The Bee’s Knees

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By Heather Wrigley, utahvalley360.com

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First, the object is coated with an atoms-thin layer of gold, which improves the conductivity of the surface and enhances the image quality. It is then put on a stage inside the vacuum chamber within the scanning electron microscope. A beam of electrons bombards it, defining the image as it scans point by point, line by line.

Sound like science fiction? Although this picture may look like something out of a futuristic novel, it is in fact an image — and description — of a golden honeybee’s antennae at 3300x magnification.

Through January, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher has her exhibit “BEEyond” on display at BYU’s Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, along with her book, “BEE,” published by Princeton Architectural Press.

“The microscope revealed an intricacy of form I never imagined, a level of design and structure in one tiny bee that gives a hint about the amazing and unending complexity of nature all around us, most of which we are oblivious to in our daily experience,” Rose-Lynn says. “When we see what exists at this level it’s possible to make connections between the micro world and the macro world, and it helps us understand more about nature’s essential truths.”

Seventeen years of staring at, studying and scanning the fuzzy, winged insect have yielded otherworldly glimpses of everything from the 6,900 hexagonal lenses that comprise the bee’s eye, to the serrated, hypodermic needle-like stinger.

“The melding of art and science in this project is important,” Rose-Lynn says. “When you bring observation and imagination together, it can become innovation. This kind of integration can lead to more creative problem solving.”

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View images and learn more at www.rose-lynnfisher.com.

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