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Press release

Published by The Natural History Museum

Close-up: A new book by Natural History Museum Publishing

Published 13 May 2004

Every picture has the wow-factor in Close-up, a book full of amazing images created by scanning electron microscope (SEM). Animals, plants and crystals are revealed in a whole new light in a series of beautiful photographs which go beyond the realm of the scientific to be admired for their own sake. At this level of detail, reality can be quite surprising and even the most mundane object becomes a thing of great beauty. Pollen grains, the bane of hayfever sufferers, become dramatic sculptures. The underside of a leaf is an impenetrable thicket of spines and a giant spider looks at you with eight huge eyes. This book is guaranteed to make you look and make you ask questions: what is that? where is it from? what does it do?

SEM technology is a vital scientific tool, able to bypass the limits of conventional microscopy and reveal objects smaller than the wavelength of light itself. Samples usually require extensive preparation including chemical fixation, dehydration and an ultra-thin metallic coating before they are ready to go into the microscope’s vacuum chamber.

Although scanning electron microscopes can produce magnifications of over 250,000x, the prize for the largest image ever produced by the Museum’s Electron Microscope Unit has to go to the Dutch recycling company that reproduced an image of a 1 centimetre-long honey bee to cover the side of a 10 metre-long lorry!

Authors Chris Jones and Alex Ball are scientists with many years experience in the Museum ‘s Electron Microscope Unit. Their photographs are used widely for scientific research and education as well as books, exhibitions and the media.

  • Unique, full colour SEM images
  • Images produced by the Natural History Museum’s internationally respected Electron Microscope Unit
  • Text by Museum experts

Editor’s notes

Close-up published by the Natural History Museum

NB The authors are available for interviews
Alex Ball
Alex has worked at the Natural History Museum since 1997 and has a PhD in Zoology, specialising in research on gastropod molluscs.
Chris Jones
Chris worked at the Natural History Museum from 1988 to 2004 and is now an applications specialist in electron microscopy for Hitachi. His research work has included studies of the minerals in artist’s pigments, working with samples from major art galleries.

Publication details
ISBN: 0 565 09172 7
Price: £5.95
Size and extent: 150 x 140 mm; 64 pp
Format: Hardback
Publication date: 13 May 2004
Illustrations: colour throughout
Subject classification: Popular science; natural history; photography
Market: General readers
UK availability: Available in the Natural History Museum bookshop and bookshops around the UK. Buy online at . Order by phone: 01752 202 301.

Contact at Natural History Museum Publishing
To request a review copy, author interview or more information please contact:

Deborah Fajerman
Publishing Marketing Executive
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD
Tel: 020 7942 5336

Natural History Museum Publishing
The Natural History Museum publishes a range of books which aim to introduce the general reader to a fascinating variety of topics from the natural world.

Exhibition at the Natural History Museum
Fabulous Beasts: Artworks by Mark Fairnington and Giles Revell
Free exhibition open to the public: 13 May – 12 September 2004
This exhibition features SEM imagery manipulated to create large-scale artworks. If you would like to interview Mark Fairnington or Giles Revell, request images or further exhibition information, please contact the Press Office:
Tel: 020 7942 5189/5654

Issued February 2004