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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

A Rat's Eye is a Vision of Beauty

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via PRNewswire

MELVILLE, N.Y., Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- If the key to the inner self is visible by looking deeply into someone's eyes, rats must be among nature's most glorious creatures - for a stunning, richly patterned photograph showing the inside of an aging rat's eye has earned first prize in the 2005 Olympus BioScapes(TM) International Digital Imaging Competition. Olympus sponsors the annual competition to honor the finest life science images and movies in the world, as captured through light microscopes.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20051220/NYTU068 )

Winners of this year's competition were recognized this week at San Francisco's Diablo Grande Wine Gallery, where selected images will remain on display to the public for another week. After leaving San Francisco , 21 of the photographs will tour museums throughout the U.S. as part of a program developed in tandem with Natural History Magazine.

The winning photo by Hussein Mansour, a doctoral candidate at Australia's University of Sydney, shows how aging can affect the eye and brain. Blood vessels look blue, and astrocytes are mostly red, creating a graceful branching pattern. But the image's beauty belies a darker truth. As rats (and people) age, their astrocytes change; many scientists believe that astrocyte changes are at the heart of some age-related brain diseases and degeneration.

"These pictures combine aesthetic beauty, technical expertise and scientific knowledge to tell stories of great meaning," said George Steares,Group Vice President of Olympus America's Scientific Equipment Group.

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