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December 24th, 2010
01:32 PM ET

Life Through a Lens

Is it an ECG monitor? Is it an especially spindly cantilever bridge? Is it one of those weird sea creatures that you can never remember the name of?

Well, no. It's none of the above. This image does in fact depict the heart of a mosquito, magnified 100 times over and aided by fluorescence technology. The shot – taken by Vanderbilt University's Jonas King - was awarded first prize in the 2010 Nikon Small World Photomicography Competition. And a worthy winner it is too.

By looking this closely into the biting beast's insides, King has aided life scientists in the study of malaria. As Nikon puts it, the photo "provides insight into how mosquitoes move blood to all regions of their bodies". So it's not just striking; it could be a lifesaver.

Fancy getting involved in the world of photomicography? Well, beware. Taking pictures of tiny things entails a mighty price-tag. But watch News Stream's segment on the Small World phenomenon, and we're sure you'll be inspired nonetheless.

December 24th, 2010
10:07 AM ET

Secret Santa – all about the giving?

Secret santa – love it or hate it (I'm the latter), you've probably taken part in one.
Personally I don't get the point.
I waste my time buying something cheap and shoddy, and probably unwanted for someone who'll never know it was from me, and in this year's instance, for someone I barely know.
In return someone wastes their time buying something cheap and shoddy, and usually unwanted, for me.
People say it's about the giving but we all know that's codswallop.
So when I heard thousands of people had signed up to an online secret santa, via redditgifts, I was bemused. Seriously, do these people have nothing better to do with their lives, than waste time thinking of, looking for, or even making, gifts to give to complete strangers? I mean, the chances of getting something worth having has got to be slim, right? None, in fact, surely.
So when I heard that someone got a 50 inch TV from their secret santa, it was time for me to reassess.
Maybe for some people, it really is about the giving. Now, for me, that's strange.
But perhaps next year I'll take part. In the hope I get an awesome present of course.
Whatever I send will be bought online, cost no more than the recommended US$15, and take 10 seconds to come up with. Less, in fact. Amazon vouchers to the value of $15. Done. Now I just need to sit back and wait for a whacking great big telly to turn up on my doorstep.
Incidentally, in the CNN Secret Santa I got a tin of chocolate sardines (I hate fish, so it must be from someone I know reasonably well) and a coffee voucher (I drink a lot of it). Thank you, secret santa, if you're reading this! The suggested spend was HK$100. I mulled over my purchase for all of a nano-second and spent $99.
Now this is done, I'm off home to see if my girlfriend's bought me that wakeboard I've been on about for months. I'll get her some chocolates or something from 7-Eleven.