the pictures are taken. Jay was explaining the process while taking a Nano Gigapan himself. If you want to see the finished image that he was taking during this video.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ant holding a Fly

This is an SEM Nano Gigapan of an ant holding a fly in its mandible. This image came about when we found some ants this morning in the kitchen and decided to take them into work to image. While looking for other cool things to image I also stumbled across a very small fly that was dead on the table (you might not believe me, but the house we're staying at is actually really nice, and at least appears very clean). Lacking another container for putting samples into, we dropped the fly in with the live, albeit confused ants, saying "they probably wont eat it." Seconds after touching the bottom of the container, the ant you see here snatched the fly up and proceeded to hold on to it for not only the commute into the office, but also during a stint in the freezer, a move from the container to the SEM stage, and then while in a vacuum. That is dedication.

The ant and fly are magnified 400x and this image is composed of 288 pictures taken with the SEM.

View the full image at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Match Heads

This Nano Gigapan shows two match heads side by side, illustrating the difference (as seen under a scanning electron microscope) between a unlit strike anywhere match and one that has been burned. This difference is clear with the naked eye, but can you tell which has been burned looking at it with a different tool? This image is composed of 140 pictures of matches magnified 150x.

View the full image at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Drift wood & Pygmy forest twig

Here are two gigapans of two different wood samples. Neither of these are quite the bark that someone requested, however, they both look pretty nifty. This first nanogigapan is of a piece of drift wood, the image is made up of 25 pictures taken using a scanning electron microscope. This piece of driftwood was found on the Northern Californian coast. The segment we imaged is of the very center of the wood and you can see this by looking at how the structures seems to radiate from the middle of the gigapan. The driftwood is magnified 300x.

View the full image at

The second nanogigapan is of a cross section of a twig taken from a pygmy tree in Mendocino. The twig is magnified 250x and you can make out the growth rings in this image.

Rollie Pollie

This is the latest nanogigapan and is an image of a pill bug, or rollie pollie. This view is of the rollie pollie unrolled and on its back (a position that was rather hard to prepare because when faced with premature death the rollie pollie rolls up in to a small ball). Because the specimen was so large, I was only willing to magnify it 200x so that I only had to take 250 images. However, even with relatively small magnification it is a fun image to explore, especially because it is of such a familiar insect.

View the full image at

Friday, July 10, 2009

NanoGigaPan project works with STAR Participants

The project is currently working with Lisa Adams, a Student Teacher and Researcher (STAR) participant, who is spending the summer at NASA Ames. Adams intends to design five different lesson plans that use Nano Gigapan images to help students more easily grasp and visualize the material. So far we’ve imaged pollen, a pill bug, and a cockroach leg by her request. Hopefully this will help expose school aged children to the world of the small and show them how much is out there that they can’t even see.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Barnacle Gigapan

This barnacle Nano Gigapan is really cool. Take your time, really zoom in and explore this one. The barnacle was found washed up on the back of a crab shell at Mendocino's big river beach. In this Nano Gigapan you can see the crab shell around the base of the barnacle.

This image is composed of 384 pictures taken with a scanning electron microscope, which took me around 5-6 hours to capture. The barnacle is magnified 800x.

View the full image at