VSL:SCIENCE // Too beautiful to see

Plato insisted that the most beautiful things were invisible — that perfect forms are too perfect to see. Well, Plato would have loved the Wellcome Image competition, which limits itself tophotographs of subjects that can’t be seen by the naked eye.

This year’s winners are an eclectic bunch: Here’s a carpet of concave blood cells. There’s a collection of Vitamin C crystals (they look like seashells). And — the most memorable images — terrifying photographs of bodily decay. The photo of a prostate tumor captures metastasizing cells as they consume neighboring tissue. The breast-cancer cell looks like a shard of stained glass, and a ruptured capillary leaks blood like a broken pipe. The photographs are so beautiful, it’s easy to forget that each one is a tragic portrait — a vision of the body falling slowly apart.

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VSL:SCIENCE // Too beautiful to see