, 40 tweets, 19 min read Read on Twitter
A new thread about possible image duplication (cloning) in a set of microscopy photos by the same artist.
Here I will talk about the enhancement of images of viruses, bacteria, archaea, and other tiny things.
Such microscopy photos might appear in scientific papers, but there are also used in popular science articles. We all know the famous CDC image of the Ebola virus that appeared in tons of online articles, in black and white, or with false color.
Microscopy images, in particular Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) photos, are often black and white. The color shown in the images of the Ebola virus above is added to enhance the image. It is not real.
This is totally acceptable in most applications, in particular in popular science articles; it enhances the visibility, brings out features better.
However, adding elements (cloning) to a microscopy image is something different. Let's discuss what is acceptable and what is not.
This image was featured in the @NIH "Life: Magnified" microscopy photo exhibit, that ran in 2014.
nigms.nih.gov/education/life…
It is a beautiful SEM photo of blood cells. Color has been added to make the different cell types better visible, and that is ok.
It shows red blood cells, T cells, and platelets.
But if you look carefully, parts of the image appear to be visible multiple times.
Here is what I see (I tweeted about this about 2 years ago as well).
This potential "cloning" of elements in the photo changes the story.
In this case, it increases the ratio of non-red-blood-cells to red-blood-cells.
Which was exactly the point if you look at the description in the NIH exhibition ("Nearly half of our blood is composed of RBC").
Here is another image by the same photographer, as available for purchase on SciencePhoto.com . It is not labeled as a composite/artistic impression, but as a scientific SEM photo.
sciencephoto.com/media/797666/v…
Again, the colors are not real, but that is disclosed ("coloured SEM").
But is the cloning of elements acceptable?
Here is what I see:
Let's move on to some virus images by the same photographer.
This particular TEM photo of Influenza A has been featured by @SmithsonianMag in 2015:
smithsonianmag.com/science-nature…
The same image was also included in an article by The @guardian on April 2014. theguardian.com/technology/blo…
You can also buy it, labeled as a "Colored TEM" photo on @sciencephoto, here:
sciencephoto.com/media/797229/v…
Here are several Influenza A SEM photos by the same artist - they all appear to have something in common.
(Full disclosure: I added 3 colored rectangles to block out the photographer's name).
I have made a marked version of the @SmithsonianMag / @guardian image, with all the regions that look similar highlighted in colored circles.
Let's take another close look at another Influenza A image, which you can buy here at @sciencephoto . Again, it is not labeled as a composite, just as a colored TEM photo, original image courtesy of @NIH
sciencephoto.com/media/797217/v…
At first glance, this photo looks OK. All virus particles look different. But take a closer look and you start to see repeats. At least I did. What do you think?
A closer look at the Science Photo image you can buy here:
sciencephoto.com/media/797216/v…
Let's switch gears and talk about microscopy photos this person took of Norovirus. @MarionKoopmans might want to take a look too! :-)
Here is a beautiful colored TEM photo of a cluster of norovirus particles.
sciencephoto.com/media/797122/v…
Upon closer look there only appear to be 3 original virus particles.
Here is what I see:
The @sciencephoto is selling several photos of Poliovirus too, all by the same artist, in different color renderings. Look at these images and spot the differences.
sciencephoto.com/media/797143/v…
The right two images have more virus particles than the left one, which appears to be the original. It was featured, again, at the @guardian (I added some colored blocks), and at the HistoryOfVaccines
theguardian.com/books/2013/jul…
historyofvaccines.org/index.php/cont…
But, some virus particles appear to be visible multiple times.
Here is what I see:
An image of Rhinoviruses on the cover of a scientific journal.
You can buy it here: sciencephoto.com/media/797251/v…
The photo is labeled "Rhinovirus infection of nasal epithelial cell, SEM" but the number of virus particles appears to have been manually increased. Here is what I see:
Next case: Rota virus. Courtesy of @sciencephoto
sciencephoto.com/media/797152/v…
Another Rotavirus photo, this time featured on Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.
You can buy it here: sciencephoto.com/media/797146/v…
Tobacco Mosaic virus
Variola virus (causes smallpox). This photo was featured at the @SmithsonianMag (although they cut most of the repeats off).
sciencephoto.com/media/797161/v…
smithsonianmag.com/science-nature…
Yellow Fever virus
(one photo was originally labeled "Dengue virus" but that has now been corrected.)
sciencephoto.com/media/797111/v…
sciencephoto.com/media/797130/v…
Let's move to microscopy images of bacteria from the same series.
As will all previous images, all photos are copyright of the artist and of @sciencephoto
We will start with Desulfovibrio.
sciencephoto.com/media/798928/v…
Caption of the image on the right: "Coloured transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of E. coli strains undergoing conjugation via a pilus (one strain has pili)."
Comparing these 2 images makes one wonder if the right one is real.
sciencephoto.com/media/799331/v…
sciencephoto.com/media/799333/v…
The Neisseria mucosa case:
sciencephoto.com/media/798709/v…
Arthrobacter, as found on:
sciencephoto.com/media/798988/v…
Some microscopy photos of eukaryotes in the same series.
Stachybotrys and Cryptococcus,
And I conclude this series with one photo with archaea.
"Methanococcus jannaschii archaea, SEM"
Here are some duplications I found - who can find more?
sciencephoto.com/media/798158/v…
My opinion (and feel free to disagree!) is that these are beautiful photos, but they are not scientific.
@sciencephoto should take a very critical look at these images and clearly marked them as "photocomposites" or similar, not sell them as scientific photos.
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