GIF Made with Electron Microscope Zooms In On Life, On Life, On Life

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 4.54.33 PM

No, the title of this post wasn’t written by some sort of broken record robot. It is in fact an accurate description of the GIF below, which was created from photographs taken with a Scanning Electron Microscope.

As the incredibly powerful microscope zooms in, it goes from showing an amphipod (a type of shell-less crustacean), to a diatom (a type of algae) that’s on the amphipod, to a microscopic bacterium that’s on the diatom that’s on the amphipod. It’s life, on life, on life:

The GIF was created by James Tyrwhitt-Drake back in 2012, when he captured the images at the University of Victoria’s Advanced Microscopy Facility and posted the final product to his Tumblog, Infinity Imagined.

Granted, it’s no GIF of a Vine of a Video of a Flipbook of a GIF of a Video of a Roller Coaster… it’s better. That was just an experiment in Meta, this is a photographically and scientifically fascinating learning experience.

But just in case you absolutely need more of an Inception feel, we’ll leave you with the words of Redditor adamwong246, who described the GIF as follows, “There’s a bacterium on a diatom on an amphipod on a frog on a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea!”

(via Smithsonian via Beautiful/Decay)

  • Nikki Yannikos

    Where does it end?

  • TylerIngram

    Technically, isn’t it an Animated GIF not just a GIF?

  • dannybuoy

    I feel very itchy

  • Henry Wang

    gifs are animated….

  • Toby Hawkins

    Nope, animated GIFs are animated.

  • TylerIngram

    They can be animated yes, but they aren’t specifically just Animated.
    Taken from the GIF89a spec: “The Graphics Interchange Format is not intended as a platform for animation, even though it can be done in a limited way.”
    I remember when people started animated them way way back in the day but they were first images and animations second.

  • smoobooty

    There is no end. There is no beginning. The Alpha and Omega problem persists. What is the first and the last?

  • exkeks

    For a non-travel zoom lens, it is a bit soft at the long end.

  • Chris Malmberg

    Some hot life on life on life action.

  • WarDamnPhil

    Congratulations! You were around at the beginning of the internet!

    Nobody cares.

    Honest question: do you use that “animated gif” line every time you see a gif? I bet you’re fun at parties.

  • Jeremiah True

    Once we can get to the sub-atomic level

  • SamJS

    Actually if you look in the lower right side of the image, you’ll notice at the long end the scale shows 500 nm. That is the same length of visible light, so you’re really lucky to get an image of any type, soft or not.

  • slyman

    does anyone use gifs for anything besides animation anymore though?

  • Tim

    Looks like an eye

  • Korios

    Actually the entire point of a SEM is to image sub light-wavelength details. It is not an optical microscope, so it is not limited by light’s diffraction limit, since it does not use photons but electrons. And according to exkeks’s wiki source right above even sub-nm (0,4 nm) resolution is now possible. Optical microscopes capable of “seeing” beyond the diffraction limit are soon going to be possible via metamaterials based superlenses.

  • Korios

    Don’be a bick..

  • bbear

    …brilliant! :D

    And the GIF is pretty awesome too: I think I’ll have a few nightmares tonight!

  • Cool

    a what !? say the letter , don’t hide it !

  • Cypherpunks (a public account)

    ‘scuse me while I whip this out: —–Dick.

  • Joseph Campanella

    One of the great short films of all time, by the Eames Office.

  • disqus_94kGkD6Rah

    I always want to pause animgifs.

  • bob cooley

    GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a lossless image compression format that uses specific mathematical algorithms to parse the image exactly the same way ever time it is saved and/or displayed – and typically they are of limited bit-depth. They are most useful for displaying non-photographic graphics (like logos, solid or patterned designs) and can render much smaller (in KB) than jpgs, which are a lossy compression technology based on sampling to parse the image for display. Better for photos or continuous tone gradients.

    Animated GIFs are just a sequence of GIFs stitched together to show motion in some manner. So, animated GIFs are animated but most GIFs aren’t.

    Many people use PNG for graphics instead of GIF for losless compression, but its still widely used.

  • bob cooley

    So trying to help someone now qualifies as being a negative? The net spawns a new troll every day…

  • bob cooley

    Yep, for graphical elements (logos, fields of color, patterns, etc.) though PNGs are also interchangeable and widely used for this same purpose.

  • WarDamnPhil

    Fine. I’m going to start using the “well actually it’s an ANIMATED gif” line on every single buzzfeed article I see, as well as every tumblr post and tweet with a gif. I’ll let you know how helpful everyone thinks the info is.

  • bob cooley

    …and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that you hang out at buzzfeed. Its a good place for the self-important.

  • WarDamnPhil

    The irony…..

  • zedge


  • zedge

    Copy and past geniuses are always so helpful :)