Boehringer Ingelheim
22 January 2016

Mysteries from the world of science

The Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson presents the world from an unusual perspective. Join us on his trail and discover territory which only our scientists usually explore.

"Nilsson's pictures have changed many people's understanding of the human body. "
Carolin Fischer
Boehringer Ingelheim
These pictures could easily come from the bottom of the sea. After all, Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson began his career focusing on the subtleties of nature and underwater photography. These however are not aquatic plants swaying in the ocean's current. Nilsson's photos expose a hidden, microscopic world. He became famous as a result of his 1965 book "A Child is Born" in which he showed the development of a human foetus through all stages of growth. Nilsson's pictures have changed many people's understanding of the human body.
Boehringer Ingelheim
The 93-year-old is indeed a special kind of researcher. From the beginning of his career, he has been interested in using the latest and best technology to try and make the invisible visible. He continuously developed new photographic methods and worked on technological improvements – including the field of electron microscopy. This resulted in images that astonished even researchers from the specialist fields in which he worked. For example, he photographed herpes viruses in the exact moment they left an infected and destroyed cell.
Boehringer Ingelheim
Nilsson's photographs are also unique, thanks to his talent in coloration. The use of color enabled him to highlight details in black and white electron microscope images and to emphasize the medical scientific information. In the pre-digital era, this was an incredibly laborious process that was handled manually and to Nilsson's specifications by a specialist photographer in Gothenburg.
These extraordinary achievements drew Nilsson's exceptional photographic talent to the attention of Boehringer Ingelheim. An exclusive partnership was agreed in 1976 that covered both medical and scientific topics. It included various indication areas such as cardiovascular diseases, pneumology, virology and oncology. As a result, Nilsson has helped our researchers to visualize the human body more clearly and to understand better what happens to the body during an illness.
Boehringer Ingelheim's research focus remains the same today, However microscopic pictures are only rarely used nowadays. For a long time now, our scientists have been looking at diseases at a molecular level – always searching for those areas most suitable for intervention, either to stop an illness progressing or to moderate it. In this, they are supported by state-of-the-art computer models and automated test sequences. Click on the crosslink to discover which diseases are the current focus of our research.
But we're also interested in discovering your investigative spirit as readers, which is why we're not telling you the subject of Nilsson's photo in this article: you'll have to discover it for yourself. We'll give you the answer in the next article on research at Boehringer Ingelheim – including new, unusual images from Nilsson's microscopic universe. We're already looking forward to your interpretations of this scientific picture puzzle.

4 comment(s) for 'Mysteries from the world of science'


Thanks a lot

Hi Alessandro, you are very welcome. :) Are you looking forward to read more about mysteries from the world of science? Stay tuned, the next article will be published soon. All the best, Carolin

science for the better future.

Hi Erwin, thank you for your comment. BTW: The header picture shows bronchial mucosa. You can see ciliated cells as well as cells with destroyed ciliae. Carolin

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