Best Microscopic-Life Images Of 2009 (PHOTOS)

The BioScapes competition, sponsored by Olympus America, Inc., recognizes microscope photos of plants, animals, and other life-forms that capture the "fascinating minutia of life," according to Olympus.

"These images and movies reflect some of the most exciting research being done around the world and reveal the art that exists in optical microscopy," Olympus's Osamu Joji said in a statement.

Each year the company chooses a panel of microscope-imaging experts to judge the competition, which is open to anyone using a light microscope--the familiar apparatus from high school science classes, which uses visible light and lenses to magnify objects.

Check out these breathtaking images from National Geographic below:

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