Twirling Starfish Larva & More Win in 2016 Microscopic Video Competition

Nikon chose Stanford University physicist William Gilpin's footage of an eight-week-old starfish larva catching food as the winner for its 2016 Small World in Motion Competition. The larva creates vortices to capture its main food source of swimming algae. Gilpin and his colleagues studied the starfish larva as a model system for how physics shapes evolution, and were surprised that a common organism like a starfish could create such an intricate and unexpected pattern in the water. To create the video, Gilpin and his team used dark field microscopy to film the paths of small plastic beads that were directed by the flow currents around the starfish, similar to how photographers capture time-lapse videos of star trails in the night sky. They then stacked images in contiguous groups to make a time-resolved long-exposure video to showcase the movement. Read about the other winners here.