Monday, July 20, 2020

Microscopic Mapping

Interactive mapping libraries are most often used to map very large entities, such as continents, countries and cities. However they can also be used to map the very small. In fact they can be used to map things which are so small that they can normally only be seen with the help of a microscope. Here are a few microscopic finds which can be viewed online thanks to the Leaflet interactive mapping library.

The Cell Image Library is a database of cell images from a wide variety of organisms. The images in the library are used to help demonstrate cellular architecture and their functions and to help advance research on cellular activity.

Each of the cell images in the Cell Image Library database can be viewed in microscopic detail on its own interactive map. If you click on the 'Open detailed viewer' link on a cell's individual entry in the database you can then explore the cell in more detail using a Leaflet map. This map allows you to zoom in and out of the cell image and pan around, just as you can with an online interactive map. The Leaflet powered cell viewer also allows you to adjust the contrast and brightness of the image and add annotations to parts of the cell.

More microscopic images can be explored at Microsculpture. British photographer Levon Biss has used the Leaflet mapping library to present close-up photographs of insects. His Microsculpture website allows you to view high resolution photos of insect specimens from Oxford University Museum of Natural History in exquisitely fine detail using the Leaflet zooming and panning tools.

Each insect's completed image map consists of around 8,000 individual photographs (the large scale photographic prints are up to 3m high), captured using optical microscopes. The Leaflet mapping library really allows the user to fully explore these high resolution photos by zooming in close on the insects. The map scale in the top right-hand corner of the map provides a useful guide to the size of the insects as you zoom in & out on the images.

Last year Ariel Waldman led an expedition to Antarctica to film the extremophile microbes living under the Antarctic ice. The expedition found microbes living in glaciers, under the sea ice, next to frozen lakes, and in subglacial ponds.

You can explore some of the microbes found in Antarctica on Life Under the Ice. Life Under the Ice uses the Leaflet mapping platform to present microscopic videos of the microbes discovered in Antarctica. If you click on the 'What's this' button you can discover more about the microbe in the current map view, including where the microbe was discovered, its size and its level of magnification on the map.

If you enjoy viewing microscopic images in Leaflet then you should also have a look at Pathobin. Pathobin is an on-line repository where pathologists can publish and share their pathology images. Pathology images uploaded to Pathobin can be viewed by anyone using the provided interactive maps.

You can browse for pathology images on Pathobin using the 'Recent Images' gallery on the site's homepage or from the site index. When you select an image to view on Pathobin a Leaflet map of the pathogen opens. Using the usual Leaflet navigation controls you can pan and zoom the map to view the image in close-up detail.

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