This picture is one of the winners of Science’s 2011 International Science & Engineering Visual Challenge. But what is it? You would never guess. It’s a cucumber! Photographer Robert Belliveau took a close-up shot of the skin of a young cucumber with a polarizing microscope. The structures shown here at 800x magnification are trichomes. Cucumbers are densely packed with sharp trichomes filled with bitter-tasting, toxic substances, to protect themselves against herbivores.
Photo: Courtesy of Robert Rock Belliveau MD/Science