The FOTCIENCIA contest, organized by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology and the Higher Council for Scientific Research, has awarded seven images that reflect phenomena such as the anatomy of seahorses seen in different light, the presence of plastics in the chain sustainable food or agricultural practices.
The characteristics that make seahorses unique, such as their tube-shaped snout, prehensile tail or scale-free skin, can be highlighted by the application of different lighting techniques. This is what happens in one of the seven images selected in the 17th edition of FOTCIENCIA, an initiative of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and which has the collaboration of the Jesús Serra Foundation. On this occasion, the contest joins the 17 Sustainable Development Goals declared by the United Nations.
FOTCIENCIA is a national project that aims to bring science closer to society through photography. To do this, anyone can participate by sending an image accompanied by a short explanatory text that illustrates and describes a scientific phenomenon. The prizes are endowed with 600 or 1,500 euros, depending on the categories.
As in previous editions, a committee made up of eleven professionals related to photography, microscopy, scientific dissemination and communication has evaluated and selected the most impressive photographs that best describe a scientific fact. The large compound eyes of mosquitoes, made up of thousands of candy-like photoreceptors, the geometric grooves of a sustainable barley crop, or the microplastics found in the digestive tract of organisms at the base of the marine food chain are others. of the subjects portrayed.
Once again, the selected photographs and texts, along with other proposals chosen from among the 448 that have been received, will be included in a catalog and will form part of a traveling exhibition. Throughout 2020, the exhibition will tour museums and cultural, educational and research centers throughout the national territory. Two copies of the exhibition will be available for free loan, and all the photos presented will be published on the FOTCIENCIA website.
Title: ‘Light changes everything’ (Cover photo).Authors: Lucía Sánchez-Ruiloba and Miquel Planas Oliver
The first (left), taken with incident light, shows its external morphology, in which the three types of fins stand out, its prehensile tail and the different tones of its skin, devoid of scales. In the following, carried out with transmitted light after a process of depigmentation, transparency and marking of the bone structure, we see three small black spots behind the eye. These are otoliths, thanks to which seahorses maintain balance and perceive the depth at which they are. Seahorses possess characteristics that make them unique among all marine creatures. The image presents some of these singularities through four photographs taken of a specimen of the speciesHippocampus reidi.
The dark field technique (third image) allows observing its internal structures, such as the digestive tract; and that of fluorescence (right), its bone tissue. Thus we can see the tube-shaped snout, which allows them to suck food, and its skeleton, formed by bone plates.
Title: ‘Antennas and pheromones’.Author: Javier A. Canteros
Natural selection has endowed male fireflies of the genus Ethra, like this specimen photographed in the Atlantic forest of Brazil, with an eye-catching tool to maximize their chances of finding a mate. The fan-shaped shape of their antennae helps them detect the sex pheromones of females found in the territory at great distances.
In their adult phase, the primary objective of insects is to leave offspring, and the molecules that signal the availability to mate can move through the air very easily.
Title: ‘Candy’Authors: Lola Molina Fernández, Isabel Sánchez Almazo and Concepción Hernández Castillo
Far from a collection of delicious candies, this photo shows a group of photoreceptor units (ommatidia) of the thousands that make up the large compound eyes of mosquitoes. Although the vision of these insects is not yet fully understood, it is clear that they do not see like humans. Their sense of sight is thought to be poorly defined and they can see from 5 to 15 meters away. It seems that at less than a meter they are guided by heat, since they can perceive the infrared spectrum.
Title: ‘Siliceous nanoplankton’.Authors: Marcos Rosado Iglesias and Patrizia Ziveri
Climate change is practically irremediable. We cannot go back no matter how hard we try unless we help the planet and it decides to restore itself. The only help we can bring to the Earth is to curb such climate change. To stop the impact of this environmental disaster, numerous measures must be taken, but we must know which ones to take and for this, we must study the environment. In this image, taken from a sample from a warming and acidifying mesocosm experiment in the Mediterranean Sea, the impact of climate change on nanoplankton is sought, finding out if the nanoplankton structure is damaged or remains intact.
Modality ‘Sustainable agriculture’
Title: ‘Sustainable geometries’.Author: Francisco Javier Domínguez García
In the middle of the harvest period, this field of malting barley offers us a show of beautiful geometries. It is an extensive crop (more sustainable than the intensive type) that requires few inputs: fertilizers, sanitary products, fuel, etc.
This type of barley is more resistant to drought and less demanding in soils with little depth and fertility than wheat. In addition, it competes very well with weeds and has a long growing cycle, which protects the soil from erosion in periods of rain.
All this means that it requires minimal tillage, which means low energy consumption. Other interesting characteristics are the low cost of the seed and its self-pollinated condition, which facilitate its obtaining.
Selected modality ‘Food and nutrition’
Title: ‘Alarm lines’.Author: David Talens Perales
The photograph, taken under fluorescent light, shows the courtship of two marine crustaceans of the genus Artemia. The most striking thing about the image is the orange illumination of the digestive tracts, produced by plastic microparticles. These crustaceans are the food base for many marine species in aquaculture and are used as model organisms in environmental studies. Like them, most of the plankton ingested by fish is contaminated with microplastics, which are transferred in the food chain until they reach the final consumers: humans. We don't know what the long-term effect is, but we do know that they come to us as environmental pollutants.
Modality ‘Science in the classroom’
Title: ‘Chemical nature’.Author: Sergio Climent Martínez
Chemiluminescence is the emission of light in a chemical reaction that does not produce heat. Bioluminescence is a process that occurs in living organisms such as jellyfish, shrimp or fireflies in which the energy generated by a chemical reaction is manifested as light.
The image brings together laboratory equipment in a natural environment to underline that nature is chemistry and that chemistry is in nature. Although this discipline is unfairly treated as a synonym for toxins or poison, chemistry is essential to provide solutions to the challenges of sustainable development, such as the advancement of alternative sources of energy or the feeding of the growing world population.