From gravity effects to sweaty palms, watch the Nikon Small World video winners

Time lapses are an art form — but the one above also advances the science that could allow future astronauts to grow plants in zero gravity. The video by Daniel von Wangenheim of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria recently won the first-place prize from the Nikon Small World in Motion competition, an annual contest that celebrates both art and science by getting incredibly close looks at unusual — and sometimes, everyday — phenomena.

Von Wangenheim’s video may look a bit like a cartoon worm, but the shot is actually of a single root tip growing over a 17-hour period. All that motion in the video? That was actually only four millimeters. The root tip of a Thale cress or Arabidopis thaliana was part of a study that’s exploring how plants respond to gravity.

“Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and [their] underlying mechanisms,” von Wangenheim said, “we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients. One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions.”

The research team, which also included Robert Hauschild, Matyas Fendrych, Eva Benkova, and Jiri Friml, turned the microscope on its side in order to get an upward view. Placing the plant on a rotation stage and simulating growing conditions with lights, the team saw that the root would bend down for each turn, correcting the growth to head down every time.

The rotating root was followed by a microscopic look at something that happens every day: sweat. The second-place video, made by Tsutomu Tomita of Japan, shows several close-ups of what happens on a microscopic level when we get sweaty palms. So how did he shoot it? Those sweaty hands are a result of the subjects watching daredevils climb skyscrapers.

The third-place video goes under the skin, capturing the leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations of a mouse — science-speak for how the body responds to an injury, such as a puncture wound.

Nikon named five winners and a set of honorable mentions in the contest, with shots ranging from the colorful patterns of water droplets inside of a cholesteric liquid crystal shell to the beautiful yet gross microscropic patterns inside of dried wart cream, all as described in the complete list of winners.

The Nikon Small World Contest is held annually, with every year bringing videos like these, and a separate competition for still shots and video.

Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.
Photography

Here are 8 GoPro tips to get the most out of your action cam

There's more to your GoPro camera than just mounting it to your skateboard. Whether it's finding the best accessories or understanding the settings more thoroughly, learn to shoot video like a pro with these simple GoPro tips and tricks.
Gaming

For Netflix, ‘Fortnite’ on YouTube is a bigger threat than HBO

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix explained that it views the video game Fortnite as bigger competition than HBO, with YouTube videos of the game drawing viewers away from the streaming platform.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (February 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in January and February, from new original series to classic films.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Photography

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Photography

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…
Photography

With 5-stop optical stabilization, Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is ready for adventure

Fujifilm revealed a new lens designed to deliver on the GFX system's promise of adventure-ready medium-format photography. The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R is a weather resistant, relatively lightweight, 2x telephoto with impressive stabilization.
Photography

Olympus teaser shares glimpse of OM-D camera that’s good for more than sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's capable for landscapes…
Photography

Nikon A1000, B600 pack big zooms into compact, budget-friendly cameras

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 packs in a 35x zoom lens, 4K video, and an optical viewfinder, while Nikon's B600 brings a 60x zoom lens to the table. The cameras are modest updates to Nikon's budget-friendly zoom models.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.